Serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis. © James Conner.


Archives: January — June, 2013


17 June 2013

Why Sandy Welch is already running again — it’s the lands board


Sandy Welch is running for state superintendent of public instruction, which is no surprise. According to the Montanastreetfighter, she filed a C-1 statement of candidacy with Montana’s office of political practices on 19 January 2013. This allows her to begin fundraising, but it is not the same as filing for office; she won’t be able to do that until January, 2016.

I think Welch has at least an even chance of winning. She lost to Denise Juneau last November by just over 2,000 votes. Thanks to Montana’s stupid and irresponsible term limits, Juneau cannot run for re-election, so the office will be open. Welch starts with an advantage in name recognition, and will gain more recognition with her role in the Responsible Republicans’ campaign to pass an initiative restricting dark money. She’ll also gain more experience in campaigning statewide.

…read the rest

Roadside posies west of Kalispell


4 June 2013

The Western Word identifies three Montana GOP problems

Mike Brown once worked for Republican Senator Conrad Burns. Now he works at defending and promoting moderate, fact-based Republican politics. And he isn’t happy with the state of his party in the legislature, which, as MTN’s Marnie Banks reported Sunday on Face the State, is split between teabaggers who seek to drastically reduce the size and scope of government, and traditional Republicans who seek to govern.

This morning, in a must read post on his excellent blog, The Western Word, Brown wrote:

After watching the program a couple times, I came to the conclusion that the Montana GOP has at least three problems. These problems are state Senators Art Wittich, Jason Priest, and Jeff Essmann.

Read the rest of Brown’s post, and watch Bank’s report if you haven’t already. Montana’s GOP is on the verge of becoming as ideologically narrow and rigid as an European or South American fringe political party.


31 May 2013

Will there be a Rainbow attack on the Yaak?

According to Lizard over at 4 and 20 Blackbirds, the Rainbow Family plans on holding one of its notorious gatherings in Montana this summer, possibly in the Yaak. These gathering are not the equivalent of an invasion by the North Korean army, but neither are they wholly benign given the physical impact thousands of aggressively independent campers have on the land. And that, trashing the land, is the issue for me, not whether they’re unholy hippies sucking weed and, sometimes figuratively, giving the Establishment the one-fingered salute. As long as they pick up their trash, don’t wreck the land, and don’t hurt anyone, they’re not altogether unwelcome.


30 May 2013

Could immigration reform kill 1,000 American jobs in Bozeman?

Good question — and Montana Cowgirl just published a long report explaining how immigration reform could make possible pink slips for upwards of a thousand Montanans in Bozeman, who might be replaced by workers from India and other lands where labor is cheap and speaks English (sort of).

How to patronize the people you’re trying to persuade


I have no idea who this woman is, but I do know she’s not making friends when she waves a sign like this. And I don’t think she wanted to make friends. I think she was angry at the world and joined the March Against Monsanto’s honk-n-wave so she could chastise a public with which she’s frustrated and exasperated. I can understand that — we all can — but arrogance is not an effective campaign technique (ask Mitt).

Will Schweitzer announce on July Fourth?

That wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a great time to confirm he’s running for the senate. Not only is Independence Day close to the beginning of the third quarter federal campaign finance reporting period — he could collect contributions for three months before the Republicans would know how much he had raised — it’s a wonderful opportunity for free and cheerful publicity. Traveling by air, he could march in two or three parades, give as many speeches, and dominate the news of a patriotic holiday.


28 May 2013

Obamacare and the curse of gratuitous complexity

Providing affordable health care to all Americans should not be complicated. At birth or naturalization, automatically enroll all citizens in what I will call American Care, a federal single-payer system that covers everyone for everything and requires no copays or premiums. When Americans need medical care, they present a small card with their medical records, and receive treatment and medicine from the physician, hospital, nursing home, or pharmacy of their choice.

…read the rest


26 May 2013

Five hundred Flatheaders March Against Monsanto


Updated. At its peak, the crowd at Kalispell’s March Against Monsanto event numbered 500, reports Mike Jopek, who spoke at the rally and on his website posted a thoughtful essay on the rally and genetically modified food. That remarkable turnout underscores both the skill of its organizers and the popularity and importance of the issue. Update. Other speakers included Judy Owsowitz of Terrapin Farm, and Jeanette Cheney of Kalispell’s Wellness Center (warning: the Wellness Center dabbles in naturopathy, and is not endorsed by Flathead Memo).

