Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

By JC

“[U.S. intelligence] officials made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos.”

How comforting. Foreign policy developed via Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube postings! 

Well, who didn’t see the inevitable backpedalling by everybody who was pushing direct Russian involvement in the downing of MH 17? I guess that would be everybody who jumped on the Obama/Kerry/MSM propaganda bandwagon.

A few snippets from today’s AP story (yes, I’ll quote the AP so as not to cause many of you to run away in disgust at the mention of RT).

“Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.”

Hmmm… and all of the $5b that Vicki Nuland said we invested in Ukraine didn’t have anything to do with it? Or with the millions that NED paid to “social clubs and political organizations” to help the “revolution” didn’t? How about the VP’s son joining the board of a Ukrainian oil & gas company along with John Kerry’s bundler (whose financial partners include the ex-deputy CIA director) and the ex-Polish president that hid our secret rendition (torture) prisons from the world? Any of that help with “creating the conditions” that could result in a civilian air catastrophe?

“…the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.”

Well, I suppose that the Sun will print a retraction to it’s “Putin’s Missile” edition (not).

“… [U.S. intelligence] officials said they did not know who fired the missile.” 

Sure didn’t stop all the innuendo and accusations. Nor will this little acknowledgement take back all the propaganda that was generated after the catastrophe pointing to Russians and federalists.

“In terms of who fired the missile, ‘we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.'”

A Perry Mason moment? Who are these guys trying to kid? Just say that you don’t know jack shit, and be done with it. Ya gotta be over 50 to even get the reference to Perry Mason. How about we have a special prosecutor moment: to look into our violations of international law with our meddlings in the world?

“The officials made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos made public in recent days by the Ukrainian government, even though they have not been able to authenticate all of it. For example, they cited a video of a missile launcher said to have been crossing the Russian border after the launch, appearing to be missing a missile.

But later, under questioning, the officials acknowledged they had not yet verified that the video was exactly what it purported to be.”

Yep, pure propaganda at work. And all of the MSM in the west bought it: hook, line and sinker. I would say that all of the propaganda was exactly what it was intended to be: the demonization of Russia and Putin.

When our public policy and statements on international disasters rely upon unverified social media and YouTube clips to respond with clumsy propaganda, who knows when the next shoe drops, what will happen. Let’s hope that the next time opportunity presents itself that our President doesn’t fumble “the football!”

Idiots.

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By JC

By now, many folks who have paid attention to the current onslaught of Supreme Court rulings are enraged that the SCOTUS chose to uphold corporate “rights” against things like mandating certain forms of birth control. Of course, most liberal and moderate indignation over the Court’s decision doesn’t seem to include the origins of RFRA, the law that the decision is based on.

As reported in the local news rag:

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the high court ruled that family-owned for-profit corporations are protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and as such, do not have to abide by an Affordable Care Act provision that conflicts with business owners’ religious beliefs: “The contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely held corporations, violates RFRA.”

So sure, we discover that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is the bedrock of the Court’s decision. Well, where did the RFRA come from? Seems that liberals and democrats have nobody to blame but themselves. Via the Volokh’s Conspiracy’s Sasha Volokh:

It’s true that RFRA passed unanimously in the House and nearly unanimously in the Senate — in 1993, when Congress was controlled by Democrats — and was signed by Bill Clinton, and everyone now on the Court seems to accept the constitutionality of RFRA… Justice Stevens is the only one who ever showed any sympathy for the argument that RFRA violates the Establishment Clause, in his concurrence in City of Boerne v. Flores. Nonetheless, Justice Stevens may have been right as a philosophical matter…

In their zeal to prostrate themselves in front of the growing evangelical movements, and to not be seen as anti-religious, democrats saw fit to plant their seeds in a law that now will be used to justify many further religious exemptions. Back to the Missoulian article:

Rep. David “Doc” Moore said it’s hard to understand all the ramifications of a ruling on the first day it’s issued. However… Moore said the Affordable Care Act was poorly written, and the Supreme Court’s ruling illustrates the weakness of the legislation. The decision raises many questions about the overall effectiveness of the law, as well as questions about other exclusions companies can receive.

“If they can exclude birth control, or contraception, what else would a company try to exclude? Chemotherapy? Is their plan going to be so gutted because they can find some objection to it spiritually that life-saving treatment will not be covered?” Moore said.

And of course, other republican politicians are lauding this ruling:

In a statement, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said he and 19 other state attorneys general filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case, and he lauded the decision “that President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) violates the religious freedoms of America’s family owned businesses.”

“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case upholds Americans’ religious liberties,” Fox said. “Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the mandatory Medicaid-expansion provisions of Obamacare, and today, the Supreme Court struck down those offensive provisions of Obamacare that violate the First Amendment religious freedoms of America’s family business owners.”

So, given that the SCOTUS has upheld the First Amendment religious freedoms of corporations, what will be the next shoe to drop? Now that the SCOTUS has ruled that federal regulations are at odds with many religious “freedoms,” it is just a matter of time till the courts are overrun with corporate attempts to use religion to justify an exemption from regulation. It is a sweeping decision that encompasses far more that just contraception, as Jonathan Turley nicely describes:

The [Hobby Lobby] decision has sweeping application – well beyond these companies or the 49 for-profit corporations that have claimed such exemptions. The ruling addresses the very essence of a religious claim and the very essence of a corporate entity.

Closely-held corporations are not as limited as it might seem. I agree with [Justice] Ginsberg that the implications are sweeping. The closely-held corporations represent a huge number of businesses. As I mentioned on CNN, the large corporations are the least likely to demand such exemptions. There are millions of family businesses that may not object not just to the ACA but renew objections to discrimination laws that force such businesses to serve same-sex weddings or engage in other activities that violate their religious beliefs. This is much like Heller and the recognition of individual gun rights. We are still working out the details on how far that goes years after the decision.

Thanks Democrats, for bring us RFRA, the “Original Sin.” And stay tuned. This case will reverberate for decades.

If you want to read about the nature of The Original Sin, Volokh brother Eugene does a good job of describing it:

Some people have argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act shouldn’t have applied in Hobby Lobby because the employer mandate doesn’t require employers to actually do anything they see as sinful. The employers aren’t required to use the implantation-preventing contraceptives that they see as immoral. They aren’t required to administer or even handle them. They are just required to provide insurance policies that their employees may then choose to use to buy those contraceptives. Is that a real burden on belief?

That question would be answered “no” if a RFRA claim is brought by an employer who thinks the only relevant sin is actually using the implantation-preventing contraceptives. If the employer is called to the stand and asked, “Do you think that it is religiously wrong for you to provide this insurance?” and the employer says, “no, that’s fine, only using the contraceptives is sinful,” then the employer has admitted that the employer mandate does not impose a substantial burden on his beliefs.

But, unsurprisingly, many people believe that, when some behavior is wrong, many sorts of complicity with that behavior are wrong, too. Many secular people believe this. The law takes this view, in all sorts of contexts. Religious people believe it, too.

If it is a sin (or complicit with a sin–however far you want to try and stretch complicity), then no federal regulation can compel your company to do it, under Hobby Lobby. It’s that simple, and what is considered “sin” will be about as creative as the crazy embodied in today’s ultra-religious crusades. Brothers Volokh, while being conservative constitutional lawyers, have a good handle on where this is going. And Jonathan Turley always brings a great libertarian bent to these sorts of constitutional issues, writing to great effect on the nature of the Obama imperial presidency.

Democrats on the other hand, just prefer to demonize 5 men on the Supreme Court, as if they themselves had nothing to do with this outcome (well, Baucus voted for Roberts, but I digress, Roberts already paid Baucus back with his vote in favor of the ACA mandate). And what we will witness from dems and liberals, is nothing more than a huge outpouring of ineffectual, and misplaced indignity. Little do they see how their simple pandering to the religious right in passing RFRA in 1993 will have a long-standing, and monumental fallout on american society.

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

By JC

Via the Turley Blog:

“For those long unhappy with the Democratic leadership, it was a telling symbolic moment. Once again, it appeared that Democratic voters (even delegates representing the most loyal activists) are given only the appearance of participation in their party. For years, Democratic leaders lied to their members about their knowledge and even support for Bush’s torture program and surveillance policies until it was revealed that key Democrats were briefed on the programs. The party leadership then worked with Bush to scuttle any effort to investigate torture and other alleged crimes to avoid implicating key Democratic members. Likewise, while the majority of Democratic voters opposed the continuation of the wars, the Democratic party leaders blocked efforts to force a pull out under both Obama and Bush. These controversies were seen by many that the Democratic Party is primarily run to ensure the continuation of a small number of leaders in power with voters treated as ignorant minions. It was a particularly poignant moment in an uncontested convention after Democratic voters were not given any alternative to Obama.

The image of the chair just ignoring the obvious opposition from the floor of the conventional symbolized this long simmering tension. For full disclosure, I have long been a critic of both parties and have argued for changes to break the monopoly on power by the two parties. It is really not the merits of these two changes that is most bothersome. Arguments can be made on both side of such issues. It is the disregard of the views of the members and the dishonesty in how the matter was handled. The illusion of democracy was all that the leaders wanted in the vote.

