Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pray for Gridlock; Legislative Update for Jan. 30

“Gridlock”, as defined by Fox News, is when enough legislators to the left of Attila band together and successfully dig their heels in to stop tax-funded, corporate-serving shenanigans that can be nothing but bad for anyone to the left of the aforementioned corporate interests or esteemed gentleman.

Thus defined, I now nominate the latest Right-of-Attila legislators for this week’s “Pray-For-Gridlock-Round-of-Applause” (*):

Dave Lewis (R- Helena)

·       For introducing SB 82 (LC0018)which would force teachers to fork over their retirement funds in the form of 401ks to the stock-market banksters who have proven themselves so reliable in the recent past (**).
·       For introducing SB 81 which would allow huge tax credits for entities who “donate” to fundamentalist charter schools (***).
·      For introducing SJR 2 during the 2011 legislative session demanding that the U.S. withdraw from the United Nations.
·      And for so much more, lest we forget.

Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick (R- Great Falls)
·       For introducing  HB 213 which would give tuition tax credits for those sending their kids to fundamentalist charter schools (***).
·      For introducing HB 265  which calls for MORE money in our new Montana Lottery formerly known as our elections (the Missoulian mistakenly labeled it HB 223)(****).
·      For introducing HB 200 a boilerplate voter-suppression bill.

Rep. Scott Reichner (R- Big Fork)
·      For being an A.L.E.C. pet (*****).
·      For introducing HB 229 which also calls for MORE money in our new Montana Lottery formerly known as our elections.

·      Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman)
·      For being an A.L.E.C. pet (*****).
·      For sensitively introducing HB 27 which would make silencers legal (in 2011 Washburn introduced a bill to require fully-armed “militias” in every Montana town).
·      For introducing HB 267, which would allow electronically-enhanced arrows for hunting.
·      For carrying voter-suppression bills HB 30 (LC0539 passed in committee) and HB 108 (LC0239 tabled in committee).
·      For carrying wolf-hysteria bills HB 31(LC0278) and HB 33 (LC0326 tabled in committee).

Rep.  Sarah Lazloffy (R- Laurel)
·      For attending Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (******) and, as a voting member of the House Education Committee, being the stand-alone example of where your tax money could go if charter schools are legitimized.
o   As a disclaimer to the above, I need to say that I have a lot of empathy and sympathy for rash and sometimes-idiotic 20-year-olds. I was one myself. But during my tenure in that demographic, I wasn’t a voting member of a duly-elected democratic body deciding whether or not to codify Leviticus into tax-funded school policy. As grown-ups, we do need to put our feet down, don’t we?   

(*) I love amphibians, and so, to be fair to myself, I’d like to make the following disclaimer: that while I’d actually like to see the Legislature get positive things done, I’d also choose to be the frog in the well who takes three leaps up for every two slides down rather than the frog who takes only one leap for every two down. It’s hard work being a progressive in Montana. Given the fact that amphibians are the ones taking the biggest hits from environmental degradation, it's hard work for frogs, too. Can you relate?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Legislative Update Jan. 28th

Rep. Tom Facey (D-Missoula) introduced SB163 last week. It would “require legislators to disclose cost/payment information for meetings attended”. Within the current context of huge money buying our democracy piece by piece, legislator by legislator, SB 163 demands that a very large percentage of Republican legislators (NO Democrats so far) disclose to what degree they are A.L.E.C. pets (*). Please:
o   contact Tom and thank him.
o   contact the other senators on the State Administration Committee and ask them why such blatant 19th century corruption as ALEC is tolerated today (and also to vote for SB 163).

In other good news: the Abolition Coalition will be running a bus to Helena for a lobbying day Feb. 8th. Please go to their website  for more information on how to catch a ride. I'll be going, so you can contact me, too, at 363-1329.

Now the bad news:

A virulent “Oathkeepers” (**) letter has been circulating amongst and being signed by Republican sheriffs and lawmakers angry at probable gun-control legislation. The letter is lifted almost boilerplate from past Oathkeeper and Sheriffs First (***) declarations and publications. By signing the “oath” local sheriffs and lawmakers pledge to refuse to enforce federal laws they feel are “unconstitutional”, almost incidentally including any new gun laws. Several Montana sheriffs, including Ravalli County’s Chris Hoffman, have either signed the letter or vociferously approved its content. The committee chairmen of both legislative judicial committees—Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns and Republican Sen. Terry Murphy—have also signed the letter, which in effect elevates the craziest and therefore most-dangerous aspects of ‘90s-era “Patriot”/ “Freeman” “nullification” and “county-supremacy” schemes to nominal public policy. Lest we dismiss such treasonous nonsense out of hand, please remember that this has happened before with bad result. Tim McVeigh and Jerry Nichols, for example, mouthed the same paranoid, "constitutional" threats the last go-around we had with the “militia” movement.  They would have been proud to have signed such a “Sheriff’s First” letter as the one our Ravalli County sheriff has just endorsed.