I arrived later, after many had packed up their children and picnic baskets and gone home, but in time to photograph a spirited honk-n-wave that featured some outstanding signs. Some of my images of the H&W and the rally are below.

…read the rest


24 May 2013

Let them lick stamps for change

Here’s a question for readers of Flathead Memo. Has any one of you, in the last year, ever received an email from an activist organization that simply sought to inform you — and that did not ask you to send the organization money?

Nonprofits that do good work on issues that are important to me send me many emails — but every last electron of them is just padding around a pitch for money. Sometimes the “Send us money!” sentence is preceded or followed by a survey, an attempt to fool me into believing the sender is interested in my opinion.

…read the rest


22 May 2013

Evening thundercloud over Kalispell


21 May 2013

Medicaid expansion options for Montana’s progressives

The Legislature’s failure to approve Medicaid expansion both threatens affordable health care for as many as 70,000 Montanans, and leaves supporters of Medicaid expansion with four political options, none good:

…read the rest


19 May 2013

Lilacs a-buddin’ & a-bloomin’ in the Rocky Mountain spring


13 May 2013

March against Monsanto on 25 May in Kalispell

Update, 14 May. Don’t try planting your seed corn. The U.S. Supreme Court just handed down a unanimous verdict upholding Monsanto’s position on the patent for its Roundup Ready products. Wired has the story.

Original post. Flathead food safety advocates will hold a March Against Monsanto from 1200–1700 on Saturday, 25 May 2013, in Kalispell’s Depot Park. Like minded activists around the world will be holding similar events in their communities. If the party includes tea, it will be organic.

Monsanto may be best known for genetically modifying soybeans to resist Roundup™, a herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. Roundup Ready seeds are sold tightly wrapped in legal paper:

…read the rest


11 May 2013

Plum blossom time


10 May 2013

That white nationalist guy in Whitefish

Whitefish received some unwelcome publicity last night when Rachel Maddow revealed that the town is home to the National Policy Institute, oxymoronically described by the Wikipedia as a “white nationalist think tank.” Maddow linked the NPI, and its leader, Richard B. Spencer, who migrated to Whitefish from Augusta, Georgia, to Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation, a leading anti-immigration reform organization.

…read the rest

Was FVCC’s trustee election conducted illegally?

Not according to my reading of the statutes governing community college elections — but someone using the online handle of “Mike” disagrees. Here’s what he posted on FVCC’s website yesterday:

…read the rest

In school elections, producing the highest possible turnout
should govern the choice of balloting methods

Should the FVCC election have been conducted by mail ballot? For me, the answer is Yes, and not just Yes, but Yes fortissimo — and I dislike and usually oppose elections by mail ballot (see Mail Ballot Folly). Turnout does not increase in general elections conducted by mail, but it does in common low turnout elections (school and municipal, primarily) conducted by mail, and the boost can be dramatic.

…read the rest


8 May 2013

Why Brian Schweitzer can win — and other Democrats cannot

In a nutshell, Schweitzer’s folksy, gunpowder dusted rhetoric and “Aw, shucks, come meet Jag” style provide cultural reassurance to Bubba and Betty Lou, convincing them that he’ll protect their right to own firearms and pickup trucks, to whoop it up at their favorite saloon on Saturday night, and to beg forgiveness in their favorite church on Sunday morning.

…read the rest

Shamefully low turnout for FVCC trustee election


Update. After posting the article below, I learned that not all voters in Flathead County were eligible to vote in this election. So when, if, that information is made available, I’ll update my estimates on turnout percentages (which still will be be appallingly low). Why FVCC’s election administrators, who do know of my post on the election, do such a poor job of making information available is beyond my ken. But I do know the cure: have the county elections department run all government associated elections in Flathead County. They’re the experts, and it’s foolish not to use their expertise fully.

Original post

All residents of Flathead County should be ashamed of the appalling low turnout in yesterday’s election for the board of trustees at Flathead Valley Community College. We have 61,122 registered voters, but just 6,088 votes were cast — and because each voter could cast two votes, the number of ballots cast was undoubtedly closer to 3,044 (some voters, seeking maximum advantage for a candidate, may have cast only one vote), which means the turnout was less than 10 percent and possibly lower than five percent. (We don’t know how many ballots were cast because FVCC didn’t bother publishing that information.)

…read the rest


7 May 2013

If Schweitzer runs for the Senate, he’ll need a good primary opponent


If Brian Schweitzer runs for the U.S. Senate, I expect Denise Juneau and Monica Lindeen to support him and not seek the Democratic nomination for the office. Still, Schweitzer will need a primary opponent for practical considerations, fundraising especially, and as a sparring partner to help him shake off the ring rust.