Notably, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seemed to be ready to acknowledge that the delegates clearly rejected the change on the first vote. He then insisted on a second vote and it got worse. He seemed about to admit the failure of the motion and then called for a third vote which sounded even more lopsided (with not just a failure to get two-thirds but even a majority). Yet, he declared the motion passed to the boos and jeers of the delegates.

In creating the illusion of democratic voting, the delegates might have just as well bleated like sheep in protest. It did not matter. The message was clear that the delegates are just a backdrop to be used by party leaders to celebrate their reign.”

This one clip underscores why I have paid no attention to the conventions this year. Sadly, it all is just a meaningless show. Want to see a real platform that all democrats and left of center indies could support? Check it out.

By JC

Just a quickie here today to tie together Jhwygirl’s recent uncovering of another of Missoula’s nanny state laws and the shrinking 4th Amendment with Lizard’s ongoing analysis of foreign policy American Imperialism and the democratic party, and Political Nihilism.

For those who pay attention to such things, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week to cement in place some foreign policy tactics in a withering of 4th Amendment protections. David Bromwich does an excellent job connecting the dots between democrats’ lilly-livered approach to both reigning in American Hegemony, and  protecting civil liberties in his recent article “Strip Search Nation (Including The Authoritarian Catechism):”

What might easily not be known about this case [Florence v. County of Burlington]… is that the Obama administration sided with the authoritarians on the court in supporting the right of prison officials to command a strip search. A Justice Department lawyer, Nicole A. Saharsky, offered these words to clarify the view shared by President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder: “When you have a rule that treats everyone the same, you don’t have folks that are singled out. You don’t have any security gaps.” The Obama case for abrogation of the fourth amendment in prison thus turns on a lofty non-discriminatory aim: the safety and democracy of prisons. A level playing field of humiliation.

But is it true to say that no “folks” are “singled out” by such a procedure? Albert Florence [whom had been arrested for not paying a fine, which in fact he had already paid] is a black man. In 2009, blacks made up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but they were 39.4 percent of the prison population. So let us say it straight. The Obama-Holder view favors the universal application of the strip-search to a situation where some folks, after all, have been singled out as an observable pattern of the usual practice of the system.

Well, of course we all want to say this could never happen to any of us, but here is what the Obama Administration just acquiesced to for treatment of any of us being brought into custody for any reason–yes even a cell phone texting, non-fine paying warrant, in Missoula:

Petitioner [Florence] claims that he also had to open his mouth, lift his tongue, hold out his arms, turn around, and lift his genitals. At the second jail, petitioner, like other arriving detainees, had to remove his clothing while an officer looked for body markings, wounds, and contraband; had an officer look at his ears, nose, mouth, hair, scalp, fingers, hands, armpits, and other body openings; had a mandatory shower; and had his clothes examined. Petitioner claims that he was also required to lift his genitals, turn around, and cough while squatting.”

So think about that next time you get all cocky about thumbing your nose at Missoula’s nanny laws.

But to link this move with our country’s foreign policy escapades, Bromwich offers the following:

“Foreign policy has come home in the form of pepper spray, Tasers, and strip searches. But there is a practice closer to the Florence case. A mass experiment in the reduction of political self-respect occurs and is reinforced every day, in every airport in the country, in the body scans and pat-downs performed by the TSA. Some of the latter work is necessary, of course, while a strip search of a man with a parking ticket is not necessary. Still, the common experience and the exceptional one are clearly related. The government wore people down and achieved acceptance of the first practice, and that prepared the way for official endorsement of the second. Once again, a political and moral aberration has been redescribed and turned into an approved policy…

Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent: “such a search of an individual arrested for a minor offense that does not involve drugs or violence — say a traffic offense, a regulatory offense, an essentially civil matter, or any other such misdemeanor — is an ‘unreasonable search’ forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, unless prison authorities have reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual possesses drugs or other contraband.” You do not have to be an elaborately educated or refined reader of the Constitution to judge that such indeed is the meaning of the fourth amendment.

The words are great and they deserve to be remembered. Here is what the fourth amendment says:

~The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.~

How steep is the descent from these words to the new rule by which a majority of the Supreme Court, with a president and an attorney general at their side, have now elected to challenge the constitutional presumption against arbitrary searches and seizures? We will know for sure when we see the next in the series of anti-Constitutional experiments begun by Bush and Cheney and continued by Barack Obama.”

I’ll leave you all with this wonderful little ditty Bromwich included (after the jump), to remind you of your place in the democrat version of the New World Order: Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

It’s more than a bit shocking – regardless of your political persuasion, I’d like to think – when a state senator and a congressional primary candidate champions the short-term economic boom to the shops in downtown Billings that occurred when Exxon spilled crude from its pipeline into the Yellowstone River this past July.

That’s the kind of thing you’d expect our current Representative Denny Rehberg might say, given his love for oil & gas industry money – Representative Rehberg ranks 14th in receipts of oil & gas industry money of all recipients there in Washington.

Instead, it was state senator Kim Gillan (D-Billings) who made the remark at a forum for several of the candidates held by The Policy Institute this past weekend. I have tremendous respect for The Policy Institute. They’ve provided excellent policy testimony – especially on budget issues – to legislative committees. Frankly, it’s a bit surprising that Gillan would say such a thing given the audience.

During a Q&A moderated by former Representative Pat Williams, candidates were asked about the Keystone XL pipeline by TransCanada – whether they thought the pipeline was good or bad (or both) for the economy. Gillan was up first with her answer – and I wish I had some video or audio, but alas, audio and video were not permitted – and she said that “there are people in Billings that think the oil spill was a good thing, that it was good for business. They are looking at their watches and asking can we do this again next year?”

The room fell quite with shock. First murmurs…then low boos. What. Was. She. Thinking?

One also has to wonder the company she keeps. Where – even if she was attempting a joke – something like that were considered funny.

Somewhere along the line I read that Montana has the most EPA cleanup sites. The Milltown Dam to Anaconda cleanup is the largest cleanup site of all. Helena (her district) has a big old cleanup site they’re trying to figure out what to do with right now, doesn’t it?

I’m guessing Gillan thinks all that is good economic development too.

Her remarks have been bugging me since I heard about them – I’ve often pondered if there wasn’t a certain attitude in the legislature with regards to mining/oil/gas development that was a lot of “let it roll” combined with “it’ll be a big cleanup site in the future.” Her remarks lead me to believe that I just may not be completely cynical…that there’s actually some truth to what should be pure fiction.

Gillan ranks first in the Democratic field for pulling in cash ($124,145 this last Q), followed by Franke Wilmer ($107,117) and Dave Strohmaier ($49,078). By comparison, Republican Steve Daine’s collected $546,327.

