On The Need For Defining Narratives

If people really want to understand the persistence of white supremacist ideology they need to understand the powerful need people have to exist within the context of a narrative that transforms the chaos of life into definable structures of cultural value.

When dominant narratives break down and fall apart, like during times of national crisis, peripheral narratives have opportunities to seep in, especially if they claim restorative power in the face of national humiliation and defeat.

Nazi Germany, for example, emerged from the post-WWI conditions imposed on it by the victors. But don’t take it from me, here is a quote from a film featured at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website:

NARRATOR:

The humiliation of Germany’s defeat and the peace settlement that followed in 1919 would play an important role in the rise of Nazism and the coming of a second “world war” just 20 years later. What shocked so many in Germany about the treaty signed near Paris, at the Palace of Versailles, was that the victors dictated a future in which Germany was deprived of any significant military power. Germany’s territory was reduced by 13%. Germany was forced to accept full responsibility for starting the war and to pay heavy reparations. To many, including 30-year old former army corporal Adolf Hitler, it seemed the country had been “stabbed in the back”—betrayed by subversives at home and by the government who accepted the armistice. In fact, the German military had quietly sought an end to the war it could no longer win in 1918. “It cannot be that two million Germans should have fallen in vain,” Adolf Hitler later wrote. “We demand vengeance!”

The big news that capped another crazy week is the ouster of Steve Bannon. In the interview he gave The American Prospect, Bannon said something I happen to agree with (which of course to some will just further confirm I’m a card carrying member Alt-Right). Even though I’m opening myself up to further smears, here’s the part I agree with:

“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

I have been advocating for more focus on economic issues for awhile, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the Democratic DNA anymore. The lasting effects of what the Clintons did to the party in the 90’s is a significant factor in the rise of peripheral narratives gaining more traction.

In constructing my own fictional narrative (which I hope to start sharing soon) I researched two other significant factors contributing to what people are now seeing rise to the surface: the occult and conspiracy culture.

I’m not sure the reaction to what happened last weekend will lead to a better understanding of the elements at play, or a shift in focus from identity politics to economic populism. Instead, symbolic statues open to interpretation are being argued over, taking the battle in Charlottesville to dozens of different locations across the country.

With the media fanning the flames of conflict between Nazis and Antifa agitators, what happened last weekend will spread.

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Free Speech, Political Violence and American Supremacy

by William Skink

Protecting free speech is supposed to include speech we find repugnant. If it doesn’t, then shutting down all manner of expression will become easier.

Some efforts to shut down speech are not going to be effective. Take getting individuals who showed up at the Unite The Right rally fired from their jobs. What is that going to accomplish?

Dan Brooks took this up with a post that asks the questions Should we get white nationalists fired from their jobs? I commend Dan for eschewing the emotional reactions I am seeing everywhere on social media by actually using his brain to think through this ethical quagmire. And it is a an ethical quagmire.

Before getting to Brooks and his parsing of what constitutes being a Nazi who deservedly should get punched in the face and what is merely asshole white nationalism, this attempt by a GOP Congressman to punish a bank employee for her activism is worth noting:

The most powerful congressman in New Jersey, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, wrote a fundraising letter in March to a board member of a local bank, warning him that a member of an activist group opposing the Republican worked at his bank.

The employee was questioned and criticized for her involvement in NJ 11th for Change, a group that formed after the election of Donald Trump and has been pressuring Frelinghuysen to meet with constituents in his district and oppose the Trump agenda.

“Needless to say, that did cause some issues at work that were difficult to overcome,” said Saily Avelenda of West Caldwell, New Jersey, who was a senior vice president and assistant general counsel at the bank before she resigned. She says the pressure she received over her political involvement was one of several reasons she decided to leave.

Is this ok? I doubt anyone celebrating white supremacists getting fired would think this scenario is acceptable. It’s too bad they don’t seem to understand how their righteous efforts to shut down speech they don’t agree with will make it easier for anyone to shutdown speech they don’t agree with.

When I received a threatening letter at work, it was clear the anonymous author of the letter intended to negatively impact my employment. Did my opinions change? No. Was I more resolved than ever to continue expressing my opinions? Hell yes.

