Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

by jhwygirl

Had a coworker say to me this morning as work begun “What’s with Jon Krakauer? Why does he hate UM?” Tone and history told me where they were on the University of Montana – City of Missoula – Mayor John Engen – President Engstrom rape “thing”: The “It’s over!” “Why bring this up again?” “Jordan Johnson was innocent!” “No one ever proved anything!” crowd.

Whatever. I’ll continue to call bs on the matter if anyone discusses to any great degree – and it’s likely they do so just to get a rise out of me. I’m OK with it. I have a decent memory, and I deal with facts. Google is easily accessible. The #truth was revealed in the Department of Justice report; the statutes of limitations haven’t expired; Montana’s current Attorney General Tim Fox has stated he feels the matter has been resolved; both the previous Governor Brian Schweitzer and the current Governor Steve Bullock have done nothing, either, to press for justice; and – the real kicker here that everyone seems to forget – the rapists walk free. Those are facts, but apparently there are many here that feel comfortable to ignore the reality.

It’s not like this isn’t free and open information – the Missoulian did fine reporting on the matter, and I still thank Gwen Florio for her fearless journalism, along with the editor and publisher that stood behind reporting on the matter while there was some huge advertising and Griz Nation backlash.

I wonder how the vicitims feel? I think of them. Do you think Freddie Van Valkenburg does? Or the ever-so-efficient, John Engen-endorsed Missoula County Attorney Kirsten B. Pabst? I doubt it.

Does Montana Attorney General Tim Fox – who was hot on the campaign pulpit on the issue of sexual predators – think about the gang rape that happened? That President Engstrom’s own “independent” investigator – a former Montana Supreme Court Justice – also found and placed in her report?

Does Fox think about the other sexual assaults? The 5 year old victim? I do.

Krakauer may be facing an unfriendly welcome here in Missoula when (and if) he comes to sign books. Or speak. But it sure isn’t going to be from me. I’m glad he took the rape issue on. I’m glad it’s the rape issue here. I hope he continues to push for the University papers. I hope he finds the alleged connections that are there between the former Governor’s office and his cronies and friends that came to the Board of Regents, and the weave of politics behind the whole sordid mess.

But getting back to my cowoker…..

I said that I wouldn’t be so sure that he hates the University of Montana – that maybe Krakauer loves Montana and just looks for any excuse to come here to write. (I was in a jolly mood this morning – and as I mentioned above, all parties know where I stand on the rape matter. Plus I added my own little sprinkle of sarcasm.)

The reply was that “Well, he hates the Two Cups of Tea guy too.”

And I love pink ponies and rainbows.

Addendum: One of my favorite posts from the University of Montana rape scandal is this from Patrick Duganz, as it epitomizes the head-in-the-sand Good-Ole-Boy’s Club and seemingly socially acceptable rape and sexual assault is (or was, depending on who you ask) here in Missoula: Rape is not “knuckleheaded,” Rape is a felony.

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by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s disgraceful.

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

by jhwygirl

Quite a dust storm kicking up over the gay marriage position articulated by Montana’s Democratic candidate for governor and current Attorney General Steve Bullock in a recent interview with Charles S. Johnson, Billings Gazette’s State Bureau Chief.

Bullock joined all seven GOP candidates in an anti-gay marriage stance, taking what he surely felt was the safest bet, siding with civil unions instead. From the Billings Gazette:

Bullock said, “I do not favor changing the constitution but would support legislative measures giving committed same-sex couples the opportunity to be together, free from discrimination.” This would include allowing a person to visit his or her partner in the hospital, he said.

The first response I saw was a post from Roberta Zenker of Transmontana, titled Just Say No to the Bullock. Read the entire post, please…and I’ll leave you with how Roberta summed up her feelings on Bullock’s position:

Please forgive my passion on this, but I am hurting. I have been wounded too many times by the results of colloquial thinking. My view is that the LGBT community needs to see itself as a voting block – one that has been denied far too long. I can no longer accept the default position of voting for Dems not because they support our interests, but because they are the lesser of evils. I am getting to the point that I prefer the poison that I know – one whose ideals and actions are susceptible to court challenge, rather than the one that lurks in the conference rooms and minds of hypocrites who accept my donations and volunteer work, but would throw me under the bus for the sake of political expediency.

Forgive that opinion? Hell no – I stand with her.

Today I see D. Gregory Smith with a post titled Steve Bullock Just Lost My Vote. What does DGS have to say?:

I have to say I’m very disappointed in Steve Bullock. Ironically, he apparently is unaware of the pain and suffering of LGBT persons in his state because of legislative discrimination (including a sodomy law still on the books)- or he’s unwilling to acknowledge us in the face of staying safe and winning votes. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has done some amazing things, like already (2 years ago) extending LGBT partner visitation rights in most hospitals. What has Steve Bullock done for us lately ever? Not much. I’m taking the Bullock sticker off of my car.

