Archive for the ‘Progressives’ Category

by Pete Talbot

Much has already been written about the passing of Judy Smith, here are her obituary and a Front Page story in today’s Missoulian.

Her accomplishments would make this post longer than anything I’ve ever written here before.  One thing that wasn’t mentioned in either the obit or the news story was her involvement in the grand experiment known as the New Party.

Judy was one of the lead organizers of the Missoula chapter and, with others, advocated for the process of consensus when dealing with policy, party business, campaigns, etc.

Consensus could be slow and unwieldy, and meetings often dragged on for hours.  Coming from (usually male-dominated) institutions that relied on the arguments from the loudest, most quick-witted and aggressive members to carry the day, this was a radical change for me.

Judy explained to me why we used the consensus model.  It allowed everyone to weigh in on decision making, including the quiet and shy, and often their input was as valuable, if not more so, than that from the bold and outspoken.  It gave everyone a stake in the process.

Although I don’t always succeed, I try to keep this model in mind in my dealings with organizations and people.  I have also tried to impart this wisdom to my children, and now my grandchildren.

The New Party no longer exists but the philosophy and goals of the party live on in like-minded people and organizations in Montana and around the country, many of them inspired by the work of Judy.

Judy Smith made Missoula and Montana better places. And I, and so many others, are better people for having known and worked with Judy.

P.S.  While I didn’t know John Lynn nearly as well as I knew Judy, I saw his obit in today’s paper and it made me sad. Boom — a pulmonary embolism at age 62.  He ran as a Democrat for the legislature twice in close races in what is now District 100 but he couldn’t beat the odds.  It’s the most conservative district in Missoula County — Champ Edmunds represents it now — and just finding a Democratic candidate to run in that district has always been a challenge.

He was a mental health care professional and served that overlooked constituency for decades.  And I eagerly anticipated our conversations on progressive politics over the occasional beverage at the Missoula Club.  My deepest sympathies to his family.

As I grow older, I imagine I’ll be seeing more obituaries of friends who have influenced me over the years.  I don’t like it.

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by Pete Talbot

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Pearls Before Swine

This is in response to the Polish Wolf’s post over at Intelligent Discontent.  While some of his stats are interesting, his premise is flawed.  Basically he says that the 99% are responsible for their economic plight by shopping at WalMart, buying imported clothing and purchasing gasoline.  There’s a grain of truth to this, I suppose, but I’m thinking that the policies of the last few decades have more to do with wealth inequalities: economic policies that favor Wall Street over Main Street, Free Trade agreements that benefit corporations more than workers, and energy policies that promote carbon-based fuels over renewables and conservation.

Montana Supreme Court rules

Or maybe I should say the Montana Supreme Court rocks!  I certainly have more respect for the majority of Montana Supremes than the majority of SCOTUS justices.  In a 5-2 vote, the justices ruled against the kooky triumvirate of Western Tradition Partnership, Champion Painting Inc. and Gary Marbut’s Montana Shooting Sports Association Inc.  Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana justices don’t believe corporations should be able to buy and sell elections.

Look up pompous ass in the dictionary

And you’ll see a picture of George Will.  In his latest column, he promotes the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian tar sands and fracking in general.  He pooh-poohs climate change, the EPA, the National Labor Relations Board and student loans.  He believes “conservatives should stride confidently into 2012” … “because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people … ”  He has that backwards, of course, but because he uses a lot of two-dollar words, people think he’s smart.  He’s not.

And locally

Usually reliable reporter Gwen Florio reports on a woman who’s attempting to disqualify Justice of the Peace John Odlin.  This stems from two misdemeanor charges against the woman for “community decay.”  What the hell does that mean?  Did she beat up on some curbs and gutters?  Forget to paint her porch?  Dump raw sewage into a neighborhood park?  I’m dying to know.  Anyway, the Montana Supremes call her case against Odlin “frivolous.”

by jhwygirl

Progressives delivered another take-down movement in Wisconsin yesterday with the first elections geared towards gaining a Democratic control of the Wisconsin legislature. The Democratic primary held yesterday saw 6 “fake” Democrats defeated in 6 senate primary recall elections.

An important factoid there is that Wisconsin has open primaries. Koch Industries funded Wisconsin Republicans didn’t even try to hide the fact they ran fake Democrats. The 6 REAL Democrats won – 5 of them quite decisively – which has to have 6 Republican state senators getting the boxes ready for moving day. Or should.

For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. Those crazy tea party people! Look what doo-doo they got themselves into over there.

Thank Goddess for those crazy radical storm-the-capital union-loving progressives! It sure as hell wasn’t a bunch of milquetoast leftys out there camping in the capital, or marching the streets or gathering signatures up within weeks of their legislative session’s sine die to recall the Republicans and regain control of their state.

Congratulations Wisconsin. Congratulations.