Getting back to Brooks’ piece, his conclusion is a little problematic because it still includes calls to violence for those real Nazis. I suggest reading the whole article because his conclusion probably deserves the full context of his argument, which ends with this:

I am trying to ask what we are willing to do to the people for whom we have almost no sympathy at all. We should punch Nazis, but maybe we should refrain from punching people who merely resemble Nazis. Otherwise, the mechanisms of our disagreements might overpower their content. If you had a button on your desk that electrocuted anyone you disagreed with, you could solve the Nazi problem real quick. Maybe, though, you would generate a new problem entirely.

Brooks is trying to remind us that slopes can be slippery. He’s hedging his argument with a casual reference to violence–we should punch Nazis. How about shooting them in the streets?

Former Missoula Councilman, Jason Wiener, recently posed a simple question (with a link to what happened in Virginia). The question he asked is What is the solution to this? Of the first three comments, two referenced violence:

Pete Youngstrom: When did shooting nazis in the street become a bad thing?

Heath Carey: Perhaps it’s time to give the “tree of liberty” its due manure.

It’s not surprising that some people are going to think more violence is the solution. It used to seem like the right had that market cornered, and while the death count still heavily leans toward the lethality of right-wing extremists, I’m worried there is increasing acceptance across the political spectrum that violence is an inevitable means of enacting political change.

The main reason I have a hard time taking all the moral righteousness over this violent rally in Virginia seriously is because there was 8 years of violent neoliberal foreign policy that American Supremacists who supported the Obama regime seemed to find more than acceptable.

The American-backed coup in Ukraine is a perfect example. One violent consequence of enacting a coup in Ukraine was empowering very real Nazis. This reality was brutally exposed in May of 2014 when this happened:

As much as the coup regime in Ukraine and its supporters want to project an image of Western moderation, there is a “Dr. Strangelove” element that can’t stop the Nazism from popping up from time to time, like when the Peter Sellers character in the classic movie can’t keep his right arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

This brutal Nazism surfaced again on Friday when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.

After the violence last weekend, I saw lots of claims that THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE. I don’t agree. I think a country that willfully ignores its own history (who financed Hitler? who helped Nazi scientists get jobs in America?), and ignores or downplays its own imperial crimes, will inevitably be comprised of citizens who see violence as a solution to their problems.

The extreme right used to dominate in this area. Not anymore. The political consensus of pursuing a violent foreign policy across the globe is increasingly being reflected by a political consensus at home that violence against political opponents is inevitable.

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More Stink Coming From Glacier Hope Homes

by William Skink

The post I wrote about Glacier Hope Homes at 4&20 Blackbirds continues attracting comments that add additional odor to the stinking pile I first caught a whiff of in June, 2015.

When I had some conversations earlier this year with service providers in the Flathead area familiar with GHH, one person mentioned a shady funder in Great Falls. I didn’t get a name then, but now if you go to the GHH website, it seems there is a little more information about their funding:

Glacier Hope Homes, Inc. is financially supported by Veterans Seal Team, a non-profit from Great Falls, Montana that supports organizations that provide services to Veteran Organizations. Veterans Seal Team has provided capital for our monthly expenses as well as supporting our Veterans with supplements from its founding company, Safer Medical of Montana, Inc. Mr. George Ackerson, the founder and principle of both Veteran Seal Team and Safer Medical of Montana, Inc. is fully committed to supporting and reacclimatizing any Veteran that desires help and wants to be a part of society as a whole functioning body. George is a helicopter pilot from Viet Nam era. He understands the needs and has the desire to provide help to our Veterans.

According to the document at the original link (at 4&20, pdf), Ackerson faced indictment in District Court for forgery and counterfeiting in the 90’s. There are other allegations floating around as well.

Glacier Hope Homes recently moved and is now located in Columbia Falls. I am not sure why the move occurred. GHH also claims to offer a plethora of services, but from the people I’ve talked to, those services mostly don’t exist. So if you go to the website and see that services like career counseling, job placement, and assistance in filing for benefits is offered, be very, very skeptical.

I would also suggest any Vet interested in GHH ask how much labor around the property is expected of Veterans.