Yeah. Over a half a million buckaroos, Montana.

~~~~~~~

Gillan’s out for me with this kind of news. At least this cleared up any lingering doubts I had about being open to persuasion.

Dave Strohmaier, for his part, has done quite well, picking up a number of endorsements. Strohmaier’s also been hard working and well received around the state. At this weekend forum he got glowing reviews. His answer to the Keystone XL question called for more thorough economic and environmental studies – and he questioned the moving target on the number of long-term jobs it would create.

Franke Wilmer is a strong candidate, having served 3 legislative sessions in the House, representing moderate Bozeman. She’s a scrapper, too – just read her biography).

On Keystone XL, Wilmer pointed out that if “you take the jobs out of the pipeline, no one likes the pipeline.” She went on to point out this is the reason we need to strengthen our unions. “If we had a stronger unions to negotiate for clean jobs,” said Wilmer, “this wouldn’t even be an issue.”

Thank Goddess these two got it right.

by Pete Talbot

I shrugged it off the first few times I heard it or saw it in print, “government picking winners and losers.”

Now it’s everywhere: Republican debates, news stories, op-ed columns and even comments here at 4&20.

It’s directed at Democrats, for the most part, from President Obama (health care, Solyndra) to Missoula’s City Council (Play Ball Missoula).

The irony is that all parties, in all areas of government, from city councils to state legislatures to Congress and the President, have picked winners and losers.

They’ve subsidized railroads and airlines, oil and coal, highways and electrical distribution systems, NASA, mining and agriculture, baseball, basketball and football teams … it’s a long list.

Winners and losers are chosen by the powers that be all the time. There are no-bid defense department contracts for Halliburton, Raytheon and Blackwater. There are tax code revisions that pick winners and losers. There are decisions on food stamps, Social Security and Medicaid that have winners and losers.

It’s a cool sounding mantra, this “government picking winners and losers,” no doubt generated at some Karl Rove or libertarian think tank using focus groups and polling, and distributed to key leaders in right-wing politics, whence it trickles down.

There are no doubt abuses in this system. But the idea that every aspect of American life should be subject to the invisible hand of the free market is unrealistic and anachronistic. And the Republican cry of “crony capitalism” is about as hypocritical as it gets. The art of crony capitalism has been a mainstay of the Republican Party.

It’s dishonest to call all government spending “socialist” and lay the blame at the feet of Democrats. Picking winners and losers has been going on since the founding fathers and is as American as apple pie.

It just depends on who’s doing the giving and getting the rewards that gets the teeth gnashing and pundits whining.

 
Reagan Proved Deficits Don’t Matter”
VP Dick Cheney to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill in 2002

By JC

Big Ingy, in my previous blog post on the rise of a liberal movement to primary Obama was being coy about the nature of tax increases under Reagan. Actually, coy is a nice word. He was being lazy and didn’t want to pony up any real facts. So being the inquisitive blogger that I am, had to do his homework for him.

Well, now I know why he and every other right winger doesn’t want to talk about the actual Reagan record. Ronnie raised taxes by signing into law $132.7 billion worth of tax increases. During the same period he also cut taxes by signing legislation worth $275.3 billion, for a net decrease of $142.6 billion dollars. But, coupled with his deficit spending, the national debt soared $1.873 trillion during his reign of trickle down economic terror, a tripling of the debt.

The obvious conclusion is that tax cuts don’t prevent deficits (as if we need to be reminded of that after Bush the Second’s raiding of the public coffers for tax breaks for the rich), and grossly inflate the national debt. Trickle down does not work.

Reagan’s Budget Director, David Stockman called trickle down, supply side economics a “trojan horse:”

“Do you realize the greed that came to the forefront?’ Stockman asked with wonder. ‘The hogs were really feeding. The greed level, the level of opportunism, just got out of control.”

Greedy hogs indeed!

Furthermore, unemployment went from 7.6% to 5.5% (with a peak of 9.7% inbetween, higher than anything under Obama) in Reagan’s eight years.

My question to conservatives is this: if you are willing to let a republican president triple the national debt to gain 2.1% points of employment, why not let a democrat do it?

Well, the answer is easy: hypocrisy and politics. Compassionate conservatism is dead.

It is clear that republicans are using economic terrorism to hold the unemployed as a hostage in order to aggregate political power in the next election, and collect the tithes of their overlords. Conservative economist and neomonetarist Scott Sumner called these sorts of political actions “treason”.

I’ve included Reagan’s tax increases and some other info and citations below the fold.
Continue Reading »

By JC

It was just a matter of time until liberals figured out if they didn’t get an opportunity to challenge Obama on the issues of the day, that they might as well hand over the country and the ’12 election to republicans.

Last week every loyal dem’s favorite punching bag, Ralph Nader, teamed up with others to call for 6 primary opponents to challenge President Obama on specific issues:

“Without debates by challengers inside the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries, the liberal/majoritarian agenda will be muted and ignored,” Mr. Nader said in a news release. “The one-man Democratic primaries will be dull, repetitive, and draining of both voter enthusiasm and real bright lines between the two parties that excite voters.”

In search of candidates, Mr. Nader and the others sent out a letter, endorsed by 45 “distinguished leaders,” to elected officials, civic leaders, academics and members of the progressive community who specialize among other things in labor, poverty, military and foreign policy. The list, they said, also includes progressive Democrats who have held national and state office and have fought for progressive reforms…

Mr. Nader and [Cornell] West are joined by Christ Townsend, of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, and Brent Blackwelder, president emeritus of Friends of the Earth.

As the story gained steam, the Washington Post provided some more details:

Nader said Saturday it is “very unlikely” he would challenge Obama, and that he is gauging the interest of former lawmakers and governors, academics, authors and labor leaders.

The group said Saturday it is seeking six “recognizable, articulate” candidates who would not mount serious challenges to Obama, but “rigorously debate his policy stands” on issues related to labor, poverty, foreign policy, civil rights and consumer protections.

The group’s efforts come as Democrats are growing increasingly pessimistic about the country’s direction. Fewer than three-quarters of Democrats approve of Obama’s job performance, and less than a third believe the nation is headed in the right direction, according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll

“I just want all these liberal, progressive agendas to be robustly debated. Otherwise, there will be a de facto blackout of their discussion” during next year’s campaign, Nader said.

The push garnered some support in Congress, too, and is sure to spark some hot debate among dems about their future (and probably some glee among conservatives and their t-party cheerleaders):

Some frustrated Democrats in Congress are saying that a primary challenge to President Obama would be a good thing…

Rep. Peter DeFazio said a primary would “push the president and his advisers a bit … to give us back the candidate we had three years ago.”

The Oregon Democrat pointed out that some of his colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus agree with him, but he declined to name names.

“It’s a common refrain, and it’s certainly common in my district among Democrats [because] they want the guy back that they voted for,” DeFazio said.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told The Hill a challenge “would be healthy for the party.”

Me? What took them so long? Pass the popcorn. Let the debates begin.!

by jhwygirl

This is a repost in its entirety of my original post. Nothing new has changed, and what George said needs to be repeated again. George Ochenski spoke to the Flathead Democrats a year ago today.

This past Saturday, The Indy’s award-winning supermontanacolumnist George Ochenski gave the keynote speech at the Flathead Democrat’s Annual Harvest Dinner. Never one to hold back on the truth, the big GO delivered a barn-burner, closing to a standing ovation and inspiring all who attended.

It’s no secret that I absolutely worship George Ochenski. He says he isn’t a political strategist, and he says he isn’t a political leader, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Democrats would be a in a better place – the Montana Democrats would be in a better place – if he were.

Ochenski is an inspiration to me and many others. I say that without a doubt as to the truth of that statement.

I also doubt he’d been able to finish this speech if I were there – I’da been standing on my chair, fist raised, shouting as loud as I could “Hell yeah!” before he’da been half-way through. Jess Grennan knows what I’m talking about.

Want to know what it means to be a Democrat? Wonder, these days, what it should mean? His entire words are a must-read. I’m tempted to print out a few copies and send ’em to Washington. And Helena.

Below the fold, The Speech: Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

First a brief recap: Boehner submitted a budget proposal after he walked away – very publicly – Monday night after President Obama’s speech. His said his bill would save $1.2 trillion, but yesterday, CBO came back with it scored as saving only about $850 billion. So Boehner – who had scheduled the thing for a floor vote Wednesday night – had to pull it due to the disappointing results.

Dems, for their part, had submitted a plan that they said would save “almost $3 trillion.” CBO scored it and – just like the Republican plan – it came back shy of its touted amount: only $2.2 trillion.

For all the tough-talking Boehner and Cantor and Paul have done on the budget, and for the dismissive review they’ve given of anything coming from the other side of the aisle, I’da thought those Einstein’s would have been a little closer. I mean – they didn’t even hit the the $1 trillion point.

Beyond that, Boehner’s bill relied largely on caps on discretionary spending and the interests savings that would have resulted. Boehner tells the nation Monday night that he’ll save the budget crisis – that government is too big – and by Wednesday he’s handed over some sophmoric bill that doesn’t (a) meet the numbers he put out and (b) – more importantly so given all his caucus’ tough talk – doesn’t do any shrinking of government. Doesn’t offer any real reform. Liar. Hypocrite.

But getting back to the topic at hand…

The GOP had a little coaching session last night due to the disappointing review the CBO gave to Boehner’s budget bill. The highlight of the session was a clip from the movie The Town when one thug (played by Ben Affleck) says to another “we’re gonna hurt some people,” and then they proceed to bludgeon two men and then shoot one. In hockey masks.

This link will take you to the full clip – it can not be embedded.

After viewing the clip, Florida Republican and outspoken freshman Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. stood up and said, “I’m ready to drive the car,” surprising even many Republicans.

Ben Affleck was asked what he though – here it is, directly from Huffington Post:

(I)n a statement his spokesperson provided to The Huffington Post, he suggested that Republicans use a different one of his movies next time they need to whip votes.

“I don’t know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation,” said the actor, who is currently in Turkey directing and starring in “Argo,” an adaptation of the Tehran hostage crisis. “But if they’re going to be watching movies, I think “The Company Men” is more appropriate.”

That latter Affleck flick focuses on the plight of middle age men who have been laid off during the recession. (One of them, depressed about being unemployed, later kills himself.)

I wrote yesterday about corporate America thumbing their nose at us unwashed masses?

Last night, the GOP did the exact same thing. Then they beat the crap out of us with baseball bats.

And cheered.

Sen. Jon Tester supports anti-immigrant policies and impedes immigration reform.

A guest post by Helena Immigration Attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, posted by Jamee Greer

Jon Tester (D-MT) is facing a tough run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but he just keeps giving progressives more reasons not to vote for him. His track record on immigration issues has been abysmal, as I’ve written about before. Make no mistake about it — Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the Senate on the issue of immigration, and he is one of the most vocal. The way he talks about the issue, you would think Montana wasn’t one of the states with the least number of immigrants in the whole country.

Despite outrage over his despicable vote against the DREAM Act, Tester hasn’t decided to leave immigration policy to states that actually have a dog in the fight. You won’t see him bragging about his DREAM Act vote, mind you — after all, Daily Kos famously called him an “asshole” for that reprehensible vote, and he doesn’t want to rekindle the ire of the netroots crowd. However, he has continued to make his anti-immigrant positions a core part of his campaign, jumping at every opportunity to link immigration to national security concerns. For instance, when a college in California was found to be enrolling foreign students without proper accreditation, Tester quickly issued a press release noting that “several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.”

Recently, Jon Tester put up two web pages on the issue of immigration that are so ignorant you would think Tester locked anti-immigrant zealots Mark Krikorian and John Tanton in a room with a bottle of whiskey and posted whatever they came up with.

In fact, these two immigration pages are so wrong-headed that they require some analysis and interpretation to fully make sense of them. One web page outlines his unsophisticated view of the immigration issue in four paragraphs. His other page lists his immigration “accomplishments.” (By accomplishments, Tester seems to mean ways he has screwed immigrants and wasted federal money.) I’ll review both of the pages together.

Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them. That’s why Jon opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During his first year as Senator, Jon helped put a stop to a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Jon voted in 2007 to defeat the Immigration Reform Bill, telling his colleagues, “We don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.”

