Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

by jhwygirl

BuzzFeed’s Katie J. M. Baker has published a damned fine and thorough assessment of Kirsten Pabst’s candidacy for Missoula County Attorney.

Ms. Baker puts together a pretty long list of issues that should make any Missoula resident rule Pabst out of the running for the next County Attorney – to replace the faultering and uncooperative Fred Van Valkenburg.

I especially love that Katie J.M Baker used Pabst’s blog posts. While Pabst has been critical of not only the media, but of anonymous bloggers like me, Pabst was so committed to her blog words that she’d delete them in two or three days. Apparently there are people out there who know that game. Who’d of thought of that???

And for those of you still fans of Mr. Van Valkenburg, consider his words on Pabst – who is openly criticizing Van Valkenburg’s leadership:

As chief criminal deputy, Pabst was free to establish any policy she thought she was appropriate in the criminal division, he said. “She was an integral part of the management of this office for over five years.”

Missoula’s once again in the national news over the University of Montana & Missoula’s rape scandal – this time via Kirstin Pabst’s candidacy.

If Missoula is wanting to put the rape scandal behind us, putting Pabst in as chief of the county attorney’s office is NOT the way to go about it.

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by Pete Talbot

There are lots of ways to interpret the news and write the story.

One version would say the Democrats “took a big gamble” when they tried to block a pair of bills.

Another might read:

Old, straight, paranoid white guys try to cling to power by suppressing the vote.

Guess which way Lee Newspapers’ Mike Dennison took?

Now I have a lot of respect for Dennison.  He’s covered the Capitol and other statewide issues quite well for many years.  He’d probably get into trouble with corporate (and Lord knows there aren’t a lot of jobs in journalism out there these days) if he wrote the lede that needs writing.

Because let’s face it, the Republicans in the Montana Legislature are, for the most part, a bunch of scared, intransigent, backward-thinking white guys (and a few women) who see the way the rest of the country is trending.  And it’s not in their direction.

The Montana GOP could try to moderate its policy, be more inclusive and play the long game.  Or it could attempt to keep young people, immigrants and the disenfranchised from voting.

It’s doing the latter.

So while I appreciate the mainstream media’s legislative coverage, I’ll look to the blogs for the ledes that cut to the chase.

by jhwygirl

I’m about 200% certain that Rehberg’s calendar is going to open up, but for now, he’s claiming scheduling conflict. I tend to think that if your campaign commits you, you’re obligated to attend.

For now, though, Sunday’s senatorial debate, sponsored by the Montana Broadcasters Association will go on without Rehberg in attendance . He apparently has something more important to do.

Like this, perhaps?

That’s Denny – with David Bosse, president of Citizen’s United at an endorsement luncheon held by Bosse & friends back in September

The original story I caught Friday has been updated some – but the basic story reads that the Montana Broadcasting Association confirmed the date and time with his campaign seven months ago.

And then again in February, March and May.

Rehberg’s camp isn’t using the word “liar” for Greg MacDonald, President of the Montana Broadcasters Association – but they are saying this:

“The claims being made by Greg MacDonald, the President of the Montana Broadcasters Association, are completely false. And despite repeated requests, MacDonald has refused to provide any evidence of his claims because it simply does not exist.”

Wow. Really?

Note that article says that he “will not be able to attend.” Today’s story has him claiming that he “was never formally invited.”

My question – does a radio broadcast of this debate bother Rep. Rehberg? You’d think he’d be all over an opportunity to reach out to voters – live – across the entire state.

I say fine – who wants to hear him anyways. Let Senator Tester and Libertarian Dan Cox talk issues.

I believe it’ll be all that more interesting with only two candidates involved.

And finally? In the end, where does this settle out? Rehberg being unable to hire competent staff? Rehberg being unable to prioritize a few debates into his schedule? I mean – seriously – a week and a half out from a Sunday morning debate during one of the nation’s most hotly contested senate races and Rehberg can’t adjust his schedule for a debate?