If anyone wants to contact me about GHH, you can send an email here: willskink at yahoo dot com. I received an email recently from someone who is interested in talking to other people with direct experiences.

I will also add that it would be nice if an actual reporter looked into this. I think there is a story here that needs to be told. If the allegations I’ve heard are true, people have already been taken advantage of.

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With New Evidence Proving Russia Did Not Hack US Election, How Will The Resistance Respond?

by William Skink

James Damore, the Google employee martyred by upper management for sharing his opinion internally with peers, is just the latest example of a liberal ideology grown increasingly brittle to criticism. Here is more Damore from an op-ed he was invited to write for the Wall Street Journal:

We all have moral preferences and beliefs about how the world is and should be. Having these views challenged can be painful, so we tend to avoid people with differing values and to associate with those who share our values. This self-segregation has become much more potent in recent decades. We are more mobile and can sort ourselves into different communities; we wait longer to find and choose just the right mate; and we spend much of our time in a digital world personalized to fit our views.

Google is a particularly intense echo chamber because it is in the middle of Silicon Valley and is so life-encompassing as a place to work. With free food, internal meme boards and weekly companywide meetings, Google becomes a huge part of its employees’ lives. Some even live on campus. For many, including myself, working at Google is a major part of their identity, almost like a cult with its own leaders and saints, all believed to righteously uphold the sacred motto of “Don’t be evil.”

Echo chambers maintain themselves by creating a shared spirit and keeping discussion confined within certain limits. As Noam Chomsky once observed, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

But echo chambers also have to guard against dissent and opposition. Whether it’s in our homes, online or in our workplaces, a consensus is maintained by shaming people into conformity or excommunicating them if they persist in violating taboos. Public shaming serves not only to display the virtue of those doing the shaming but also warns others that the same punishment awaits them if they don’t conform.

As someone who has challenged the echo chamber of Montana Democrats from the heart of their liberal stronghold in Missoula, I can identify with what Damore is experiencing right now. But if I thought pushing back against the rationale to destroy Libya was tough, challenging the accepted narrative that Russia hacked the US presidential election appears even more difficult.

For those of us who didn’t self-segragate into the resistance echo chamber after Trump was elected, The Democrat/MSM/Intelligence campaign to scapegoat Russia for HRC’s shocking electoral defeat was obvious. Every new headline was anonymously sourced and inflated claims, like all 16 alphabet soup agencies agreed that Russia hacked the election, quickly deflated when scrutinized.

Unfortunately for all humans living on this planet, the resistance has been impervious to mounting evidence that the case against Russia has slowly collapsed.

A few days ago The Nation picked up on a report that should be the stake through the heart of this brazen propaganda campaign to de-legitimize Trump. Here are legitimate professionals in the field of intelligence providing forensic evidence that the emails from the DNC were leaked, not hacked:

Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it. It is tiresome to note, but none has been made available. Instead, we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception. These officials profess “high confidence” in their “assessment” as to what happened in the spring and summer of last year—this standing as their authoritative judgment. Few have noticed since these evasive terms first appeared that an assessment is an opinion, nothing more, and to express high confidence is an upside-down way of admitting the absence of certain knowledge. This is how officials avoid putting their names on the assertions we are so strongly urged to accept—as the record shows many of them have done.

We come now to a moment of great gravity.

There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.” This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:

There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.

Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.

Once again, those of us outside the echo chamber expressing skepticism were absolutely right to be skeptical. But how will the resistance respond?

I know how partisan bloggers like Don Pogreba have responded to me in the past, and that’s to use mockery and terms like “conspiracy theory” to discredit my opinions and sources. Apparently establishment Democrats have no better response than something I would expect to read from Intelligent Discontent The Montana Post. Here is the DNC response to The Nation’s piece:

Editor’s note: After publication, the Democratic National Committee contacted The Nation with a response, writing, “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration. It’s unfortunate that The Nation has decided to join the conspiracy theorists to push this narrative.”

This is the response of a desperate political party still totally invested in the now discredited narrative that Russia hacked the election.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many investigations have so far produced no substantial evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia to hack the election.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much money and time is being wasted focusing on this cooked-up scandal when so many other dire issues are literally begging our lawmakers for attention.