Where do we start? Polls have consistently shown that the people think our immigration system is broken and want some form of immigration reform. The last time our immigration laws were substantively changed was in 1996, and almost everyone agrees that those changes were ineffective — in fact, they created more problems than they solved. People are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to act, and don’t believe that “enforcement only” solutions are going to work. As a result of the federal government’s inertia, states like Arizona, Utah, and Georgia have begun to enact their own immigration policies, which raise significant constitutional concerns including due process violations and racial profiling. While I strongly oppose state level enforcement of immigration laws, and I believe that these state laws are misguided, it is difficult to fault the states for at least trying to take action when the federal government will not.

Yet, Jon Tester considers it an “accomplishment” that he has ignored the will of the public and done absolutely nothing to fix our immigration system. In fact, he is proud that he helped derail immigration reform in 2007, and has continued to sabotage efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s nice that he sets the bar so low for himself, but the rest of the country is expecting a little more.

Tester refuses to acknowledge that our system needs to be fixed, stating “we don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.” The problem, of course, is that our system is broken and we need to reform our laws in order to more effectively enforce them. Current immigration reform proposals aim to increase enforcement on the border and interior of the country, but recognize that in order to curb undocumented immigration we also need to fix some of our laws that are creating the problems in the first place. For instance, our laws include huge gaps in coverage, where many family members have no reasonable opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States. Among other things, reform proposals would open new paths to family-based immigration that were causing needless undocumented immigration.

Tester remains willfully obtuse in his opposition to so-called “amnesty” for immigrants who lack lawful status. “Amnesty” means a general pardon for an offense against the state, but Tester uses the term “amnesty” to refer to any changes in the law that would create a path to legalization — even if the path is strenuous and imposes a strict set of requirements. He even used the term amnesty to refer to the DREAM Act, which would have created a seven (or more) year path towards citizenship for men and women who serve our country in the military or go to college. There is no “amnesty” on the table, and there hasn’t been for years. Instead, what is being proposed is a way for immigrants who are already here to earn their way back into lawful status by paying fines, back taxes (if they haven’t already been paying like most immigrants), and potentially even community service. After all, even Newt Gingrich understands that it is not realistic to deport all of the 11 million people who are here without status.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform won’t be expensive, as Tester states, but will actually increase wages for all workers and improve our economy. Time and again, it has been proven that spending money on border security alone, without any other changes to our laws, is untenable and ineffective. Nevertheless, Tester has chosen to advocate these “enforcement only” solutions.

Instead [of immigration reform], Jon has focused his energy on boosting security along America’s borders, particularly our northern border with Canada. From his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

That same year, Jon introduced and passed into law a measure requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on weaknesses along the northern border and develop a plan for improving northern border security.

So let me get this straight: Instead of working for immigration reform to help the entire country, Tester is pushing for huge government expenditures to protect us from Canada? It is foolish to tout Canadian border security as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, because it is clear that the risks from an unmonitored northern border have almost nothing to do with the larger immigration problems our country is facing.

While the GAO issued a report stating that Department of Homeland Security needs to work better with other agencies and partners along the northern border, the GAO didn’t endorse Tester’s crusade to spare no expense to “secure” the border. Indeed, the GAO previously pushed back on claims about insecurity on the northern border.

Nevertheless, Tester is so eager to appear strong on immigration enforcement that he managed to get an appropriation for military grade radars on the Canadian border. He also wants to expand the use of unmanned drones (and they are already being used in some areas). Those radars and drones would have come in handy last year, when I helped a Canadian kid who got lost and accidentally drove his ATV across the border.

As George Ochenski put it: “For most Montanans, the border with Canada has never been and likely will never be seen as a threat. After all, the U.S. and Canada share the longest border on the continent, and it has been our ally in world wars as well as regional conflicts. It’s also our largest trading partner and our closest, largest and most secure source of oil. Treating Canada as some variant of Pakistan’s border is, in a word, insulting to both Montanans and our Canadian friends.”

Jon was the only Senate Democrat to put his name on legislation pumping new resources into border protection for new technology and new border patrol officers. Jon cosponsored the measure after securing a pledge that a certain percentage of those new resources would be spent along the northern border.

Here’s a tip for Tester’s staffers: When you’re the only Democrat to put your name on a piece of legislation, its probably nothing to brag about. The bill that Tester is referring to is actually a corollary to one that was introduced by his opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Jon Tester partnered up with Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-AZ), among other Republicans, to co-sponsor a $3 million amendment. This bill also funded construction of the fence along the Mexican border — a project that has been abandoned and condemned as a tremendous failure and waste of billions in taxpayer dollars.

And from his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

One of Tester’s “critical upgrades” was a $15 million dollar renovation to the border station in Whitetail, MT, which was reported to get about five crossings a day and no commercial traffic. After facing criticism for needless spending, Tester and Max Baucus reduced the appropriation to only $8.5 million. Meanwhile, Canadian officials closed the road leading to this border station, rendering the whole project useless. This embarrassing episode didn’t make Tester’s list of accomplishments.

Of course, even though he votes against any legislation that isn’t directed purely towards deporting immigrants, Tester wouldn’t want you to get the impression that he is against immigration:

Jon knows that legal immigrants, like his grandparents, helped build America into what it is today. But he also believes that no one is above the law.

In public statements and constituent letters, Tester is constantly stating that his grandparents “waited in line” and followed the rules, implying that new immigrants should be expected to follow the same process. However, it appears that Tester’s ancestors entered the country in 1916 — before our current immigration system even existed. At that time, our immigration policy was comparable to an “open border” policy. Years later, quotas were enacted to limit immigration and more stringent criteria for entry were developed. It was not until 1965 that the current Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted, with its very limited methods for gaining permanent residence in the U.S.

There is no question that Jon Tester’s ancestors faced a dramatically different immigration system than those who are immigrating today. Tester and other enforcement advocates often evoke the image of a “line” that immigrants must simply wait in. However, the truth is that for most immigrants, there is no “line.” Tester’s own grandparents may not have been able to enter the country under our current immigration scheme.

Jon Tester seems intent on mimicking Rehberg in many ways, including sharing his anti-immigrant views.

Jon Tester’s vocal anti-immigrant positions have placed Montana progressives in a difficult position. Contrary to the attacks of those who want to silence any opposition to Tester’s bad policies, none of us are excited about the prospect of his opponent, Dennis Rehberg, being elected to the Senate. Indeed, Rehberg’s stance on immigration is no better than Tester’s. However, Tester’s ignorant views on immigration are also making it impossible for us to lend him our vote.

Tester’s positions on immigration are not gaining him support with Republicans, but they are causing a split among Democrats. The best thing for Jon Tester to do is distance himself from the issue of immigration, because each time he opens his mouth, he brings many progressives closer to sending a difficult message: The progressive movement cannot tolerate a Democrat who has an anti-immigrant agenda, regardless of the consequences.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath blogs about local immigration issues at Border Crossing Law Blog.

By JC

You know, Democrats really hate people who put policy before politics. Principles before compromises. Issues before elections. Especially when you’re talking about wilderness.

Seems that criticizing policy that seeks to release lands protected by the late Senator Lee Metcalf’s Montana Wilderness Study Act and other roadless and protected areas, in exchange for the official “designation” of a few hundred thousand acres of said protected land garners folks the “ilk” moniker from Dems.

Well, I happen to like the “ilk” that i have been associated with. So thanks to the thought police for pointing that out and reminding me who my friends are, here. I’d so rather work with folks who’d rather take a principled stand on the value of wilderness, instead of trading wilderness for votes.

Fighting for, and about wilderness has become a time-honored tradition in Montana between the body politic, and those who would protect or would destroy it. Sometimes, Dem gossip columnists get the facts mixed up a bit, and come off sounding a bit down-right hostile to enviros.
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By JC

“If you want to be a malleable politician, you campaign from the center. But if you want to be a leader, you define the center. You don’t rely on polls to tell you where to go. At best, polls tell you where people are, and it’s pointless to lead people where they already are. The essence of political leadership is focusing the public’s attention on the hard issues that most would rather avoid or dismiss.” — Robert Reich, Reason

With those words firmly planted in mind, I’m going to relate a story of how Jon Tester’s candidacy for the Senate was given a huge boost by a contingent of Montanans throwing their weight behind his candidacy in the 2006 primary against John Morrison and others.

And we start the story with a poll: John Morrison +1%.

That was the number that was staring at Democrats a few weeks before the June 6th, 2006 Democrat primary for Senate in Montana. Coupled with that number were other polls that showed Morrison at a serious disadvantage compared to Jon Tester in a one-to-one matchup against 3-time incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns.

Sitting back in the pack of Democrats running in the primary was Paul Richards, polling at about 2%. While 2% isn’t much, during the general election, almost 200,000 votes were cast Democrat. So around 4,000 people could have been said to support Paul. Not a large number, and not a particularly big political base from which to attempt to influence the statewide race. Or so it seems.

But let’s consider for a moment whom those 4,000 people may have been.
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By JC

(Reagan) Democrats are dancing in the streets! Headlines across the country proclaim: “All Sides Declare Victory” or “GOP Passes Largest Budget Cuts in History!”

Well, which is it? What really happened last night?

I guess because I’m really into self-immolation these days, it seems, I’m going to continue on with this series of articles on the Great Budget Battles of 2011™. I’ve been given fair warnings about casting assumptions, being self-righteous and pious (and a lot of other ugly things–hat tip to Rob and his brother moorcat), that I’m a “radical progressive” (which I take as a step up from our junior senator’s labeling of people like myself as “extremists”–thanks PW), but I take those aspersions as either a sign that I’m touching a raw nerve, or maybe I’m just a raw nerve that’s touched… whatever–that is to say, I have an opinion and a soapbox from which to shout it.

Ok, back to the question: what happened? Everybody came together and sang Kumbaya–the republicans gave up their policy demands, and 1/3 of their $61 billion in demanded cuts, democrats gave up a few billion dollars more, and won the fight for women’s health care… right??? (Or did the dems really just use women’s health issues as a way to ameliorate slashing other democrat-prized New Deal programs??? Or for Boehner to appease teabaggers as a way to force dems to agree to more cuts…but I digress, I didn’t want to delve into conspiracy theory here–that is lizard’s realm, and he does a damn fine job of it, I might add)

Well, no. We got 2 billion dollars in immediate non-discretionary cuts to the likes of high-speed rail transit money, HUD public housing funds, CDBG block grants, FAA airline safety–you know, things democrats like to cut in the name of “responsibly cutting the budget”–let’s just get the easy stuff out of the way first. But let’s not forget all the other budget cuts for the 2011 budget, that will bring the total to $78.5 billion… noooo.

But they got rid of the policy riders, right? Nope. They got some of them–like the Planned Parenthood defunding–out of this round, but in so doing they had to offer up-or-down votes on them in the senate (how many blue dogs are willing to go along with defunding PP…I wonder, and all the rest of the riders???). Oh, and rich Washington D.C-ians (and Congressmen, I assume–oops, there’s that “A” word again–bad writer, bad writer) got to keep their federally funded vouchers to send their kids to private schools. Nice. I wonder if they teach them about sex-ed and birth control, global warming or evolution there.