What else is a subdivision rancher running for office doing on a Sunday morning 150 days before election? Heading up to the lake for a weekend boat ride?

by jhwygirl

I’m done trying to convince the Indy to take a high road. Hell, at this point, even a rocky muddy road would be something. On the other hand, lots of us need closure. So I’m closing it.

Here is the goodbye George column that the Indy should have written.

Dear Readers –

By now many of you have noticed – given the number of phone calls and emails that we’ve received – that 12 year award-winning political opinion columnist George Ochenski is no longer gracing the pages of the Missoula Independent. Montanans have benefited from reading his words on our pages for more than a decade – and from what we can discern, he’s gained a few fans along the way.  We’ve heard that George has moved on – grabbing a weekly gig with the Missoulian. We truly wish him well.

Sometimes in life you find yourself wishing for a do-over. Especially in hindsight. This situation is certainly one that finds us in that position, if only to have handled George’s departure in a different way. Alas, there are no do-overs here. But there is moving forward.

The Missoula Independent values both our staff and our readers immensely – and we recognize it is those relationships which we need to mend. Our choice to not address this situation reflects on the impressions our readers have on the very thing thing the Indy does – writing a weekly independent newspaper. It takes a village to do a lot of things, and the Independent is no different – from our sales and advertising staff, to our copy staff, editorial staff, contributors, and writers – all are integral to the very proud and award-winning work that our readers have come to enjoy over the last 21 years.

Ultimately things most often work out for the better. We certainly hope that is true for both George and us. And while we can’t change the past what we can say, moving forward, is that the Missoula Independent will continue striving to bring Missoula and Montanans and its readers elsewhere writing that is important and truthful and relevant.

Signed,
President Matt Gibson
Editor Robert Meyerowitz

Like I said – the column that never was.

Peace out, Indy.

by jhwygirl

Former Indy – now Missoulian – political columnist George Ochenski was guest today on Aaron Flint’s Voices of America statewide talk show this morning. Work unfortunately got in the way for life for me, but Northern Broadcasting does podcast Flint’s show. It’s in two segments, here and here.

That shift to the Missoulian took all of 5 days.

Flint gets to the Ochenski’s sudden and still unaddressed departure from the Indy immediately, and George tells it from his own words. It’s quite clear that editorial interference in Ochenski’s political writings were the heart of the matter. Flint asks “What really happened with the Missoula Independent?” George Ochenski responds:

“From my perspective, what happened is they hired a new editor that came in from out of state and literally started wading in on my columns. Restricting what I could write about – I couldn’t write about national or international issues anymore – just about Montana politics……

“He started cranking down on the scope of my writing, and then he started doing some, what I thought, were some really irresponsible edits. Changing my words. Putting titles on columns that I would never have put on there.”

Ochenski then cites a change in the title of a column from “Collaborators collision to “Hang the Collaborators,” explaining that he’d never advocate violence against those with whom he disagrees and another where a medical marijuana column Damned if you do had “Med pot court case could sway election” attached as a a subtitle. Ochencski explained that using the term “pot” for medical marijuana belittled the necessity of its use for those that need it.

Once that was out, Flint had a great long conversation with Ochenski, talking about the conservative reaction to Ochenski’s departure, his adventures up in the capitol, his non partisan (but liberal leaning) approach to political commentary – and even…well….testicles. So go listen to it.

A big thanks to Aaron Flint for bringing us a good interview. Hopefully he has Ochenski on again.

by jhwygirl

Another working day for the Missoula Independent came and went, and still silence from the Indy blog.

I find it disheartening that the newspaper which has been the instrument for so many of my favorite feature writers over the years – John S. Adams, Patrick Duganz, Jesse Froehling, Skylar Browning, Jessie McQuillan, and Matthew Frank, just to name a few – is continuing its silence to the departure of longtime and award-winning political columnist George Ochenski.

Especially when it has been reported that Ochenski had been shut down on free press column by editor Robert Meyerowitz.