It doesn’t even matter that tensions with Russia have surged to levels unseen since the height of the Cold War.

Nope, the party of safe spaces and identity politics is too invested in this propaganda campaign to admit defeat now.

As the Democratic Party and its Deep State colluders continue pushing the world closer to another world war, the rest of the world continues seeing America as the biggest threat to world peace, just like they did back in 2013, when Obama was president.

It’s amazing the different perspectives that exist outside the echo chamber of the resistance. If that echo chamber isn’t dismantled and its prisoners liberated, I’m afraid those perspectives will be destroyed along with our ability to live on this planet.

If the resistance can’t admit the narrative they so desperately hoped would be their ticket to depose Trump is nothing more than a contrived intelligence op, then we are in real trouble. Anyone who has perpetuated this false narrative has a responsibility to bring attention to this new evidence.

If they don’t, and knowingly continue pushing this false narrative, then I hope they are seen as the dangerous ideologues they are–hopefully before a nuclear war with Russia or a civil war in the States breaks out.

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Remembering The Murder Under The Reserve Street Bridge The Summer Of 2014

by William Skink

When we bought our tickets to Colorado this Spring my wife and I wondered if an August departure date would be our ticket out of a smoke-filled valley. Well, I think we got our answer.

The last time our family had Summer Colorado plans the circumstances were quite different. We had one less kid, the trip was by minivan (not plane) and instead of leaving behind smoke, I was leaving behind the murder case of a homeless man I had a small role in assisting the authorities with.

That was the summer of 2014, and this year’s trip got me thinking about that summer and what happened to Jack Berry under the Reserve Street bridge.

My role started before Jack’s body was found in the river. I was told by another camper living in the area that his friend Jack had been shot, but at the time I didn’t believe him. He had mental health issues and was prone to inappropriate outburst during conversations, especially when under the influence.

About a week later I knew he wasn’t delusional when I heard a body had been found in the Clark Fork River. I had a weekly appointment to meet a client I was working with who lived in the area, and the day I heard about the body was the day I was supposed to visit him.

I biked toward Reserve early to try and catch him coming back from his daily convenience store stop. I didn’t want to go near the Reserve Street bridge that day. As I was biking I heard my name shouted out. I looked to my right and saw a group of people sitting against the back-end of what is now Jimmy Johns.

The guy who shouted my name was one of the only people I recognized. They knew me from my work at the shelter and asked if I had heard the news. I said I had and that I was worried it was someone I knew. That’s when Jack’s girlfriend spoke up, identifying herself and claiming to know exactly what happened.

With pen and notepad I took down her statement. She told me who was involved and described what they did to his body. He was beaten, then tortured, then shot and dumped in the river. I scribbled notes, trying to keep up as it poured out of her.

Later, after debriefing with my supervisor, I wrote up a report and hand-delivered it to the Sheriff. He told me the description of what was done to Jack matched the initial examination of the body. Hoping it wasn’t true, that confirmation sent shivers down my spine.

My trip to Colorado that summer became an escape. A few days after the initial shock, the same client who shouted me out ran into me at the shelter and warned me that one of Lino’s accomplices was sitting there listening as Jack’s girlfriend told me what happened. Knowing what I know now, I am almost certain it was Jonah Cook.

To put it mildly, I was slightly alarmed to hear that someone who may have participated in the torture and murder of another human being had been sitting within striking distance of me as I squatted scribbling down details of this horrific crime.

That was bad enough, but it got worse.

Before getting to what I know, let me back up and say there is an ongoing question about what happened to one of Lino’s followers, Missoula resident Monte Swanson. Monte fled Missoula with Lino, Lino’s girlfriend and Jonah Cook but has since gone missing. This article is a good account of events leading up to Monte’s disappearance. Here is a portion of that story:

After a month and a 100-officer manhunt involving police dogs, Lino was found in a river bottom near Shreveport, Louisiana, and subsequently extradited to Montana to face a deliberate homicide charge. Marchese was also picked up, but those charges were later dismissed.

While Lino was facing extradition for the murder charge he denied, Swanson and Cook remained in a camp outside Shreveport. The last time the Eldeens spoke with their son, a Shreveport sheriff’s deputy agreed to go out to the camp and give Swanson a phone.

