Saturday, February 23, 2013

Water for Guns and Houses; The Inestimable Ravalli Co. Commission

The following is a letter-to-the-editor I sent to the Ravalli Republic and Bitterroot Star regarding Ravalli County officials'  bizarre and inflammatory statements aimed at Bittrerroot National Forest Service employees over the course of the last couple weeks.

“We’ve got no choice but to push back because nothing is left for us. We are being driven from our homes and now they want to take our guns…At some point we have to stop, and that’s why we are here today.”

Thus spoke Suzie Foss during an ambush of hotheads and low-information malcontents against local Forest Service folks she apparently engineered under the guise of a public meeting. The meeting, in turn, was the commissioners’ anti-government soapbox meant to justify why they’re taking it upon themselves to waste county time and money to advance a county-supremacy scheme by attempting to turn a water agreement between the state and the Forest Service on its head. At a following meeting, planning board chair Jan Wisniewski referred to an agency employee who wasn’t present—a woman--by name, as a “liar”, while commission chair Burrows labeled the agency’s scientific methods of water measurement “bogus”.

To state the obvious, the government employees to whom these coded threats were made are our friends and neighbors. They live in our communities, shop in our stores, send their kids to our schools. They are us, and in fact any one of us who disagrees with the weird path our “patriot” commissioners want to send us down may well be the next target of their clumsy attempts at the clumsy art of demagoguery (A shout-out to all you moderate Republicans who have been “outed” as “socialists” by these Ever-Vigilant Ones).

To simply dismiss the commissioners’ statements and tactics as inflammatory is not enough. After all, Suzie brought up a good point, and with due diligence we should examine it.

Why, exactly, are we “here today”? Is it to do the county’s REAL business? No. Is it to better pursue Good Government? No. Is it to defend our freedoms? Of course not.

Rather, it’s exactly because this rogue commission feels entitled to stuff YOUR tax-funded time and money down into their developer-benefactors’ deep pockets. Look at their Hamilton jetport scheme. Look at Flatiron. Look at Legacy Ranch. Look at the rich who have a penchant for building IN the very rivers their pet commission purports to “protect” with such grandstanding as protesting Forest Service water rights. All are unapologetically benefitting from their political pets’ utter craziness. That’s really the game here.

Since selective interpretations of world history are all the rage now, let’s go there and let’s acknowledge that this isn’t the first time venal obfuscators and their reckless incompetents have run whole communities into the ground for the sake of demonstrably-corrupt agendas. I’d just add that while you’re considering the current N.R.A.-ginned talking points coming out of the mouths of national, state and local iterations of today’s Republican Party (Lincoln’s party, my God!), consider what Commissioner Foss so candidly admitted as to “why we are here today”.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

LAID Again

Remember this, children, if you remember nothing else. Right-wingnuttery is almost ALWAYS underwritten by those who profit from chaos. It is a symptom of the disease the Montana Legislature is afflicted with, not the cause. Like cancer cells in a prostate, our body politic always has Cells With Attitude (CWAs) to the right of Attila floating around in its organs. It’s natural, and their existence doesn’t necessarily lead to terminal illness. But add the toxin, money, in large enough amounts, and CWAs explode beyond the body’s capacity to deal with them, and the body dies.  Then those creatures who benefit from feeding on the carcasses of formerly democratic institutions like our Montana Legislature swoop down for the feast. In our neck of the woods, this means developers, energy moguls[i], “charter school” industrialists and insurance executives[ii] and they are preening themselves for some very juicy pickings--at your expense--this session. Let me explain.

Last November, Montana voters overwhelmingly approved I-166, charging the Montana Legislature with working to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court “corporate personhood” decision known as Citizens United. Rep. Ellie Boldman Hill (D- Missoula) introduced  HJ 6 to the House Judiciary Committee to do just that. Instead of doing just that, however, this committee, paid for by YOU, with express direction by YOU to address money corrupting our politics, not only tabled HJ 6, they actively chose to spend the peoples’ time and money on discussing AND approving, on party-line votes: 

  •       Rep. Jerry O'Neill's (R- Columbia Falls) Soveriegn-citizen/ Jury-Nullification bill, HB 290, which was NOT tabled in committee, and will receive at least another hearing, if not a vote by the full House[iii].
  •         O’Neill’s secessionist bill HJ 3 which wants the people of Montana to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to amend the Commerce Clause to regulate Commerce between states as though they were separate countries. Really.
  •        O’Neill’s HJ 5, to amend the US constitution to ban the president’s ability to enter into treaties that “infringe” on citizens’ (read: gun nuts’) rights. 
This last warm-and-fuzzy secessionist package (HJ 5), which was probably co-written by A.L.E.C. and the N.R.A., was passed by the full House, where ALL of our Bitterroot legislators, including Connell, Ballance, Ehli, and Greef, joined 48 other representatives last week, including Admiralty-Law expert, Nicholas Schwaderer[iv], in voting for it. 

