Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

by jhwygirl

Was anyone surprised to hear that former Griz football player Trumaine Johnson was arrested on a DUI last night? Probably not. The fact that he’s a NFL cornerback for the St. Louis Rams is whatt made it just a little out of the ordinary.

Only a little.

Reading the Missoulian report, it seems that Trumaine Johnson refused the breathalyzer.

Well now, I thought, “doesn’t he realize we get warrants now in this state when people do that?

But as I read through the Missoulian’s report, it appears the City of Missoula Police merely cited former Griz player Trumaine Johnson for refusing the breath test, along with another citation for driving without headlights and the DUI charge.

Awww, isn’t that nice?

So Johnson will get off with some minor traffic tickets. No evidence for the DUI will make that a tough conviction.

I’m sure it was jet lag.

He was caught at Front and Owen. Which is St. Patrick’s Hospital property, and about 3 blocks from the Emergency Room entrance where blood tests are, I suspect, pretty easy to obtain.

Not only is Johnson getting special treatment from the City of Missoula PD, it looks like the NFL has already decided his fate – they’re gonna hit him up with a little dent in his beer money.

Real leadership failure all the way around. You wonder why we have situations like we have here and in Steubenville and scores of other communities? It’s a systemic failure.

One of those “it takes a village” moments.

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by jhwygirl

Sen. Debby Barrett’s bill to repeal last session’s eminent domain debacle had it’s hearing in Senate Energy and Telecommunications yesterday. A roomful of people, with overflow out into the hall, testified overwhelmingly in support of SB180

Northwestern Energy’s attorney Mr. Fitzpatrick spent a significant amount of time – after great theatrical preparation for his opposition testimony – continuing to blur the lines between merchant lines and distribution lines.

Distribution lines being lines which actually serve public uses here in Montana. Public uses that are regulated by the PSC. Public uses that have an elected official answering for the public uses that have, at times, been reason for an eminent domain taking of private property.

2011’s eminent domain bill handed handed the power of eminent domain to private corporations for the purposes of economic development. That, my friends, is the equivalent of the famously decried Kelo v. City of New London, which held that a private property could be condemned by developers in the name of economic gain and tax revenue.

Below the fold is Sen. Debby Barrett’s proponent statement and Missoula Sen. David Wanzenried’s comments submitted to the public record for SB180.

Before I do that, though, I’m going to provide the email addresses of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and ask you all to write these guys and tell them that keeping eminent domain power in the hands of private corporations in the name of jobs or economic gain or the guise of some sort of public beneficial review during the Large Facilities Siting Act review is wrong. Tell them eminent domain is a necessary component of government, but that the power belongs with the government and not in the hands of a private corporation. Here are the emails:
ronarthun@gmail.com, robyn@robyndriscoll.com, jessmann@mt.gov, vjack@centurytel.net, jergeson4senator@yahoo.com, ljones@mtbus.net,kaufmann@mt.net, cliff@larsenusa.com, Jason@priest2010.com, ajolson@midrivers.com, tropila@mt.net, cvvincent@hotmail.com,ewalker@edwalker2010.com

Barrett and Wanz’s testimony below…. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

When bigots and racists are allowed in the very institutions that implement law on the public individual, the whole legal system is called into question.

Makes me also wonder about what we don’t hear. This latest story from Great Falls Tribune Helena bureau reporter John S. Adams leaves me with the startling realization that the people employed at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency making decisions over who to investigate and prosecute for immigration violations can be bonafide bigots.

Last September, ICE officer Bruce Norum sent Helena immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath a long-circulated Islamophobic email titled “You worry me.” Shahid is a Muslim and a natural born citizen of the United States, raised by parents who immigrated from Pakistan. He is also a well-respected attorney who has been honored for his pro bono work assisting low-income Montanans.

Haque-Hausrath details the event, and subsequent suspension-pending-investigation of ICE officer Brude Norum on his blog. Go read it in his own words. He also links to the GFT John S. Adams news articles.

Last Monday, as Adams reports in today’s paper, Haque-Hausrath and his attorney met with ICE officials who told him that Bruce Norum would be reinstated in his same supervisory position. They offered nothing more than the explanation that it was a personnel matter.

While local ICE officials did not return calls, an ICE spokesperson out of Dallas said that they would look into it – but hadn’t responded to inquiries to that progress as of late Friday.

Haque-Hausrath isn’t pleased. Neither am I as I read this – Norum is the senior most ICE official here in Montana. He oversees immigration operations here in Montana and makes decisions on whether to arrest or investigate suspected undocumented aliens or to detain or deport individuals.

Apparently you can be a racist, work in ICE enforcing U.S. immigration law, and also openly espouse unconstitutional views.