It was early September 2014, and he told them he was fine and they were moving on to Maine.

According to interviews Dominick conducted with Marchese later, Cook told her that Swanson disappeared in Mississippi. He told Marchese that Swanson went to go panhandle and never returned, leaving a puppy unattended in the camp.

Let me fill in some additional context to this excerpt. There was a 100-officer manhunt to find this killer and his accomplices because several opportunities to catch him locally were missed.  I know because one of the calls trying to alert police to Lino’s presence at Kiwanis park came from me.

I left on my road trip knowing Lino and his crew had fled Missoula.  I didn’t know what direction they went, but I was unsettled hitting the road, enough to call my boss for any updates.  She told me they were ticketed in Colorado, just a half hours drive from where I was staying.  Police didn’t know who they had, so they were off again.

When I came across a guy panhandling in a parking lot, I gave him a buck and told him I worked at a shelter in Montana and that a homeless man had been murdered and his killer was on the run.  The guy looked up, nodding his head.  He told me police were all over the camps asking questions.

Lino was eventually caught, brought back and sentenced to prison.  Jonah Cook is a free man.  And Monte Swanson, as far as I can tell, is still missing.

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Does Sue Malek Really Think Montana’s Budget Woes Are Trump’s Fault?

by William Skink

Donald Trump gets to play the role of President for a reason, and I think that reason is to be the fall guy for the coming economic crash.

This line of thinking resonated with me before the election so much that I predicted Trump winning on Halloween. That he actually won can be seen as confirmation.

This notion will never get purchase with the resistance to Trump because they are either too busy looking for Russians under every rock to grasp this crafty set-up, or preparing for the next impotent march for science, or truth, or whatever the current fashion of the moment is.

When the bubbles the Federal Reserve quantitatively eased back into existence burst, Trump and all the ignorant rednecks who voted for him will get the blame.

It’s already starting over at “The Montana Post” with a piece from Sue Malek, titled The Trump Effect–there goes our economy. Let’s take a look at this attempt to view the economic swindle through the partisan lens of a member of the resistance.

I’m not too interested in the opening framing of Trump’s fiscal irresponsibility because he wasn’t president then. What I am interested in is how Malek pulls of tricks like this:

The author of CHICKENSHIT CLUB was recently interviewed on Charlie Rose. He contends that our super-bright and well-educated US Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys are failing to file criminal charges against white collar criminals like those who led the 2008-2009 financial crisis. DOJ is fining banks and corporations but not filing criminal chargers against perpetrators. CEOs whose unethical behavior resulted in hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their jobs, their retirements, their homes, and their health insurance walk free with millions in their pockets.

I’m worried about that policy, but currently I’m more worried that Donald Trump is in charge of our economy. A recent Rockefeller Foundation study notes that 21 states, including Montana, are experiencing a budget shortfall in income taxes. Rich people are not paying the taxes they usually pay. They are delaying taking profits waiting for Trump’s proposed big tax cuts for the wealthy. Economists call it the “Trump Effect.”

Is Sue Malek too chickenshit to acknowledge that until 7 months ago the DOJ was being run by Obama administration appointees? It would appear so, since that awkward fact is not explicitly mentioned. Instead we get a quick pivot to Trump and some simplistic explanation of why Montana, along with 20 other states, are facing budget shortfalls.

Articles like this really piss me off because this duplicitous partisan scapegoating of one political wing actually reinforces the corrupt political duopoly the billionaires and hedge fund managers and extractive industries effectively control.

Sue Malek and the other authors of The Montana Post want to direct righteous anger away from their team’s complicity and toward their political opponents. That’s just politics, right?

I get it, Trump is too much of a visceral threat for the resistance to have the cognitive capacity to also acknowledge the role Democrats played in the bailing out of Wall Street, and the specific role the Clintons had in selling out the Democratic Party.

When I think of the Trump Effect, it’s not some vague theory cooked up by un-named economists about rich people not paying the taxes the usually would. How does that even work? Sue Malek doesn’t really explain this theory, or offer even a link to which economists are making this claim.