Please remember, and remember again, that the N.R.A. is joined at the hip with its life-partner, A.L.E.C., whose corporate members (including the N.R.A.) write “model gun bills” such the “stand-your-ground” laws that have been passed in several states, including Florada and Montana. HB 229, passed during the 2009 Montana legislative session, was carried by none other than the current House Judiciary Committee chair, A.L.E.C. pet, state representative and signer of the latest "Sheriffs-First" oath, Krayton Kerns.

If you’ll take a moment and look at the committee members lists below, you’ll see that Jennifer Fielder, John Trochmann’s protégé (****), is a member of the Senate committee as is Scott Boulanger. The House committee has a lot of ringers, but the one who rings the winning bell loudest today is Rep. Sarah Laszloffy (R-Laurel). Ms Laszloffy :
  • Is the daughter of former Republican legislator and anti-choice activist and birther, Jeff Laszloffy.
  •  Is “strongly opposed” to defining global warming as a problem (*****).
  •  Is an alumnus of the Bethel Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry where, according to the school’s website, they “equip students to live a supernatural lifestyle.” Not only that, but “the academic instruction at BSSM is unique because it is taught by apostles, prophets and evangelists…not by professors...” (******).
  • Is 20 years old.

 In other words, while not expecting much more than a reasonable person can stand being disappointed by, please contact these members of the House and Senate judiciary committees anyways, and ask them, politely, what the Hell. (?)

State Administration Committee

Ron ArthunChair
Dee BrownVice Chair
Anders BlewettMember
Larry JentMember
Scott SalesMember
Kendall Van DykMember
Roger WebbMember

Senate Judiciary Committee

Terry MurphyChair
Scott SalesVice Chair
Shannon AugareMember
Anders BlewettMember
Scott BoulangerMember
John BrendenMember
Robyn DriscollMember
Jennifer FielderMember
Larry JentMember
Cliff LarsenMember
Chas VincentMember
Art WittichMember

House Judiciary Committee

Krayton KernsChair
Gerald (Jerry) BennettVice Chair
Margaret (Margie) MacDonaldVice Chair
Mark BlasdelMember
Virginia CourtMember
Alan DoaneMember
Jennifer EckMember
Clayton FiscusMember
Jenifer GurskyMember
David HalvorsonMember
Ellie Boldman HillMember
Sarah LaszloffyMember
Dennis R LenzMember
Ryan LynchMember
Jerry O'NeilMember
Carolyn Pease-LopezMember
Keith RegierMember
Bridget SmithMember
Kirk WagonerMember
Wendy WarburtonMember

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jan. 23rd Montana Legislature Update as it Relates to Reality-Based Bitterrooters

There's a lot going on over in the Handbasket for us Bitterrooters to pay attention to. I’ll try to confine my notes to the most egregious excuseless excesses. You know, the ones that don’t generally make the news? That sort of thing.

First of all, let’s give a round of applause to all four of our representatives—Ballance, Greef, Ehli and Connell—for voting in favor of Rep. Howard’s anti-immigration bill, HB 50. This bill, as far as anyone to the left of Attila can tell, directs all Montana law enforcement folks to consider racially-profiling anyone with darker skin than Howard’s who, from his official picture, looks like his ancestors came from Norway (lucky him!!). This bill, according to Rep. Howard, is necessary for the purpose of keeping Montana safe from all those heinous illegal criminals who are always and clearly more heinous than the legal ones, you know. That is really about the best I can do with this bill as far as explaining it, and it was apparently the best our legislators could do in understanding it by voting for a bill whose identical twin got vetoed the last session on the Guano Principle, and probably will suffer the same fate this session, also. What a waste of electricity. Way to go, inestimable legislators.

Next on my list is Nancy Ballance’s amazing efforts to invoke county supremacy through local school boards.  House Bill 181, which Ballance introduced Jan. 18th, would christen school boards as the official Inquisitors of School Librarians.

This is significant, given that Ballance openly proclaims to be a member of Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE), a national uber-Right, Christian Reconstructionist outfit who has attempted—and in some cases succeeded—in banning school library books they don’t feel hold hard enough to the dictates of Leviticus. Really.

Her other bill, HB 182 also introduced Jan. 18th, would mandate that “strategic reasoning” be added to public education goals. She would also like to add “literacy and numeracy” and “an understanding of political, social and economic systems of the United States and the world” which of course already exist in our public education goals. But never mind the facts, the context is that this is strange stuff indeed, coming from this former Hamilton school board trustee who floated a trial balloon last year on turning Hamilton into a Christian military academy.