Oh – and harass private individuals with hate-filled emails.

~~~~~~
Montana sure isn’t a strange to these kind of brazen hate mongers – chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Richard Cebull sent out racist anti-Obama email last February, and defended it, saying that he simply didn’t like President Obama and that he didn’t send it because of the racists content (which he acknowledged.)

I’ll note that supermontanareporter John S. Adams broke that story, too.

Cebull eventually apologized but it took a few days. Multiple human rights entities petitioned for his resignation. Two ranking Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have since called for a congressional hearing into Cebull’s email, and a judiciary panel has been investigating the matter since April.

Cebull is still sitting on the bench – we’ve yet to hear if the panel will find him in violation of the ethical standards befitting a judge. I’m sure that panel is just hoping it’ll all fade away. I doubt it. National attention has been thrust upon Cebull, with Mother Jones questioning his ethics, the Washington Post reporting on the investigation, and even the New York Times called for his resignation.

Montana has racists, sure it does – and it’s America with ’em in its courts and Department of Homeland Security.

by jhwygirl

Governor Brian Schweitzer had an op-ed in today’s New York Times today. I am reprinting it here in it’s entirety because (a) it’s an op-ed and (b) he’s our Governor.

Schweitzer is throwing his weight behind Stand With Montanans, a group working to ban corporate campaign spending here in Montana under Ballot Initiative 166. The national attention he can draw to this issue – transposed with Montana’s history’s role not only here in Montana, but nationally – is invaluable.

Make no mistake Montana – there are those out there here in this state (with funding from Canada and out-of-state) that are working to removal all barriers to corporate spending here in Montana. It’s a good thing that Schweitzer taking a leading role on this issue.

Mining for Influence in Montana

IN Montana’s frontier days, we learned a hard lesson about money in politics, one that’s shaped our campaign-finance laws for a century and made our political system one of the country’s most transparent.

Those laws, and our political way of life, are now being threatened by the Supreme Court — which is why I recently signed a petition for a federal constitutional amendment to ban corporate money from all elections.

Montana’s approach to campaign law began when a miner named William A. Clark came upon a massive copper vein near Butte. It was the largest deposit on earth, and overnight he became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He bought up half the state of Montana, and if he needed favors from politicians, he bought those as well.

In 1899 he decided he wanted to become a United States senator. The State Legislature appointed United States senators in those days, so Clark simply gave each corruptible state legislator $10,000 in cash, the equivalent of $250,000 today.

Clark “won” the “election,” but when the Senate learned about the bribes, it kicked him out. “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale,” Clark complained as he headed back to Montana.

Nevertheless, this type of corruption continued until 1912, when the people of Montana approved a ballot initiative banning corporate money from campaigns (with limited exceptions). We later banned large individual donations, too. Candidates in Montana may not take more than a few hundred dollars from an individual donor per election; a state legislator can’t take more than $160. And everything must be disclosed.

These laws have nurtured a rare, pure form of democracy. There’s very little money in Montana politics. Legislators are basically volunteers: they are ranchers, teachers, carpenters and all else, who put their professions on hold to serve a 90-day session, every odd year, for $80 a day.

And since money can’t be used to gain access, public contact with politicians is expected and rarely denied. A person who wants to visit with a public official, even the governor, can pretty much just walk into the Capitol and say hello. All meetings with officials are open to the public. So are all documents — even my own handwritten notes and e-mails.

All this is in jeopardy, though, thanks to the Supreme Court and its infamous Citizens United ruling. In February the court notified the office of Montana’s commissioner of political practices, which oversees state campaigns, that until further notice, we may no longer enforce our anti-corruption statute, specifically our restriction on corporate money.

The court, which will make a formal ruling on the law soon, cited in the 2010 Citizens United case that corporations are people, too, and told us that our 110-year effort to prevent corruption in Montana had likely been unconstitutional. Who knew?

The effects of the court’s stay are already being felt here. The ink wasn’t even dry when corporate front groups started funneling lots of corporate cash into our legislative races. Many of the backers have remained anonymous by taking advantage of other loopholes in federal law.

But it’s easy to figure out who they are: every industry that wants to change the laws so that more profit can be made and more citizens can be shortchanged.

I know this because I’ve started receiving bills on my desk that have been ghostwritten by a host of industries looking to weaken state laws, including gold mining companies that want to overturn a state ban on the use of cyanide to mine gold, and developers who want to build condos right on the edge of our legendary trout streams.

In the absence of strict rules governing campaign money, these big players will eventually get what they seek. I vetoed these bills, but future governors might sign them if they have been bribed by the same type of money that is now corrupting our State Legislature.

This will mean, sadly, that the Washington model of corruption — where corporations legally bribe members of Congress by bankrolling their campaigns with so-called independent expenditures, and get whatever they need in return — will have infected Montana.

That’s why, in the event we don’t win in the court, I’m also supporting a federal constitutional amendment that would enshrine the right of a state to ban corporate money from political campaigns. I’m hoping the rest of Montana will join me — indeed, the petition will be presented to voters in November.

It’s not much, but it’s a start. If other states get into the act, maybe we can start a prairie fire that will burn all the way to Washington. In the meantime, we will see whether the court decides to blow the stink of Washington into Montana, or whether we can preserve our fresh mountain air.

By JC

“Thinking about Image and Truth.” With those words, last week the Missoula Independent in its “etc.” editorial column took the Jezebel article that has been making waves around the country, to task:

“Last week at the Indy, there were groans as staffers read the website Jezebel’s article “My weekend in America’s so-called rape capital.” It was the product of writer Katie J.M. Baker’s recent trip to Missoula…

Clearly, Baker came with an agenda, coupled with the belief that she was the only feminist to step foot in town, and she ignored the kinds of complexities that could have made her story interesting.”

Wow. So the Indy now believes that anyone who tries to come to Missoula to get an independent outsider’s view of what may be going on also gets tagged as distorting the truth about rape culture in Missoula. That they are unable to comprehend the “complexities” of this town that would make the story more interesting to them.

Instead of just letting the story stand on its own as adding to the body of information to be written about what is wrong in Missoula — the story contains extensive reporting from interviews Baker held with Missoulians — the writer of the Indy’s editorial decided to invoke “Image and Truth” in such a way as to discredit Baker. What an un-friggin’-believable ad hominem attack on Baker. And kudos to the Missoulian and our own jhwygirl for following the story wherever it may lead, and to expose whomever needs to get some light shone on them.

Then the Indy author had the temerity to attempt some back-handed hypocritical and censorial journalistic slap by telling Baker her work was useless, and instead suggest what should and shouldn’t be written about Missoula:

“And yet, to depict Missoula as a place overrun with dumb kids who condone rape is disingenuous and useless. A better story might have asked how a town with such a good reputation, one constantly spotlighted in outdoors and travel magazines, fell so far—and a better story would have asked what we’re going to do about it.”