Democrats? Progressives? – pay attention, take notes and learn something. Raising Hell (and Hope) is how it’s done.

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 JC

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

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

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

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

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

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

With President Obama’s speech on the budget and how to reduce the federal deficit hitting the headlines today, I thought I’d offer up a morsel of what the left has been thinking about in terms of deficit reduction and budgeting for people to consider as they ponder President Obama’s plan, and the right’s “Path to Prosperity” plan put forth by Rep. Ryan.

I’m not going to go into deep analysis or commentary about this yet, as I’ve just seen both–Obama’s and the House Progressive Caucus’ plans–but I thought it would be good for progressives to know that there is an alternative to Obama’s “balanced” approach to his left.

And I really don’t want to derail Pete’s nice sidelight on the WienerMobile!

Follow the jump to see the highlights of the People’s Budget, as put forth by the House Progressive Caucus.
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by Pete Talbot

It was one of the broadest coalitions I’ve seen in years.

But it was hard to get crowd estimates in the rolling front yard of the Capitol — over a thousand for sure.  Folks kept pouring in from around Montana, connecting with friends and sharing the wrath.

The rally literally took off at the end: a march around the Capitol grounds with all the signs and fired-up people, just as the sun was breaking through the clouds, and to the PA playing “We’re Not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister.

This followed the speeches which were many, but short and to the point: a Billings firefighter, a Bozeman pastor, a Missoula small business owner, a veteran, a Blackfeet Indian, to name a few.

The themes were “Courage, Not Cuts,” “These Cuts Hurt,”  “We Have the Money, Reverse the Cuts,” and “Work That Matters.”

It was an eclectic mix: ironworkers and teachers, environmentalists and health care activists, Crow and Blackfeet, emergency service workers and the disabled … and kids.

(More photos and copy below the fold.)

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by jhwygirl

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

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

Rep. Hill? THANK YOU.

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

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

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

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

You are a disgrace to democracy.

by Pete Talbot

Nothing like a trip to the Magic City of Billings to put things in perspective: where an in-law tells me about his buddy who’s making $2000 a week welding on a pipeline in the Williston Basin, where I meet a man who runs a big (I mean really big) shovel at Colstrip, where my sister-in-law’s new boyfriend is working maintenance at the Stillwater palladium mine south of Columbus. All these guys are bucking the recession.

They don’t give a sh*t about DADT or DREAM. “It’s the economy, stupid.” (A quote attributed to James Carville during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.) Which is why, even though at some point in their lives, the workers mentioned above belonged to a union, they voted Republican in the 2010 midterm election.

Shortsighted? Without a doubt. These guys aren’t millionaires and the Republican Party doesn’t represent them. But they think it does.

So, when my progressive cohorts rail against Sen. Jon Tester on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, and DREAM, I have to do a little reality check. You see, I agree wholeheartedly with the progressives but after living in Montana for 45 years, I like to think I have some insight into the Montanan mind set. And Billings is about as Montanan as you can get.

At this point, these Billings workers aren’t going to vote for someone to the left of Jon Tester. Hell, Tester barely won his seat in 2006 against a corrupt incumbent who had insulted women, firefighters and most minorities. And you’d have been hard pressed to find a better candidate to go up against Republican Conrad Burns than that big Montana dry-land farmer with a flattop and missing fingers.

It isn’t about the lesser of two evils. It’s about pure evil versus a mainstream Democrat; like Denny Rehberg v. Jon Tester in the 2012 U.S. Senate election or any Democrat against Rick Hill/Cory Stapleton/Ken Miller for Montana Governor.

It isn’t easy for me to write this post. Having been called a Socialist, a Communist and a red scurvy dog, I figure I’ve earned my progressive credentials. But sometimes one has to step back and look at the world, the country and Montana the way it is.

I’m not going to quit pushing my elected Democratic officials to be as progressive as they can be. And I’ll continue to critique their bad votes as I’ve done in the past; particularly Sen. Max Baucus but also Sen. Tester and Gov. Schweitzer. And to quote Jim Hightower, “I’ll keep agitatin’.”

by jhwygirl

I’ve been hampered in my blogging since Tuesday when I (feebly) installed a new wireless router and ended up with a laptop that won’t connect. Tonight I cave and plug in the damned ethernet.

In between that time I got one of those neat ereaders. Fun.

All of that being said, Jay, the founder of this blog 4&20 blackbirds and principal blogger over at Left in the West, gave me a call Wednesday morning to tell me that he was moving on. It was a busy day for me and I have to admit I kinda didn’t think it was actually going to happen..I guess?

But then the post went up. Or I should say the emails started. Either way – whoa.

It was something that was briefly discussed when he moved to PA, but I guess I never saw a need for it…even though I knew that Jay was involving himself locally – which is a great thing.

But then the next day the other foot – Matt Singer – drops? Seriously, I was like WTH?

