Archive for the ‘Hero’ Category

by jhwygirl

Caught this one via Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, with his weekly blog roundup – Polymontana, one of conservative Montana’s blogs has a post up from calling Betty Ford a “RINO feminist”. This is one day after her death, mind you.

Staying class, I see.

I’m just a tad too young to remember Betty’s impact specifically, but what I do know is that woman was brave and refreshingly honest and real and without judgement in a position that isn’t really conducive to being brave and honest and real and without judgement.

It dawned on me as I watched the evening news that, given my propensity to throw the word “hypocrite” around a lot, that Betty Ford was as far from being associated with hypocrisy as someone in the political world can get.

It seems to me that First Lady Betty Fork knew that people were real and with imperfections. She supported a woman’s right to choose, and from what I saw on some newsclips, she marched in Equal Rights Amendment marches.

Thank you Betty Ford!

Godspeed to that strong outspoken classy former First Lady. May there be a parade in her honor when she hits those pearly gates.

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

Via Helena’s CBS KXLH reporter Marnee Banks’ twitter feed, comes the sobering reminder that Montana National Guard Troops will be deploying Monday morning for (first) a six-week stop for training in Mississippi and then to their purposed assign in support of the Overseas Contingency Operation.

This is their second deploy, having already supported Operation Iraqi Freedom for 12 months in 2004-2005.

Montana’s soldiers leave from 5 major departure sites in the state – here are the times and locations:
Helena: Army Aviation Support Facility 2:40 pm
Great Falls: Great Falls International Airport 5:35 am
Belgrade: Gallatin Field Airport 6:00 am
Billings: Billings International Airport 3:40 pm
Missoula: Missoula International Airport 6:35 am

Today my thoughts are with them and their loved ones – their wives and husbands and children and fathers and mothers. Each of them take every drop of good will and wishes that I have in me.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

I certainly hope the Dems in Kalispell are paying attention to this.

Democratic candidate for HD8, Dane Clark, of Kalispell was handing out tea party pamphlets, packin’ heat (because rumors of agent provocateurs, it seemed prudent) and passing out campaign lit for Mark French, Republican primary congressional wingnut racist bigot from Sanders County.

James Conner never writes enough for me. I wish he wrote more – but it looks like he’s done two pieces recently, both regarding Flathead County politics.

I did read his eulogy for friend Loren Kreck, back when he posted it a couple weeks ago. Loren Kreck is an environmental hero that I had never heard of, yet generations of Montanans – generations of people – will benefit from his diligent work to preserve the North Fork of the Flathead.

James? You did Loren righteous. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

by jhwygirl

A timely post, given that the corporate welfare 15 cent bid (or bids) for the Otter Creek coal tracts were announced late Monday.

Below are Attorney General Steve Bullock’s comments at the February hearing where the Land Board (in a 3-2 vote, with Bullock and Superintendent of the Office of Public Instruction Denise Juneau voting no) lowered the bid price from 25 cent/ton to 15 cent/ton, a 40% reduction.

Governor, my colleagues – this is certainly a decision that’s received its share of attention and I think that often the loss of the arguments both for and against – and it always doesn’t fit into a two-minute news story – are the requirements that the Constitution imposes upon us as Land Board members.

This isn’t a policy decision like a legislator can make for or against continued development of coal. And it’s not like the decision to sell off a piece of surplus property. Montana Supreme Court has said that we have a duty to the public that goes beyond that of the ordinary business man. The courts have also said that the Land Board must get full market value – the largest measure of legitimate advantage – for any property that we lease or sell.

When I voted in December to lease Otter Creek I said that I’ll support the project if it’s done right…and doing it in a manner consistent with our Constitutional duties carries with it in my mind at least three considerations: First, the coal must be leased and developed in a way that follows our environmental laws and includes continued oversight by this board. Second, the lease must maximize the benefit to the trust as the Constitution requires, and third – that Montana taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for a railroad that benefits coal and power companies.

I don’t believe that lowering the bid price to 15 cents per ton or monkeying with royalty payments fulfills that obligation to maximize the benefit to the state treasury. And I think it’s easy to think that all we’re talking about today when we’re talking about the difference between 25 cents and 15 cents per ton for a bonus bid is one thin dime.

The drop in our bonus bid of 10 cents will cost the state $57 million. That’s $57 million dollars.

This 10 cent reduction will cost the treasury about the amount generated by every timber sale this board approved over the last 5 years.