Well, no… Baker did not depict Missoula as “a place overrun with dumb kids who condone rape”, that’s the Indy’s strawman at work. Baker simply let the words of Missoulians speak for themselves and reported them with some commentary and factual context. What is disingenuous and useless is for Missoula’s so-called liberal and progressive alternative weekly to lambast other journalists, when they have yet to do any useful reporting on the one topic that is roiling our community. So watch out all you journalists and bloggers out there. If you don’t write about rape in Missoula to the Indy’s standards, you’re going to get attacked. Must defend image, even at the expense of the truth.

Hey Indy, why don’t you write the stories you wish others would have (instead of writing the ones that got your staff groaning). Why don’t you write some articles about how far Missoula has fallen from its celebrated high-lights and what we are going to do about it? Isn’t that your job? Or is your job to criticize those who are attempting to put some outside perspective on our good-ole-boy network and tolerance of rape culture, because… maybe it hurts your bottom line somehow?

So yeah, you got me thinking about image and truth. About how our community gets so caught up in the fishbowl phenomena that we can’t even comprehend an outside perspective on our problems (and yeah, I’m talking about you too, Fred Van Valkenberg and your disbelief at being the subject of a federal investigation).

And you know what, I think the Indy’s editorial take on Baker’s story on rape in Missoula — let’s beat up on the messenger — is about as unproductive and damaging as can be, and will do nothing to bring the dialog and soul-searching needed in this community to address the issues and bring about change. It serves to stifle independent thought, investigation and debate. You are a part of the problem here, Missoula Independent. Try being a part of the solution, instead.

by jhwygirl

The disgusting underbelly of the good old boy’s club – ‘you cover our ass, we’ll cover yours’ mentality – has been pretty much laid bare over this weekend in a series of articles from the Missoulian’s Gwen Florio.

On Saturday we got Emails show UM, city accounts differ on Saudi rape suspect and UM dean implicated 4 football players in gang rape, emails reveal – a lowlight hightlight of that being U. Montana Vice President and thug Jim Foley’s great offense to the term “gang rape” and that the university’s own legal council David Aronofsky had been advised by the National Association of College and University Attorneys that hiding a felon behind the student code of conduct may violate state laws.

Geez – you have to go to law school to know that? Because that’s what many of us have been complaining about for months.

And just to repeat a salient point here – when you deny someone justice, you have violated their civil rights.

Just in case anyone is wondering why the U.S. Justice Department civil rights division is in town.

I also tend to think that Coach Pflugrad won’t be showing up to that office he still has over there at U. Montana.

This morning we get even nastier news that thug Foley sought to use the so-called Student Code of Conduct against the rape victim who had been speaking publicly about the handling of the rape and sexual assault cases at the U.

AT WHAT POINT IS FOLEY GONE? FOR THE SAKE OF THE UNIVERSITY AND ALL STUDENTS ON CAMPUS, I DON’T CARE WHAT IT COST – GET THIS THUG OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM. PERIOD.

The fact that his questions were even friggin’ tolerated among university administration who were part of his emails on this tactic – the story naming then-Dean of Students Charles Coutur, chief council David Aranofsky, and UM’s director of equal opportunity and affirmative action Lucy France – is beyond comprehension.

At this point, if every parent in this state – if every parent of every out of state child – and if every alumni from everywhere hasn’t contacted the Montana Board of Regents to direct them to take a comprehensive investigation and correction of this malfeasance, then they should be now.

Even more disgusting for Missoulians, the every-so-pleasant Mayor John Engen was right in there with U Montana’s Vice President Tim Foley and President Royce Engstrom. Working feverishly to protect the University of Montana image (and those that had violated the rights of sexual assault victims), even after Engstrom & Co. had facilitated the escape of the Saudi rapist – while violating the civil rights of Missoula City Police officer Geoff Curtis.

Progressive Mayor Engen? Calling a cop out on the carpet and sending him to apologize to UM President Royce Engstrom for an email he send while off duty and from his private email account?

And just to repeat a salient point here – the First Amendment which protects free speech is a civil right.

How does an elected official send a police officer – who is charged with enforcing the law and protecting the rights of others – off to apologize for exercising his right to free speech? The pornographic assault on the constitution with just this one incident is simply astounding.

And sure – there will still be those out there defending our illustrious Mayor Engen, because after all, he’s a nice fun guy. Tells lots of great jokes at parties.

Katie J. M. Baker at Jezebel picked up an important piece of information (imo) in her weekend in the U.S.’s new Rape Capitol – and those of you still wishing to give the oh-so-nice Mayor John Engen a pass would do wise to take notice. Because things aren’t going to change here until all of the problem players are held in check.

Ms. Baker refers to Engen’s interview with CNN’s with Erin Burnett, which I had caught live. I was caught off guard with Burnett quizzing Engen on reports that the police were hading out pamphlets on false reporting penalties to rape and assault victims. Engen’s interview had left me upset not only for his inability – even with the justice department in town looking into civil rights violations – to grasp the seriousness of situation, but also his convoluted excuse-making for Chief Muir’s handing out of pamphlets.

Engen also falsely puts forth that Muir didn’t believe in the literature he was handing out. Now – anyone that pays attention here in Missoula knows that Muir did put forth that most rape reports were false until he was corrected by council woman Cynthia Wolken.

Ms. Baker went a digging on that one and spoke with the woman who had brought forth that allegation.

The next few weeks were even more frustrating for Kerry. The detective assigned to her case canceled meetings, failed to call her back, and told Kerry “not to expect much.” After interviewing a tearful Gabe, the detective concluded he was so distraught that he was possibly suicidal. “I was like, great, I’m glad you’re so concerned about his well-being,” Kerry said. When she asked Police Chief Muir why it mattered if she had a boyfriend, he told her that most rape reports are false. After she argued that, in fact, generally accepted data suggests only about six percent are indeed false, Muir emailed her a dubious 2009 report from The Forensic Examiner supporting his claims. “I guess I just didn’t want you to think I was just pulling stuff out of thin air,” he wrote.

Engen defending Police Chief Muir without having the full picture was just a glimpse into his draw-the-wagon’s-up-boys mentality…and it’s even uglier now to look at now that we know the exchange between him and Engstrom…and that he sent a police officer over to apologize for criticizing the university.

Jezebel took a beating in the comments on her post a little – Missoulians and/or UMontana connected people attaching her for coming into “my town” and “my university.” I read Jezebel with too irregularity (I admit) but I do know they don’t give a shit about being criticized. Goddess bless ’em, because this story needs all the attention it can garner.

Even today, in the comments of the Missoulian – with emails of Engen and Engstrom and Foley exposed – there are those that continue to defend the entire group of sycophantic administrators complicit in Missoula and the university’s rape and sexual assault problem.

I know that isn’t what Missoula is about. Goddess help us if it is.

by jhwygirl

…because covering the tracks of rapists and enabling those that do the same isn’t something you “get a pass” on.

…because who investigates the investigators when they allow criminals to go free? And publicly defends their actions?

The ongoing, uninvestigated, unprosecuted assaults – including sexual assault and rape – at the University of Montana are enraging. First let’s review some of the recent facts:

1. The University of Montana Public Safety Office was made aware of a Feb. 10th assault on Feb. 10th. (read Montana Kaimen, Feb. 24) It appears that Public Safety was given the assailant’s name.