I have more admiration and regard for Matt Singer than I can put into words. Or if I did, I’d embarrass him or at least make his face all red. Though that hasn’t stopped me from trying every once in a while when he was extraordinarily newsworthy, and you can search our Matt Singer archives here for posts.

Here are two guys that have made an indelible foot-in-the-ass imprint on the politics of Montana. For more than half a decade.

Then tonight I find out that there is a going away party for Matt. So his heading to Oregon isn’t happening in a while, it’s happening soon – and all of this becomes so much more real.

For me personally, both Jay and Matt are the reason I blog – so ya’all can pretty much blame them both equally there – and for Jay’s part, when he headed on to take the helm as COO of Left in the West, he handed the reigns over here.

So the blame on Jay can be spread on a little thicker, I guess.

And Jay made it a point in our conversation on Wednesday to say how much he enjoyed the writers here….always the cheerleader for opinion and discussion. Always.

Wulfgar! wrote his own thoughts about Matt and Jay’s goodbye to Montana politics. Wulfgar! is another one who can whomp some darned fine progressive blogging out, and I have to say I am somewhat relieved by reading his posts that he doesn’t show any of the same indications.

Montana progressive politics will never be the same – but they also wouldn’t be what they are without the imprint of Matt Singer and Jay Stevens.

Go be famous elsewhere. The world deserves it.

By Duganz

This AP story today about an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with President Barack Obama has left me with lots of questions, and a substantial need to dedicate time to introspection.

On President Obama’s end, he’s mad as hell about perceived apathy on the left. He is tired of progressives being down about what he sees as success––the left being comprised of glass-half-empty types.

“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

In President Obama’s view, the more time we spend complaining about  what we see as his failures (ones he does not see), the more time we’re not watching Republicans.

But we are watching, and it’s scary as hell when we see people clapping for Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin. The Right is gaining power and enthusiasm and will probably take out a good deal of Democrats in the upcoming elections. It’s defeating, and scary, but it’s reality.

So yeah, we are mad  because we all worked hard, gave money, and voted in 2008 to change America for the better. And to see that these people are gaining power instead of being left in the dust of their flat Earth ways, it’s desheartening.

However, do not doubt how serious we are about changing America.

We are serious when we say we want equal rights for our gay friends and family members.

We are serious when we say we want an end to perpetual war.

We are serious when we say we want affordable healthcare for all.

We are serious when we say we want change.

It’s been two years, and these wants are not yet met. Our hopes are as of yet unfulfilled.

In the interview Obama says that change is hard, and I cannot agree more. Change is difficult, and hard, and we’re not a society that likes to wait. Of course some are mad, and anger breeds apathy. But those apathetic people don’t need to be admonished publicly for their malaise, they need to be brought back into the fold with actions and not just promises. It would be nice to see President Obama come clean and say that things aren’t moving as steadily as they should with Democratic control, or condemn regressives within the Democratic establishment who are just as damaging as Republicans.

We cannot live on insistence of success, we need to feel the results by seeing our friends married, our families back from war, our sick well, and our world a better place.

I believe I was right to vote for Barack Obama, and maybe this is his attempt at recreating Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (but in a more successful way).

The thing to remember is: I am not your enemy, Mr. President. CarFreeStpdty is not your enemy (seriously… so don’t clandestinely assassinate him). The Left got you into office because we saw you as our chance. Those “HOPE” stickers weren’t passed out with apathy, but with honest hope and desire for change. And we saw it embodied within you.

Don’t blame us for being upset that you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

by jhwygirl

On the heels of Sunday’s post which apparently was one of a few that set former Representative Pat Williams’ phone ringing (sorry Carol, Pat) – if we’re all going to get hyped up about who is going to take over when The Brian leaves office, all I have to say is this:

Denise Juneau, You’re up.

by Pete Talbot

Walls come and go. The sieve-like wall that separates Mexico from the U.S. is being fortified, and an additional “virtual fence” is in the works. The Berlin Wall is history. The Great Wall of China endures. Israelis are building walls to keep Palestinians out.

So how about a wall along the Missoula-Ravalli County line? I believe this would make folks on both sides of the wall happy. It would keep all the Communists and sexual deviates from corrupting Bitterroot youth. It would keep the right-wing nut jobs from stirring up trouble in Missoula. It’s a win-win.

I don’t have a lot of examples of Communist or sexual deviate infiltrators but I have plenty of right-wing nut job anecdotes.

Dallas Erickson. He keeps reminding Missoulians how morally bankrupt we are. He’s worried that perverts are lurking in our bathrooms. He’s also a big crusader for Wal-Mart.

Or this guy, Glenn Kimball of Corvallis. I’ll skip over his wacky Celebrating Conservatism street demonstrations and cut straight to this quote from a letter to the Missoulian:

Montana’s own Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Baucus is admittedly a socialist. He has served in Congress way too long, and his recent support of unconstitutional Obamacare unveiled his true colors.