So where does that leave us? Very good question. I guess there’s another $37 billion in cuts to be worked out (I mean “fought over”–drama, drama drama…) before next wednesday, because, well, they just passed a Continuing Resolution till next week (actually, I think it was more that they decided to use the “KY Jelly” brand in their marketing of the deal, but that would be too nasty of me to say in mixed company), meaning another battle will be fought between now and then, supposedly with the parameters of that $37 billion somewhere agreed upon to finish the budget cycle. OK, just what is the agreement over those cuts??? I think we’ll begin to see that as the next phase of this drama begins to unfold.

I’ll end (sort of–I’m a glutton for punishment) by allowing John Nichols of The Nation do my dirty work for me, lest I be accused of falsely slandering democrats (though I still fully expect to be attacked, as it is easier to shoot the messenger than…):

“So who won the standoff? President Obama says the deal is good for the future, and that might make some Democrats think that he and the Democrats prevailed.

The one-week spending bill enacted by the House and Senate contains $2 billion in spending cuts to transportation, housing and community development programs.

A Senate Appropriations Committee review says that most of the $2 billion in cuts contained in the one-week bill come from a $1.5 billion slashing of the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. More cuts are achieved by hacking $220 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Fund. And research into making air travel safer and more efficient took cuts as well.

In other words, precisely the sort of programs that Democrats used to defend were slashed.

The Senate agreed to the one-week plan by unanimous consent.

Seventy House members opposed the bill. Of those seventy “no” votes, forty-two came from Democrats. They did not want a shutdown, as some of the GOP “no” voters did. But the dissenting Democrats said the cuts went too far.

They were right.

And we will need a lot more FDR Democrats to prevent the broader deal from becoming the greatest triumph yet in the GOP campaign to end the New Deal and bend the arc of history against progress.

They didn’t…”

Yes, a lot more FDR Democrats to tip the balance against the Blue Dog and resurgent Reagan Democrats that seem to be running the “grownup” wing of the Democrat party.

Update: Here’s how Ezra Klein described the whole rig-a-marole:

“The Democrats believe it’s good to look like a winner, even if you’ve lost”…

Right now, the economy is weak. Giving into austerity will weaken it further, or at least delay recovery for longer. And if Obama does not get a recovery, then he will not be a successful president, no matter how hard he works to claim Boehner’s successes as his own.

And Krugman concurs in “Celebrating Defeat:”

It’s one thing for Obama to decide that it was better to give in to Republican hostage-taking than draw a line in the sand; it’s another for him to celebrate the result. Yet that’s just what he did. More than that, he has now completely accepted the Republican frame that spending cuts right now are what America needs.

Nice… Austerians, what say you???
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By JC

Well, I enjoyed the discussion so much on my last post the other day, “Senator Tester Abdicates Role of U.S. Government to GOP in Budget Fight”–about Tester’s avoidance of framing the ongoing budget debate in any other terms than the following:

“Congress has an important decision to make this week: Either work together to responsibly cut spending and keep our government working, or refuse and let our government shut down.”

— that I decided to do another. And surprise, surprise, some folks aren’t interested in talking about how our politicians are–or are not–responding to the ongoing battle. People want to discuss how we need to cut the budget, and how austerity is an appropriate response at this time. And that everything is hunky-dory in our junior Senator’s office (can’t criticize the incumbent during a reelection campaign, now can we). Oh, yeah, and they wanted to throw insults. But I digress.

So today, the OMB released a list of policy riders to H.R. 1, which is the House bill that is being debated in Congress. I assume that those who want to “responsibly cut” either are going along with this list, or feel that they can gain some concessions from Republicans and their conservative/teabagger loony fringe.

it is easy to pretend to be the grownup in the room, doing what you think is right and necessary. But these folks are calling the shots. And the only tools the Democrats have right now are not ones they seem to want to use, or are uncomfortable with: 1) make the case that austerity economics is not the right thing to do now (which I agree with) and offer an alternative to cutting which is tax reform that lowers rates, reduces complexity, and raises revenue; 2) keep making concessions until the Republicans agree to pass their bill; 3) allow the government shutdown to occur, and let public pressure define who wins, and who has to concede the most.

Sure, there are some other avenues, some doable, some not. And I remind commenters that at this point in time politics is the art of the doable. So you austerians and “responsibly cut” folks should pony on up and let us know just how you can justify your position knowing that the Republicans are stuffing a very bitter pill down your throat along with your all growed up budget cuts.

So here is a short list from the OMB’s report on policy riders in H.R.1.

  • Restrict funding of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and defund the “consumer products complaints database.
  • Bans funding for the Department of Education regulations on Gainful Employment, as-yet-unpublished rules that would restrict federal student aid to for-profit colleges
  • Prohibits funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, the Weatherization Assistance Program or the State Energy Program, EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases
  • Defines specifically what greenhouse gases are and prohibits the EPA from imposing regulations on those gasses emitted by a stationary source for seven months
  • Prohibits funds for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) from moving forward with a proposed rule that would effectively eliminate the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, a rule that presently allows surface mining operations with qualified permits to work within 100 feet of a stream
  • Prohibits funds for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Prohibits funds for the EPA to implement regulations to designate coal ash residue as hazardous waste
  • Prohibits funds for EPA to modify the national primary ambient air quality standards applicable to coarse particulate matter (dust)
  • Prohibits funding for the IRS to implement health care reform
  • Prohibits funding for sections of the Public Health Service Act
  • Prohibits funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates
  • Strips funding for any provision of the health care reform law, and associated agency actions
  • Prohibits funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative
  • Prohibits funding for capital advances or rental assistance contracts for HUD Housing for the Elderly projects
  • Blocks funds for the Federal Communications Commission to institute Net Neutrality rules
  • Prohibits funds for the Community Connect broadband grant program administered by the Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture
  • Prohibits funding for carrying out section 19 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act
  • Prohibits funds to pay the salaries and expenses of “czars,” or special presidential advisers who are not required to go through the Senate confirmation process

And there you have your short list. And these are the guys with whom you are willing to compromise to get your “responsible budget cuts”? This is like negotiating with terrorists, or kidnappers. Ready to make strange bedfellows with the right?

Jon Tester seems ready, judging by the op-ed he put out the other day. Or was that just a bunch of pre-election hot air meant to cast him in the grownup category?

By JC

This is a tough opinion to write. My goal here is not continually to bash Montana’s junior senator, but the buildup to the looming battle over the budget, complete with threat of government shutdowns and refusal to raise the debt ceiling, leaves me with no choice but to lay the political argument out on the table: what is the role of the U.S. government?

It is with this question in mind this morning when I awoke to Senator Tester’s new op-ed piece in my inbox. And of course, I was hoping that he would address the big question: what is it that we need from our government today? Particularly when Congress is so polarized between the conservative/teabagger alliance hellbent on tearing government down to an inefficient and meaningless puddle of tail-between-the-legs government employees propped up by the world’s greatest military, and a democrat rump party unable to craft a message about the appropriate role of government and a message to defend it and inspire people to value their government and rise up in opposition to this insanity.

I so wanted Senator Tester to live up to the promise that the Weekly Standard posed, in its front page cover and headline article asking the question of is Jon “The New Face of the Democratic Party?” Because the democratic party is in sore need of leadership able to craft a message and fight for the needs of Americans struggling to survive the Great Recession.

Turning to Tester’s op-ed, what are greeted with?

“Congress has an important decision to make this week: Either work together to responsibly cut spending and keep our government working, or refuse and let our government shut down.”

And with that statement, the battle was lost–them’s some real fighting words. Democrats, if Jon Tester is any indication, have already abdicated their responsibility, if this is how they choose to define the battle. And Denny Rehberg’s election committee must be laughing their asses off right about now. They won that round.

At a time when the GOP budget, as outlined by Rep. Ryan, has as its goal the abolishment of Medicare and Medicaid in 10 years what we need is a battle for the heart and soul of the democratic party, liberal policies, and progressive ideals. Instead democrats let the right define the terms of the battle, and the end goal: budget cutting at any cost.

There is nary a word in Tester’s words cutting to the right’s vulnerabilities in their quest, and they are multitude. Where the right gets away with labeling the Affordable Care Act as “Death Panels” democrats must be fine with the GOP proposing true death panels: turning the health care needs of the elderly, the disabled and the poor over to the private sector–which seeks only to profit off of their misery. Social Security privatization is right around the corner.

I could go on and on dissecting Tester’s op-ed, but my ulcer is already killing me. Suffice it to say that I view his words as opportunity lost, nothing more than a rearrangement of the chairs of the Titanic, that once majestic Great Society that has taken nearly 80 years to build, yet with one weakly challenged budget battle, will begin to unravel at breakneck speed.

Update: Paul Krugman just weighed in on this theme in “The Threat Within:”

“The great danger now is that Obama — with the help of a fair number of Senate Democrats — will kill Medicare in the name of civility and outreach.”

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar! at Left in the West gets the hat tip on this one.

From Friday’s hearings, detailed in several posts below. Watch Superstar State Representative Ellie Hill (HD-94) take on the Montana’s Christian Taliban’s Reverend Harris Himes.

Rep. Hill? THANK YOU.

This is a civilized society. It seems that some of the GOP running these committees forgets these things. Every statement does not fall under “free speech” and inciting violence is not anything that should be tolerated.

And Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings? 10 minutes is not a public hearing.

You represent ALL, not just those than elected you. You are a disgrace to the state bar (if you hold it); a disgrace to the House Judiciary; and a disgrace to the Montana Legislature.

And pulling for seventeen executive actions in House Judicary on Monday morning, in less than 4 hours? That leaves no time for meaningful discussion between legislators – but that’s exactly what you want now, isn’t it?

You are a disgrace to democracy.

by jhwygirl

Unemployment benefits expired for millions of Americans at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning while congress debates whether to spend $56.4 billion for the near 10% of Americans that are unemployed or $700 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans?

Each week, more millions will be added to that number of people that will have no source of income. Think about what that’s doing for the economy.

I’m of the mindset that President Obama has already compromised on the tax issue by saying he’s willing to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts to ninety eight percent of Americans. It shows some sensible restraint with regards to deficit spending. At a time when our government can’t afford to expend money without great assurance that virtually 100% of it returns back into the economy, keeping more money in the hands of ninety eight percent of Americans is a smart thing to do.

GOP Senators, on the other hand, have said that they are going to filibuster the current tax cut proposal to hold out for tax cuts for America’s richest 2% even though it is going to increase the deficit. They won’t talk START treaty, they won’t talk unemployment benefits.

Baucus, for his part, is once again sitting high. He’s the Democrat’s representative in the Group of Six put together by Obama.

Yeah…..

Baucus has also brought a bill to the floor last night that will extend unemployment benefits for one more year.

So I got a little panicky….

….but I’m breathing a bit of a sigh of relief tonight – because Baucus’ bill is the product of the Gang of Six, and it extends tax cuts to 98% of Americans. It extends Making Work Pay credit, the research and development credit, and lower tax rates on investment income.

Sure sounds like compromise to me.

If Obama or if any of our representation in Washington thinks that extending $700 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% wage earners in America is a “deal” well, they have the wrong idea of how to cut a deal. The current proposal includes tax cuts for businesses and investment income. It extends cuts to 98% of America. What’s to grump about?

Rabble Rouser Republicans like Boehner, McConnell and Cantor have, for the most part, toned down their rhetoric (although they were reluctant to do so as they were doing so):

One can’t help but to see how much the Sun Tan Man seemed to love the limelight, with Cantor a close close second. Yet we have yet to see offer of a compromise.

Big Swede likes videos. I don’t know how to capture this one (but a friend-of-4&20 has offered to work on it), but I hope he (and those folks up in Washington) can see this video from NBC’s KECI Missoula. What would they tell this man if they were standing there?

What will they tell 10% of America?

Would Boehner stand there with his my way or the highway and tell that Montanan that he’s without any income in the middle of winter? 3 weeks before Christmas?

I dare him.