It’s disheartening because the silencing of a political columnist has ramifications to the impressions readers (translate “market”) have of the product a newspaper puts out. Not only is it not good for the readers, it’s can’t be good for the newsroom. As I stated on Friday: “Failure to address Ochenski’s departure will hang over the Indy. It will cloud their respectability as a “Free Thinking” newspaper – and it unfairly disrespects a departure that would be better left with the Indy taking a high road and giving its deserving loyal readers (and a columnist who helped in a very big way make the Indy what it is today) the truthful explanation and closure all parties deserve.”

I still believe that.

Editor Robert Meyerowitz has the forum – and he’s no stranger to writing, either. You’d think that if he felt a need type off a response to a news report that Ochenski had been censored, he’d feel a need to explain Ochenski’s elimination from the pages of the Indy on the pages of the Indy.

Barring that, the truth behind Ochenski’s departure is going to be told. Multiple news sources have inquired just of me (this little old anonymous blogger) on this matter…and undoubtedly there’s been more.

ON Wednesday, Montanans will get a chance to hear it from George Ochenski himself. GO will be the guest of Northern Broadcasting’s statewide talkshow host Aaron Flint (@aaronflint) on his show Voices of Montana.

Flint’s show is on 9-10 a.m. daily. Here in Missoula it’s on AM 930 KMPT (corrected) (I do sincerely listen to 1290 – check my car radio and I was confusing Aaron’s show with the one on 1290), though it can be heard statewide. Check this map to find your local station. You can also stream it from this link.

AND, for you facebook fans out there, there’s a Where’s Ochenski facebook page. I even broke my own protocol and posted a pic over there. Go check it out. And share that page with your friends.

by jhwygirl

It started June 1st with Montana Public Radio news director Sally Mauk’s interview of Royce Engstrom. You can download the podcast here or stream it from the Montana Public Radio newsblog.

It’s quite clear from that interview that even now, Engstrom hasn’t been able to separate the facts from his own defensive and inaccurate version of events. Listen as Mauk corrects Engstrom when he attempts to make it sound like the police were aware of the rape and sexual assault by the Saudi student prior to his university-facilitated escape back to his home country.

I also appreciate how Mauk calls out Engstrom when he touts his successful investigations which resulted in a number of students removed from campus – and into our community.

KECI has been touting an upcoming interview with Engstrom.

Tonight, in perusing KGVO’s website (AM 1290 here in Missoula), I find that Peter Christian’s Talk Back will be hosting University of Montana’s Royce Engstrom on Wednesday Morning.

Talk Back is a short half-hour local talk show, done from 8:30 to 10 a.m. every weekday morning. In reading KGVO’s website, Engstrom was invited to “to answer your questions about the campus and a host of recent University related events.”

Lovely. Do make sure to listen and call in on Wednesday morning, Missoula….and Montana. 406-721-1290. I know I’ll be listening.

by jhwygirl

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I have a deep admiration for George Ochenski, opinion columnist extraordinaire for the Missoula Independent.

For twelve years, the GO has graced the pages of the (not so)Indy(anymore) with his laser analysis of Montana politics. Of national politics. And of everything else that matters.

Ochenski’s analysis and opinion is solid. It’s why we read the Indy. Check this gem out from 2005: Vampire wires: The energy corridors are coming

I mean – How friggin’ spot-on can a columnist get?

So Thursdays are a treat for me. George Ochenski Day. I admit I have on occasion been privvy to a head’s up or two. So perhaps it was that the GO didn’t want to have me get bummed out (or pissed off) any sooner than needed.

To come to find this week’s Indy barren of Ochenski’s column was..well….just plain wrong. The fact that the Indy didn’t have the decency to offer its (maybe now not so) loyal readers an explanation is perplexing.

Twelve years and that’s how its missing primary this-is-why-we-grab-the-Indy column is addressed?

You simply don’t do this to your readers.

