Posts Tagged ‘politics’

By CFS

Since the Republicans showed their true communist colors and adopted the slogan “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” with the passage of SB 423 ridding the fledgling medical marijuana industry of the profit motive patients will inevitably suffer and the black market will invariably fill the void left by the current caregiver system.

I wonder what the Republicans think all these MMJ growers will do once they become outlawed… Sell their equipment on craigslist? More likely, these growers that have sunk thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of dollars into their business will continue to grow for the black market where they can actually make money… Tax free at that. These people are small business entrepreneurs after all, and they just need government to get out of their way.

Anyway, there is a great Slate feature that I suggest anyone interested in this issues should read. The article is written by a woman whose son suffers from a severe form of autism and the only thing that she has found that helps her child is marijuana. There are four parts to the series spanning a two year period of her family’s struggle with the disorder and how, through the use of medical marijuana, they have been able to live a more normal and happy life.

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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 Pete Talbot

(Jhwygirl beat me to the draw, as usual, but here’s my perspective on some of her Various & Sundry observations, plus some other stuff.  Also, I changed my original Denny Rehberg headline (a strike through wouldn’t cut it) because it lacked class.  And while I have no respect for the man, I still have some for the office.)

Disingenuous Denny

I had forgotten that Rep. Denny Rehberg was going to be the speaker at Missoula’s City Club luncheon on Thursday.  I didn’t miss much, though, according to the Missoulian.  The same old: lower taxes, cut programs, reduce regulation.  Then there was this gem:

He also claimed that family planning services were losing billions of dollars by duplication between Medicaid and Title X services.

Missoula Planned Parenthood volunteer coordinator Tannis Hargrove, who asked about the family planning spending, disputed Rehberg’s duplication claim. She said Title X services were not available to Montanans eligible for Medicaid, and that Medicaid eligibility was too strict to allow that kind of double-dipping.

Rehberg also said it was the fault of the federal government that the housing market collapsed, leading to the Great Recession.  It had nothing to do with the credit default swaps of JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, etc.  Thank God those markets aren’t better regulated.

And you can blame those pesky regulations for your $4-a-gallon gas.  That’s what’s keeping the petroleum industry from modernizing its gasoline infrastructure, which is keeping consumer gas prices high, says Denny.  I guess it’s hard to invest in new infrastructure when your first quarter profits are only $10.7 billion.

The rest of the Rehberg story is here.  Read it and weep.  KECI also has a story but I’m boycotting NBC because of that stupid Celebrity Apprentice show, which leads me to …

Rob Trump, Donald Natelson?

I like things easy and Rob Natelson makes finding a topic to post so easy.  This time, he’s picking up where The Donald left off. Couched in some historical nonsense about the English monarchy, Rob’s worried that a U.S. President could hand our country over to some foreign power.  I’m pretty sure he’s targeting Obama and the President’s penchant for all things Kenyan.  I’m surprised he didn’t raise this issue about Reagan’s Mexican proclivities.  He should also be worried about Gov. Schwarzenegger selling California to Austria.  There are just too many examples to cite. Be afraid, be very afraid.

“Extremely far-right extremists”

That’s a quote from former Sanders County Republican Chairman Mike Hashisaki.  But it looks like it’s the extremists who are running things now that state party chairman Will Deschamps says the new Sanders County Republican Central Committee will be certified at the Montana GOP convention in June.  How far to the right is the new committee?  Well, Denny Rehberg is a socialist.  According to the Missoulian:

The convention then chose Katy French of Paradise chairwoman. Her husband Mark, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg for the Republican nomination to Congress in 2010 – charging that Rehberg had backed “irresponsible, unconstitutional and socialist issues” – was elected state committeeman.

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

I guess the 62nd Montana Legislature could have been worse, but not much.  One of the major disappointments for me — the failure to pass a bonding bill that would have paid for a new UM College of Technology building, among other buildings around the state.  It would have pumped $29 million into the Missoula economy, and would be an investment in Montana’s future by educating and training Montanans.  There was plenty of other bad stuff, too, some of it yet to reach the governor’s desk.  The Associated Press has a round-up.

by Pete Talbot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By CFS

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

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

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

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

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

By CFS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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