Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Paying dearly for lapse in vigilance

Technology Breaktrhough!
Virtual Brain Imaging Reveals Stunning Photos of What  Ravalli County Commissioners Are Thinking When They Say "Land-Use Planning"

Note: I never posted this on-line, but it seems appropriate a week before the elections so here it is. I sent this to the Bitterroot Star before the last primaries, when Bitterrooters where lamenting that "if we could only get rid of Suzy...". My point then, as it is now, is that such  destructive, extremist politicians like Ravalli County Commissioner Suzie Foss are not the disease by a long shot. They are only the sad symptoms of public discussion atrophied into gangrenous dysfunction to the point where a confounding person like her could ever be in the position she was in. Wealthy elites generally don't like democracy, and gangrenous dysfunction is O.K. with them for now. Getting rid of Suzie was like taking aspirin for hemorrhagic fever. The Northern Rockies, both its environment and its people, have suffered mightily for decades from far-right extremism packaged as "conservative values" by the deep-pocket developers who cash in on dysfunction, and they haven't gone anywhere. If you liked Suzie Foss, wait until you see Theresa Manzella.

Remember: you heard it here first.

Posted on March 6, 2014 in the Bitterroot Star: Letters
Remember Celebrating Conservatism? That good old Johnny Reb revivalist show that camped at our publicly-funded fairground for a couple years after the 2008 elections? You must remember them, especially if you want to understand how this county got itself into this current pickle we are all paying dearly for.
A reminder then. Celebrating Conservatism was the outfit that marched a hit parade of extreme-right rock stars through our county to “educate” us about various conspiracy theories that, according to them, warranted advocating for civil war or at least for threats of violence against those they disagreed with:
• Red Beckman, the Montana Freeman associate who threatened to shoot federal employees and who taught us that the Holocaust was God’s punishment on the Jews for killing Jesus.
• Richard Mack, the Sovereign-Citizen darling who taught us that the county sheriff was the supreme law of the land and has the right to conscript you, the citizen, at will to construct fortifications around Hamilton against the time coming when black helicopters land here with Belgian troops to enforce Agenda 21.
• Shaffer Cox, who was arrested immediately after being a featured speaker at Celebrating Conservatism’s “Liberty Convention” for plotting to kill Alaska state troopers and a judge and who is now serving decades of hard time for it (talk about not doing a background check!).
• Gary Marbut of Montana Shooting Sports Association, who shared the stage with Shaeffer Cox in Hamilton on at least one occasion.
• And many more.
Remember the secessionist manifestos Celebrating Conservatism circulated and that hundreds of Ravalli County citizens – including several who now sit on our governing boards – signed?
• The “Ravalli County Questionnaire”, the cut-and-paste, common-scheme paper terrorism threat to county employees that they would be tried by a “citizen grand jury” if they didn’t buckle to the signers’ paranoid demands?
• The “Second Amendment Declaration”, which threatened civil war if one more law they didn’t approve of was passed?
All three commissioners – Foss, Stoltz and Kanenwisher – as well as County Attorney, Bill Fulbright, who won their seats in the 2010 election, were either directly tied to Celebrating Conservatism, signed their secessionist threats or pandered to the groundswell of paranoia this group represented for their votes and support. Also directly tied or associated with this extremist group are:
• Terry Nelson, chair of the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee, who was appointed by ALL FIVE Republican commissioners to fill a well-paid government position (with health care benefits!) he was not qualified for.
• Jeff Burrows, who was appointed by ALL the remaining Republican commissioners after Kanenwisher pulled a Palin and split the country.
• Valerie Stamey.
• Her husband, Rick Stamey, who now sits on our Planning Board.
• Almost every other surviving member of the Planning Board.
• Members of every other county board that has had vacancies filled since the 2010 extremist coup.
• The “Ravalli County Tea Party Patriots”.
How did we allow ourselves to get into this mess? It didn’t happen overnight, and it isn’t the fault of one single treasurer or three single commissioners. They, as well as the local Republican hierarchy in general – Chilcott, Iman, Hawk, Thomas, etc. – are doing exactly what they told you, the voter, they intended to do. They are remaking our governing bodies into their own developer-beholden images.
Stamey, Foss, Ballance, Boulanger and, now, Theresa Manzella, are really only the point people for this reactionary movement that has been going on within the developer circles of the local and state Republican Party since the militia flare-up here in the Bitterroot in the mid-90s. Remember that one? When Bitterroot Rep. Matt Brainard introduced a “state militia” bill in the legislature days before Oklahoma City was bombed? When the Ravalli County Courthouse received a bomb threat on THE SAME DAY as Oklahoma City? When Conrad Burns brought Militia of Montana founder John Trochmann to a congressional hearing immediately after the Oklahoma bombing to “school” senators on county supremacy and state’s rights? Twenty years later, Trochmann’s Sanders County protégé, Jennifer Fielder, is the vice-president of the Montana Republican Party. The proof’s in the pudding. So-called “moderates” within the state and local Republican Party organizations have not only never distanced themselves or their party from those who suffer from the extremist paranoid views of Celebrating Conservatism and Militia of Montana, they have PANDERED to them for their votes so they can continue the percolation of wealth and limited resources to their developer-benefactors.
It is critical that enough Ravalli County voters, whatever their party affiliation or non-affiliation is, understand the Montana Republican Party’s history over the last two decades and the dire consequences – now playing out at your local county administration buildings – of the unlearned lesson of allowing one’s bigotry to get the best of one’s common sense. Ravalli County voters: pay heed to what these people who seem so laughable to you now expound upon in public before you cast your votes again in any election of any significance, because these point people not only mean what they say, they have the developer-bucks and the “moderate” Republicans to back them up.
A note to doubters: all of the above is fact-checkable for the very simple reason that neither you nor I could possibly make it up.
No kiddin’.
Bill LaCroix, Victor, Montana