I mean – I like the Indy, but I kinda feel like someone pissed in my Wheaties this morning.

~~~~
It’s early and I have to get to work. I certainly don’t want to wake George with what I hope is a temporary departure. Or a mistake at the printers. Or one of George’s fishing trips gone too long.

And quite frankly, given my reaction, maybe I understand why George didn’t let us know. Or at least me.

The Indy, though, should have rerun a column – because the Missoula Independent isn’t independent without Montana’s sole independent political columnist George Ochenski.

by Pete Talbot

I almost missed this comment.  It was buried in the “Contact 4&20 Blackbirds” site.

So, sure, Nancy, glad to help.  Here’s the skinny:

My husband and I have started a campaign to get Rush Limbaugh off the air in Missoula. We delivered a petition with over 1600 names to KGVO about a month ago; since that time, we have created a website, rushoutofmissoula.com, on which we list local and national advertisers on the program, and their contact info. As of today, 17 advertisers have pulled their ads from the show. We would appreciate your including this info on your blog for a bit of time – and would love to see some more signatures (we’re over 1700 now), and feedback! Thanks for your time, Nancy Cooper

by jhwygirl

It’s a pretty hefty charge to make, but as Missoula County resident, #OccupyMissoula participant and attorney Taryn Hart points out, it’s unsafe for not only the occupiers, but for the intoxicated people Missoula City Police are allegedly dropping off at the occupation, located on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn.

A tactic, she explains at her blog Plutocracy Files, used by police against Occupy movements across the nation.

Occupy Missoula is an alcohol and drug-free encampment. The agreed to this on day #1. To hear that city police are delivering intoxicated and belligerent people off at the encampment is troubling.

This is something that should be troubling to the community, too. These types of actions can leave the City exposed to any number of lawsuits should something occur which results in injury or death.

Hear it in Ms. Hart’s words:

I had heard from several of the 24/7 occupiers at Occupy Missoula that the police have dropped off drunken, belligerent people at the occupation. I happened to be there when just that happened. A woman who was extremely drunk and was belligerent was dropped off by Officer Kasey Williams of the Missoula Police Department, Badge #348. She headed directly into the occupation and was belligerent and threatening. This very small occupation was forced to handle this on their own (which, by the way, they did very well).

As soon as I left I called Sgt. Jerry Odlin to speak to him about it. I informed him of the situation and informed him that the occupation has rules prohibiting intoxication. He denied that anything had been done to create disruption at the Occupy Missoula occupation.

These are serious claims to make. Taryn Hart has put herself out there in her own words with specific allegations to this incident. She is calling on not only the community but the media to contact both the Missoulian and Missoula Mayor Engen to let them know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and dangerous and needs to stop.

~~~~
I’m also going to add this – I caught KECI NBC Montana’s report on Occupy Missoula either Wednesday or Thursday evening, with Steve Fetveit speaking of “feces in the bushes,” while Heidi Meili countered – with a distressed look on her face and concern in her voice – about the “health risks” exposed to the community.

Now – I don’t get downtown every day, and I don’t know if anyone’s ever noticed but we’ve got homeless people here in Missoula. In fact, there are homeless people everywhere across the nation. There has been – again, in fact – homeless people around on this earth since the beginning of time. Some of them have mental issues, and others have no other choice – it’s a mix of humanity, much as it is for those who sleep in beds under roofed structures.

Homeless people – and this is a factual reality – don’t have easy access to bathrooms. I am not saying that what occurs because of this reality is acceptable by any means, but I am saying this is a factor that, it appears, many people have chosen to push out of their mind as they turn their sight (and voice) to the plight of homeless people.

Having been to the Missoula County courthouse a few times, I can tell you that there was feces – and lots of other stuff – hanging out there in the bushes for a long long time. This spring – or was it last fall? – they were doing some renovations down there. Couldn’t enter in through the front door. Well, I had walked up to that front door not paying attention as I sipped my soy chai latte, no foam, from Broadway Bagels…which left me having to tramp to the west side door out by the parking lot on the side of the building.

I got to walk by all those bushes and squeeze through the line of them over there bordering the parking lot. It looked like people were living in there. There was clothing and bundles and garbage. All kinds of crap – and I do mean, literally, crap. I remember noting at the time how odd it was that the County Courthouse, such a visible public place, could house such an amount of humanity and its garbage behind the bushes and no one seemed to notice.