Even in these tough times, Montana’s budget is in a stronger position than just about every other state because we’ve been fiscally conservative. Unloading the coal with a bonus bid that’s a fraction of what our neighbors are charging isn’t’ consistent with that fiscal responsibility that we’ve shown.

And it certainly, in my estimation, doesn’t meet the Constitutional obligations to maximize the amount of money we return to the state treasury.

And as the board is looking and considering to lower the bidder royalty to make this more attractive for the coal developers I don’t think that we can do that without acknowledging that we will be funding the Tongue River Railroad. I’ve said since the beginning that what I don’t want to see is Montana taxpayers footing the bill for a railroad to get coal and energy companies a windfall. And I’ve also said that were the railroad in place I think everyone would agree that we’d be getting more for this lease than what Arch has so-far signaled that it is willing to pay.

I’ve asked rail economists to independently analyze this..and provided that to the Board and they concluded that the Wyoming-originated coal will save $2.83/ton in shipping costs if this railroad is completed.

While we’re debating whether to reduce our bonus bid by another 10 cents a ton, Wyoming shippers will be getting a discount of 28 times that if the railroad is completed. And while we’re talking about reducing the amount to our treasury by $57 million, this review shows that a railroad in the Tongue River can save existing coal mines and power companies potentially well over $100 million each and every year.

I just don’t think that in these tough economic times Montana taxpayers should be asked to effectively be bailing out multi-national coal and energy companies. That’s not the state’s role.

Now – there will be a time when this project makes sense and I think there will be a bidder that will be willing to pay full market value for the right to develop this resource. And as members of the Land Board that at that time we do have a Constitutional obligation to lease that land. Until then, I don’t think that we need to have a fire sale. I will be voting against the motion to reduce the bonus bid from 25 to 15 cents.

After which the room broke out in applause.

Bullock’s decision was not easy. It showed. Saying the things he said contradicts much of what the proponents of the leases (on both sides of the table) had said.

Doing the right thing should not be so hard. Insider politics makes doing the right thing hard. I hope Bullock has seen the support that has stuck to him his decision to do the right thing.

I know I will remember. Thank you Denise – Thank you Steve.

by jhwygirl

I got slammed by some a while back for calling a woman who could have looked the other way a hero – a woman who could have looked the other way as is the tendency these days – a woman who essentially handed police a murder suspect.

Well, looks like there are two more everyday heroes around town – or at least visiting. A kidnapping attempt of 3 children at the Crossroads store near the Wye was thwarted when two men came to the assistance of two women who were attempting to stop the man from taking the car the children were sitting in.

Again – these two men could have continued on whatever it was they were doing, but instead, they stopped the man, wrestled him to the ground and held him there until police arrived. Turned out he had a gun. Concealed.

Don’t worry, Gary Marbut – I won’t go further…

…and he was drunk.

Ooops, sorry Mr. Marbut…

The two men go unnamed…but to whomever they are, they deserve a community THANK YOU.

I’m starting here at 4&20’s community: Thanks guys, whoever you are.

UPDATE: The Missoulians superlawandjusticereporter Tristan Scott reports that David Larson, the would-be kidnapper, had a permit to carry the handgun.

by jhwygirl

Oh, how I love stuff like this.

Those K-boys are pretty fearless.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian has this story, with a lovely picture taken of Agnes back in September.

I’ve had that picture on my computer since then.

Agnes voted in her first election this past November because she “knew it was important.” She had been a Hillary supporter.

Imagine the events a 93-year old person sees in a lifetime – then consider she’s a woman, and Salish.

On the wings of an angel to heaven, Agnes Kenmille. Rest well.

Noah Ginnings Passes

by jhwygirl

Noah Ginnings’ body succumbed yesterday to the brain cancer that had ravaged his body – something that was discovered 8 years ago.

He had managed, along the way of his too short 26 year life to gain hundreds of friends and to inspire at least that many more.

Goodspeed to you, Noah Ginnings. What the world loses, heaven has gained.

studs terkel dies

by problembear

studs terkel, personal hero, voice of the working man and woman died today. iconoclast, enemy of the aristocracy and defender of the poor. rest easy studs- we’re on the job.

“i want people to talk to one another- no matter what their difference of opinion might be.”-Studs Terkel

Congratulations Noah Ginnings

by jhwygirl

Today’s Missoulian brings us the story of an amazing young man who has provided inspiration for a hell of a lot of people, making an amazing amount of friends along the way.