Bullock is running in a Democratic primary taking a GOP position on gay marriage. Taking a position that will likely be a variation of Mitt Romney’s when-he’s-backed-into-a-corner position on LGBTQ marriage equality.

And to be clear to those of you who think that civil unions and gay marriage are two in the same? They are not.

Are gays a voting block – you betcha. I understand a little how both D. Gregory and Roberta feel – as an environmentalist I feel like every cycle where we near an election, I am supposed to STHU about any criticism of the Democratic candidate because there are other issues more important. Does that compare to being denied rights that my friends and neighbors have? Not at all – but I make that comparison noting that for some reason, my concerns – just like D. Gregory Smith and Roberta Zenker’s – are somehow less important than other issues. Which I’ve come to realize over many years of voting is solely the issue of getting re-elected. We are not supposed to criticize the Democratic candidate because any criticism can harm that candidate in the general. Because the alternative is (most absolutely) far worse.

Because. Because. Because.

Because if you don’t vote for (the Democrat) it’ll all be your fault.

I don’t know how far this is going to take Steve Bullock this time. Democrats across the state have been given a fake candidate and a real candidate – the real candidate taking a position on what many consider to be what should very much be a civil rights issue. Does it harm him in the general?

Its a disgrace for the Democratic Party – and and absolute disaster for the Montana Democrats.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for electeds and officers of the above to express any dissatisfaction with Steve Bullock’s comments. It is, of course, election season – when those electeds and officers abide by the democrat’s version of Ronald Reagan’s Golden Rule: Speak no evil of fellow Democrats. At least during election season. Something I spoke about that a little here in this previous post.

Bullock’s lost my vote. His anti-gay marriage position has sealed it (I had issues with his Otter Creek vote also) for me. And as it stands now, not just for the primary but for the general. I decided some time back that I’m not voting the lesser of two evils.

I will only vote for progressives that are progressives. DINOs, especially, are out of the running for my vote.

Anti gay marriage candidates like Steve Bullock? Not a chance.

by jhwygirl

Just a quick hit on this one: I’m sure everyone’s heard the news earlier this week that President Obama has blessed his very own Super Pac, something he had rejected in the past.

Of course, he’s still cleaner, somehow. This, from Jay Carney, White House spokesperson:

He said Obama still refuses lobbyist and PAC money in his campaign account, “which distinguishes him from any of his potential … general-election opponents.”

Who’s out calming the bankers? Montana’s very own Jim Messina headed to Wall Street on Tuesday to let them know who Obama doesn’t have a problem with:

At the members-only Core Club in Manhattan, Messina provided a campaign briefing last night for some of the president’s top donors, including Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive officer at Evercore Partners Inc., and his wife, Jane Hartley, co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC; Eric Mindich, founder of Eton Park Capital Management LP; and Ron Blaylock, co-founder of GenNx360 Capital Partners…..

In response to a question, Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions, according to one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Does this cause me some burn? You betcha. Messina – Obama’s campaign manager – justifies his actions by saying “We can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”

Well..there’s certainly an element of truth to what he says – but it’s also a two-wrongs-make-a-right defense, imo. I don’t know that it makes it OK.

At the very least, it’s a trench on a high hill that has now been ceded by Obama.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

How’s that for stimulating the economy?

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

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

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

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

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

Sad.

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

By CFS

After more than a year of protests, general strikes, and clashes with authority, the Greek people have been given a chance to decide their own destiny and it looks very likely that voters will reject the debt deal put forward by the EU.  Financial markets reacted very negatively to the news, it would seem that markets aren’t very confident that Greek voters have international banks’ best interests in heart.

Ordinary people given the chance to decide the future of their own democratic country seems almost like a novelty.  I wonder what would have happened had Americans been given the chance to vote on TARP?  We might not have seen the rise of the Tea Party and OWS had it not been the shoveling of trillions of dollars tax payer money down the black hole of Wall Street’s quarterly reports.

Of course, Europe’s and America’s power brokers are just a little displeased, as the Greek PM, George Papandreou, is threatened by the fall of his government for his decision to put this issue in front of voters and will face angry EU leaders who will push for implementation of the plan even in the face of the Greek vote.  I guess he’ll learn his lesson that governing is for technocrats, not people… silly socialist.

The financial deal would force Greece to accept large cuts in public spending and is projected to increase already high unemployment rate partially caused by austerity measures adopted in 2010 in return for another bailout package.  But, as we’ve seen with Wall Street bailouts, such measures aren’t meant to help Greece, but to insure the profits of the bond holders, and of course, the only answer to debt is more debt.  Sound logic if you ask me.  The Naked Capitalist blog has a good post on the success of another country that rejected a financial bailout, even in the face of rising social spending.

I’m personally very interested in how a democratic vote will end up effecting this year’s Christmas bonuses at financial firms.