Maybe Steve Fetveit should do the gentlemanly thing and accompany Heidi Meili in her perfectly coiffed hair and 3 1/2″ heels down to the Missoula County Courthouse – in broad daylight so as to ensure their safety – and ask a few people down there how many bags of garbage and crap they carted out of the grounds of the courthouse in the first few days of #occupyMissoula?

Maybe Steve Febveit Heidi Meili should then take a short walk up to the Poverello Center during the lunch hour to see the unwashed homeless as they gather for one of the three warm meals a day they may be lucky to get – along with a chance to perhaps wash up and go to the restroom. Ask ’em where they go to the bathroom during the night.

The news may shock those news reporters.

There are insufficient services here for the homeless. Homelessness is a fact of humanity. Grow up and deal with it. Occupy Missoula is and has been since the first day. Hell – I stood on the courthouse lawn the first day and a homeless lady came up and, asking me if I was in charge, continued to berate me for not having anything more to eat than salad.

Does Occupy Missoula have a homeless problem? You bet ya. Its the same homeless problems that Missoula has had since this earth produced man on earth.

Appalled by feces as the Courthouse people? It didn’t magically show up with Occupy Missoula.

by jhwygirl

I haven’t seen this – nor have I been able to find anything – in any newspaper in the state (if I’ve missed it, please let me know) – but apparently former leader of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nation group Karl Gharst has sent the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) a letter saying that they were a “Jewish criminal organization working with other Jewish organized crime networks,” and that “These organizations are well known to commit crimes against lawful citizens through intimidation, destruction of property, violence and assassination.”

Gharst continues: “As a lawful citizen I am giving you proper notice that I am now exercising my duty that I will do all in my power and the power of the State of Montana to see that all MHRN members will stand trial by the lawful citizens of the State of Montana for crimes against the State, and justice returned to lawful citizens.”

Stand trial where? What is this guy talking about?

According to the story, reported in the Southern Poverty Law Center blog a little over a week ago, Travis McAdam, director of MHRN, has reported the matter to law enforcement.

Karl Gharst, as the SPLC blog post notes, was sent to jail in 2004 for threatening to kill a child protective services worker in Montana. More recently – prior to threatening MHRN most recently – Gharst screened movies which denied the existence of the Holocaust in Kalispell and tangled with other neo-Nazi groups in the area (likely drawn to the area because of people like Gharst calling NW Montana “home”.

I’m not sure why the Montana media hasn’t covered this. Here’s a Montana neo-Nazi who’s not afraid to speak to the press, who’s been convicted and jailed for threatening people in the past, who’s now emailing a threat to the Montana Human Rights Network threatening them with a grand jury of some unknown justice system. That’s not newsworthy?
A search of “supremacist” in the Billings Gazette brings up this list, many of those stories have a direct connect to Montana.

Let’s hope the press isn’t waiting until some “real crime” has been committed.

by jhwygirl

Bringing it back. As always, consider this an open thread

If you watched only one The Daily Show this week, hopefully it was this one. He starts off with “Democracy” – brings in Saudia Arabia’s lack of it with regards, especially, to women. Slaps the U.S. for embracing Saudia Arabia and then whips it all together with #occupywallstreet and the NYPD attacks on peaceful protesters.

On that note, here’s The Nation’s FAQ on Occupy Wall Street. Just the basics, for those still wondering what it is.

For your visual pleasure and cultural and even perhaps political curiosity, some pics from an expat living in China, twitterer @lonniehodge – who’s also a TED speaker.

I was seriously asleep on this one – Supermontana reporter John S. Adams broke the story, then Don Pogreba took the Rep. Denny Rehberg Federal land-grab story and pulled it all together with a very thorough analysis.

More hypocrisy from Rehberg. Against National Monuments, but fine with handing over unilateral authority over Montana’s borders to the Department of Homeland Security. Kinda like a double-dip of hypocrisy there, isn’t it?

Speaking of hypocrites..the face of Montana’s reasonable conservatism Montanafesto absolutely rips on Reverend Harris Himes’ criminal activities in this post titled Hypocrite, Meet Karma – Another Righteous Right Winger Down.

Himes, if you haven’t heard, is Blaming the gays.