2. On the Tuesday 14th, UM’s Dean of Students Charles Couture called the victim, and set up a meeting for that Friday, Feb. 17. (No immediacy there, huh?)

3. Sometime after the 14th, the victim becomes aware of another similar assault, contacts that student (Student One).

4. Both students go to the Feb. 17th meeting with Couture – both students meeting each other at the meeting. It is clear that Couture was aware of the identify of the assailant and that he was here under a visa.

5. At 4:51 p.m., Friday Feb. 17th an email is sent to UMontana students warning of the two assaults: “It can be assumed that conditions continue to exist that may pose a threat to members and guests of the community.” (It can be assumed? Really? THEY HAD THE NAME OF THE ASSAILANT!)

6. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Missoulian prints this story with the headline “Man suspected of sexually assaulting UM students known, but police not pursuing.” Missoula City Police could not, at this time, do anything as they did not yet have a complaint filed with them.

6. Sometime that same day, both women went to the Missoula City Police Department. Each spoke and gave a statement to a different detective and both picked the assailant’s picture out of a lineup.

7. Missoula City Police begin an investigation the next day, the women having contacted the police late on Tuesday.

8. That article hints at what, apparently, is justice for rape under the Student Code of Conduct: “Dean of Students Charles Couture also is investigating the reports. UM student code of conduct guidelines allow the university to expel students found to have committed the most egregious violations, such as sexual assault.” “Allows” being the key word.

9. Missoula finds out on Friday that the Saudi assailant has left the country.

Wow. Under a microscope for how they address sexual assault and this is what they do? There’s more….

President Engstrom held a Friday afternoon press conference (apparently even Foley won’t touch this one, which is too bad – he has plenty of experience in these types of issues) defending his interference with the Missoula City Police investigation. From the Missoulian:

The campus is safer because of the man’s departure, Engstrom said at a news conference that he called to clarify the sequence of events involved in the incidents. He called the university’s actions “timely” and “appropriate.” Any impression “that we sat around for a week before we did anything” is untrue, he said.

“We can let people know we have dealt with these (alleged assaults) and that particular perpetrator is gone,” Engstrom said.

KPAX has this video of Engstrom’s press conference, where Engstrom (doesn’t) explain why they didn’t report the first assault (Student Two) and that they didn’t find out about the second assault until Friday the 17th., and since they didn’t know there were two until Friday, no one should be complaining.

What else do we find out in the Missoulian article? That the assailant had been contacted repeatedly by UM Dean of Students Charles Couture before fleeing the country.

The University had the name of the assailant. They knew he was a Saudi national and that he had a visa. From the get-go. They informed the guy – who conveniently had an attorney present – that he was being accused of sexual assault.

I’d really love to know when they met with the solidly-identified assailant/rapist. Because if they did it after Tuesday when both of those victims had gone to the police, then the University interfered with a felony investigation, and they should be prosecuted accordingly.

That Student Code of Conduct is pretty convenient for rapists and other persons prone to violent crimes – the University will give you a head’s up and not notify authorities when you are a foreigner so that you can escape with no accountability for your crimes.

I feel for the victims. I can’t fathom how they feel.

City of Missoula? Don’t you feel safe?

Parents, grandparents? How you feeling about your female family members attending the University of Montana?

Which brings me to our Board of Regents, which oversees the state university system, and its newly-hired Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. Christian told the Missoulian that he is pleased with President Engstrom’s handling of this most recent situation:

“I’ve been extremely pleased with how President Engstrom and his staff are handling the situation and I’m confident they’re doing a good job managing these things.”

The paid chief administrator, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says this on Friday? Knowing all of this?

Commissioner Clayton, btw, is owner of Stewart Title Company here in Missoula.

We are talking RAPE here Montana. RAPE. Daughters, sisters… If that makes you uncomfortable, I strongly suggest you get over it. People do not get a pass on rape. Rapists don’t get a pass on committing it, and the University of Montana shouldn’t get a pass when they protect the criminals who commit RAPE.

If you are a student at the University of Montana, it is clear you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) if you are a victim. It is also clear that if you witness a crime, you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) either.

9-1-1 calls also get routed to the Public Safety.

Call 523-6300. Program that number into your phone. If you witness anything, if you are the victim of anything, contact the City of Missoula Police. Any delay only ensures that President Engstrom and his crew will send the criminals on their merry way.

by jhwygirl

I’m getting a little sick of hearing Newt Gingrich whine about the negative campaigning of “Massachusetts liberal Mitt Romney.”

Isn’t that negative campaigning? Newt calling Mitt Romney a “Massachusetts liberal”? Isn’t the word “liberal” an insult in the GOP world?

And sometime we’re going to have to have a discussion about negative campaigning. When it’s factually true, and relevant to the campaign, is it negative campaigning? Or just facts that the candidate who is the objet d’affection of said campaign feels are negative?

Because there’s a difference between the two, don’t you think?

All of that being said, one of Newt’s complaints is that he doesn’t deserve to be “attacked” over his ethic charges when he was Speaker of the House. Nor his large fine. And nor his subsequent resignation. That’s because while the House had concluded that he violated Federal tax code, they left those charges up to the IRS, which eventually dropped the charges.

Based on that, Newt claims the ad is unfair. Clearly, Newt doesn’t understand ethics.

See – the way I understand it, an ethics violation occurs when there is even the implication of impropriety. That’s the thing about ethics – the law doesn’t actually have to have been broken – a reasonable suggestion or implication of impropriety that has people question….your ethics….is enough.

Lawyers, judges…government officials: These are the people you typically hear charges of ethics violations. Why is that? Well – who polices these people? Who knows the laws? Who is the law? Those charged with that task should be held higher.

Clearly Newt’s failed that test.

Is it proper to push the law to the outermost reaches of ethical boundary? By the very people who write and interpret and administer said law?

Gingrich needs to get himself a dictionary. For someone who treats everyone as if they are stupider than him, it’d be a start.

As for Newt Gingrich getting himself some ethics? The realm of that possibility departed back in the 90’s.

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 jhwygirl

Boy. What to say about Great Falls Tribune state reporter John S. Adams’ most recent investigative piece exposing misuse of state funds by Dave Gallik, Commissioner of Political Practices?

The evidence is pretty damning – considering it seems that the entire staff of the department is standing by the accusations.

Seems Gallik is utilizing his office to run his private practice, logging pay hours that weren’t worked (over half!) and increasing the contract outsourcing of legal work.

How’s that for stimulating the economy?

The Commissioner position is appointed. It’s a six-year term. During the past legislative session, Governor Brian Schweitzer appointed Jennifer Hensley to head up the empty seat – an appointment that was rejected in the last days of the session (if I recall correctly – feel free to interject) due to objections over Hensley’s political background.

Gallik was then appointed, leaving the post temporarily filled, where Gallik would surely be asked to resign should the chief executive post eventually go to Republicans.

Political shenanigans from both parties aside, it’s a disgrace to see this kind of activity out of the Political Practices Commissioner for multiple reasons – first and foremost for his misappropriation of state tax dollars. In this case – do read Adams’ story – Gallik is not only en flagrante over his use of the office for his own private enterprise, he’s downright self-righteous about his perceived ability to do so.