By CFS

People will do anything to claw their way to the top, and anything to stay there.

by jhwygirl

A picture is worth only so much. An endorsement from Citzen United’s Political Victory Fund will be worth a whole lot more.

Apparently Denny Rehberg got that endorsement today after a lovely lunch with lots of corporate lobbyists looking on:

That’s David Bossie, president of Citizen’s United, there with Rehberg.

Let it not be said Rehberg doesn’t support unlimited corporate money in politics. Taking an endorsement from the chief money prostitute in politics is about as disgusting as it could get.

Citizen’s United, you may recall, won a landmark decision at the United States Supreme Court about a year and a half ago which concluded corporate political donations could not be limited by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act.

Public outcry over this decision has been huge. There are calls for a constitutional amendment to limit spending – like here and here. Public polling is overwhelmingly in opposition to the decision.

Another org, People for the American Way are taking on the issue – and former Attorney Generals and other prominent lawyers around the nation submitted this letter to congress prior to hearings held last year to investigate into corporate spending and what the Citizen’s United SCOTUS case would mean.

Hell, even former gubernatorial candidate, Republican Bob Brown has spoken out on the evils of corporate money influence in politics.

Montanans should find Denny’s friendly embrace with Citizen’s United even more offensive. Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of Montana’s history – or anyone that’s seen the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which based on one of Montana’s own Copper Kings, Sen. William Clark, who bought himself a senate seat that the U.S. Senate refused to seat – should find this utterly offensive.

Citizen’s United is a direct affront to Montana’s own Constitution. In 1912, citizens here in Montana united against the Copper King corruption in Helena and passed several citizen’s initiatives directed at quashing corporate influence in state politics.

It’s a fascinating history. All the makings of a soap opera with corruption and scandal and lots of money all thrown in for extra measure.

More recent history puts Montana and center at this issue – Attorney General Steve Bullock was called on to testify at at those senate hearings I mentioned above. This link will take you to a video of his testimony, while this link will take you to his written statement submitted at that hearing.

Rehberg’s a corporate whore. We can officially and unequivocally add that to his list of endearing qualities. Others of which include Homophobe and Elitist.

~~
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it – Edmund Burke, 1729-1797

by jhwygirl

I’ve found myself wondering this for too long…and in asking around, I’ve yet to understand the answer to my question. So I’m putting it out there with that headline, hoping that perhaps someone can explain to me.

Why isn’t anyone suing to stop the Tea Party? That’s a very basic breakdown of the question, but if the New Party was stopped because it was determined – legally – that it was its own party regardless of how it had operated, apparently coattailing onto the Democrats, why isn’t anyone requiring the same of the Tea Party?

They call themselves a party. They have a Tea Party Debate. They raise their own money, and they have their own infrastructure system in all 50 states. How is that not a completely separate organization?

They campaigned to take out regular GOP candidates the last election.

What is different about the Tea Party?

Practical experience and the cynic is me speculates that it was the Democrats who took out the New Party…and Republicans operate under the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment. Ya’all know how wont they are to publicly criticize their own. Is that it?

Does anyone know?

From my vantage point, I don’t know the advantage to allowing the Tea Party to continue to coattail onto the GOP. Maybe there is an advantage and I’m missing it?

Anyways – been pondering it, been trying to get some answers, and now I’m ‘pimpin’ the blog’.

By JC

In a dark opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Senators Max Baucus, Patty Murray and John Kerry invoked the specter of a failing America in their opening salvo as the next chapter of right wing hostage taking shapes up:

“…No one has ever gone into a debate pledging that China and India should own this economic century because we can’t make our democracy work here at home.”

But here we are with exactly that scenario. America is in decline as the international economic juggernaut after having ruled most of the last century. Yet there are three emerging economies–China, India and Brazil–that are ascendant, and together will outcompete America for strategic resources like oil, minerals and intellectual competence.

Yet three democrat senators invoke rhetoric intended to harken back to the good ole Clinton days that “allow us to continue shining bright in the world.” This is all so eerily similar to Baucus’ irrelevant call for bipartisanship in the health care fights two years ago, where he irrationally thought he could get 80 votes for his health care plan. Today’s political landscape is even more polarized, yet Max and his two dem cohorts think that they will succeed this time around? It’s delusional thinking.

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By JC

“A New Foundation”
er, “Winning the Future”
er, “Put Country Before Party”
er…

I don’t know about you guys, but I see some problems in the Prez’s messaging:

President Obama told a crowd at a battery plant in Holland, Michigan, this afternoon that Republicans must “find a way to put country ahead of party…”

Underlining the takeaway of Obama’s speech today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “Key element from today’s remarks — Put Country before Party.

Obama’s new slogan, “Put Country before Party,” is awfully close to Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ari., failed 2008 presidential slogan “Country First.”

After telling Congress to “Put Country before Party” Obama is scheduled to fly to New York City where he will raise money for the Democratic Party at the Ritz Carlton.”