Jack over at The Western Word had a piece this week about a local drinking-and-driving tragedy there in Great Falls. He has written quite a bit on the topic of drinking and driving, and I had, in fact, had reason to come across this tough criticism on the legislature from this past session just today.

Are you reading James Conner? Because you need to be. James’ latest piece at the Flathead Memo is on the bullying incident at Glacier High School. The story is pretty sick, and I knew it was going to get ugly when the coach resigned as the story broke. For all that, read this earlier post from James, which really rings together the whole sordid thing, along with a local history of the issue, together.

Montana is one of only 5 states in the nation without anti-bullying laws. Congressional candidate and state senator Kim Gillan sponsored SB141 this past session in an effort to address bullying. While it passed the Senate, it was tabled in the House Education Committee. A blast attempt on the floor failed also, 63-34. That’s not a party-line vote, btw – looks like 2 Republicans might have voted with the Dems to try and get the thing a fair floor hearing.

Disgraceful.

2nd Grade Bike Rack got linked to in an Huffington Post piece on the Keystone XL pipeline this past week. Pretty sweet! Kudos to James for that. Wanna read it? Republicans Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline.

That’s all I got – what about you?

Mea Culpa

by Duganz

I posted a piece on Monday about the Missoula Independent that contained an error which put the piece in question. As such, I removed it. I apologize for the mistake.

Gratitude

by lizard

It’s always nice to have one’s efforts appreciated. I think it’s safe to say, from all us b-birder’s here at 4&20, thank you very much for voting for us in this year’s Best of Missoula edition of the Indy. And for a bit of fun, I wrote up a little ditty below the fold. Enjoy. Continue Reading »

by jhwygir

For up-to-the-moment news from an affected landowner, please read Alexis Bonogofsky’s twitter timeline.

Of greatest interest today, she reports that Exxon did not send out their specialized crews today.

Nice, huh?

While MSNBC reports that Exxon officials are now saying the spill could extend beyond the 10 miles they’ve originally reported.

You don’t say? And I’m loving those qualifiers (could? Really? We’re in flood!)

Please take notice of the wildlife photos on that MSNBC story.

On that note, Ms. Bonogofsky, ranch owner of Blue Creek Farms has also reported on the immediate loss of wildlife from her Yellowstone River ranch.

I cry for her loss. It is heartbreaking to hear of this devastation. I wish there was something I could do.

Watch Mike Scott, who is co-owner with Alexis of Blue Creek farms, question Exxon in this KTVQ-NBC Billings report and video.

And again – on that note – ranch owners Alexis and Mike were kicked out of the press conference and public officials did nothing to stop this banishment.

The agriculture industry is being ruined down there along the Yellowstone and public officials are allowing Exxon to clean up their image by keeping affected landowners out of press conferences? Shame to any and all who escorted Alexis and Mike out of that press conference.

BCFS

And the Fuax News Achievement Award goes to… The Missoulian.

I’m not sure if its possible for the Missoulian to have their collective heads farther up the ass of new Bresnan owner Cablevision.  I know the Missoulian is a loca paper, and as such carries some pretty worthless ‘news’ items from time to time, but did they just reprint a press release or something with this ‘informative’ story … er… advertisement?  As always Missoulian,  stay classy.

If you don’t already know, Bresnan Communications was bought out by Cablevision back in December and is now calling itself Optimum West (because its going to optimize its profits yo!).  So… an already annoying local monopoly with horrible customer service is now a local monopoly owned by a national corporation with monopolistic aspirations and most likely even worse customer service.

Optimum’s services are advertised as cheaper and more advanced than Bresnan’s.

Yeah, the introductory rate may be, but in cruising the whole of the Optimum site, the one .pdf that did not load properly was the document showing their regular prices after the promotional period ends.

Anyway, I never liked Bresnan service much, its customer service was horrible and its service expensive, but it was kinda the only game in town. You can’t really  shame a company into acting in a more socially responsible manner or treating their customers in a more respectful manner (they have no conscience after all) so this is just me complaining.