Democrats will want a safe primary opponent for Schweitzer, a party loyalist who’s virtually unknown, and will not suffer from over-exertion during the campaign. Someone like Heather Margolis, who dutifully played the Bum of the Month Club palooka for Steve Bullock in 2012.

…read the rest


3 May 2013

Meals on Wheels defenders need to muster good data

Unless Flathead County Commissioner Gary Krueger abandons his notion that the county’s Meals on Wheels program should be privatized, there’s going to be a fight over the issue and those who favor keeping Meals on Wheels in the county’s Agency on Aging will need to muster all the facts and figures they can.

That, as I’m finding out, won’t be easy.

…continue reading

In 2016, Hillary Clinton will be 69 years old


2 May 2013

Identity politics rears another ugly head

Today, Emily’s List, the identity politics outfit that exists to find and elect women to office, announced its Madam President project, which strikes me as mostly a front for trying to put Hillary Clinton in the White House 2016.

And for good measure, the president of Emily’s List, Stephanie Schriock, born in Butte but gone some time from Montana, admitted to Roll Call that she’s considering running, presumably as a Democrat, for the senate seat from which Max Baucus is retiring in 2014.

I’m wondering whether there will be, and should be, a George’s List — an XY or XYY instead of a double-X — organization dedicated to finding and electing good men to office. A lot of men might find a George’s List a soul satisfying option given the Democratic Party’s self-destructive predilection for identity politics and the discriminations associated therewith.

Commissioners keep AOA director — and keep her in the barn


Flathead Agency on Aging director Lisa Sheppard gets to keep her job — and to keep doing it in an old auction barn, although money is available to build a larger, better facility. For keeping her job, she can thank County Commissioners Cal Scott and Pam Holmquist. For keeping her in the barn, she can thank commissioners Holmquist and Gary Krueger (left). And for having a bullseye pinned on her back for the next six years, she can thank Krueger.

…read the rest


1 May 2013

Anti-Israel activist Alison Weir visits the Flathead

On Tuesday, 30 April, Bill Clinton and Nobel laureate Eli Wiesel spoke at the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Holocaust Museum. It was not their first appearance together at the museum, for they both delivered remarks there when the museum opened. Said Clinton:

This museum is not for the dead alone, nor even for the survivors who have been so beautifully represented. It is perhaps most of all for those of us who were not there at all, to learn the lessons, to deepen our memories and our humanity, and to transmit these lessons from generation to generation.

A few hours later, 1,950 miles northwest by west of Washington, D.C., Flathead residents interested in Middle Eastern issues gathered in the basement of the Colter Coffee House in Kalispell, Montana, to hear anti-Israel activist Alison Weir explain what she thinks Americans need to know about Israel and the Palestinians. Weir is the executive director of If Americans Knew, and president of the Council for the National Interest. Both groups are among the most notorious anti-Israel organizations in the U.S. The Anti-Defamation League’s dossier (PDF) on Weir begins:

…read the rest


29 April 2013

Anti-Israel activist in Kalispell tonight

Allison Weir, a journalist turned critic of Israel, will appear with sidekick Will Boland at the Colter Coffee House in Kalispell this evening from 1800–2000. It’s the fifth of seven stops on her tour of Montana. By all means attend if you have nothing better to do, but unless you’re a diehard fan of Hamas, and of Palestinians’ shooting rockets into Israel, my guess is that when the program concludes, you’ll want to jump in a vat of sheep disinfectant.


24 April 2013

Baucus will be remembered for preserving the North Fork


Autumn on the North Fork near Camus Creek. I believe that Sen. Baucus' most enduring legacy will be his efforts to keep gigantic coal mines from being dug in the Canadian Flathead Valley. The coal would have been shipped to East Asia, the profits would have stayed in Canada, and the polluted water would have flowed downstream into Montana. That was the Good Max at work.

The Postal Service reasserts its old arrogance and officiousness

After receiving a few threats 20 years ago, I rented a post office box to put some distance between my house and my mail. I completed a short form, a card if I remember correctly, paid my rent, and received my key. That, of course, was before Osama Bin Laden scared the bejesus out of Americans, including the leaders of the U.S. Postal Service, and freedom was all too willingly subordinated to assinine levels of security (traveled by air lately?).