I’ve learned along my path that there are a tremendous amount of things in life that simply aren’t fair. When I read something like that, my thoughts are reset to that which is important and all the rest.

by jhwygirl

USFS and BLM flags are flying at half-staff for two firefighters killed on the Panther Fire, in northwestern California.

One firefighter – 18-year old Andrew Palmer – was killed when a snag fell on him. Andrew was on his first fire.

The other firefighter, 49-year old Daniel Packer, Chief of East Pierce County Fire and Rescue in Bonney Lake, Washington, was killed when the fire made a run up a ridge. One other firefighter with Daniel was able to make the run down the hill, to a road, where he deployed his shelters also – always a last resort to be used when a fire burns over. Daniel was unable to make it down the hill. He had deployed his shelter.

Daniel was a 27 year veteran of firefighting. A father of 4 girls, and grandfather to two. One daughter graduated high school this fall, and two others are in college.

Daniel Packer was born and raised in Havre, Montana. His mother now lives in Billings. He also attended college here – but his friends couldn’t remember which school. True to Montana and his bull riding past, Daniel kept his burly mustache as a reminder.

Packer’s body was brought back to Tacoma today on a USFS firefighting plane. Firefighters met the plane, and bagpipes played as his flag covered casket was unloaded. Friends and family stood and wept.

A full investigation, needless to say, will be completed.

In the meantime, prayers and condolences to his wife, children and friends. His loss is felt by an enormously large group of people. Daniel’s funeral will be August 7th, and firefighters from across America will be there to show their respect.

A memorial fund has been set up at Washington Mutual Bank – Fire Chief Dan Packer Memorial, Acct # 3170484930. Checks may be mailed to:

East Pierce Professional Firefighters
PO Box 7500
Bonney Lake, WA 98391

Some men can’t be replaced. They can only be remembered. Daniel was one of them.

by jhwygirl

Live, on C-Span, right now, he’s reading his 35 count resolution of impeachment.

I had to commemorate this with a post.

It’s about time.

Go Dennis!

UPDATE: Apparently a lively beginning – upon initiating his floor speech this evening, Kucinich turned to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said “The House is not in order,” to which Ms. Pelosis pounded her gavel, and Kucinich then continued with his resolution. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said numerous times that impeachment is “not on the table.”

by Jay Stevens

Worden’s has halvah.

Halvah’s a Middle Eastern and South European candy made of sesame pasted sweetened with sugar. It’s crumbly and rich and goes well with coffee. I usually get some when I see it – it’s not my favorite sweet, it tends to stick to my teeth, and it’s so rich that I’m usually satisfied before I finish a portion – but it’s rare, and it reminds of me of Kim’s grandfather, Fred Geyzer.

When Fred turned 90, my birthday present was a stick of halvah I found in a San Francisco Middle Eastern sandwich shop in North Beach. I’m proud to say his eyes lit up when I pressed the halvah in his hand, and he had with his tea after dinner. I still argue it was his favorite present that year.

You see, when I first met Fred that first Christmas I spent with Kim’s family – after driving to Spokane in the famous ’96 Christmas Eve blizzard – he told me about his childhood in the Ukraine, and how his favorite food above all was halvah.

Fred was born in the Jewish ghetto in Tetiev, not far from Kiev. Here’s some excerpts of his early memories from an oral history Kim’s mother, Gail, made:

Well I have to tell you, when I was born, we were very poor. I remember, we didn’t have adequate blankets to cover ourselves at night. It was cold. In Russia, it’s cold.

Was there enough food?

Only after my father became more prosperous, but before we had very little food. I would say until I was about five.

But then afterwards, my father prospered, and we moved into a better house. He was the only one in the city that put in an electric bulb. The switch was a porcelain switch. It’s screwed into the wall and you turn. It makes a big click. They put it high enough so I couldn’t reach it….

We had a well. We had about four rooms. I remember that they were all whitewashed, always nice. I don’t remember whether we had a toilet. I think we had an outhouse….

We had an oven, an oven which used wood. In Russia the ovens were clay ovens, but the top doesn’t go all the way up like a chimney…And it’s very good on cold nights; you sleep on top of the oven…

The town itself, was a ghetto. All the Jews lived inside and they had the businesses. Around us lived the gentile farmers. They had the farms. They used to come in and buy stuff. The reasons Jews weren’t farmers was because under the Czar’s laws, no Jews could own any land. So this is how we were.