It would seem that customer service is already worse under the new owners.  In the last few months I have gotten at least one call per week badgering me to upgrade my current service, you see I didn’t have the optimum package for streamlining profit potential.  Needless to say i finally freaked out on a poor telemarketer that probably didn’t even work for Cablevision, but he seemed to understand my frustration.  Customer service shouldn’t be mainly about selling your customer more crap they don’t want.

Yeah for faux news.

by Pete Talbot

At first glance, maybe this was something I should have attended. The Helena Independent Record headline read: Insight offered to bloggers.  Gosh, I thought, I wonder why I didn’t hear about this earlier.

Then some of the names in the story caught my eye: Aaron Flint of the Flint Report, Carl Graham of the Montana Policy Institute, Montana Watchdog, the Franklin Center — all pretty much mouthpieces for right wing and Libertarian causes.

Flint, for example, has a radio show on the Northern Ag Network, a conservative station out of Billings.  He has the Flint Report website, too, that carries headlines like: Tester Profits Off Credit Card Companies and Bullock Gets Testy Over Otter Creek.

The Montana Policy Institute out of Bozeman is a Libertarian think tank that refuses to reveal it’s funding sources.  Perhaps you’ve seen MPI President Carl Graham’s guest columns in your local paper on the wonders of a free market economy.  MPI just finished hosting a “Health Care Freedom Panel” with keynote speaker and MPI Senior Fellow Rob Natelson.

There’s Montana Watchdog, another website, that is sponsored by the Montana Policy Institute and presents itself as a news organization with Front Page links to, well, Natelson’s “Health Care Freedom Panel.”

The Franklin Center, based in North Dakota and Virginia (now there’s a strange pairing) bills itself as an organization dedicated to investigative reporting.  The group’s founder and president, Jason Stverak, is the former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.

Here’s a line from the end of the IR story:

Also among them was Big Sky Tea Party Association board member Roger Nummerdor, who thinks it might be time to start doing some blogging.

This all happened last Saturday at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena.

And these guys are joined at the hip.  I don’t begrudge some dudes holding a workshop, spreading the righteous word, maybe having a few beers, chewing the fat.  It’s just that they’re so sneaky about it.  You seldom see them flaunting their right-wing credentials.

Heck, they even fooled the IR reporter, who didn’t mention a thing in her story about these guys’ background.  I’m hoping she was fooled, anyway, because if she knew and didn’t mention it, that’s piss-poor reporting.

By CFS

In the current edition of the Missoula Independent the local paper takes aim at Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier over his Social Host Ordinance  and many of the policy positions he has taken in his six years in office.  Three times in the article – once in the headline, once in a quote, and once in the second to last paragraph – the Indy emasculates and attempts to make Dave appear effete through his desire to clean up after an infantilized Missoula populace.  In my opinion, the use of such language turns a pretty solid article into a hack job.

I would expect such language from a right-wing rag but from an independent newspaper based out of Missoula?  There is a long history of Liberalism’s opponents painting liberals as soft, elitists, and effeminate.  I don’t understand why the Indy is playing into such lazy stereotypes other than to set the tone of how the paper will handle Strohmaier in any eventual run for Montana’s open Congressional House seat.

The Tea People now holding sway in Helena proposed plenty of legislation to clean up after messy voters including:

But in conducting a search of the Indy’s news stories I never once came across language labeling Tea Party policies or politicians as people espousing a nanny-state.

I can understand why the Social Host Ordinance is the definition of government overreach to some people; the sanctity of one’s home and personal privacy are issues that people care deeply about and the image of Dave poking his fedora clad head into your house to check IDs  probably isn’t a pleasant one.  But at the same time, bar tenders are held responsible for serving minors alcohol… maybe people throwing house parties should be held responsible as well.

By CFS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

The theme “Even MORE National Media Attention Courtesy MTGOP” is getting old, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to to anywhere.

If FOXnews is using “Bat-Crap” and “Montana” in the same headline – quoting Democratic Governor Schweitzer, nonetheless – honestly, you really should reconsider things.

Who’s running that ship? Will Deschamps? Yoy.