…read the rest


23 April 2013

Emily’s List president may run to succeed Baucus


Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock is from Butte. She isn’t shy — and it sure looks like she’s running to replace Max Baucus in the U.S. Senate.

No sooner had Baucus announced he would retire at the end of his current term than MontanaStreetFighter published a puff piece on Schriock, who worked on Sen. Jon Tester’s 2006 campaign.

The feministas in Montana’s Democratic Party may welcome Schriock’s candidacy, at least those feministas not supporting Denise Juneau, Dorothy Bradley, or another women. That’s no surprise. But, it is risky.

…continue reading

Baucus decides to retire — avoids possible last hurrah

Seventy-one-year-old Sen. Max Baucus announced today that he will retire from the senate instead of seeking a seventh term next year. His official retirement statement didn’t really give a reason for his decision, but he faced a potentially rough road to re-election thanks to his growing unpopularity with Democrats and low approval ratings in Montana. In addition, my sources report his wife was all but demanding that he retire.

…read the rest


19 April 2013

Boston lockdown probably delayed Tsarnaev’s capture half a day

Updated. Frightened people eagerly exchange freedom for security, even false security. That’s the only explanation for the willingness of at least a million people in the Boston area to lock themselves in their homes because a wounded 19-year-old fugitive was on the loose in the suburbs west of the city. In effect, the fugitive was free while honest, law abiding, citizens were under house arrest until the lockdown was lifted as evening began.

…read the rest


17 April 2013

Meet the Montana Senate’s dozen anti-science Democrats

Update, 1637 MDT. I've just received word that HB-574 failed to receive a two-thirds vote on the third reading in the Senate. Table 2 (new) presents the eight Democrats who persisted in voting Aye (against science) on the third reading.

Twelve Democrats who should know better voted for the latest version of HB-574, Missoula Republican Champ Edmunds raw milk legalization bill, which was approved 39-10 yesterday on its second reading in the State Senate. The third reading is today.

…read the rest

American Tradition Partnership finally exposed to sunlight

Remember ATP, the far right, big spending, outfit with the tradition of keeping its donors and just about everything else secret? Well, the facts are finally seeing the light of day, and the view is both fascinating and repellent. Montana Cowgirl has the lowdown on these — is it fair to call them lowdowns? And her site has a good discussion going, too. Pay Cowgirl a visit. You’ll find it fun and enlightening.

…go to Cowgirl


15 April 2013

New Copper Kings advertisement targets ALEC

A full-page advertisement, The New Copper Kings, by the Flathead Democratic Women’s Club in last week’s Flathead Beacon (page 33) called attention to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a shadowy and secretive group formed in 1973 to support pro-business legislation at the state level. ALEC writes model bills that state legislators introduce as their own, and provides technical support.

…read the rest


11 April 2013

Five Flathead legislators vote to repeal deviant sex statute

Recommended reading

At Left in the West you’ll want to read Carla Augustad’s posts; at Intelligent Discontent, Don Pogreba’s post of videos from the House’s debate; and Montana Cowgirl’s many posts on the issue.

When a supreme court rules that a law is unconstitutional, that law becomes unenforceable but remains on the books until repealed. Usually, repeal, however grudging, occurs reasonably quickly. But not always. Legislatures sometimes leave the struck down law on the books as a statement that they think the court was wrong.

That’s what Montana’s legislature did for eighteen years after Montana’s supreme court unanimously ruled that a law criminalizing deviant (gay) sex was unconstitutional. The law could not be enforced, but it remained a part of the Montana Code because Republican legislators, without whose votes repeal was impossible, thought the law was a good idea, both for its content and for how effectively it pandered to the religious right. And that was long the official GOP position on the issue:

…read the rest


2 April 2013

Expanded Medicaid legislation now moving at breakneck speed

It’s been a frustrating blogging day here at Flathead Memo. Early this morning, I learned that my update on the big Medicaid bills was out of date because actions that occurred as early as 27 March were not posted on the LAWS system until this morning. There’s no good reason for that to have happened. Get the work done, then take a holiday.

It quickly became clear that events on the Medicaid front were moving so quickly today that keeping up with them from Kalispell is impossible. I updated my summaries at 1630 this afternoon and closed my files. At some point I’ll do a wrap-up, but for the present I really have little choice but to join my readers in getting the story from the paid news media, in particular the Lee chain’s state bureau and the Associated Press, which do a pretty good job.