~~~~~
(Big Swede? I don’t know why you can’t post under your Big Swede name. I can’t figure it out, but it isn’t because of any setting here.)

By Duganz

I remember sitting in my high school computer lab when we started shocking and awing Iraqi civilians, and soldiers into oblivion. Some of my classmates were cheering. I was 18 so I could only think of Johnson, Nixon, and the story my Dad’s plan to run to Canada when he got his draft number (just a few months before the end of the Vietnam draft).

We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over nine years, and in Iraq nearly eight years. The cost of the wars has exceeded $1 trillion. Nearly 100,000 American troops have been wounded, and thousands have died.As for civilians of those two nations, thousands are dead, homeless, or slowly descending into a mindset wherein bombs are a fashion statement.

All those years, all that money, and all of those wounded human beings and I still have yet to get a sound reason for this question I’ve had all along: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

It’s a childish question, I know. But it is nonetheless relevant. The Left has laid blame on reactionary tactics (Afghanistan), and corporatism (Iraq). The Right is quick to beat the purity drum with a ratta-tat-tat roll for FREEDOM! FOR! ALL! The Left arguments may be true, we may be in these conflicts for empty reactionary reasons and our ongoing desire to burn dead dinosaurs. I don’t know.

As for the Right’s reasoning, well, I don’t know how an occupation creates freedom. And I mean that literally. How are people free if armed soldiers are walking around telling them what to do?

I ultimately want to believe the best in all people, even former President George W. Bush. I want to believe that he got bad intel, and that he stretched facts for pure reasons (it ain’t likely, but I want it to be true). I want to believe that we are still losing lives and money for the cause of freedom, even if I feel that war is a misguided means to an end when it comes not from the people, but from an outside force.

But, hell, it’s probably just imperialism and greed.

I want answers to why this has happened, and why it’s still going on. I’m Cruise in A Few Good Men. I want the truth (and, sadly, my government seems to think more like Nicholson).

So I decided to email Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Max Baucus, and Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg that one simple question: “Why are we fighting wars Iraq and Afghanistan?”

I didn’t put anything else in the email. Just the question; no slant or bias. I could have asked how any of them sleep at night knowing they could save lives, or if each flag-draped coffin means something to them. I could have asked Baucus if his nephew dying changed his mind.

I only used those eight simple words.

For those of you who have never emailed our national representatives, the easiest way is through the email forms available at their websites (links above). You give some personal info (most likely for future mailers), select a topic from a pre-made list, and then you’re free to write a little message.

But here’s something interesting:

At Tester’s site you cannot select Afghanistan as a topic, but you can ask about Iraq; Baucus apparently wishes to avoid talking about either (regret those votes Max?) as neither war is an available topic so I chose “foreign policy”; Denny is the only one providing an option for both under the heading “WAR.” I’m not lying. His topic list has the word “WAR.” Just like that. In CAPS. Like it should be proceeded by a grunt and the words “Good god, y’all. What is it good for?”