The House Judiciary Committee is chaired by Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel), a man who signed onto the “Sheriff’s First” manifesto last week and has had numerous encounters with reality as it relates to bat-guano ideology over the last couple sessions. Other members of note on the House Judiciary Committee (that’s right: the House Judiciary Committee) include:
  •         Sarah Lazsloffy of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry[v].
  •      Clayton Fiscus, who introduced this session’s Creationism bill.
  •      Jerry O’Neill, a certified Neolithic John Birch throwback from the McCarthy era (see above).
And where did our mandate to them to address toxic money in Montana politics go? Republicans in both the House and Senate have introduced several bills that would allow MORE toxic money into Montana politics. Really.

Speaking of the Senate and of the best bat guano money money can buy:
  •         Sen. Tom Facey (D- Missoula) introduced SB 163 to address what we directed the legislature to address: toxic money poisoning our democracy’s vital organs. Facey’s bill would have simply forced legislators to own up to who they’ve been taking bribes from. Pretty standard stuff in a democracy. In the Montana Legislators’ case, as with most other state legislatures in the country, this would mean admitting whether or not you’re an A.L.E.C. pet, and how much A.L.E.C. paid for your dog food.
  •         Sen. Sue Malek (D- Missoula) introduced SB 124, which would have clarified the definition of a political committee to include the deep-pocket ones that are currently tanking our democracy by claiming that since they’re just schooling people, there’s no need for the people to know who’s doing the schooling.
Both of these bills would have gone a long ways towards doing what we thought we tasked our legislators with doing. But, as in the House, Facey and Malek’s bills both got tabled in committee, while other bills more important to our legislators’ ideological gyroscopes not only did not get tabled, but got passed on to the full Senate where further time and money was spent on them.

SJ 7, just for example, carried by Sen. Dave Lewis (R-Helena) urges the United States to withdraw from the United Nations in order “to maintain control over its own…destiny” because “Whereas the United States is the greatest nation in the world” therefore we don’t need no stinkin’ "other people" suggesting we do something about global warming. Really.

Militia of Montana’s Jennifer Fielder and extremist-appointee Scott Boulanger[vi] are two of the seven Republican senators who are, incredibly, on the Senate Judiciary Committee (that’s right the Senate Judiciary Committee), which is chaired by “patriot” adherent Terry Murphy, who also signed the “Sheriff’s First” letter. This committee freight-trained SJ 7 to the full Senate like a dirty coal train through Missoula, on a party-line vote. Then this Neolithic Bircher throwback bill PASSED in the full Senate, again along party lines. Every Republican in your tax-funded state Senate, including Bitterrooters Thomas and Boulanger, voted for this whacky, whacky bill with the notable exceptions of Senators Peterson and Tutvedt (see below).

If the world is flat, then we're a frisbee. And if you're wondering where that frisbee's going, please consider that all of these whacky LAID bills could have been (and may actually HAVE BEEN) written by Militia of Montana[vii]. Tim McVeigh or Terry Nichols could have run for office—and conceivably won—on platforms encoded in these “sovereign citizen” bills.