I’m also watching the raw milk bill (HB-574), which has been referred to the senate’s agriculture committee, and the referendum on whether to have a top two primary bill (SB-408) which was heard today by the senate’s public health, welfare, and safety committee. I suspect the raw milk bill is being held up while amendments to neuter it are drafted. My advice: forget the amendments. Raw milk should not be sold in Montana. Just kill the bill.

Who will pay for treating the Expanded Medicaid eligible
in Montana — Uncle Sam or Montana’s hospitals?

Here’s what happens if the legislature refuses to accept Medicaid expansion in Montana:

  1. As many as 70,000 Montanans with incomes in the 100–138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level band are left in the cold; or to be more precise, left in the emergency room.

  2. Montana forgoes almost $6 billion in federal dollars. Expanded Medicaid is 100 percent federally funded for the first three years, 90 percent federally funded thereafter.

  3. Montana’s hospitals, which cannot turn away patients with life threatening ailments (heart attacks, automobile accidents, for example) are stuck with the bill for treating the Expanded Medicaid eligible. And hospital bills for the ill who are not protected by an insurance plan with locked-in fees will rise as hospitals attempt to recover costs.

…read the rest

2 April & 29 March 2013

Status of Medicaid expansion legislation in Montana

Two updates (so far) on 2 April 2013. Here’s a summary report on Medicaid expansion legislation as the legislature’s Easter break begins (legislative calendar, PDF). Action resumes when the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday, 2 April.

…read the rest


28 March 2013

The top two primary is back — this time as a proposed referendum

Senator Alan Olson (R-Roundup) has introduced SB-408, a 64-page bill that, boiled down to its essence, replaces Montana’s current partisan primary system (Presidential primaries excepted) with a top two primary similar to those found in California and Washington.

…read the rest at MT Jungle Primary


26 March 2013

Montana House sours on food safety, approves raw milk bill

Both the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control agree: drinking raw milk is dangerous. “Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization,” the CDC reports:

raw milk was a common source of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other foodborne illnesses.

Montana’s House of Representatives disagrees, or perhaps just doesn’t give a damn.

…read the rest


25 March 2013

Expanding Medicaid in Montana is possible only if Republican legislators agree

Updated to repair numerous broken links.Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor that now covers one in every ten Montanans, can be expanded to cover another 70,000 Montanans (Governor Bullock’s numbers), bringing $6 billion and 12,700 new jobs to Montana over the next eight years.

But that will happen only if Republicans in the legislature (at least 12 in the House, 5 in the Senate) agree, a very iffy prospect at best. I think the most likely outcome is something resembling the Arkansas plan for using Medicaid money to buy private health insurance policies for those eligible for expanded Medicaid (people whose income is 100–138 percent of the federal poverty level).

…read the rest

Comet Pan-Starrs


Comet Pan-Starrs, west of Kalispell at approximately 2145 last night. Photographed with an APS-C DSLR equipped with a 105mm lens at f/2.8. Exposure, six seconds at ISO 400. Pan-Starrs is no longer a naked eye object, but it’s still visible in binoculars and telescopes, and of course can be photographed with ease as long as you point your lens northwest. I recommend starting with a normal lens to acquire the comet and establish its position, then switching to longer optics.


20 March 2013

We don’t need pro-Medicaid expansion dark money websites

Update. A source that I consider reliable advised me this evening that the Montana Hospital Association is behind Why the MHA — not a liberal organization — thinks it’s necessary to hide its involvement in the website is beyond my ken.

I’m weary of dark money, whether spent by liberals or wingnuts on the right, and of websites of unknown parentage that attempt to influence public policy.

That’s why I’m calling attention to, which appears to support medicaid expansion in Montana. I’m all for expanding Medicaid in Montana (and even more for a zero dollar, everyone covered for everything federal single-payer health care system) — but I’m also all against people, like the people behind www.modernizemontanamedicaid, who lack the courage and decency to stand up in the public square at high noon and say, “Here’s who I am, and here’s why I support expanding Medicaid in Montana.”

…read the rest

Clean-up time for the Columbia Falls aluminum plant

Over at the Flathead Beacon, Myers Reece has an outstanding story, Glencore has been playing us, on how Glencore AG , the current owner of the shuttered since 2009 Columbia Falls aluminum plant, has been stringing Montana’s public officials along with one unreliable assurance after another that the plant will reopen if cheap electricity can be found.

But finding cheap electricity never was enough to reopen the plant. It’s finally become obvious to everyone that Glencore AG ‘s “help us find cheap electricity” pitch was designed to stave off the day when Glencore AG , which has no compunctions against dealing with the Devil, or employing the Devil’s ways, would be responsible for cleaning up a Superfund site.