Go get ’em tiger! What can be more ‘merican than raising campaign funds at the Ritz? Right after you admonished republicans to be patriots and adopted their sloganeering tactics for your own. Is that what you mean by “putting country before party”?. Wow!

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in·tran·si·gent (n-trns-jnt, -z-) adj.
Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising.
in·transi·gence n.

By JC

There’s been one thing that has always bothered me about democrats, and that is their tendency to walk into legislative negotiations in an already compromised position. As an extreme example, we have gumby Max Baucus’ taking the single payer health care system off the table from the get-go during Senate Finance Committee hearings (and arresting single payer advocates trying to get into the hearing and get their views heard).

More recently, the debt ceiling hostage crisis revealed that democrats were unwilling to enter into the negotiations with as adamant of a stance on revenue increases as republicans were with spending cuts. There’s many, many more, but I’m sure most of you get the point.

The title of this post seems to point to a contradiction, that most of the grownups in the room seem to believe that intransigence negates the possibility of compromise. But however unlikely it seems, I agree with Ross Douthat on this point.

I have been lambasted over the years for my seeming intransigence, and have garnered many labels meant to deprecate the positions I have taken: “principled left”; “emoprog”; “extremist”; “ecoterrorist” and the list goes on. But I think that the intransigence of the “principled left” is the missing ingredient in dems negotiating stances that have them capitulating to the right every step of the way. It is needed now more than ever as a balance to the tea party’s notion of what is politically acceptable.

Politics is the art of the possible. When one side employs intransigence as a strategy, either the other side gets up to speed, or they’re going to get steamrolled. Of course, that assumes that they aren’t in on the steamrolling in the first place. But that’s fodder for others.

This weekend saw a firestorm of punditry about the state of the presidency and the dem party rising out of the failed debt ceiling negotiations by democrats in D.C., beginning with Drew Weston’s Op-Ed in the NY Times, “What Happened to Obama?”

But the arc of history does not bend toward justice through capitulation cast as compromise. It does not bend when 400 people control more of the wealth than 150 million of their fellow Americans. It does not bend when the average middle-class family has seen its income stagnate over the last 30 years while the richest 1 percent has seen its income rise astronomically. It does not bend when we cut the fixed incomes of our parents and grandparents so hedge fund managers can keep their 15 percent tax rates. It does not bend when only one side in negotiations between workers and their bosses is allowed representation. And it does not bend when, as political scientists have shown, it is not public opinion but the opinions of the wealthy that predict the votes of the Senate. The arc of history can bend only so far before it breaks.

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By CFS

A favorite theory of mine about the fall of the Roman Empire states that centrifugal force (outward) eventually became too much for the centripetal forces (inward) to counteract in the whirling machine that was Roman society.  The costs of holding the Empire together became too much for the benefits of Empire to overcome and slowly portions of the Empire were abandoned, forgotten, or fell away from a lack of resources or will to keep hold of certain possessions.

I bring this up because I wonder… I wonder how far along America is down this road once trodden by Rome.

For almost a thousand years, Rome was the shinning city atop seven hills in whose direction her neighbors cast their glare with envy. Rome – at the founding of the Republic – was a revolutionary idea, an idea that  Romans delivered to the world at the tip of the sword, the base of a road, through amazing organizational skills, and a promise.  The promise that no matter how low a station a person might occupy on their birth to this world the rewards of Roman citizenship could be within one’s grasp.  Citizenship was a symbol,  not even a Roman freedman bowed to a foreign king.  A foreign king might have immense power, but was not the equal of even the lowest Roman.

The idea of Rome, more so than her machinery, was the true glue to which divergent cultures, when coming into contact with Rome, could not escape its inward pull.  The benefits from such technological innovations as voting, legal representation,  logistics, and roads helped a great deal.  But still, the idea that with every conquest, ever glory, every extension of Roman roads another mile from the heart of Empire would result in the improvement of the human condition was the true essence of Rome’s might. For centuries these forces helped the Romans to build perhaps the greatest empire in our short-lived history.

However, centrifugal forces eventually ate into the benefits that Rome could provide, and once the cost/benefit swung away from favoring Rome, her hegemonic status wavered and slowly fell.  Pressure from maintaining a standing army responsible for 1,930,511 sq mi, limits of state bureaucracy, the end of conquest as economic policy, public works that were not maintained and allowed to fall into disrepair, and many other factors put pressure on the state’s ability to maintain a machinery of such immense scope.  The greatest centrifugal force was perhaps the eventual establishment of the principate, an institution by its very definition originally put in place as a stop-gap measure against forces pulling the Empire apart.

Circumstances arose within the last century of the Republic that threatened to tear Roman power and society apart.  The accumulation of so much power  and wealth in the hands of so few had led to a wild escalation in a fanciful game known as politics.  To control Rome was to control the world and bestowed upon the ruling faction the ability to completely wipe out one’s political opponents.  Of course this happened multiple times and it was only through the principate that a cap on deadly political ambitions could be placed.  The principate worked as directed for some time, but eventually became the object of concerted and prolonged power-struggles.  Resources were pulled from investing in Rome’s future and protecting her holdings to fighting civil wars for control of the state machinery.