Mr. Kimball might be right about Max serving “way too long,” but I missed Baucus admitting that he’s a socialist (must have been back in that tough 2008 race against Bob Kelleher). Christ, I wonder what that makes me?

And I didn’t realize that the watered-down health care bill, which, with the help of Max, is a minuscule change from the status quo, is also unconstitutional. Even Rob Natelson thinks the health care legislation is here to stay.

Then there are the kids packing (toy) heat and lining Highway 93 in support of the Second Amendment. I wasn’t aware it was in jeopardy, particularly in light of recent Supreme Court rulings.

The list goes on-and-on.

Of course, there’d be a toll booth in the wall. That way, both counties could garner some much needed revenue, but it would keep the general riffraff and obstructionists away — in both counties.

Now I know there are progressives in the Bitterroot, just like there are right-wingers in Missoula. Perhaps some sort of window sticker that would allow like-minded folks to travel between counties without being charged a toll; you know, Bitterroot progressives get free admission into Missoula and right-wing Missoulians get a free pass to Ravalli County.

Anyway, it’s a thought.

(Update: Here’s another reason to build that wall, courtesy of Jay over at LiTW.)

Or how not to alienate your progressive base

by JC

In a move branded by Politico as “Triangulation Lite” President Obama took his Clinton-eque charade out of the closet with his announcement about opening up offshore waters to oil drilling:

And the drilling decision also allows the president to distance himself from liberal environmentalists disdained by some pro-drilling, blue-collar voters.

“It’s not a bad thing to show you’re willing to do something that gets liberals angry right after you pass the biggest liberal bill in a generation,” said a Senate Democrat staffer, whose boss opposes the policy.

Couple this with Obama’s embracing of the following: his health care reform was a warmed-over hodge-podge of republican ideas; he has called for new nuclear power plants; his failure to close Guantanamo as promised; continuation of FISA warrantless wiretapping policies; unwillingness to pursue accountability of the Bush administration for its roll role in Iraq and Justice Department politicization, among other things; protection of Wall Street as Main Street continues to struggle; tepid plans for climate change and financial regulation legislation; failure to repeal DADT; strengthening anti-choice policy; and on and on, it is amazing to hear this quote out of the mouth of DNC Chairman Tim Kaine today about feeling ok with the base:

“My sense is that we are [OK with the base],” Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine told the Huffington Post shortly after health care’s passage. “I think we’re okay. There were tough points along the way, very tough issues along the way, because this is an issue that people feel strongly about.”

And when the Administration starts to display hubris like this:

“Top-ranking officials and strategists express confidence that both the president and the party will suffer little long-term blowback by negotiating away specific policy principles cherished by progressive groups. They note that while… [like how] health care reform was defined for months by howling over the sacrifice of a public option for insurance coverage, by the time the bill came to a vote there was near-Democratic unanimity behind its passage”

it is time for progressives to do something different than howl every time the president uses them to triangulate with the right in order to move to the center and appear moderate and pragmatic (“sacrificing the public option.” Huh… nice plan. Set up the left then whack them with the old “don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good” argument). Because as I say in the title, it takes three to triangulate. And you can’t triangulate with a position that refuses to react.

“Near-Democratic unanimity” does not a governing coalition make. Many, many progressives like myself proclaim themselves to be left of that “democratic unanimity” and are not part of the 30% +/- of the populace that self-identify with the Democratic party. Left-wing independents (or affiliated with dozens of fringe political persuasions like Greens, Social democrats, etc.).

And how do I propose that the left-wing react instead? Well, it’s time to bring forth another third party movement based on progressive principles–not progressive politics. Instead of ranting and raving, progressives just need to divert their attention to supporting a politician who is principled and willing to call out Obama from the left for what he has done, and what he is becoming. A politician who is willing to unite those of whom Obama would use as a point of his triangulation.

Howard Dean (“this isn’t health care reform–it’s tepid insurance reform at best”) is one such person who has shown the willingness to criticize the president, and was shut out of the Administration for his progressive beliefs. There may be more. But one thing is for sure. There are millions of disgruntled progressives who are being taken for granted and used by President Obama in his move to create an illusion of a populist center from which to govern.

That’s not change I can believe in. It is time to begin to consolidate on the left and leave the triangulation politics behind.

My reaction to Obama’s announcement that he wants to open up off-shore waters to drilling and build more nukes? I guess I’m not surprised anymore. And it’s not worth getting all blustered up about it and playing the triangulation game. And I’m going to send off a contribution to DFA earmarked for a Dean primary run against Obama, for starters. And I’m still trying to get off of the OFA mailing list–and they continue to spam me. Infuriating.