Now, given the context, one has to ask—and I hope you do (*)—why on the Round Earth does a retired insurance industry executive-turned- backwoods-legislator need to take up time and electricity trying to insert “goals” in OUR public education process that already blatantly exist as if she’s a tea party malcontent--which she is--who thinks they don’t. And what in the HELL is “strategic reasoning”??!!

Leviticus, of course, is that biblical cook book on how to put homosexuals to death and how many stones to throw at your teenage son for disobeying you and other fine recipes for social disaster that probably didn’t work any better three thousand years ago than they would today. But that’s what Christian Reconstructionism, and CEE, and apparently Nancy Ballance, are all about. Again, please read: . I’ll just reprint a couple of quote from CEE’s founder and leave the inscrutable designs of Ms. Ballance to your own vivid imaginations:

  • "There are 15,700 local school boards in this country. It is our intent to take them over one by one. All we need is majority...and then we will determine what is taught, we will determine who is hired and who is fired.”
  • “We will be the stealth candidates, and you must carry out our mission in such a way that the public won't know what we're about until we've won control. I'm a fundamentalist Christian, and as far as I'm concerned, that's the only kind of Christian there is." 

“Dr.” Robert Simonds, founder, Nat’l Assoc. of Christian Educators/ Citizens for Excellence in Education (NACE/CEE).

I’m not kidding. Please contact those legislators on the House Education Committee (*) and ask them WHAT THE HELL.

Other legislative revelations I'd like to share:
  • ·      Did you know that Republican Sen. Jennifer Fielder from Thompson Falls is a protégé of John Trochmann (**)? Trochmann, as many of you remember and all of you should know, is the former snowmobile mechanic from Minnesota who moved to Noxon and founded Militia of Montana, one of the most conspicuous and active “patriot”/militia outfits from the early nineties whose anti-government rhetoric and organizing gifted We the People the entertaining activities of Cal Greenup here at home and Tim McVeigh on the national scene. That’s right. John Trochmann’s protégé, Jennifer Fielder, is a duly elected Montana senator now, and she’s also on the Sanders County Natural Resource Council, a “coordination” clone of our rogue commissioners’ “natural resource committee”. 
  • ·      Did you know that Republican Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer from Superior has a law degree? Not just any law degree, like so many of our legislators have. Schwaderer’s law degree is the on-line kind, from England, specializing in “Maritime and Admiralty law”. . Remember two years ago, when one of the first acts of our newly-elected rogue commissioners was to spend $200 of supposedly-scarce tax money to buy an “unfringed” American flag? Their stated reason was to appease conspiracy extremists who claimed that the county’s “fringed” flag was illegitimate under “Admiralty law” and therefore any business conducted under a “fringed” flag was treasonous (***)? That’s the kind of law degree Rep. Schwaderer has. And by the way, John Trochmann is an expert on “Admiralty Law” also. Vivid imaginations ho!
  • ·      Did you know that Greg Chilcott, in his new role as the president of the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) and old role as passionate advocate of the "patriot" county-supremacy scheme du-jour dubbed "coordination",  is spending most of his Ravalli County tax-funded time in Helena? For context, some of you may be among the 400 Ravalli Co. taxpayers who received a threat in the mail from a mysterious finance company earlier this month, courtesy of your hard-working, well-paid commissioners. In some cases these threats were mailed the day after your property tax payment missed the Nov. 30th deadline. The mailing claimed that your “back taxes “ (remember: only ONE DAY after the deadline!) have now been hijacked by more sublime political connections than you possess and that you may just have to pay this company rent on your “back taxes” or risk losing your home to forclosure. Of course it’s more complicated than that, but your commissioners don’t insist on a better explanation because, apparently, they approve of the threat. This, dear reader, is where the money your senior, shrink-the-government commissioner who is currently wining and dining in Helena, comes from. Nice, huh?

All of this is so outrageous it’s…well...outrageous. It's a frog-dance and we're the ones paying for it. Nothing against frogs or their dances, but frogs generally do that sort of thing on their own time. And they don't pay taxes.

Please contact the legislators below about Nancy Ballance’s bizarre bills (HB 181 and HB 182) and share with them your deepest thoughts.

 (*) House Education Committee
Kris HansenChair
Joanne G BlytonVice Chair
Edith (Edie) McClaffertyVice Chair
Bryce BennettMember
Mark BlasdelMember
Clarena BrockieMember
Douglas CoffinMember
Edward GreefMember
David HalvorsonMember
Greg HertzMember
Sarah LaszloffyMember
Jonathan McNivenMember
Jean PriceMember
Daniel R SalomonMember
Casey SchreinerMember
Nicholas SchwadererMember
Ted WashburnMember
Franke WilmerMember