After the Russian Revolution, Tetiev was swept up by the civil war. It was occupied, in turns, by both the Bolsheviks and the White Army. The Bolsheviks were more sympathetic to the Jews; the Whites weren’t. They would initiate pogroms whenever they arrived. During one such pogrom, Fred’s father was killed by a Cossack, his head split open by a saber. Fred was eight.

I remember when they buried him. It was in a wooden casket. And then I said after the Rabbi what you’re supposed to say, Yisgadal ve’yiscadash sh’mey…” And then they chanted El Moleh Rachamim. It means God of power, have passion for the orphans. It was very sad. And then they buried him.

We were in a great state of grief. I remember when they brought out the coffin, and I said Kaddish. The thing I couldn’t understand is that I wasn’t crying. I should have been crying. I guess I was too stunned.

The worst was yet to come. On March 26, 1920 – 88 years ago tomorrow – came the final pogrom:

That’s the day when they assembled all the Jews and put them in the synagogue and set the synagogue on fire, and all the houses were on fire, and my mother and the four children, we all ran. It was in the middle of the night. I remember my mother telling us to just leave everything and run, and as I turned back, I saw the whole town was in flames….

There was snow on the ground….We were running ahead of the fire. My mother was running first carrying Irving. I was next carrying Frances, and Jossel was running by himself.

In all this terrible confusion…we passed a farm house and there came out all of a sudden a big pack of dogs. We were attacked by these dogs and we all dispersed. And when we came back together again, Jossel wasn’t there and we never found him.

Fred and his family’s survivors made their way to a small town, and from there worked their way into Romania with help from Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

They lived in Romania for awhile, Fred attended a Yeshiva for awhile, lived in a camp of gypsies, and worked in a restaurant. And then he and his family received visas to the United States. (Fred’s aunt lived in the United States and arranged for a visa and tickets to New York.) His mother had a nervous breakdown – she was still hoping Jossel would show up – and she was institutionalized in an asylum in Kishinev.

…the next time I saw her is when we were leaving for the States because the visa came and the tickets came. So we all got together, and we went to the hospital, and I didn’t tell her that we were leaving for good. I just said good-by, and then I never saw her again.

The rest of the story you probably know. Fred and his siblings eked out a living in New York during the Great Depression, and through hard work ended up successful business people and professionals. And his children had their children, and I met Kim, and then Fred.

So now whenever I see halvah, I buy it. And when I eat it, and taste the sweetness on my tongue, I think of Fred, his escape from Tetiev, and, in contrast, all the good things in my life.

Fred Geyzer died early Monday morning. He was 97.

Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru.


by jhwygirl

We all hear about it – many pooh-pooh it. There are plenty of reasons to hate it – the nasty ways it can promote a lie; the subtle ways it can influence an election; the self-promoting protections it affords its own corporate interests.

Here’s a local story.

G. George Ostrom was terminated by KOFI Radio on Monday after Ostrom “disagreed with management over editorial policy.”The dispute arose Monday morning after Ostrom read a report concerning Kent Etchison, a resident of Kalispell who was arraigned in federal court Feb. 28 on mail fraud charges. Etchison, who pleaded innocent, was a former office manager at KOFI Radio and is accused of ordering about $972,000 in supplies from 2001 to June 2006 for the station — far in excess of what it would ever need, according to court records. The bulk of those purchases — $925,000 — were made from March 2003 through June 2006, federal prosecutors maintain.

Editorial policy?

What happened?

According to Ostrom, he read an Associated Press story about Etchison on the air in the Monday (March 3) 6 a.m. news report.Then Dave Rae, KOFI co-owner and general manager came in later that morning and told Ostrom to not read the story, Ostrom said.

Ostrom said he told Rae he already had. Rae, in short, insisted that Ostrom squash the story, Ostrom claimed.

Ostrom refused and walked out.

He read an AP news story.

Ostrom, a longtime Flathead Valley newscaster had been associated with KOFI-AM for 53 years, who had bought KOFI back in the 1980’s with a group of investors and helped usher its expansion to FM. He’s written three books on Glacier Park, and was the recipient of the University of Montana’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award. Ostrom also won first place from the National Newspaper Association in 1996 for his column “Trailwatcher” and has been inducted into the Montana Broadcaster’s Association’s Hall of Fame. He served in the U.S. Army and was also a member of the Missoula Smokejumpers, one of the original USFS smokejumping crews.