It is a handy theory if you want to blame Montana’s fiscal crisis on Trump and omit the pesky fact Governor Bullock signed SB 261 into law without a fight, allowing his political opponents to be long gone from Helena before this delayed legislative time-bomb started going off.

Here is how Logicosity put it in a post titled A Better Way Requires an Iota of Leadership:

Governor Bullock believes Montana has a story to share with the country.

He’s very proud of his four and one-half record as chief executive. He frequently reminds listeners about the number of bills he’s vetoed to hold the line against right-wing extremism and assaults on the state’s enviable fiscal picture.

Maybe he missed one.

According to Dan Villa, the Bullock staffer sent to brief the media on Tuesday about mandatory budget cuts on Tuesday, the Governor doesn’t like a new law that contains revenue thresholds, which if not met, triggers progressive spending reductions. The first installment announced on Tuesday requires state government to ax $74.0 million and lay off 20 or so employees.

The distinct inference of Villa’s comments about the cuts is that the Governor had a better plan than the one spelled out in Senate Bill 261.

So why did he sign the damned thing into law on May 22?

Had he vetoed it, his administration’s concerns would have a hint of credibility – – – he could have claimed the policy high ground, even if lawmakers had overridden it.

Without that act, the complaints ring hollow.

Well said. And it will probably need to be re-said as Bullock tests the political waters for his next job while pretending to be attentive to his current job leading a state in fiscal disarray and literally on fire.

Montana’s budget crisis did not happen because Trump got elected. And when the next economic crash hits, it also will not be the result of Trump’s occupation of the White House.

But that won’t stop the partisans from using Trump as the fall guy for the corporate scams being run on zero-interest liquidity injected into these zombie institutions for nearly a decade.

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Quick Hits, July Edition

by William Skink

Since I don’t have time to write more involved posts about the myriad issues swirling around that concern me, I’ll try to touch on a few of the issues briefly with the hope of writing more down the road.

The first issue I’ll mention is the problem of homeless camps around the Reserve Street bridge. After the fall clean-up last year homeless campers returned in numbers not seen since the first clean-up in 2013. In response, a clean-up is scheduled for August and from one of my contacts on this issue, police are having to more frequently go out there. Driving home today I saw a fire truck and two police cruisers parked along the Reserve Street bridge.

This week Missoula approved another annual tax increase. While Emily and Jon traded barbs, what isn’t being talked about by council members is the role of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in keeping the benefit of development from expanding the value of the tax base. Dan Brooks has a good piece on the TIF scheme as it relates to the Marriott project downtown, but it just barely scratches the surface of TIF shenanigans. I definitely hope to write more on this topic soon.

At the state level, low revenue is going to trigger brutal cuts to DPHHS. How badly this is going to hurt people is not quite clear yet, but it’s going to be bad. Meanwhile, Montana’s Governor and the stupid partisans who support him seem to think it’s a good thing Steve is grooming himself for higher office. This ridiculous piece at Cowgirl made me want to puke. Here’s a taste:

News came last week that Steve Bullock has started a political action group to amplify his voice nationally and perhaps even lay groundwork for a run for president or senate. This welcome news to democrats in Montana and nationally. Bullock is one of the most popular governors in the nation and could also bring red-state progressive chops to the 2020 contest.

Amid this news, it’s hard to imagine how utterly frustrated Republicans must be by now, given that Democrats in Montana seem always to be led by star power, by politicians who get strong mention as presidential timber or otherwise are able capture the country’s imagination (Bullock, Schweitzer, Tester). The GOP, meanwhile, now must settle for Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte. Can you imagine any of these duds trying form a national PAC and get 2020 buzz?

When will the Governor find time to do his actual job while he travels around the country and makes cable news appearances? Montana Democrats sacrificed a lot to ensure Steve won his reelection. Beyond that election, Democrats in Montana got their asses kicked. With the State of Montana on fire and the most vulnerable getting hit with budget cuts, anything that takes the Governor away from his duties to the people of this state is going to be a dangerous distraction.

There is so much more I would like to delve into right now, but I just don’t have the time. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for the contributors at Logicosity, a great blog turning out posts almost daily.

I’ll leave it there for now. Thanks for reading.