Further, Gallik is a lawyer. Isn’t this sort of activity an ethics violation by the pithy standards of the Montana State Bar? Gallik is giving all lawyers a bad name, and he’d doing it out of the Office of Poltiical Practices.

(Probably not) finally – We got an election year coming up. Is this the oversight the citizens of Montana are going to have over this upcoming election?

Sad.

I’m guessing with this last story, supermontananreporter John S. Adams won’t have a front seat at Schweitzer’s last State of the State address.

by jhwygirl

There’s been some pretty shocking video out of University of California-Davis over the last several days. 99% of the reaction has been that people were horrified and disgusted by the police actions.

For myself, I must be numb. The blatent disregard the UCDavis cops had for the students they are paid to protect – protect – has been played out all over the country in cities across America. Police beating with billy clubs and people beating them with fists and body slams? Police pepper spraying – pepper spraying randomly and with malice? Police firing guns with rubber pellets and tear gas and other various projectiles? It’s been played out in NYC, in Portland, in Phoenix, in Denver…Pittsburgh…LA..Oakland. Everywhere.

All of this directed at masses of peaceful protesters. People angry at the banking system and corporatization of America. An America that is making money on money – and leaving real America- the 99% – out floating in its wake.

And let’s make not mistake – peaceful protestors shouting angrily about their protest issues does not necessitate a need for mob control. We are not seeing mass vandalism, people. We are seeing mass protest and over reaction by police which incites mobs and results – sometimes and not all the time and you all know this to be true – some actual property destruction.

On Friday, UCDavis chancellor ordered the #occupy occupation tents removed. Cops come in with full riot gear, and..well…started beating on not only students, but also a poet laureate and Wordsworth scholar, along with their colleagues who had gone down to bear witness to the alleged violence of the students. Here is the first video that I saw of Friday’s removal:

It’s bizarre. It’s troubling – and again, remember my numbness to these scenes of violence. I see this stuff day in day out on twitter – regular network news doesn’t even have time in their 20-second sound bite rule to cover this stuff, yet alone fit it into their corporate-biased agenda. But did you watch to the end? At 8 minutes long, I wonder how many of you bailed about half-way through?

Sometime late Saturday someone posted the video below which shows the same situation from another angle, with a longer lead in – and it cuts out the events that occurred late in the video I posted above:

It was this second video that sickened even the numb jhwygirl. The vitrol the one lead officer directed at peaceful students – children for crying out loud! – is stomach-turning. I feel the pain of the woman you can hear in the background screaming (and later crying) “you are supposed to protect them!” as the cops, with determination and deliberation, pepper spray those kids at close range while they sit peacefully on the sidewalk of their campus.

Goddess, what has this nation come to?

My numbness though requires me to try and find something good – a sanity mechanism I’m learning ;) – and it is the end of that first video (and less so the second) which shows the police’s full retreat.

Those police stood there in full riot gear facing down peaceful protesting students sitting on a sidewalk. Hundreds stood there in witness – all of which included cameras and cell phones and video cameras. It wasn’t just students standing there – it was news media and university personnel. Yet those cops stood there as a handful pointed guns (likely loaded with pepper spray balls or rubber bullets) at eye and head level. Those cops stood there in bullet proof vests and masks and watched as a colleague stood like some sort of cattle master over those peaceful students and shook up that pepper spray – and at one point double-fisted himself with the stuff, having grabbed a fellow cops can – and marched up and down in attempts to intimidate peaceful students sitting on a sidewalk with that pepper spray.

For what? Control of the sidewalk?

And yet even after he emptied a can of pepper spray on those kids and only one or two ran after the pain was inflicted, those cops were safe. The only rush was to the safety of those students – and yet those cops who are sworn to protect left those students in bodily harm (pepper spray is NOT harmless folks…it can blind, and in this case it did cause bleeding) and beat back the people who attempted to protect and assist.

What is moving about those two videos is the safety of those disgusting officers who violated multiple laws and policies by doing what they did…

What is moving is the safety they had as they retreated from their failed attempt to clear a sidewalk. A friggin’ sidewalk.

What is moving is the obvious fear that the same officer who inflicted the pepper spray exhibited as he retreated – and his companion officers who continued to point those rifles at the heads of those peaceful protestors and their accompanying witnesses.

Did they cry when they shut the door of their office or their car after they completed their retreat? Do they look at this video and realize the complete shame of what they did? Do the ones that stood guard realize the sin of their complicity?

I have some understanding of mob mentality, I’d like to think – so I wonder what those cops thought after they exhaled that evening. After they saw themselves on film.

Finally – last night UC Davis’ Chancellor Katehi took a late night walk to her car. The campus is now filled with protesters. And Chancellor Katehi – who had said on Saturday that the police use of pepper spray was justified because her and the staff at the university felt threatened – walked in silence and shame to her car.

I bet she was shaking once her and her companion drove away. And I bet she cried too.

By CFS

After attending the public meeting last night focusing on the future of Missoula’s Poverello Center I came away very impressed with the format of the meeting and the positive feeling that most people came away with.  The amount of information provided to attendees that had previously not entered into the debate was substantial.  Especially interesting was the limitation placed on the pov in choosing a new site due to local zoning codes, basically most of the possibilities are within the downtown core or along commercial corridors such as Broadway, Higgins, Russell, etc.  For more information on the process, stay tuned to the City’s neighborhoods website for updates including a map of possible sites from last night’s meeting and details on future public meetings and chances for public comment.

Of course this morning I read the Missoulian article on the event and that positive feeling went away when the first quote they chose to run came from a person in opposition throwing out inaccurate  facts about the pov.

Here is the offending quote:

Despite the Poverello’s efforts to track sexual offenders, “there are 10 offenders there right now” and 85 more within a five-square-block of Lowell School, said one parent, answering a question that each group answered on sheets later shared with the audience. “And that’s just too many for this neighbor.”

Did the Missoulian bother do any fact checking at all?

A quick search of the Montana Sexual Offender Registry shows that the figure of 85 was close… for the whole zip code of 59802, which includes the pov. Rather there were a total of 81 sexual offenders residing within the 59802 zip code.  There were even more within the 59801 zip code, with a total of 83 and an astonishing 93 within the 59808 zip code.  Does that mean that a sexual predation is positively correlated with income level?

59802… looks to cover about five square blocks

When searching by the address of Lowell School I came up with the grand total of 16 sexual offenders within a very generous five-block radius and a total of 6 that have listed the pov as their residents not the quoted 10.  Is it possible that my numbers are wrong? Yes, as the registry’s disclaimer states, “Users are cautioned that the information provided on this website is information of record that is reported to the unit and may not reflect the most recent residence, status or other information regarding an offender. The unit makes no express or implied guarantee concerning the accuracy of this data,” and that for offenders with more than one address the first address is the one that comes up in searches.  Does that mean the first address an offender may have ever listed upon release?  I’m not sure.  So are my number any more accurate than the person quoted? Maybe not but they certainly are different.