To bring this back to more modern times, we, like Rome, have found ourselves with an accidental Empire, and we, like Rome, find ourselves with an increasingly hectic political theater more interested in fighting over power than with investing in the future of our country.  And as Congress and the Senate become ever more dysfunctional we are blessed with an increasingly insular Presidency in the process of gathering an ever greater amount of power within its institutional walls.  And our greatest strength, that American sheen that draws people around the world to American ideals is starting to tarnish.

Maybe the stench of decay is especially pungent at the moment and the cliff on which we look over a precipitously steep drop to the jagged rocks below, but whatever the situation, it sure feels as if the Chevy V-8 is only clunking along on 2 cylinders.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

But getting back to the topic at hand…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And cheered.

By JC

The PCCC released a poll that was conducted in several swing states in the last few months. I thought the results were pretty stark and clear, so I thought I’d give folks a chance to take a look at them.

I couldn’t find any graphs of this data, so I went ahead and abstracted out the Montana numbers and graphed them up. Not the best graph in the world, but good enough for discussion purposes. Raw numbers are at the link above.

Poll was taken April 27-30, 1,435 likely voters, 2.6% margin of error unless otherwise noted (for notes look at the raw numbers).

Consider this an open thread to discuss these numbers. If you click on the graph, you’ll get a larger version.

By CFS

Two days ago I posted something that people found offensive, vulgar, and homophobic. To anyone I may have inadvertently offended with my words i am truly sorry. I honestly didn’t realize it would be taken in that manner.

I didn’t stop to think, and filter out what might be offensive. I shot from the hip while my temper was up. Thank to those that informed me of my errors, I have learned a valuable lesson that I could only learn through making such a mistake.

By CFS

“Weak”, “dismal”, “bleak”, “punishing”, “horrific”.  These are just some of the headlines that graced newspapers over the last couple of days regarding the recently released June employment report.  This comes amid the corporate media’s attempt to set the narrative of a weakening economy.  But if you take a long-term look at historic employment numbers, the latest is not much different.

While the jobs report shows that only 18,000 new jobs were created in June, such low numbers happened many times throughout the fraudulant “booming” Bush years.  The blog Jesse’s Cafe American did a wonderful job of anaylizing the numbers.  Click the graph in order to enlarge the image.

Once the economy was on the road to recovery in 2003, the jobs report came in at roughly the same numbers no fewer than 5 time before the onset of the latest recession.  In fact, the trend in employment is generally in line with trends in 2005, 2006, and 2007.  Even in a good economy, because of the cyclical nature of hiring, bad jobs reports crop up on a fairly regular basis.  Is the jobs report good? Obviously not.  But is it the end of the world? No, it is but one of many cogs ever in motion within the economy.

You’ll see little of this type of actual analysis being done from mainstream commentators.

And of course, potential Republican candidates took no time in attacking the President over his handling of the economy. Perhaps the most ludicrous reaction came from Republicant Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson, calling for an immediate elimination of the corporate income tax and  immediate spending reductions of $300 billion.

Sorry Gary, but multi-national corporations aren’t just going to throw away 20 years of investment in a supply chain that stretches across the globe just to give little ‘ol Americans manufacturing jobs once again.  Hey Gary, was that a hail mary to try and get your name to actually show up in the Republicant polls?