…read the rest


2 March 2013

The corner of GOP Way & Sequester Street in Kalispell


1 March 2013

How does Jordan Johnson get his life back?

Twelve jurors — seven women and five men — decided today that former University of Montana football player Jordan Johnson was not guilty of “sexual intercourse without consent,” or to use the vernacular, rape. They needed just two and one-half hours to reach their verdict, an indication that the prosecution’s case was riddled with reasonable doubt.

Now — how does Jordan Johnson get his life back?

…read the rest


22 February 2013

Steve Lavin’s voting rights act for non-resident property owners


Update. As I expected, tabled in committee. If Rep. Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell) gets his way, owners of property in, say, Troy, but who live in, say, Ekalaka, will be able to vote and run for office in municipal elections in Montana even though they are not residents of the municipalities in which they’re voting.

Even more startling, Lavin’s bill, HB-486, can be construed as giving the out-of-state corporate owners of property in a Montana municipality a vote in that municipality’s elections. Walmart’s bigwigs in Arkansas might be able to vote in Kalispell’s city council election by mail ballot:

…read the rest


21 February 2013

Montana Jungle Primary website now online

A website — Montana Jungle Primary — dedicated to HB-436 and other attempts to inflict a top two primary on Montana is now online and offers, among other things, an independent report on the 19 February hearing on HB-436.

Flathead Memo will continue to cover the issue as will other Montana blogs such as Montana Cowgirl and Montana Street Fighter. The national website Ballot Access News is also reporting on the situation.



11 February 2013

Challenge to California’s top two law goes to Ninth Circuit Court

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case, Chamness v. Bowen, on 13 February 2013. District court decision. According to the plantiff’s attorney, Gautam Dutta at (where you can download the briefs), there are two main claims (paragraphs 3 & 4 below):

…read the rest


10 February 2013

Reichner’s HB-436 — Montana’s jungle primary

Scott Reichner’s top two primary bill was introduced yesterday, given the bill number HB-436, and assigned to the state administration committee. The legal note (PDF) indicates that:

Section 25 of LC0611 regarding ballot arrangement may raise potential constitutional conformity issues with the right to freedom of association under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

…read the rest


8 February 2013

Reichner’s radical top two primary scheme undermines democracy


Updated to clarify top two restrictions. State Representative Scott Reichner (R-Bigfork, HD-9) is on the verge of introducing a Top Two primary bill that would radically change how we choose candidates in Montana, strongly tilting the playing field toward the Republican Party. Montana Street Fighter reported Reichner’s intentions on 24 January, in the context of a potential Reichner bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus in 2014, but the latest draft of the legislation is much more than an attempt to keep the Libertarians (whom Republicans believe steal Republican votes) off the general election ballot.

…read the rest


26 January 2013

If convicted, would you rather be whipped than jailed?

Rep. Jerry O’Neil evidently wants you to have that choice. He’s asked for LC1452, which has the short title of “Allow defendant to bargain for corporal punishment.” I hope he fails to whip up much support for bringing back the cat-o-nine-tails and other implements of sadism.


9 January 2013

Fire health care workers who won’t get flu shots

Three cheers for Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital. It fired eight employees, including at least three nurses, for refusing mandatory flu shots. That’s the only responsible response to fools who refuse the shots, and every hospital, clinic, doctor’s office, pharmacy, nursing home, and health care provider, should employ it. Even in Montana; even in the Flathead.

…read the rest


7 January 2013

Sharp park fee increases could imperil Whitefish’s farmers’ market

Vendors at Whitefish’s summer farmers’ market are in a mood to bring their pitchforks to the city council’s meeting tonight. The source of their ire? A proposed fourfold increase in the fees they pay to use Depot Park once a week. The council is taking public comment on the proposal tonight (council packet page).

An attempt to protect the city’s parks underlies the proposed fee increases, reports the Daily InterLake’s Lynnette Hintze, but the merits of the plan have not lessened the sticker shock for the farmers:

…read the rest


2 January 2013

Steve Daines and the debt limit


Steve Daines may be an upgrade over Denny Rehberg, who concluded his congressional career by voting against the fiscal cliff deal. We’ll see. Daines brings considerable business experience, which is useful, but often less useful than those with it think, and a degree in chemical engineering, which should help him understand science and technology issues.

But he also brings a history of economic and political radicalism that suggests he will ally himself with the House Republicans who will try to extort spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling two months from now:

…read the rest