Its also disturbing to see a great many of the registered offenders flagged with this note… Non-Compliant/Address Verification Overdue. It really is in red.

Is it possible that the person quoted simply misspoke? Yes, and my guess is that when they stated the statistics for sexual offenders they also included violent offenders in their numbers.  I don’t mean this post as an attack on the people who are opposed to the poverello center or the person that was quoted in the Missoulian.  My beef is with a newspaper that doesn’t seem interested in doing its job properly.  It took me all of 10 minutes to put the above information together and I’m sure I could have gotten more accurate information if I had contacted local law enforcement… like maybe a local reporter might have done.  You think that a professional that is supposed to be interested in journalistic integrity and providing unbiased fact would have taken the time to conduct the same level of verification if they are going to quote statistics in their story.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

The student loan cuts start on page 71.

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

Dear Montana Legislators that voted for SB423:

You should be utterly embarassed by the court’s assessment of your ability to grasp the very documents you were sworn to uphold when you swore your oath of office. I’m talking about the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution.

Frankly – this bodes quite well for progressive tree-hugging dirty hippies like me, given my own assessment of many of the bills that were passed.

…but I digress…..

District Judge James P. Reynolds hit ya’all on a whole list of things. I’ll just name a few:

1.) First Amendment, U.S. Constutition (right to free speech)

2.) Article II, section 7, Montana Constitution (right to free speech)

3.) Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution (the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure)

4.) Article II, section 11, Montana Constitution (“the people shall be…secure from unreasonable searches and seizures)

5.) Article II, section 3, Montana Constitution (“the opportunity to pursue employment…is itself a fundamental right”)

6.) Article II, section 10, Montana Constitution (right to personal privacy)

Boy – that’s quite a laundry list of constitutional rights violated by a majority of both the Senate and the House

What you’ll hear from them – or some of them – will be that “we had to do something!” and “if I didn’t do that, they’d of repealed it!”

Hmph. It was one thing to participate in the shit scramble party to write something up – it was an entirely different thing to vote for it.

Shame on you all. Each and every one of you.

Voters will hopefully remember this, as those lists of legislators that vote for this bill that many many people had said was unconstitutional and violated basic rights didn’t have any concern for rights. All they were thinking of was political expediency and gain.

If they’ll violate these rights – and really, do we really have to school a Republican-controlled legislature on the basic rights of a person’s ability to make a living? To speak and advertise? To be protected from unreasonable search and seizure?

Obviously we do. I say we school them out of office.

(Thank you to the Missoulian for reporting the story and posting the judge’s injuction.)

By CFS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

Mainstream media will be all a-buzz with deficit/raising the debt ceiling talks this week, so don’t expect too much coverage on two bills that are of major interest to progressives (like me).

On Tuesday, Ms. Kris Carpenter, Founder/CEO, Sanctuary Spa and Salon in Billings will testify before the Senate Committee on Finance on “Complexity and the Tax Gap: Making Tax Compliance Easier and Collecting What’s Due“.

Hearings to look at the tax gap and tax complexity? Who doesn’t have something to say these days about that?

Interested citizens or groups have two weeks from the close of the hearing to submit comment.

Don’t forget – our very own Sen. Max Baucus is chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

Also on Tuesday is a hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for The DREAM Act.

Yep. The Dream Act isn’t dead – and Sen. Durbin, it looks, is going to make sure of that.

I poked around that website and couldn’t find information on how to submit comment. If anyone else figures that out, please post that info in comments.

by jhwygirl

…because it will happen.

by jhwygirl

HB198 was passed on third reading this morning in the Senate. I won’t rehash the ugly mess of this bill that will enable private major facility businesses to take private property for private gain – you can just put HB198 into the search there on the right for that background.

That being said, the bill is heading to the Governor’s desk after a debate yesterday that had proponents of the bill push off amendments they felt were worthy because they had to ‘get this thing done for MATL.’

So we have a bill that’s bad, even by proponent’s standards.

What is probably not so shocking since he’s been demanding this bill, is that Governor Schweitzer is willing to sign off on this bill that he, too, admits does not protect private property rights.

Schweitzer is going to offer an amendatory veto to this bad bill that will have it sunset it in 2013. That means that Montanans will have a bill that has a special retroactive clause to capture up and (hopefully for them) cure MATL’s legal issues and its failure to negotiate in good faith with Montana property owners being signed by the Governor – even though he admits it’s a shitty bill. From the good Gov:

“The Legislature has got to spend the next two years putting together an eminent domain law that makes sense for developers and for landowners of Montana,” Schweitzer said at a Capitol news conference. “This bill is not right; it didn’t address landowner concerns.”

I’m not a landowner, but if I were in the path of anything that has a major facility line or pipeline anywhere near it, I’d be darn pissed off right now.

Voters can not point the blame of this horrible legislation at any one party – both sides of the aisle voted on both sides of the issue, and ardently defended their positions. Being the one signing it into law, though, is a different matter.

(Addendum)
Read the Billings Gazette edition of this story and the comments are interesting. Not many in support of the thing, and the only people being blamed are Democrats.

And that will be how it goes. A whole bunch of people that will never check the actual vote on that bill (that saw the likes of Verdell Jackson voting for the thing) will blame it on “Democrats” when in truth there were a whole lot of “Republicans” who voted for it, too.

by jhwygirl

Because we elect people like Rep. Alan Hale, of Basin Montana. Legislators that have no problem standing up for the right to drink and drive.

If case you missed the action on the floor of the Montana House today, here’s a cut of Rep. Hale championing drinking and driving as “a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years,” and that all the laws aimed at cracking down on DUI’s are destroying small business.

There is so much wrong with that statement – can’t call it logic – that I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Certainly Hale was squalling his war cry for more than just himself? A majority of voters in Basin and Boulder and House District 77 support this point of view?

Or was Rep. Alan Hale purely serving his own economic interests?

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, at his blog The Lowdown points out that Hale owns a bar.

It’s not hard to put together…especially when bill passed the volatile GOP-controlled House 88-12.

So Hale put out the last hail that only his ale-loving mind could put out: It’s anti-business!

He probably could have gotten a few more votes if he had said that he had personally talked to several tavern and bar and restaurant owners and all of them had personally told them that they were going to have to close up shop.

I hope the people of Boulder and Basin and the rest of House District 77 that elected this neanderthal remember Rep. Hale’s priorities come 2012: Business and profit over lives and safety of both the general public and the drunk driver.

Don’t miss Pogie on Rep. Hale’s pro-DUI speech, either.

Honestly? I’m kind of embarrassed for all of my Republican friends. When they do talk about what is happening up there, they’re embarrassed.

I’d say that Rep. Hale isn’t helping things in that department.

On that note – has Rep. Knox yet remembered whether he’s ever sold marijuana before? You’d really think he’d want to clear that up.