Then I’m going to look around for a good third party movement on which to start focusing my attention and energies. Anybody else?

by jhwygirl

In April, Missoula City Council will take up a proposed city ordinance that will ensure equal protection for everyone regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

See? Is that a big deal? Or maybe the question is Why is this a big deal?

This is such a no-brainer for me to support, my mind sometimes has a hard time “supporting” stuff like this because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that people can want to treat certain people differently based on who they are. How can people can think that way? Where to begin with such ignorance?

Tonight I first came across this. I’m reading the comments there, and frankly, I’m amazed at the openly bigoted and blatantly ignorant things people will publicly say and put their name and face to it.

Then I get to Missoula Red Tape where I read about a website titled NotMyBathroom.com, where the lies and misinformation continue. They purport – and notice the careful wording there – to be “an alliance of 17 organizations with members within the City Limits of Missoula as well as dozens of concerned citizens.”

Could that mean “An alliance of 17 organizations spread out over North and South American, with 2 members with the city limits as well as dozens of concerned citizens living in northern Idaho”?

These Mel Gibson fans even had the gumption to send out a press release.

I truly hope that the press picks up on that…someone like that, going through all that trouble to create two webpages and issue a press release deserves all the attention their little twisted brain desires.

by jhwygirl

Looks like HD94 candidate goddess Ellie Hill has her campaign website up and running, and it sure looks nice.

She must know a fabulous photographer. The photographs are beautiful (as was her Christmas card photo).

Go check it out. While you’re there, drop her a Jackson….because you know Ellie Hill is a good investment.

She has an expansive working knowledge of veterans issues. So much so, that her work with the Pov was not only discussed in committee by Sen. Jon Tester (who was testifying in a Senate committee on proposed legislation), but members of that committee asked plenty of questions about how an org like the Pov functions. When a respected Senator like Jon Tester testifies on veterans issues and mentions the Missoula Poverello Center as a shining example of an underfunded and overcapacity service provider for veterans, other senators listen.

Montana has more veterans per capita than any other state. Her knowledge in that regards would substantially benefit veterans in terms of addressing legislation.

She also has quite an amount of expertise on social service issues. This is in direct relation to her understanding of veterans issues. She knows what works and what doesnt. What wastes money, and what is effective. With the limited funds available in those regards, it’s important that taxpayers get value for whatever they spend there. Again – Ellie Hill is an asset.

I don’t know all Ellie’s issues – I don’t need to.

What I do know is that veteran’s issues are important to me and they’re important to Montana. Homelessness goes hand in hand there with veteran’s issues, since statistics show nearly 30% can be veterans. Food, shelter, mental and physical health care is all important stuff in those regards. When the legislature is addressing these issues, I know that Ellie Hill is able to address those issues like the professional she is.

by Pete Talbot

Montana’s Sen. Max Baucus isn’t all bad. He’s pro-choice, advanced good legislation on the Rocky Mountain Front and secured funding for the housing, education and medical needs of Montanans. He’s also been instrumental in helping many good Democrats get elected to office in our state.

So it is with some trepidation that I’ll be attending the Ax Max Campaign being presented in Missoula by Progressive Democrats of America. After all, “Ax Max” was the rallying cry of conservatives trying to unseat Max in his numerous, successful bids for the U.S. Senate. And compared to our Congressman Denny Rehberg, Max is a hardcore left-winger (but that isn’t setting the bar very high).

Now I’ve been a very vocal critic of our senior Senator. IMHO, he botched health care reform. He voted for W.’s tax cuts and an abysmal bankruptcy bill. He’s one of the top recipients of insurance, pharmaceutical and finance industry dollars. He … well, most of you readers know the list so I won’t repeat it here.

If he runs again in 2014, I’d love to see a strong primary opponent.

My friends on the left are going to say I’m being namby-pamby for failing to aggressively pursue the Ax Max Campaign. (I haven’t made up my mind, yet.)

My more centrist friends are going to accuse me of colluding with Republicans by giving them ammunition to attack the Senator.  After all, they’ll say, we could do worse than Max.

Be that as it may, here’s the info:

5-8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, Missoula City-County Library, 301 E. Main St.

by jhwygirl

Highlighting the value of top-notch legislators, this past legislative session saw the passage of HB678, which revised gravel pit/opencut mining laws in a way that is getting some pretty good reviews in this Great Falls Tribune story.

Under a new public notice requirement included in House Bill 678, which was approved in 2009, gravel and sand mine operators have to put up signs near proposed sites and send basic descriptions of their plans to county commissioners. Letters also must go out to property owners living within a half mile of a project.

The public notice requirement was one of several provisions included in the bill to improve accountability, oversight and efficiency in the state’s regulation of open-cut mine permits, which was found lacking by a legislative audit in 2008, and challenged in lawsuits.

Who sponsored this bill? Rep. JP Pomnichowski, of Bozeman.