In the 1960’s, Ostrom was a staffer for Senator Lee Metcalf, and helped write the groundbreaking wilderness legislation – the very legislation that eventually created the late Senator’s namesaked Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area.

What reason did Dave Rae and KOFI have to want the story quashed? I’m sure any of you could come up with a number of reasons, but ultimately they all lead to one reason: the serving of their own interests over that of their audience’s right to know the truth.

The was a day, once, long ago, where purveyors of news were self-tasked with the responsibility to inform the public of news based on facts and without bias to its best capabilities. Are those days’ gone?

Ostrom, commenting on his departure:

Ignoring that story, in my opinion, would be making me compromise my journalistic integrity, my credibility.

Amen, George Ostrom.

by jhwygirl

Lost in the horrible murder story and the subsequent kudos that went to the local and other law enforcement agencies working on the murder at Copper Run apartments were the actions of an anonymous neighbor who saw her neighbor scrubbing blood off of the third floor walkway.

She could have turned the other way – she could have gotten in her car and stopped and gotten her coffee on the way to work and went on her merry day that Thursday.

Many would have done exactly that.  In fact, call me a cynic, but I bet most would have.

Instead, she picked up the phone and called police.

You know the rest of the story.

This unsung hero is an example of what it means to live in a community.  It is an example of the social responsibility that is so rare these days.

Missoula is safer for having this unnamed person around.

Thank you unnamed person.

by jhwygirl

Myron Cope, longtime radio announcer and the Pittsburgh Steelers biggest fan passed away today. He was 79.

Myron was the father of The Terrible Towel – a tradition he started during the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers quest for their first Superbowl ring.

Today, sports stadiums across the world now twirl their own towels.

Cope trademarked The Terrible Towel and 100% of its proceeds have gone on to benefit the Allegheny Valley School, an institution for profoundly mentally and physically disabled individuals.

While primarily known for his thickly accented raspy voice (think “ain’t” and “Warshington” and “younz”), Cope was a superb sports writer. He was on the original staff for Sports Illustrated, and wrote also for the Saturday Evening Post. His profile of Howard Cosell, written for Sports Illustrated, is recognized as one of the best pieces of sports articles ever.

Myron was a hero to many, including the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before his retirement from the Steelers organization, Chuck Noll, longtime coach who led the Steelers to 4 Superbowl wins in 6 seasons told Myron that the Steelers could not have done it without him – that the “Terrible Towel took them over the line many, many times.”

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his is the only football announcer inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Steelers fans everywhere mourn his loss. He will, undoubtedly, be cheering them from the heavens.

That was Myron Cope, on sports.

What He Said

by jhwygirl

I don’t know, but I’m betting fascists hate to be called fascists.

Keith Olbermann speaks for me.

by jhwygirl

Private Darren Smith, 19, of Helena, was killed in Iraq on Thursday of non-combat related injuries. The DoD has not released any additional information, but does say that his death is still under investigation.

Pvt. Smith is the 21st Montanan killed in Iraq (2 have also died in Afghanistan), and the 6th soldier from Helena.

Prayers and tears to Pvt. Darren Smith’s family and friends.

God Bless.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Even though I was raised without religion (My parents came from intensely religious families.  My father was an altar boy at St. Anthony’s, my mother was confirmed at St. Paul’s. By the time I came along they were wholly uninterested in faith.) my family always celebrated Christmas. It was purely a celebration of family and tradition for us. We put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving (thanks to an entrenched campaign of whining on my part), made at least a dozen types of cookies and candies from scratch, sent cards to everyone in our address book, and bought a gift for the entire family to enjoy. Usually the gift was a board game, something all of us could play after dinner on Christmas night and for months afterward. My dad, tired of Connect Four, bought an Atari for Christmas 1979. The rest of us barely got to play with it; he grabbed the “Adventure” game right away and disappeared into the family room for hours, hell bent on getting the chalice away from the red dragon.

It’s memories like these that make the holidays special for me, despite my professed atheism. Christmas means home, comfort, safety and family. I’m sure many of you feel the same. That’s why it’s important to remember those of us in Missoula who do not get to experience all the small domestic joys of Christmas: the cookies, the cards, the cat throwing up from eating tinsel, the pine needles imbedded in the carpet for months to come. You can help them by donating to the Poverello Center. If only for a few hours, every Missoulian deserves a place to call home this time of year–with or without tinsel in the cat puke.