~~~
I also want to say “HA” to all of you who criticized me for saying that drinking and Montana is a way of life here and that the culture has to change. If I recall I was accused of overstating the issue.

Think of the comfort level Hale had today (misguided as it were) as he stood there on the floor championing drinking and driving. Mind boggling.

Or not.

by Pete Talbot

General Electric makes a $5.1 billion profit in the U.S. and pays nothing in taxes.  It actually gets a $3.2 billion tax credit.

Is this the Republican tax policy?

Man, things are definitely askew.  Not enough money for education, the poor, kids and seniors.  Gosh, I wonder why.

Here’s the story in the NY Times.

by jhwygirl

In a post titled “Profiting from Hypocrisy“, blogger montanafesto exposes the troubled hypocrisy of Rep. James Knox and his pro-repeal medical marijuana stance. First the video:

Read montanafesto’s post. Rep. James Knox offered his services to a medical marijuana business, at a greatly discounted price because his business “was slow.”

There’s more – montanafesto takes Knox on in Facebook…and now, apparently, an email has been removed from the website because Knox was threatening his lawyers.

Neither here nor there, now…the Billings Gazette has picked up the story.

Wonder if Knox has threatened to sue them, too?

~~~~~~~
So all this insane personal intrusion schizophrenic state-rights/anti-state rights Montana Republican party-led legislating has me now more than just barely pondering: What is it these guys and gals are doing up there? Rep. Warburton is obsessed with making my vagina a crime scene….Rep. Kristin Hansen wants to treat LGBTQ human beings as something less than such, and now we have Knox falling all over himself to provide discounted services to the medical marijuana community.

What is it they say? People in glass houses should not be throwing rocks?

What else is there to explain this regressive hate-filled legislation? There’s a ton of it out there.

Kuddos to you, montanafesto!

By CFS

First they came for the unions,

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

Then they came for Medicare and Medicaid,

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

Then they came for Social Security,

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

Then they came for progressives,

and there was no one left to speak out

by jhwygirl

Compassion & Choices is a nationwide organization, with a chapter in in Montana, advocating and educating on the subject of end-of-life care and choice issues.

It’s not something most people are comfortable about…but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. In reality, end-of-life care is something that is far better to be discussed and thought out before the torment comes to you or your loved ones.

Here in Montana, a 2010 Supreme Court decision – Baxter v. Montana guarantees the rights of a Montanan to seek doctor-assisted death as part of their end of life care.

Does that make you uncomfortable? It’d be weird if it doesn’t.

The shame of this all is that the only guidance Montanans have in this matter is the Supreme Court decision. Laws here do not set forth guidance, nor do they protect doctors or patients. They should.

Sickness and pain-tormented days are not the time to be fighting these things out in court, as Robert Baxter had to do in 2008. Baxter died, suffering, the day of the Supreme Court decision.