By JC

Reprinted without permission, and revised July 11, 2011

~~~~~~~~~~~~

June 28, 2011

REMEDIAL POLITICS 101 FROM THE CENTER:
LESSONS #1 THRU #9

When all is said and done, if you want to know why the politics in what should be a centrist country such as the United States has been dominated for 30 years by people who are in the middle, if you’re in the middle, look in the mirror. If not, look at the middle.

A quick perusal of the centrist “blogosphere” shows people who like to spout facts and figures, and who obsess over everything that happens, as if they’re doing play-by-play for a baseball game. But they seem to neither know nor care about the average person, and they definitely lack understanding of basic politics. It’s amazing how little they know, yet they act like experts, despite the fact that the only people who actually buy their bullshit are like-minded people who are gullible.

Yes, folks; a lot of the center left is JUST LIKE the center right in that way.

Most actual moderates are very cool, and very dumb, politically speaking. The center of the aisle encompasses a narrow array of different types of people, with similar experiences. The denizens of the center are almost all white, they’re seldom poor and some have college educations. They have very little contact with any of the people they claim to be advocating for, yet to listen to them, they know more about being poor or being a minority than the poor and minorities do.

The center of the political debate has been sitting in the middle for the better part of 40 years, primarily because a very noisy segment of our politics is ruining it for the rest of us. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick of it. It’s time we taught basic politics to the middle.

Consider this is remedial politics 101, folks.
Continue Reading »

By JC

“Politics is for people who have a passion for changing life but lack a passion for living it.” — Bonanza Jellybean in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Before I get all philosophic about the current state of what passes for political discussion by the dem party hacks over at the Capitol’s negative campaigning testbed, I thought I’d share a nugget out of my past that seems oh, so apropos right ’bout now.

As our heroine Sissy and her guru Chink contemplate the world about them, sitting on an overlook above the Rubber Rose Ranch (whose early clientele bear a remarkable likeness to the snipes over at said “blog”, and indeed it might be where they have settled after exiting from the Rubber Rose), they have a nice revelation about politics.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins

“…Religion and politics are unnecessary to the culture or the individual that has poetry.”

“You really don’t believe in political solutions, do you?”

“I believe in political solutions to political problems.

But man’s primary problems aren’t political; they’re philosophical. Until humans can solve their philosophical problems, they’re condemned to solve their political problems over and over and over again. It’s a cruel, repetitious bore.”

Sissy thought she had the old goat this time, and not just by the pecker, either.

“Well, then, what are the philosophical solutions?”

“Ha ha ho ho and bee bee. That’s for you to find out.” She didn’t have him.

“I’ll say this much and no more: there’s got to be poetry. And magic. Your thumbs taught you that much, didn’t they? Poetry and magic. At every level. If civilization is ever going to be anything but a grandiose pratfall, anything more than a can of deodorizer in the shithouse of existence, then statesmen are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry.

Bankers are going to have to concern themselves with magic and poetry. Time magazine is going to have to write about magic and poetry. Factory workers and housewives are going to have to get their lives entangled in magic and poetry. As for policemen and cowgirls …”

The Chink wagged his beard at the ranch below. It was a beard that a nesting crane might enjoy.

If Sissy failed to comprehend completely, at least she no longer felt confused. Through a pinhole in the peace that dropped like the dusk around them, she squeezed one last question.

“Do you think such a thing can ever happen?”

“If you understood poetry and magic, you’d know that it doesn’t matter.”

The moon rose.
~~~

For those of you you who would rather read the “Reader’s Digest” version, or are too young to remember anything but maybe Uma Thurman movie trailers, go read the review by Dan Geddes at The Satirist.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Duganz, consider this a payback summer reading recommendation for having made me devote a week to reading Keith Richards’ Life and its concurrent listening sessions with 30+ old Stones recordings, and countless other musical miscellany.

Oh, and there is a wonderful recipe for douches in Cowgirl that might help the stench emanating from the Capitol’s henchwomen and henchmen these days. Jes sayin’…

By CFS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BCFS

Just ignore anything thing that comes out of a politician’s mouth when discussing oil prices, whether that politician may be President Obama or Denny “I do believe I fell off my horse” Rehberg.  For that matter you can also ignore Faux News’ claim that financial speculation is the key culprit of high oil prices because the reality is that the main driver behind oil prices is a lack of sufficient supply.

The Oil Drum has a great analysis (which continues in the comments) up at their site that comes to this very conclusion.  It’s a long, and a very technical post, but well worth the read.

The basic problem the world is facing in the short-term is that the great oil exporters aren’t so great anymore.  You see, the major exporters have been massively developing their countries over the last 20 years trying to diversify their economies away from a dependence on oil exports.  This has strangely had the reverse effect of making their economies more reliant on oil.

In 2005 total world exports were 40.8 million barrels per day (mbpd) as compared with 35.7 mbpd in 2009, a  12.5% decline in only a matter of 4 years.  While data might not be available for 2010, the news only gets worse.  Both Russia and China have instituted export restrictions so as to support their domestic economies.  This will lead to a further reduction in total oil exports.  The news out of Russia, being the world’s second largest oil producer, does not bode well for the oil importing countries of the world.  Add in the fact that Saudi Arabian oil production peaked in 2005 and Russia peaked in 2007.  No country can replace these two producers and so the decline in world exports will continue and with it prices at the gas station here in America will continue to rise.

Two additional variables complicate the situation.  The first is political.  Already the Arab Spring is effecting oil exports coming out of the Middle East.  But on-top of the unrest directly leading to reductions in oil production regimes that are desperate to hold on to their power are already starting to spend oil revenue on social programs with the aim to buy the silence of their populace.  That leaves less money to invest in future oil production and will lead to an otherwise faster decline in production.

The second, is the economic principle of diminishing returns on investment.  This is an economic fact that was drilled into my head in economics class.  Usually, this principle is couched in the terms of labor vs. capital.  Each additional laborer produces a certain amount of profit, add too many workers and that rate of return decrease and will eventually go negative.  Same with capital.