Hero: Keith Ellison

by Jay Stevens 

Imagine: you’re an American Muslim. You constantly hear cries from certain quarters that your religion naturally breeds violence — never mind that older Islamic societies were some of the most peaceful, learned and tolerant civilizations the world has seen — that you and your fellow worshippers are hell-bent on conquering the world and “destroying” the United States, democracy, and, one presumes, apple pie. In fact, too many people have suggested American Muslims should be put into detention camps, or, at the very least, isolated at airports and bus and train stations based on your religion.

Would you run for Congress? (I sure as h*ll wouldn’t. I would be living in Canada or New Zealand, thank you very much.)

Not only did Keith Ellison run for Congress, he won a seat. And he plans on swearing the oath of office on his religion’s most sacred book, the Koran.

You may remember the ensuing kerfluffle, when talk-show host Dennis Prager made a fuss about Ellison swearing his oath of office on a Koran. (And Prager’s at it again.) Or the narrow-minded remarks by Viriginia Representative Virgil Goode.

Again, if it were me, I’d have said something nasty back.

Not Keith Ellison. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Ellison sought unity, not divisiveness:

…diversity of our country is a great strength. It’s a good thing that we have people from all faiths and all cultures that come here. And we all support one Constitution, one Constitution that upholds our right to equal protection, one Constitution that guarantees us due process under the law, one Constitution which says that there is no religious test for elected office in America.

So the document that is the bedrock of our democracy expressly prohibits applying any religious test, and I think that diversity in our nation is a great thing and we should embrace it, not be afraid of it.


And so there’s nothing for [Virgil Goode] to be afraid of, and that what we should do is to tell our constituents that we should reach to each other, not be against each other, and we should find ways for common ground.

And the whole hubbub surrounding his religion, and his taking his office? Ellison thought it was a great opportunity for folks to revisit the Constitution.

I’ve heard it said that the Democratic Party needs to clearly define its ethos, so folks will understand what it’s about. Well, I think Ellison has just demonstrated the lefty ethos: tolerance, unity, the rule of law, and the prominence of the Constitution and the principles that founded this country.

by Jay Stevens 

Here we go. The work can begin.

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd today announced his intention to introduce legislation in the Senate that would amend the “torture bill.” Some planned changes:

Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detaineesNarrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants

Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials

Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable

Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions

Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight

Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions

This is exactly what needs to happen: reinstitute the rule of law over the executive branch, yet still giving federal officials powerful law-enforcement tools to combat terrorism. Let’s face it: the executive needs oversight. Detainees must have their basic rights. This shouldn’t even be up for discussion, let alone already existing legislation voted on by the Senate.

There were 12 Democrats who voted for it and only 1 Republican who voted against it. Let’s hope those numbers change and significantly. The 2006 elections was a clear demonstration that American voters do not like the way the executive branch is handling Iraq and the “war on terror.” We’ll soon see which Senators got that message.

Hero: Nick Larkin

Recently the Missoula Independent published a full-length feature on a local hooker (“Using Her Religion,” on June 22, by Jason Wiener). I read it at the time, but didn’t comment on it or think about it much, mainly because it’s not where my focus lies right now. But what I have noticed is that the story has sparked an unusual amount of outrage among letter-writers and, one presumes, the paper’s readership.

First, my own view is that stories about people living on our society’s margins are good – like John Adams’ recent piece on a group of the Missoula homeless — these people are part of our communities, and it’s important to not only know that they exist, but to understand them, too.

That’s not what the story’s detractors thought.

Unfortunately I can’t find archived letters from the Independent. Most letters took issue with Wiener’s non-judgmental tone: they saw the article as condoning or even approving of Nouveaux’ life choices. Many were appalled that the Independent would even choose a hooker as a topic for a feature. Most trotted out children, saying they would be damaged by reading the story (kids read the newspapers these days?) – someone even arranged a letter writing campaign by teenage girls who all claimed writing about  Nouveaux and her views would only encourage girls to become prostitutes.

(Of course, if you actually read the story, Nouveaux’ life sound pretty horrific, and she seems…well…nuts. Give me a desk job any day!)