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Foiled Again

Recently-deceased rain forests above Drift Creek just upstream from Drift Creek Wilderness, Central Oregon Coast

Dear Reader,
If you are one of those who have been trying to post comments on this blog, please accept my apologies. I can't seem to post them due to a screw-up in my e-mail. I value your time and thoughts and I do want to stay in touch, even if only in a 19th Century sort of way. I probably need a webpage manager. In the meantime, please try me direct at blacroix@cybernet1.com      Give my regards to the N.S.A. and ask them if they know where I put my favorite ball cap which also seems to have disappeared (might as well get our money's worth out of them). Also just for the record: I'm not making any loans to Nigerian princes or princesses this month. My funding sources dried up for that sort of thing. If you are of that persuasion and stumbled on my blog in your understandable attempts to make ends meet, try the N.S.A.

Seriously, dear readers, my thanks and apologies, and do stay in touch.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thank You, Howard Zahniser

Here's another music video attempt of mine. 

The pictures and documents displayed are from my friend Stewart Brandborg's personal files and records. Brandy took over The Wilderness Society after Howard Zahniser's untimely death in 1964, a few months before Zahnie's eight-year Foggy Bottom slog to get a Wilderness Bill through our ever-unholy Congress was finally realized. It was Brandy's task to implement it against bureaucratic reluctance and intransigence within all the agencies that managed our public lands. The long story is a book that hasn't been written yet (I'm working on it!). For now, though, the short story is this: Brandy's dad (Guy M. Brandborg, pictured on his horse with Zahniser and AnnaVee Brandborg in the video) was a progressive forester from the Gifford Pinchot mold and his grandfather (on his father's side), was what you'd call a socialist back in the early part of the twentieth century when farmer's unions were getting going. Socialism and its progressive cousins are as American as rhubarb pie, just as John-Birch-Society-style "libertarianism" is. Guess which one you can thank for the wilderness law, and for Democracy, too, while you're at it? 

Brandy, as with his whole family, was well-read, well-steeped in social altruism, and a natural believer in Democracy (with a capital "D", not the FoxNews "fair and balanced" kind). With such a rich heritage, Brandy naturally gravitated to Howard Zahniser and his epic campaign to get Congress to pass the singular law that admitted that humility was a good quality for a majority of them to confess they had a little of. After the Law was passed, Brandy pretty much wrote the book on grassroots organizing in the latter part of the twentieth century in order to get it implemented. Other laws, and other grassroots campaigns, followed the trails cut out by the original Wilderness Society organizers. Political hyperventilation from the extractors and their mouthpieces hasn't let up since, of course. It's been mean and incessant for decades, to the point where we can only bear witness to the inscrutable, nasty yet ultimately ephemeral Tea Party phenomenum here in the Rockies. 

The Land, always, prevails. Be on the right side of it. Here's to the start of it all for those of us alive today. Here's to Howard Zahniser, Stewart Brandborg and here's to good ol' Democracy.