My emails have been sent. I’m waiting for responses.

I’ve been waiting for nearly ten years. I’ll post the responses as they come in.

***

Update (5:20pm): I posted this on Twitter at approximately 5:10pm MST. Rep. Rehberg’s account is verified. Sen Tester’s is not. It’s possible that Mr. Smith can infact no longer go to Washington, but Mr. Duganz can go to the internet.

By JC

While all eyes are focused on the upcoming elections and the big picture about the makeup of the next Congress, many people have been watching the undercurrents, reading the tea leaves for indications about the makeup of the 2012 republican primaries. While the common wisdom has Sarah Palin underperforming in a wide open republican primary, not everybody thinks the same. The CW goes like this, as Moorcat succinctly put it last week:

Palin stands zero chance to be the next president. In every poll run on a possible matchup for the 2012 election, Palin has been (at best) third behind Romney and Huckabee.

But in an article yesterday by John Heilemann in the NY Magazine, “2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President,” he lays out the scenario:

1) The t-party pushes Sarah through to the republican nomination;
2) Obama’s popularity wanes even more amidst republican intransigence aimed to get Sarah Palin elected;
3) Michael Bloomberg enters the race as an independent, intent to assure that grownups (pragmatic centrists) persevere

Then all that needs to happen is the following (the first 2 scenarios being an Obama reelection or a Bloomberg upset):

But there is a third scenario, one that involves a more granular kind of analysis-cum-speculation. By the accounts of strategists in both parties, Bloomberg—especially with the help of his billions—would stand a reasonable chance of carrying New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and California. Combine that with a strong-enough showing in a few other places in the industrial Northeast to deny Obama those states, and with Palin holding the fire-engine-red states of the South, and the president might find himself short of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.

Assuming you still remember the basics from American Government 101, you know what would happen next: The election would be thrown to the House of Representatives—which, after November 2, is likely to be controlled by the Republicans. The result: Hello, President Palin!

Now, if you happen to be a Democrat, your first instinct might be to dismiss all of this as a dystopian anti-fantasy, or the kind of spook story told around a campfire, scary but ultimately harmless because it’s make-believe, or maybe the ravings of a madman. (I wouldn’t argue with that last one.) Certainly, it qualifies as far-fetched.

But, then, everything about Palin’s story is far-fetched: McCain’s selection of her as his running mate, her ascension after abruptly quitting the highest post she’d ever held, her status as one of the front-runners for her party’s presidential nomination. But here she is, a phenomenon nearly—nearly—unprecedented in modern politics, a figure so electrifying to the most hopped-up segment of her party that at times she seems unstoppable.

“She’s a supernova,” says McKinnon. “The only parallel is Barack Obama. And look what happened to him.”

Talk amongst yourselves as you watch the returns next week. Things will start moving much faster and with more clarity.

Me? I’m thinking of putting up a big fence around my farm, maybe dig in a bunker or two, and start stockpiling some 2nd amendment remedies.
sarah

by jhwygirl

Where’s the money? That seems to be the question – and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gone through great pains to defend itself against accusations that the U.S. Chamber is spending a documented well-over $20,000,000 a weeks almost exclusively attacking Democratic candidates across the U.S.

Attacks funded with foreign money.

It goes to reason that if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn’t spending the money it raises from foreign donors to fund attack ads, then it must be using revenue its raised from U.S. members of the Chamber of Commerce.

The U.S. Chamber needs that foreign money, I’m sure, for all those paid lobbyists that they have up in Washington DC.

So I’m wondering where our local Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce stands on their membership fees and donations being used to fund multi-million dollar attack ads to defeat Democratic candidates. Do they even know what their membership fees are being spent on.

The local CoC’s motto: “The mission of the Missoula Chamber is to provide community leadership and business advocacy while sustaining economic vitality.”

Maybe they’re OK with jobs being outsourced…because, you know, that working out well for local businesses, isn’t it. Smurfit-Stone, Stimson. Here’s a promotional video for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Does anyone know?

Act locally, think locally.

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 @CarFreeStpdty

you have to result to finding news from an Australian news site, the World Socialist Web Site, and a Rusian news station – see, Obama can’t be a socialist because the real socialists still left in this world hate him just about as much as they hated G.W.

CIA director Leon Panetta filed a legal brief to stop a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the federal government challenging its acquired taste for assassinating its own citizens. The administration doesn’t want the lawsuit to go through because… well… it would be embarrassing, potentially damaging leading into the elections, and challenge the extra-legal authorities of the Imperialist Presidency.  Already the State Department is attempting to invoke “States Secrets” as a defense against the lawsuit.   Arguing that the judicial branch has no authority here and that the Administration can act as judge, jury, and executioner… and assertion perhaps more egregious than almost anything Obama’s predecessor pulled off.  Amy Goodman featured the story as the top headline on Monday’s show here.

The story first developed when details became available that an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, wound up on a CIA hit list for materially supporting terrorism.  This got a little play in the MM and a small snippet here by Duganz, but basically it was quickly forgotten by most Americans because we all assume he’s guilty.  I mean just look at him, those beady little eyes, his un-American clothing, and a name slow-talking Midwesterners can’t wrap their tongues around.  I’m not defending any of his actions, because well, he’s a bearded douche.  Just do a Google video search for more videos like this where he openly calls on American Muslims to participate in Jihad against their own country.  While his words hold a great deal of inconvinient and sad truth, an examination of his motives would be for another post.

No, the real story is this seemingly final stride we are taking as a nation into the abyss of police statedom, an abyss nations do not come back from.  No matter how big of a douche this man is he is still an American citizen, born in America and so entitled to all the rights that any other Amiercan citizen is afforded.  And even if his actions and words constitute treason, which they probably do, treasonous people still get trials.  But now we have the development that the administration is actively engaging in “targeted killings,” of US citizens overseas, a policy that Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, openly admitted all the way back in February.

“…he was speaking publicly about the issue to reassure Americans that intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense “follow a set of defined policy and legal procedures that are very carefully observed” in the use of lethal force against U.S. citizens.

and

“We don’t target people for free speech.”

I feel reassured… don’t you?  It’s good to know they have a process for this type of thing, so that some bearded hipster doesn’t get mistaken for an anti-American Muslim cleric.

You know he's a patriotic American by the PBR pride he's displaying

G.W., with the collusion of Democrats, already effectively killed habeas corpus with the PATRIOT Act way back in 2001 so we’ve had a full nine years to get accustomed to our rights getting violated on a regular basis.  Now they have a process so that they don’t kill the wrong American talking about the evils of American policies.  At least Bush had the decency to try and give the American people a credible cover-up scandal when his administration violated the Constitution and international law.  Now instead of Bush hiding his hubris behind a half-cocked smirk we have the Obama administration upfront stating that they just took a steamer on the Constitution and wiped with the Declaration of Independence.  I guess that is Change We Can Believe In©, instead of an administration that spits in our coffee and then mixes it in before being served we now have one that spits directly in our face as we try to order.

Former Reagan Administration Official, Paul Craig Roberts says it better than I can…

Yes, the U.S. government has murdered its citizens, but Dennis Blair’s “defined policy” is a bold new development. The government, of course, denies that it intended to kill the Branch Davidians, Randy Weaver’s wife and child, or the Black Panthers. The government says that Waco was a terrible tragedy, an unintended result brought on by the Branch Davidians themselves. The government says that Ruby Ridge was Randy Weaver’s fault for not appearing in court on a day that had been miscommunicated to him. The Black Panthers, the government says, were dangerous criminals who insisted on a shoot-out.

And again here on Russia Today.  Oh how far our press has sunk that a former Reaganite has to go on a Russian news program to openly talk about the injustices our government commits, not to mention that the irony is thick enough to choke on.

Add on top of this last weeks FBI raid against anti-war protesters with “terror links” and other preemptive raids on activists and all hope seems to just drain out of me.  Back in the good old days Democrats would at a minimum feign disgust and outrage at situations like this, at least until our short American attention spans turned our heads in a different direction.  So lets all just go back to bashing the Tea Party and fighting over where specific houses of worship can be built and pretend like this is still America.

by jhwygirl

This past Saturday, The Indy’s award-winning supermontanacolumnist George Ochenski gave the keynote speech at the Flathead Democrat’s Annual Harvest Dinner. Never one to hold back on the truth, the big GO delivered a barn-burner, closing to a standing ovation and inspiring all who attended.

It’s no secret that I absolutely worship George Ochenski. He says he isn’t a political strategist, and he says he isn’t a political leader, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Democrats would be a in a better place – the Montana Democrats would be in a better place – if he were.

Ochenski is an inspiration to me and many others. I say that without a doubt as to the truth of that statement.

I also doubt he’d been able to finish this speech if I were there – I’da been standing on my chair, fist raised, shouting as loud as I could “Hell yeah!” before he’da been half-way through. Jess Grennan knows what I’m talking about.