Not only that – if FOXnews is explaining one of your crazy bills – HB278 – this way, you should maybe go crawling back in the cave you came from:

Schweitzer did not mention Montana House Bill 278, which would authorize creating armed citizen militias able to repel invaders, presumably war-like Canadians.

Rep. Wendy Warburton, I’m sure, is proud.

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 Pete Talbot

The death of the political blog Left in The West has been greatly exaggerated.

While it’s hard to do to justice to the writings of Jay Stevens and Matt Singer, there are some new posts up that deserve your attention. Matt Koehler, someone named Rustin (who follows Bozeman issues) and 4&2O’s own problembear have been filling the void. Rob ‘Wulfgar!’ Kailey has a post up and is also administering the site. This is all good news.

So, if you thought that LiTW had bitten the dust, think again, and pay the site a visit:

http://leftinthewest.com/

by Pete Talbot

Commercial irony

Challenger Dennis McDonald’s latest TV commercial has drawn the ire of Congressman Denny Rehberg. Jhwygirl has a post up on it. Rehberg’s outrage is hypocritical. He and the Republican party having been running negative hit ads for ages.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, though. I hate this kind of campaigning. Rehberg has been worthless as a congressman and that should be enough to get him booted from office. Unfortunately, it’s the personal, not the policy stuff, that commercials focus on these days. I guess that’s what plays best in our ADHD society. It’s a shame.

TV station ownership tends to be conservative but it looks like the stations will continue running the spots despite Rehberg’s lawyers’ threats. There’s money to be made.

A pitiful TV spot

Speaking of spots, this is one of the worst TV commercials I have ever seen. Put the politics behind you for a second, if you can, and just look at the spot aesthetically.

Poor Jan Rehberg. She could be a nice woman, for all I know, but she should kick the ass of whomever conned her into doing this spot for Nels Swandal. Who let those robots on the set?

Bad script, bad delivery, bad composition, bad lighting, bad everything.

This is also supposed to be a nonpartisan position but I guess we know where Nels stands on the issues. We’re looking at Tea Parties during recess.

In this race for Montana Supreme Court Justice, and I hate to judge a candidate by their TV (no pun intended) but Nels’ commercial is painful to watch. Even though I’m voting for Beth Baker — Swandal’s opponent — I’d give her a hard time, too, if she’d produced such a low-rent spot.

A little humor

Let’s end this post with some levity. I used to be pathologically obsessed with yard signs but when you think about it, it is a funny way to advance a candidate. Anyway, here’s the Onion‘s take on it:

Yard Sign With Candidate’s Name On It Electrifies Congressional Race

October 25, 2010 | ISSUE 46•43

The sign, above, which pundits say may have fundamentally altered the American political landscape.
 

by Pete Talbot

Five middle school suicides in the past year. Twenty attempted suicides. In a town of less than a thousand. In a school of fewer than 160.

This is criminal negligence.

It happened in Poplar, Montana, and the story is in today’s paper. The gist of the piece was about a principal who singled out kids at a student assembly for getting Fs. If true, well, that’s pretty sad.

But that’s not really the story. Kids as young as ten are taking their own lives out of desperation. It’s an unbroken cycle of poverty and hopelessness; while the rest of us turn a blind eye.

Here’s the best link I could find at the Great Falls Tribune but the suicides are buried in the story. The online Lee Newspapers have no mention of the suicides. (It was reported in the print edition of the Missoulian.) That’s unconscionable. It should have been the lead story on every newscast and in every newspaper across the state … and it should have happened months ago.

Where else should the blame lie? Our state and national governments, for sure. Our disparate education system. Society as a whole. The list goes on.

Can you imagine the outcry if this had happened at Washington Middle School in Missoula? No expense would be spared. Every expert in the region, every anti-suicide program that’s ever been conceived, would be employed to prevent this from happening.

But it happened in Poplar on the Fort Peck Reservation where, apparently, kids aren’t quite as valuable.

We should all be ashamed and make sure this doesn’t happen again on this reservation or any other school, anywhere.

By @CarFreeStpdty

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

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

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

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

The Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

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.




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