Energy markets are subject to the same principle but in a slightly different manner.  The principle here is “energy returned on energy invested” (EROEI).  Back in the day when oil was first discovered, the EROEI was in the range of 30-50, meaning for every unit of energy expended in production, 30-50 units of energy were actually produced.  Now however, we are down to the point of extracting oil at an EROEI under 10, with tar sands right about 5.  So we are reaching the point of having to expend a lot more energy and money to get just a little bit of energy in return.

Now, You can take this principle and expand it a bit further.  Lets take for example infrastructure investment, in this case our national highway network.  Because this type of investment is public, the return on investment would be the total economic activity spurred by said investment, ranging from the construction jobs created directly from the investment to the development of real estate on former farmland and the sale of cars that fill up said highways.

Between 2004 and 2008 23,300 miles of additional roadway were built in America.  Now the first 23,300 miles that were built in the system way back under Truman contributed much more to the economic prosperity of our country than the last 23,300 miles.  Why is that?  It’s because of all that previous investment.  Not only is that last 23,300 miles a marginal amount at this point compared with all that previous investment,  but all those thousands of miles already built require a lot of investment each and every year just to maintain.  All the maintenance required to keep up that old investment takes away from the ability of a nation to invest in new infrastructure.

This same phenomenon is occurring in places like Saudi Arabia.  Once you’ve gotten to all the easy oil, you have to spend an increasing amount of money just to tread water.  From The Oil Drum:  Saudi Arabian oil officials met with Halliburton to discuss plans to boost their oil-directed rig count by roughly 30%.

According to a Saudi oil official interviewed by Reuters, the investment in new drilling rigs “is not to expand capacity. It’s to sustain current capacity on new fields and old fields that have been bottled up.” (1) This news on its own should be troubling as it infers that the Kingdom is facing significant declines on currently producing fields. Even more troubling is the recent statement by another senior Saudi oil official that the Kingdom “expects oil production to hold steady at an average of 8.7 million barrels per day to 2015.”

Increasing investment by 30% just to stay barely above water.

Drill-Baby-Drill!

BCFS

So… My better half is contemplating purchasing a new vehicle, which means that I get to have some fun doing internet research and reading car magazines on possible options.  She decided that she wanted better gas mileage than her current Subaru provides (28 mpg), and I convinced her that she if she wanted a significant improvement that she should go with a diesel, specifically a Jetta TDI (used or new).  The only problem it seems is that you can’t find a diesel car within 500 miles of Missoula: of course you can find hundreds of diesel Chevy Silverado 3500s.  The dealers seem to think that they wouldn’t sell which means that the closest diesel cars are embargoed in Seattle, Denver, or Salt Lake City.

This isn’t the only barrier that crops up when you want to get your right foot on the gas pedal of a diesel.  Prices of diesels in the used car market have significantly risen in the last half decade as fuel economy suddenly became important to people.  Used Jetta TDIs routinely go for several thousand dollars above their suggested blue book value making a slightly used TDI almost as expensive as a brand new one.  A diesel Jetta is the “cheap” option as many of the other diesels available in America are European luxury models.

And that gets me to my question of the day… Where the fuck are the American diesels?  Half of all cars sold in Europe are diesel.  If you want to buy an American made diesel vehicle in this country you have a lot of option that look like this:

Other than that you have to go with a European manufacturer if you want a car and not a truck.  Audi has 4 diesel models available in the US; BMW 3; Mercedes 7; Volkswagen 7; GM 0, Ford 0; Chrysler 0.  And Audi, BMW, and Mercedes cars aren’t exactly cheap and so aren’t feasible for most Americans to purchase.

Petrol prices are once again averaging $4/gallon and are nearing the record high reached in 2008 and yet the mix of cars available in America has changed very little even in the face of rising prices spanning the last decade.  As of 2008, the average passenger vehicle in America got 25.6 mpg compared to 25.1 mpg in 2001.  That’s American innovation for you.

But this being America, we like big sweeping plans to solve issues, the simple solutions are just plain boring.  T. Boon Pickens has his idea for converting the American passenger vehicle fleet to natural gas and Obama wants us to believe that plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) are the technological answers to our commuting nightmares.  Both of those options might be viable long-term solutions to our dependence on oil to drive our economy, but in the short-term neither really makes all that much sense.

The problem with both EVs and NGVs is that they both require whole new systems of distribution and manufacture to develop.  We are talking about investments in the trillions of dollars here to undertake the necessary research, develop new, scalable manufacturing techniques, convert factories, and build the distribution system that will allow Americans to plug-in or fill up their car with natural gas.

Diesel doesn’t require any of that.  The distribution system is already in place.  American car makers might have to spend $50,000 grand buying an advanced diesel car from Europe and reverse-engineering the engine but that’s about all the research they would have to undertake to catchup with European manufacturers.  And diesel cars could show an immediate impact on fuel efficiency, often providing two or three times the fuel efficiency than gas engines currently in use in America.