And if you've read this far, you’re probably wondering where the intersection between such whackiness and corporate vultures ripping apart our body politic is. Well, remember the last legislative gift to the corporate good at your expense from the Bitterroot’s own Fred Thomas? Energy deregulation? Keep that in mind, and consider the following:
  •        HB 280, passed by the House Friday, which would effectively deregulate the insurance industry in Montana by allowing companies who operate outside of Montana to sell insurance here. This would mean that when your blood-bloated insurance company makes its blanket “denial of benefits” claim in order to more excellently benefit their corporate bottom line, you will no longer be able to go to the Montana State Auditor for redress. That’s because our state auditor, who has come to the aid of many a “consumer” in those shark-infested medical-expense waters, will be cut out of the loop, and you may be talking to a phone-bank person on the other side of the world working for an outsourced state auditor’s office from, say, Arkansas, or whatever state has the most bought-off legislature and therefore the most lax insurance regulations. This bill was sponsored, in part, by retired Farmer’s Insurance vice-president, Nancy Ballance, and was outrageously touted by Ballance as a "consumer-protection" bill. It passed on a party-line vote in the House last Friday.
  •         The SIX school privatization (euphemistically-dubbed “school-choice) bills, which would basically deregulate schools, forking over huge amounts of public funds we earmark for educating our children to snake-oil salesmen and supernatural-living aficionados whose fundamental interests are demonstrably NOT in educating our children in any stretch of a democratic sense. This national corporate agenda to eat our kids (really) is a classic example of those supernatural-living adherents being manipulated by the snake-oil salesmen to benefit (hugely) the multi-national A.L.E.C. beasts who cooked and stirred the idea to begin with.
  •          HB 41, passed by the Senate Jan. 23rd: “An act prohibiting a governing body from considering the impacts of potential future subdivisions when reviewing subdivision applications.” In a nutshell, SB 41 further deregulates subdivisions, and effectively ties the hands of us citizens who give of our time to attend county commissioners’ meetings in an attempt to stop a horrid subdivision, only to find the commissioners collectively wringing their hands and saying, “There’s nothing we can do! It’s state law! Tell it to your legislators!”
And this is where the rubber hits the road. As mentioned above, Senators Peterson and Tutvedt, who lost their leadership seats this session to aggressive rightwingery, played the “moderates” by not voting for O’Niell’s demonstrably-whacky SJ 7 (U.S. out of the U.N.). And that is exactly the point:


They (and other “moderate” enablers like them) can let others push the debate over the edge of the world, where it needs to be if such enablers are to bring home the meat to their creepy corporate overlords (who bear a remarkable resemblance, in my mind at least, to cartoon-vultures), which they both did, by voting for SB 41. And Voila! A huge gift to developers, the whole point of the thing. Peterson, Tutvedt and the rest of the enablers know the side of the bread their butter’s on. What the likes of O’Niell or Schwaderer know or don't know matters not at all to their morbid benefactors, who really do bear a remarkable resemblance.

In a democratic world, democracy would not be seen as “the problem”. But in Corporatelandia, where “War” is “Peace” and “Regulation” is “totalitarianism”, democracy (in our case our government) must be seen as the problem if they are to achieve their sociopathic goal of scorched-earth winning. Therefore, it is their bald-faced strategy to collude with the Birchers and the “patriots” and to then install either ethically-challenged or just plain whacky elected officials who's votes can be more excellently bought off with a steak dinner and plane ticket.

Remember: those who make their fortunes picking the bones of dead democratic bodies want them dead. Pretty simple. That’s why they fund wingnuts. I hope this helps.

[iii]Fully-Informed Jury Movement-Red Beckman/Sheriff’s First-Richard Mack      
        Ravalli Co.-Celebrating Conservatism connections:

        Recap of some of current and past extremist players in Helena:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Legislative Auto-Immune Disease (LAID) Defined

I’m not a medical professional, but I’ve had enough interest in medical issues over the course of living for several decades to give human anatomy some thought. Therefore, with a laymen’s expertise, I define “auto-immune disease” as:
·       A disorder within an individual body where a complex system that exists to protect that body mistakes its own self as an invader, fit only for destroying, and actually attacks itself, destroying its own body, and itself.

I’m not a political professional either, but since I’ve given politics at least as much layman’s thought as I’ve given human anatomy over the years, I hearby define a previously-unarticulated political illness called “Legislative Auto-Immune Disease” (LAID). I define LAID as :
·       The Montana Legislature. Through perverse acts of a malfunctioning auto-immune system known as “voting” by individual cells known as “legislators” who mistake systemic functions of democratic process as pathogens in need of destroying, the Montana Legislature is the epitome of a sick legislative body bent on attacking and destroying its own self as a functioning democratic institution.
        Note: “Legislative Auto-Immune Disease” is not copyrighted. In fact it quite clearly and sadly falls within the Public Domain. Feel free to steal it. Just remember: you heard it here first