A letter from Missoula man, John Tesdal, published in the current issue of the paper aptly demonstrates the outraged tone of many letter writers:

I found the story rather tasteless and beneath the quality of reporting previously found in the Independent. These “shock” type stories have no place in our community, especially when our children can pick up the Independent in numerous places around our city.As a small-business owner who is frequently solicited by the Missoula Independent for advertising, I must decline doing business with the Independent, as I do not wish to be associated with this type of media dissemination.

The Missoula Independent must make a choice as to the direction of its reporting in relation to its advertisers. No advertisers, no Missoula Independent.

I urge other business owners to think about the message they are helping send to our citizens, including our youth, and if they are willing to accept the responsibility of mismanaged media that does not concern itself with the welfare of the common reader and is instead harboring a self-serving attitude.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want any part of this style of degradation.

First, the Missoula Independent is a great paper with excellent journalists on its staff. It’s not going away. If anything, it’s gaining respectability for its investigative journalism. Remember who broke the real story behind the John Morrison scandal? Not the Missoulian. Tesdal might yank his ads – if he really has any – but it’s his business that may suffer.

Second, since when is the media supposed to uphold, confirm, and create the moral climate of a community? It’s always been the Independent’s mission to challenge readers’ assumptions and local authority. That’s a good thing.

But let’s listen to what Hamilton native and today’s hero, Nick Larkin, has to say:

Cannot say that I was surprised by the angry letters you received regarding “Using Her Religion.” Like many others, I found the piece to be somewhat disturbing. However, it was interesting to read about the obscure views of this woman and the (often harsh) realities of prostitution. Interesting also were the furious letters regarding the article, including one from a high-school student who wondered if newspapers were even “allowed to print something like that.” Fortunately, censorship does not reach all levels of media. Thank you, Missoula Independent, for still having the balls to publish something that may not be music to everyone’s ears.


I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. Freedom of speech is for everybody, even for people and ideas you don’t like.

Hero: Jean Rohe

Unlike my “creeps,” 4&20 heros say smart things. Some even stand up and speak the truth directly to the faces of those in power. Enter Jean Rohe.

You, like me, may have tuned your radio to NPR this weekend and heard some of the raucous commencement at New York’s liberal college, New School, when John McCain was invited to speak and was met with a chorus of protests and chants and heckling.

You, like me, may have had some mixed thoughts about the proceeding. John McCain, while moving steadily right in his 2008 bid for President, is still one of the better politicians in DC right now. (That’s not saying a lot, I admit.) While he kowtows to the President more than we like and waaaaaaaaaay more than he should, he’s also one of the few Republican Congressmen to stand up to the administration – and offhand I’m thinking of his opposition to Cheney on the subject of torture. So when he’s booed…well…seems like maybe they’re picking the wrong target.

Or so it seemed to me while listening to NPR’s story. Part of that story was a quick sound bite of the introduction of student speaker, Jean Rohe, made to begin her speech, which directly proceeded McCain’s. This is what I heard on the radio:

Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.

The nerve!

But then I found the full text of the speech along with some thoughts on why she made the decision to speak out against McCain on a post over at the Huffington Post. Um…in context the speech is…well…pretty d*mn cool!

First, Rohe had no plans to make a controversial political speech until she read the content of McCain’s speech, the same one he gave at Colombia and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. She realized that the national media would be covering McCain’s speech – both Fox News and NPR planned on being there – and she felt she had to speak out against the “particularly loathsome” elements of McCain’s speech. So she rewrote her speech the night before commencement as a rebuttal to the points McCain would make in his speech following hers directly.

Here’s the full text of Rohe’s speech:

If all the world were peaceful now and forever more,Peaceful at the surface and peaceful at the core,

All the joy within my heart would be so free to soar,

And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Don't know where we're going but I know we're going far.

We can change the universe by being who we are,

And we're living on a living planet, circling a living star.

Welcome everyone on this beautiful afternoon to the commencement ceremony for the New School class of 2006. That was an excerpt of a song I learned as a child called "Living Planet" by Jay Mankita. I chose to begin my address this way because, as always, but especially now, we are living in a time of violence, of war, of injustice. I am thinking of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Darfur, in Sri Lanka, in Mogadishu, in Israel/Palestine, right here in the U.S., and many, many other places around the world. And my deepest wish on this day–on all days–is for peace, justice, and true freedom for all people. The song says, "We can change the universe by being who we are," and I believe that it really is just that simple.

Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John Mc Cain's presence here today, and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak here. The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all, and to commemorate our achievements.