Pomnichowski sponsored a number of bills this past session, seeing seven make it for final passage. A number of the bills that didn’t make it were absorbed into other bills.

That is no small feat.

I’m a fan of JP. She’s strong and consistent on natural resource issues. Water issues? She is one of the best. Pomichowski’s shown that she’s able to balance industry concerns, property rights and issues brought forth from citizens and communities. Gravel pits were a growing concern statewide since the 2007 session – and to the Bozeman area (in particular). Passage of HB678 was a significant accomplishment that has benefited people in communities throughout Montana. Not only that, it has helped move along the backlog of permits that the industry was not happy with.

Good legislators deserve good support. I want to note that Pomnichowski’s seat was won by just 230 votes in 2008. Bozeman can be a tough area for Democrats. This is not a seat that should be tossed. A $10 donation to her campaign just may help ensure that we have her around next legislative session.

by jhwygirl

I commiserate with Matt when he says “I needed some good news today” – which, incidentally, is a post about good news in an area overseen by one of the few on my very short list of bright lights in elected officials – Denise Juneau.

That would be elected officials. My list for bright lights amongst Democratic party elected officials makes that list even smaller. Ms. Juneau, obviously, makes both.

Healthcare? Finance reform? MASS failure?

I find myself wondering whether we are electing people to merely get re-elected, or are we electing people to go to Washington or Helena to get something done?

Domestic policy is tough to do – it’s why Republicans tend to try and avoid it as much as possible. War and outside distractions are always good to ensure a lopsided balance of focus, and that’s why we see that kind of stuff more frequently with certain parties. IMNSHO, of course.

People pay attention to domestic issues. Change is hard. It’s scary. Someone’s gonna get pissed off. Lobbyists and corporate interests prey on that kind of stuff. Legislative Paralysis, though, appears to be the norm. Failure to act because someone’s going to get mad is the “action” we appear to be getting.

Inaction has apparently become the option of choice.

I don’t care at what level of government you’re looking at – even Ravalli County officials are being called out on it’s reactionary decisions based on emotions more than fact.

Whatever happened to doing what’s right?

At the state level – and I’ve been working my way through the last state legislative Water Policy Committee meeting – Jim Rokosch (a Ravalli County Commissioner, incidentally) tells state legislators that (paraphrased) ‘you can not delay action (on exempt wells) merely because it’s complicated or controversial. You were elected to do a job and you need to protect property rights and public health and safety.’

Amen, Mr. Rokosch.

Mr. Rokosch was referring to the numerous times the legislature (and the state DNRC and DEQ) have attempting to address the myriad issues surrounding exempt wells, failing to do anything due to both the vocal outpouring by a minority like the Montana Building Industry Association and the complexity of the issue.

Then there’s Washington D.C. You’d have to have a full-time job lately to follow national stuff. Healthcare? Finance reform? Good Goddess, that stuff changes by the minute.

Montana election season is open. We got our lone congressional seat to get excited about (and I’m all about grassroots hardworking supersmart intelligent I-see-him-everywhere Tyler Gernant.) We have the state house legislative races – and not only will local races be important, plenty of seats statewide will deserve statewide support from progressives everywhere – along with a handful of state senate races that will deserve the same statewide attention.

I see Montana going into special session to address the budget situation. It doesn’t look like we’ll be gaining any jobs until sometime in 2011. Revenues are dropping, and there’s yet a complete analysis of the effects of the closing of Smurfit. Frankly, the repercussions on that have yet to begun, yet alone receive any fiscal analysis. When we go into that special session – in the middle of an election run – we’ll see where the real legislative workhorses are. Weeding out the slack should be easy with such a backdrop.

I’m not wishing on a special session…but ignoring the reality is, in some way, the product of the Legislative Paralysis that became the approved budget that has us here now. Keep in mind, that budget was knocked out by joint conference committee in the last days of the session. Some might view that as inexcusable, considering the only constitutionally mandated job that is required of the legislature is to get the budge approved within 90 days.