In the end, diesel isn’t the answer to our oil-dependence (and talk of our energy addiction would make this post too long) as we are going to run out of crude anyway.  What diesel can provide is a bridge between today and whatever system comes along in the future… whether that may be flying cars or living in termite mounds.

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 CFS

The fight over the budget and debt continues in D.C. and I’m sure that Republicans will be making sacrifices and praying to the patron-saint of B-list Celebrities Turned Politician Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan  for strength and guidance.  I suggest that we on the left use the memory of Reagan to illustrate just how far right the party of Tea has moved since the golden age of fighting tyranny.  Because even Saint Ronnie raised taxes.

Same shit… different day.  Just a week after a compromise was reached to forestall shutting down the government the circus clowns are once again piling out  of the VW to debate the debt ceiling.  And one again nothing will actually change that makes a difference in our country’s fiscal solvency.

Will anything constructive take shape on the revenue side… doubt it.  Instead budget cuts will come at the expense of those that don’t have a voice at the table.  If you can’t afford a six figure lobbyist you don’t deserve to be at the table.  Fuck I’m being pessimistic today.

by jhwygirl

The Senate Energy & Telecommunications tied 6-6 today in committee on HB198, and then subsequently voted to table the bill, effectively killing it.

Senate Legislative Rules allow for the committee to reconsider its votes providing the committee has not yet reported to the Secretary of the Senate.

Which is the likely explanation for why Sen. Olson, chair of Senate Energy & Telecommunications, called a special meeting of his committee for tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Reporter Mike Dennison the story on what happened today.

Despite continued reading of information concerning HB198, I still think it is a dangerous door to open. Eminent domain statutes are situation under Title 70, Chapter 30. Public uses are defined there under Part 102.

Only that isn’t where HB198 changes the law. It adds a more expansive definition of what a public utility is under Title 69 – a definition that was exclusive to that Title….and applies it to the not-that-narrow constraints of eminent domain in Title 70.

The key word there in Title 70 resting on public uses that are used by the public in Montana. Title 70 allows for condemnation of a long laundry list of things – including distribution lines for electricity. To suggest that some major crisis happens should pass-through lines owned by private companies be unable to condemn is hysterics.

What is different here with MATL is that those lines are passing on through Montana. They will not be regulated for Montana. There is simply no assurance that that these lines can be used by smaller users.

Nor is there any guarantee of fairness to those seeking accessibility to these lines.

Until such time that the state can guarantee a true fair and equitable public use of those transmission lines.

The current bill, as it stands, is lazy and inadequate to protect the citizens of Montana against unchecked private interests. If approved it will surely stand as yet another famous Montana give away to private interests.

By relying on the Major Facilities Siting Act, it allows major decisions to be made about private property large and small without any input whatsoever from the private property owners. Keep in mind, at least one county has sued for being left out of the loop – so involvement and scoping under the Major Facilities Siting Act is clearly flawed (to say the least).

So, like I wrote yesterday, please take the time to contact members of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and let them know that HB198 has significant flaws and does NOT provide for public uses and as such should not allow for condemnation of private property for purely private purposes.

Information on contacting your legislators can be found here.

You can also contact the entire Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee by calling 406-444-4800 and leaving a message.

The legislative desk begins taking calls at 7:30 a.m.

Here are the members of Senate Energy and Telecommunications. The ones with a * voted NO today…and are being pressured to change their vote:
Chair: Alan Olson (R-Roundup)
Vice Chair: Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell)
Vice Chair: Ron Erickson (D-Missoula)
*Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
*Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)
Bob Lake (R-Hamilton)
*Lynda Moss (D-Billings)
*Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge)
*Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls)
*Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)
Chas Vincent (R-Libby)
Edward Walker (R-Billings)

by jhwygirl

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) delivered the GOP’s weekly address on Saturday, delving in to what he believes is the constitutional issue of health care reform. The Hill has the story, and the video.

I do believe that in almost all situations we all have something common….and McDonnell’s position is certainly one I agree with:

Regardless of party, we should all agree that the sooner we know if the law is constitutional, the better for the American people.

In fact, I really wish the Montana legislature took a look at this when they were proposing bills. It’d be really nice if any bill had some sort of constitutional review (for both the U.S. and the Montana constitutions) before any hearing in committee.

Sometimes there will be a comment – if there is a fiscal note produced – regarding legal issues. But not everything gets a fiscal note – and hell, even a lot of bills related to taxation don’t seem to get fiscal notes. I know I’ve heard hearings on tax related bills where there hasn’t been a fiscal note published. How in the hell is the public supposed to comment on bills when even a rudimentary analysis isn’t completed by the non-partisan legislative staff?

That way we’d have some reasonable assumptions about lawsuits that the state would have to defend in the future? I mean – that costs taxpayer dollars too.

Ahh, I’ve digressed…

Anyways…if I could propose a bill, it’d be that one – require any bill to have a informational review for constitutionality prior to committee hearing. That informational review should be required to be published….and not stuck in some “junk folder” in some back file.




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