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“A Better Deal”

By JC

With a brilliant rebranding effort, it seems that Democrats led by Senator Chuck Schumer think that Trumpism-lite is better than nothing.

“So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

Ahem, I think that those democrats and independents that didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, or Congressional and Legislative democrats knew exactly what they stood for. And either didn’t go to the polls, or voted for someone other than a Democrat.

As long as Democrats just keep trying to rebrand themselves, and ram home the same old – same old BS, with a new marketing campaign, we can be assured that we will not have a “better” deal.

Until Democrats divest themselves of their neocon/liberal interventionist allies, work to reign in their Wall Street, corporate and elite overlords, and commit themselves to economic justice by vastly narrowing the wealth divide, they will remain a party in decline. To do this they will have to rectify themselves on trade, unionism, militarism including policing, the drug war and rampant prison privatization and forced labor, privacy, monopolies, financialization, health care… and on and on. Does anybody really see this happening?

In other words Dems are just setting themselves up for more failure. Or maybe that is really where success rests: in playing the victim, even if self-inflicted, while the country slowly burns. Always somewhere else to place blame rather than on their policies which benefitted others more than the common people of this country. Meanwhile elements of the party are comfortable in gated enclaves partying with the Trumpistas, hob-nobbing with wealth and power, laughing about how “better” than Trump means no meaningful change at all. It’s kinda like jumping from the fire back into the frying pan.

“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

Not with Republicans OR Democrats. If nothing else, 8 years of Bush, then 8 years of Obama have brought us to this place… set up by 8 years of Clinton and 12 years of Reagan/Bush. Just another version of “When past is prologue.” Let’s see what sort of greatness Schumer, et al. have in store for us. I can’t imagine there is any “there” there.

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Ween, Alex Jones and Bon Iver

by William Skink

Summer break and light posting continues. Last night I went to the Ween show at the new Kettle House amphitheater. The venue was great, the sound was great, but the logistics of getting people in and out needs serious attention before someone gets hurt.

The biggest problem is pedestrian traffic leaving the show. Lots of people avoided paid parking by parking along the main drag, which meant lots of foot traffic in close proximity to vehicles when the crowd dispersed. I saw some very drunk people get very close to getting clipped by cars.

Speaking of the inebriated enjoyment of music, I recently ran across a brilliant re-working of Alex Jones’ ranting magically transformed into a Bon Iver-esque song.

I think this wins the internet. Like for the whole month of July. Enjoy!

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Clinton Supporters Seek Revenge Challenge Against Bernie

by William Skink

You can thank James Conner for bringing my attention to these bitter Bernie haters:

Vermont resident Jon Svitavsky announced on July 5 that he is challenging Sen. Bernie Sanders in his upcoming re-election in 2018. In his most recent race for re-election, Sanders won over 71 percent of the vote and the Democratic Party didn’t bother to run a candidate. In the 2016 presidential primaries, Sanders received over 86 percent of the vote in Vermont. Among the small percentage of people who voted for Hillary Clinton in the state was Svitavsky, a homeless shelter director who is beginning to receive support from other disgruntled Clinton supporters across the country.

This is astoundingly self-destructive. The idea that any energy would be put toward defeating Bernie Sanders in 2018 is almost too absurd to believe. Going after the progressive fall-guy you rigged the primary against is beyond bad taste. It’s pathological.

Challenging Bernie in Vermont takes some serious audacity. I wonder who Jon Tester would support in this scenario. Here’s Farmer Jon from just a year ago:

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate for president, Montana Sen. Jon Tester said Friday, announcing his endorsement of the former secretary of state.

“Hillary is the most qualified person on the ballot to unite our nation at a time when dangerous rhetoric threatens to divide us,” Tester said in a statement. “I look forward to working with her to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, keep our country safe, and invest in education and infrastructure so we can move our nation forward.”

Tester thanked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders “for running a strong grassroots campaign,” energizing young voters and addressing important issues but added, “Now it’s time for us to come together to win up and down the ballot this November.”

If Hillary devotees feel compelled to punish Bernie for forcing them to corrupt the primary process in order to put him down, maybe Bernie supporters in Montana should see to it that Jon Tester goes back to the farm.

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