I’m going to try and get excited about election season..but Democrats? Elected Democrats? You gotta help me out.

~~~~~
I almost retitled this post Legislative Paralysis, but I see I’ve come full-circle, back to “Meh”….so “Meh” it is.

by jhwygirl

It’s election season, yes it is!

Ellie Hill, attorney, business owner, and Missoula’s most tireless advocate for the homeless is kicking up her level of community activism and throwing in for Dave McAlpin’s seat, who won’t be seeking re-election.

No one can dispute Ms. Hill’s tenacity and hard work. As executive director of the Poverello Center, Hill has done a superb job ensuring that necessary services are provided to our communities neediest – a large percentage of which are veterans. Her work has even been recognized in Washington D.C., where Sen. Jon Tester recently spoke at length in the Senate Veteran’s Affair Committee to the important services the Poverello Center is providing.

As a business owner, Hill has also been active in a number of community-oriented organizations, including terms on the City’s Neighborhood Community Forum and Historic Preservation Commission as well as the Sustainable Business Council Board of Directors.

On her campaign:

“I will work hard in this race but it will also be fun. I enjoy continuing to meet my neighbors in the district. They can count on me knocking on their doors and discovering what we can do together to make House District 94 even better. I am ready to take my experience and put it to work fighting for Missoula in Helena. I believe that government can do better.”

Ms. Hill isn’t in my House District, but I am thrilled to see another strong unwavering Progressive step up to run for office. The 2011 legislature will be a better place with her in it.

by jhwygirl

Sometimes I think I don’t pimp this blog often enough. This will be a bit of a rant.

Sad to see Missoula’s progressive talk radio AM930 go. So suddenly – and I’ve missed anything if it’s been mentioned elsewhere.

Now – I don’t know when it happened, but Tuesday I settled in the wheels for an early long drive east and couldn’t figure out if someone had messed with the settings on my radio or if whoever it was on the airwaves was some guest host…but clearly, it wasn’t progressive. Sure enough, later that day I got an email.

So now there are 3 conservative stations on the dial here (at 3)? 930, 1290 and 1340? Or something like that?

Now, I imagine Gap West (who owns all three of those stations and a near handful of others around town) is probably claiming that he’s not able to generate any ad revenue on that station. Would seem hard to believe, given he owns the other two regressive stations and Missoula is a progressive town, university and all.

Glad I have satellite radio because I’d rather listen to talk or news at times, and I sure don’t want to listen to that stuff. I’ll turn Gap West Missoula radio back on when they put progressive talk back on air.

by jhwygirl

Have you filled out your ballot yet? Get ‘er done. Why wait until tomorrow? Or next week.

The Missoula Independent has its endorsements out today – and (as usual) I am in full agreement.

Dave Strohmaier for Ward 1
Roy Houseman for Ward 2
Bob Jaffe for Ward 3
Jon Wilkins for Ward 4
Mike O’Herron for Ward 5
Marilyn Marler for Ward 6
John Engen for Mayor

Both John Engen and Jon Wilkins are unchallenged. Far as I can tell, Wilkins doesn’t have a website.

If you haven’t gotten your ballot yet (this is a mail-in only election), you might want to contact the County Elections Office at 258-4751 to verify your address. If you are at a different address from your registration or if you haven’t registered to vote yet, you’ll have to be heading to the fairgrounds to vote.

That’s why it’s important to vote early and get it done. If you wait until election day and can’t find your ballot or you find out your not registered, you’ll be having to venture down to the fairgrounds.

meh.

Anyone not able to get what I’m trying to convey about the voting-at-the-fairgrounds thing?

by jhwygirl

First the Ward 3’s Vote for Bob Jaffe video, which comes to 4&20, not by Bob Jaffee, but via Skylar Browning’s Indy Blog post:

Browning’s brief remarks are funny, and I agree. I also think that Badenoch was funny, saying “I think Bob Jaffe represents a lot of things I support. He’s progressive…but at the same time (my emphasis), he’s reasonable. I can tell that thinks about issues very seriously. He’s not a knee-jerk kind of guy. He’s thoughtful and I appreciate that.”

Council goddess Rye is hilarious, and so is Bob Clark, Missoula citizen.

Oh – and credit definitely has to go to “Bob Jaffe fan” Paul Wheaton – at minimum, he has a future in campaign election videos, for sure.

On the other topic…

Some HOW TO VOTE information…

Deadline is past for voter’s (pre)registration. If you want to vote now and haven’t registered, you have to head down to the fairgrounds, where the County Election’s Office has set up (due to high turnout in previous elections, and limited facilities/crowded halls).

This move has few, happy (maybe the county elections staff). Even Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller lamented the move in a tweet.

Even the results. {sigh}

Can we maintain no tradition?

City elections are mail-in only. No polling stations will be open.

Mail-in ballots are coming out in a few days. There’s Mayor (unchallenged), the Municipal Judge (unchallenged), then your councilperson vote (of which Ward 4 is unchallenged too). It looks like if you live in Seeley Lake, there’s an election there, and another in the Evaro/Finley/O’Keefe area to form a community council – at least what I can see of the sample ballot.

So when you get that ballot, fill it in ENGEN LOUDEN and, depending on which ward, STROHMAEIR or HOUSEMAN or JAFFE or WILKINS or O’HERRON or MARLER and get it back in the mail.

Voting early helps all the candidates, no matter who they are. Their effort will be to get you to vote – if you get it done early, you allow your candidate the potential to round themselves up even more votes.