~~~~~~
Dr. Tom Preston, a Washington physician and medical director for Compassion & Choices of Washington will address current issues and answer audience questions here in Missoula next Tuesday, October 12th, from 12 to 1 p.m. at University of Montana’s Todd Building, Room 210.

Preston has worked with Washington’s Death With Dignity Act and is knowledgeable on how aid in dying fits into comprehensive end-of-life decision making. He regularly consults with patients, families and medical providers, helping them to explore available end-of-life options, which results in a peaceful end to terminal illness and unbearable suffering.

~~~~~~
Advocates and opponents would do well to inform themselves on this issue. Montana law needs to address this – as the Supreme Court ruling assures it as our constitutional right.

True conservatives would want the government out of the doctors office, and would want to protect doctors from unnecessary and undue influence that political agendas can push upon patients, families and loved ones much like what happened to Terri Shiavo back in 2005.

Montanans – Republicans and Democrats – overwhelmingly support supporting individual choice when it comes to death with dignity. A recent poll, in March, 2010 confirms this. Democrats – 69% support with 16 in opposition…Republicans 53% in support with 35 in opposition, and 61% of Independents, with 23 in opposition.

Where does your legislative candidate stand on this important issue? Will they stand in the way of protection for individual rights? Will they refuse to protect physicians from political agendas? Will they want to come between you and your doctor and your private choices?

by jhwygirl

The latest meme from our bloviating Governor Brian Schweitzer is that the Canadian tar sands – slated for expansion – are (get this) “conflict free”:

“I would say this is conflict-free oil and I don’t want to send one more son or daughter from Montana to defend an oil supply from one of these dictators and become dependent on that energy supply,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his office in Helena.

Really?

There are Canadiansordinary citizens, doctors and Fort Chipewyan tribal members – that would disagree with you.

Does the fact that they don’t have bombs and guns make it conflict free? Because I don’t agree with that. I know I’m not the only one.

Hypocrisy and ignorance barely begins to describe the irony behind Schweitzer’s comments to the Canadian press this past week. Governor Schweitzer is a guy who doesn’t want to see the Flathead mined, yet approved a coal mine next to a Class 1 air shed (tromping on Crow tribal rights) and an alluvial floodplain right in Montana’s Tongue River valley.

Governor Schweitzer is a guy – born in Montana – who doesn’t seem to know his history, or even the higher cancer rates we saw right here in the upper Clark Fork basin because of the rape and pillage by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (think Atlas Shrugs by Ayn Rand) that polluted everything near it from Butte to Missoula and beyond.

Schweitzer’s comments were made all the more pornographic given they occurred 30 years from when corporate irresponsibility suffocated Anaconda Montana.

Maybe The Brian should read Anaconda native Patrick Duganz’s words?

If they aren’t enough to expose him to the conflict of corporate irresponsibility, perhaps he should try and learn the lessons so many others haven’t forgotten of the dirty filth that mining has layed upon our lands.

Schweitzer sure is oblivious to this stuff isn’t he – and consider he’s got 130 million or so dollars of Natural Resource Damage Protection Program funds to spend to try and buy back lands to mitigate that environmental disaster thrust upon our state 100 years ago.

Maybe he forgot where that money came from?

Schweitzer is spouting off his newest talking point of “conflict free” as pressure mounts, nationwide, to stop the transport of the Korean-built Kearl modules up and over the Montana-Idaho border, adjacent to the Clearwater and Lochsa River, adjacent to Lolo Creek…through Missoula and next to the Blackfoot A-River-Runs-Through-It River, then up and over another mountain pass and on to the tar sands in Alberta.

Movie director and producer James Cameron? This Montanan thanks you.

Our Governor feigns to respect tribal peoples – yet the Nez Pierce, over who’s native lands these modules will travel – have objected to the modules.

Scientific journals are confirming high levels of carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium being thrust upon the native peoples of Canada. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America has published a paper explaining the pornography of the situation.

Discover Magazine has a pedestrian-friendly article on the issue.

Governor Schweitzer? You call yourself a scientist, don’t you? If cancer was reigning down in your watershed, would you call that “conflict free”?

Did Montana call that conflict free when it happened here?

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 @CarFreeStpdty

Listening to NPR’s Morning Edition – like I do on a routine basis while at work – has become just one more element in the background of white noise that fills my average day. But yesterday morning someone’s comments caught my attention in an unusual way. One quote stuck in my mind… playing itself over and over again. It wasn’t the shear stupidity of the statement.. but the brazen belief that we – Americans – operate on such a different plane of moral existence than all the rest of mankind. America = pure moral good… the rest of the earth = a world constantly on the search for a way to circumvent the rules of a civilized existence. We of course never cheat, never lie, never try to game the system while our foreign adversaries never do anything but exhibit such behavior. They – whoever we decide to define as that foreign element – that we are currently battling with never play by the rules. Of course the rules are those that we impose, err… unanimously decide upon.

The story Morning Edition featured detailed the tricky legality of Cyber Warfare… as if any warfare can be contained by the niceties of some wishful legal framework.

The quote, in reference to the emerging legal rules of cyber warfare was as follows:

“It is a near certainty that the United States will scrupulously obey whatever is written down, and it is almost as certain that no one else will,” says Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel and an assistant secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush.

Because… you know… we would never violate the Geneva Convention

– or at least try to slyly circumnavigate it – we would never try to enact policies that violate our own Constitution, or basic rights as citizens, we would never put personal gain above moral righteousness and the public good, etc, etc, etc, etc. Because… well… we’re Americans dammit, and no matter how many time we fuck up we are still morally unimpeachable as a nation. So… cyber warfare… we are obviously the only ones that will stay within the bounds of the law on that one…




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