What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator Mc Cain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last; those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally here at the New School. For this reason I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today. Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, Senator Mc Cain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government–and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power, we can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality, we can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others. These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same.

The interesting thing about all this was NPR’s premise, which mirrored McCain’s quote to the New York Times — “I feel sorry for people living in a dull world where they can’t listen to the views of others ” – that the student body displayed an arrogant display of intellectual intolerance.

Of course, hearing Rohe’s side of the story, nothing could be further from the truth. First, McCain had already given the speech twice and gotten plenty of press from the speeches. Second, most of the students at the New School were familiar with the text before he gave the commencement.

Ultimately of course, the reason the students were so shrill was that the current administration and the GOP in general had not “listened to the views of others,” that they had recklessly and dangerously chased their ideological and narrow foreign and domestic policies despite popular outcry and against the advice of policy experts.

McCain is right when he says people aren’t listening. But it’s not the students who hear the Republican talking points – like we do, too – every night on the national and local news programs and in our newspapers. McCain wanted an audience, this was supposed to be his triumph of bipartisanship, his display of intellectual bravery to give the same speech to fundamentalists, ivy leaguers, and liberals. It was his grand entrance into the Presidential campaign. Only the New School students didn’t want to be talked at, they didn’t want to be a passive target of vetted sound bites.

This was obvious in a reply to Rohe’s post on the ‘Net by McCain aide Mark Salter, who wrote, that McCain intended to “discuss” with his “fellow countrymen” the “things that are important in political debates: that we owe each other respect…”

Well, Ms. Rohe, and your fellow graduates's comical self-importance deserves a rebuke far stronger than the gentle suggestions he offered you. So, let me leave you with this. Should you grow up and ever get down to the hard business of making a living and finding a purpose for your lives beyond self-indulgence some of you might then know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of living in an echo chamber.

Truly Salter missed the entire point of Rohe’s speech, that McCain’s “gentle rebuke” was essentially a demand that she – and we – should clam up in our opposition to the state, and that she would not stay silent.

That she spoke out against what she felt is a great injustice despite pressure not to do so, for that reason Jean Rohe is a 4&20 blackbirds hero.

Hero: Bill Worf

For the three of you who don’t read Wulfgar’s! “A Chicken is not Pillage” (whatever the h*ll that means), he has a fantastic post up about Conrad Burns’ new proposed legislation allowing motorized transport through Bitterroot-Selway wilderness areas to maintain dams in the mountains.

I’ll let Wulfgar! do the heavy lifting in explaining the issue, but suffice to say that the dams don’t actually pose much threat to life and property to Bitterroot homeowners. Basically it’s the type of legislation that will provoke environmentalists to action and make themselves look bad to anyone who’s not familiar with the issue. I.e., most of Montana.

But out of the morass comes a clear voice: Bill Worf.

Bill Worf, a retired Forest Service official who once ran the agency's national wilderness program, said the bill is unnecessary for continued maintenance of the dams.

"They were built with traditional hand tools and horse power 100 years ago, and were maintained the same way ever since," Worf said. "The Forest Service promised Congress that's the way it would be when the wilderness bill passed. If the dam owners don't want dams in the wilderness, then they should breach the damn things and leave the people's wilderness alone."

Bill Worf is a WWII Marine vet, career forester, and founder of Wilderness Watch, a non-profit environmental organization.

‘Nuff said.

Hero: Harry Taylor

This one was obvious: Harry Taylor, the man who stood up and spoke out against President Bush…to his face.

Think Progress has the video and transcript:

You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you’d like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are –

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what’s your question?

Q Okay, I don’t have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I — in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and –


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec — let him speak.

Q And I would hope — I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I’m saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

Oliver Willis has his pic alongside Rockwell’s visual paean to the First Amendment. It’s appropriate, too. Credit Bush for standing up to the criticism and allowing Taylor to speak, although he really didn’t have any other choice. Also, while Taylor did a great job of expressing how millions of Americans feel about this presidency, he really didn’t challenge Bush on anything of substance. (I admit I enjoy watching Bush try to field a question he knows nothing about, like, say foreign policy.)

Still, Taylor’s calm call for Bush to feel shame for mistakes was a beautiful moment in democracy, and a scene that hasn’t been seen often since Bush assumed office.

If you, like me, want to thank Mr. Taylor for expressing criticism to the president’s face and bravely exercising his right to speech, you can leave a comment at this website.

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