by jhwygirl

Tuesday night is an opportunity to meet Ward 2 candidate Roy Houseman, Jr. – if you haven’t already.

I can say enough about how much I really like this guy. He’s wise beyond his late-20something years, is union representative for Smurfit-Stone, married and owner of his first home with his lovely wife Andrea.

We’ve mentioned him ’round these parts at least 4 times, including this piece and another one which linked to The Independent’s profile of Roy Houseman, done by Skylar Browning back in January.

Ward 2 is a funky ward – encompassing the Northside, the Westside, Grant Creek, and north of Wyoming Street and generally east of Reserve. It’s a tough ward – I mean – imagine door-knocking Grant Creek..but Roy’s been at it. So much so that I hear that his wife is calling herself an campaign widow.

Houseman is a great progressive candidate, focused on moving Missoula forward on the important issues of affordable housing, reasonable and bigger picture transportation solutions and managing Missoula’s growth with a vision towards the long-term,

Have I said how much I just absolutely adore Roy Houseman? ‘Cause I do…

Regardless of which ward you live in here in the City proper – you will be fortunate to have Roy Houseman sitting in Ward 2’s council seat..which leads me to the following:

Cynthia Wolken and LaNette Diaz are hosting a “Meet Roy Houseman” event. It’s at 1316B Cooper St (which is Ms. Wolken’s house), 6:30 to 9. This is, of course, a fundraiser – so any spare bucks you have would be a big help…but of course, offering up your time for calls or literature drops and door knocking would also be greatly appreciated.

For some additional information about Roy Houseman, check out his website

VOTE ROY HOUSEMAN FOR WARD 2

by JC

Last week on Bill Maher’s Real Time, Bill Moyers, in a special “The Conscience of a Nation” edition, laid out a beautiful progressive’s analysis of the Obama administration’s struggling efforts to reconcile its legislative health care efforts with the progressive base’s demands. I think that Moyers’ words speak for themselves, so I’ll leave it up to you to watch, with but one comment. I want to offer up a quote about fighting principled battles, as it seems to be a recurring theme of debate:

“You Have to Lose Sometimes, in Order to Win”

What he was referring to was Truman’s losing battle for Medicare in 1948. But because he lost what Moyers termed “a principled victory” the nation was able to eventually move forward years later to do the right thing: get the whole loaf instead of just a half loaf, which he asserts is not enough to feed everybody. Medicare was born.

The analogy to today’s fight for universal health care was unmistakeable. Without coming right out and saying it, he intimated that progressives must hold fast to their principles. That if you hold your progressive values, that by losing the battle, you will have won a principled victory, and that eventually a better solution will prevail. If you want true universal health care, or single payer, then don’t settle for what we currently are being sold through our corporatist legislative process.

Enjoy the words of one of today’s most eloquent progressives.

This is part one. Moyers’ comments about principled progressive victories comes just after the 9:00 mark. You can watch part 2 and part 3 via the YouTubifier. The whole thing is definitely worth watching, if at all you are interested in a true progressive’s perspective on fighting great national policy battles.

Unabashedly Liberal

by JC

liberal

lib⋅er⋅al  [lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl]

–adjective
1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.

–noun
14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.

Origin:
1325–75; ME < L līberālis of freedom, befitting the free, equiv. to līber free + –ālis -al

Synonyms:
1. progressive. 7. broad-minded, unprejudiced. 9. beneficent, charitable, openhanded, munificent, unstinting, lavish. See generous. 10. See ample.

Antonyms:
1. reactionary. 8. intolerant. 9, 10. niggardly.

by JC

Yesterday, at Obama’s Organizing For America town hall, he let slip a valuable piece of policy information. In what to-date has been mostly a specifics-free push for reform that meets whatever set of goals that satisfy this week’s polling needs, Obama let loose in an hour and almost 20 minute video town hall that was streamed over the internet and had almost a quarter million call-ins on the conference.

Of course, he almost made it to the end without sticking his neck out. Then, in response to a gentleman’s question about what reform would mean for his son, who would soon be leaving the family insurance plan, we got this as an addendum to his answer:

[starting about 1:14:00 of the video] “…And then there are going to be hardship exemptions, there are going to be some folks who fall in a different category. They may be a little bit older, quite poor, but even with the subsidies they just can’t afford health care insurance and we’ll have to give them some hardship exemptions. And to folks like that we say to you, ok, if you can’t make the payments for, say 10% of your income, if you are in such a strapped situation, and you just can’t afford that, then, uh, you are exempt” …[closing message, then applause]

So I guess the Obama administration and Congress haven’t yet figured out that universal means universal and mandate means mandate. Of course there has to be some sort of doughnut hole. Medicare reform taught us that.

Hardship exemption. Huh. I guess that’s the new euphemism for being uninsured in the age of Obama. A badge of (dis)honor. And to be applauded by an audience full of so-called progressives. Progressive sheep. Maybe that applause was really baa, baa, baa-ing.
white house sheep

Watch the video, then contact your congressional rep to see if you fall in the new doughnut hole exemption. I know I will.




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