Want to know what it means to be a Democrat? Wonder, these days, what it should mean? His entire words are a must-read. I’m tempted to print out a few copies and send ’em to Washington. And Helena.

The Speech

Before I do my Rod Sterling imitation and welcome you to the Twilight Zone that is modern-day politics, I’d like to personally thank those folks who made it possible for me to be here tonight. First and foremost, the Flathead Democratic Women and the Flathead Democratic Party for their kind invitation to speak. I’d also like to thank Margie Gignac for all her work and extend special appreciation to JoLynne and Jerry Yenne for kindly allowing my wife and I to use their great cabin where we enjoyed a very peaceful evening last night.

But the sand is running through the hourglass, so let’s jump right into the Twilight Zone and try to make some sense of the strange and swirling maelstrom into which American politics have descended.

First, I’d like to talk about “Why the Right is Wrong”…the easy part of this speech.

As we all know, having lived through eight nightmare years of the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney cabal, the Republicans have nothing, I repeat, nothing to offer us in the way of a vision for a better future.

You all remember, as do I, the phony campaign promises by Republicans to “restore dignity” to Washington following the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Their first move, aided and abetted by Montana’s own Governor Marc Racicot, was to “restore dignity” by stealing the election through voter intimidation, hanging chads and a conservative Supreme Court that decided it was more important to “move on” than accurately tally the votes of the people. And so we wound up with George Bush in the White House.

Perhaps, were it not for the September 11 attacks, Mr. Bush would have been the incompetent one-term president so many predicted. But that was not to be. Instead, a shocked, paranoid and complicit Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – cranked the wheel hard to the right through a series of events from which we have not recovered to this day – and may never fully recover.

Instead of dignity, we got deception. Instead of transparency, we got obfuscation, secrecy and denial of access to formerly public information. Instead of the Republicans’ much-vaunted “fiscal conservatism,” we tipped off the edge of wildly out-of-control spending, launching two wars and vastly increasing the military and intelligence agency budgets while domestic needs took a back seat and civil liberties, freedom and privacy were sacrificed to the umbrella excuse of “national security.”

In a throwback to the Age of Imperialism, Bush launched two wars, neither of which was justifiable and both of which, sadly, are still ongoing.

The invasion of Afghanistan was cloaked in the “mission” to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. But Afghanistan, with its towering Hindu Kush Mountains, is a wild country that has never been successfully occupied by any foreign force. The bones of the British Empire still molder in the Khyber Pass more than a century after their failed attempts at domination. Likewise, the rusted remains of Soviet tanks and helicopter gunships still litter the countryside decades later, an all-too-grim reminder that modern superpowers have no more chance of success there than the horse-borne armies of the past.

And now, of course, American blood mixes with the dust of centuries on Afghanistan’s forbidding landscapes while Osama bin Laden, wherever he may be, laughs at America’s folly in thinking we, unlike all others, can somehow subdue Afghanistan’s wild tribes. He laughs, too, as our Treasury is sucked dry by the effort, a grim parallel to the fiscal crisis widely blamed for the collapse and subsequent fracturing of the Soviet Union that, in fact, is having the same effect on our nation.

Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq fell into the Bush-Cheney crosshairs, despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. What it did and does have to do with is oil. The world of oil is the world of Dick Cheney, and as we heard time and again, “Iraq is floating on a sea of oil.”

So it was that Bush, Cheney and their military-industrial complex advisors and a complicit Congress launched another war at a cost vastly exceeding what it would have taken to simply buy the oil if we wanted it so badly.

But of course that doesn’t take into account the other costs. The dead men and women of our Armed Services, the fractured families, those who returned home broken or beset with the demons of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the uncounted casualties inflicted upon the people of Iraq. We still have 50,000 troops in Iraq today, suffering and dying while the debt burden for future generations continues to rocket skyward as the true price of this calamitous war becomes ever more clear.

Perhaps even worse than these unimaginable military and financial disasters is the policy and social detritus left in the wake of the failed Republicans. Warrantless search and seizure, extraordinary renditions, (more commonly called international kidnapping and torture), and a nation at war with itself.

Long after Bush’s infamous “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric has faded, the reality of what that did to our country lives on. We are no longer a country united in our goals and holding high the torch of Liberty, but one in which, neighbor turns suspiciously against neighbor, where distortion and outright lies replace truth and open debate, and where our own government spies on us, puts us on “do not fly” lists without our knowledge, and even marks American citizens for assassination without the benefit of a trial or the opportunity to present defense…thus crumbling even the most basic foundation of our judicial system that, as a people, we are all “innocent till proven guilty.”

And this is where the Tea Party comes into the picture. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Goddess Bless Vice President Biden, an everyperson’s working Joe. Such a regular guy, he commuted from Delaware – by train – to DC daily during his multiple terms as senator….while his wife worked and his kids went to public school.

I’m not happy with the current economic situation, but I’m old enough to remember how it was in the early 80’s. It was crap. For quite a while. And Reagan wasn’t handed the crap that Obama was before he even turned the keys on the White House.

THE FACTS ARE that George W. Bush took a $237 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit. George and his band of thieves left us bankrupt in every sense of the word. While, again, I have great concern over the current situation, my concern lies more with the everyperson, and not the top 2% that would benefit from extending the Bush tax cuts – which did not create jobs, btw.

Republicans, though can’t seem to keep to their contracts with America. Those tax cuts were set to expire because they were known to be creating a deficit when they were approved.

Let’s say that again: The Bush tax cuts were known to be creating a deficit when they were implemented.

Also again: The Bush tax cuts did not create jobs.

Now for the real poop behind those tax cuts that Boehner and his buddies – you know, guys like Dennis Rehberg? – are out there saying need to be extended: If you are married making less than $237,000 a year? Or single, making less than $200,000 a year? You will actually pay less in taxes. So small businesses? Benefit. Middle class? Benefit.

Tax payers? $1.45 billion less in deficit spending.

Yep – that’s right, extending the Bush tax cuts will double the U.S. deficit, while benefiting the very very top of the income earners in the U.S.

~~~~
Today, Joe Biden told Boehner and his buddies what he thought of their economic ideas. You can read it here. It’s a damn good version of take-your-idea-of-economic-stimulation-for-the-rich-and-shove-it.

And Max? If you are out there, paying attention? I hope you read that link above – because if you really want to extend tax cuts to the middle class – and I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m betting a whole lot of us Montanans don’t make more than $250,000 – you’ll take your position as chair of the Finance Committee and quit the nonsense, spread the word, and END THE BUSH TAX CUTS.

Thank you.

by jhwygirl

Now that summer is on the downhill side (sorry), thoughts turn to elections for many. This years election in the House and Senate gives many choices, but what is important to remember is that many serious and important issues face citizens in Montana.

Legislative sessions are tumultuous, the last two all the more so because of the precarious balance – the state house split 50-50, and the senate with a clear conservative majority.

The legislature is promising to rehash many issues, and with money short and revenues down, the budget is certain to be the big war. Funding for education and health and human services are already being cut, and certain to come – but along with that we’ve got Republicans proposing tax cuts directed towards Flathead lakefront properties.

Who’s in support and lobbying hard? The real estate industry. The very people who profited immensely for driving real estate prices up and up for the last 6 years, playing an immense part (along with bankers) in the bubble that is the housing implosion.

One of several legislative seats that Democrats have a chance of picking up is House District 100. Willis Curdy, a Grass Valley resident is repeating his candidacy this year, with Bill Nooney, the would-be incumbent having decided not to run after Curdy nearly defeated him in 2008.

4&20 was fans of Curdy last time around, and I continue to believe that he is the better candidate for the seat. An educator, a smokejumper, a trustee on the Missoula Rural Fire District….the list goes on, but his resume speaks leadership and good-as-gold common sense.

Sadly, It takes money to win an election. There’s no other way to say it. Curdy is a hard worker – knocking doors in a huge district that runs from Fish Creek to the Idaho State line and the Ravalli County line. But again – it’s gonna take cash.

Not only that – Champ Edmunds, Will Curdy’s Republican challenger, is all to happy to enjoy and cash campaign checks made out to failed GOP Missoula County Commissioner candidate Jim Edwards. As ya’all might remember, I like to listen to conservative talk radio in the morning to get my blood flowing in the morning, and a few short weeks ago I heard him bragging that he was getting campaign donations made out to Jim Edwards due to people confusing him with the former candidate. When asked what he did with them, he said – proudly – that he was “of course” cashing them, and he and the host had a nice laugh.

Lovely, huh?

Obviously, if Edmunds isn’t honest enough to at least contact the check writer and let them know that they were confused by his name before he cashed the donation, he isn’t honest or trustworthy enough to serve the very citizens he’s taking the money from.

~~~~~
You can donate to Willis Curdy by hitting this link, snail-mailing him a check, made out to Curdy for HD100, to 11280 Kona Ranch Rd. Missoula, MT 59804

In local elections, even a $5 or $10 donation adds up. It’s getting to be the time where signs need ordered, radio spots need to be planned, and newspaper and mailings prepared.

Let’s not let HD100 go to a dishonest man. Again.




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