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

Flathead Memo Archives, 1–15 March 2016


15 March 2016

The federal government wants you to feel your pain

The Centers for Disease Control just issued new guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers. First try ibuprofen. Then if you’re still screaming in agony, take a urine test to prove you’re not an addict, give your physician time to run your name past your state’s pill police — and maybe, just maybe, you’ll obtain a three-day prescription for a low dose of an opioid painkiller.

The guidelines recommend what many addiction experts have long called for — that doctors first try ibuprofen and aspirin to treat pain, and that opioid treatment for short-term pain last for three days, and rarely longer than seven. That is far less than current practice, in which patients are often given two weeks or a month worth of pills.

The guidelines are meant for primary care doctors, who prescribe about half of all opioids but often have little training in how to use them. They call for patients to be urine tested before getting prescriptions and for doctors to check prescription drug tracking systems to make sure patients are not secretly getting medicine somewhere else.

Will this draconian, guilty until proven innocent, approach reduce the number of people who die from overdoses of prescription painkillers? Perhaps. But I have my doubts. And why should good people suffer pain that can be treated just to keep bad people from dying from their own recklessness?

Anti-drug addiction zealotry is behind the new guidelines. The zealots mean well, but their cure for what obsesses them is mean, mean as hell. And they’re not the only members of the opioids are bad fraternity. Their partners are the religious zealots who believe that suffering builds character. There are, wrote Mark Kleiman:

…two different approaches to dealing with suffering: the religious view that accepts it as the Divine will and invites sufferers to turn their misery to spiritual benefit and the scientific/technological view that asks how knowledge can be harnessed to the task of reducing the volume of suffering in the world.

For the religious zealots, gritting one’s teeth and coming to a spiritual accommodation with one’s pain gets one right with God for eternity, while popping an oxycodone and getting right quick but time limited relief from excruciating pain pampers the flesh but neglects the soul.

If these guidelines hold, there will be unintended consequence. Sales of ibuprofen will increase, as will overdoses of ibuprofen. More people will treat their pain with hard liquor. Suicides by pistol will increase as the opportunities for suicide by opium and ethanol decrease. Perhaps more holy books will be sold and thumped.

Will there be a net increase in happiness? I doubt it. Will there be a net increase in suffering that opioid painkillers could relieve? You can damn well bet the ranch on it.



14 March 2016

Filing for office closes, Desperately Seeking a Majority, bottled H2O

Filing for elected office closes at 1700 MDT today, a few minutes from now (Flathead Memo is getting a late start today). As usual, there's been a glut of final days filings, including one by Larry Jent for the Democratic primary for attorney general. Tomorrow, I'll post a preliminary assessment of the Flathead's legislative contests.

Logicosity is running a fascinating three-part series, Desperately Seeking a Majority, on how Montana’s Democrats recruit and assist legislative candidates. It's a must read for students of the art.

That water bottling plant proposed near Eagan Slough is becoming a hot issue, raising important and highly technical questions on how a water rights application is evaluated. It’s also ignited a debate on the propriety of bottled water. I’ll try to present information later this week on how much water is available.

I seldom use bottled water, but I do not consider it a pure evil. On day trips, I usually carry a stainless steel vacuum flask filled with iced tap water. On day hikes, I carry tap water, which starts out iced, in reusable polyethylene bottles. Sometimes when I’m traveling I carry bottled water in an ice chest. But I don’t use the stuff on a daily basis.

Critics of bottled water usually cite three objections:

  1. Not enough bottles are recycled. Billions of the containers end up in landfills and worse, the ocean. And the bottle caps are said not to be recyclable.

  2. Bottled water is not as tightly regulated as tap water. But weak regulation does not necessarily result in an unsafe product. Bottlers and their associations have voluntarily adopted best practices, as producing a contaminated product is not in their economic self-interest.

  3. Bottled water is sold at an outrageously high price compared to tap water. Bottlers may quibble with the word “outrageously,” but they’ll admit a pint of superpure spring water in plastic costs a lot more than a pint of tap water.

These are valid concerns. More recycling is needed. Bottled water needs to be more tightly regulated. And the mark-up probably makes loan sharks drool with envy.

Still, I imagine the residents of Flint, MI, are grateful they have access to bottled water instead of being condemned to drink the lead tainted water from their taps.



13 March 2016

Seven Sunday shorts

Can voting by mail violate the Voting Rights Act? Yes, say lawyers representing the Navaho Nation Human Rights Commission. They’ve filed a lawsuit to stop the practice in Utah. At In These Times, Stephanie Woodard has the story, and it’s a fascinating read.

Think twice before signing that online petition against the Creston water bottling project. It makes dubious claims and uses incendiary language:

Montanan Artisan Water Co. wants to destroy this area by starting a water bottling plant on Eagan Slough.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Weavers of Montana Artisan Water Co. want to rob 231.5 million gallons of water per year from this area.

“Rob” is hyperbole in this context, but if taken literally, it’s just not true. This is not a rogue project. Weaver is jumping through all the legal hoops. Making overheated claims about the project does not help. Neither does this video that I found on the petition’s page.

From Missoula, an in-the-trenches look at homelessness. That’s the title of Travis Mateer’s must-read article at The Last Best News. Take an extra Prozac before you start reading. Take a walk in bright sunshine after you finish. Then thank Mateer for his efforts to help the homeless, and for writing about his experiences. He’s stepping from direct involvement, at least for the present, but the problem of homelessness is always with us.

If the Republicans nominate Trump, most of the GOP establishment will support him. It’s in their economic self-interest, argues David Atkins at The Washington Monthly. I agree. A few Republicans will defect to the Democratic candidate, and a few more will neither write checks to nor vote for Trump, but most will hold their noses and support him.

Is Donald Trump the reincarnation of George Wallace or Benito Mussolini? At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall argues that Trump most resembles Wallace. At Salon, Fedja Buric argues that Mussolini is the best model for Trump. At the NY Times, Neil Irwin and Josh Katz report that Trump’s voters come from the regions where Wallace did well in 1968.

As a college student, I saw Wallace in action in 1968. Irwin’s and Katz’s finding doesn’t surprise me. Wallace denounced “pointy-headed” bureaucrats with briefcases, but I don’t recall that he explicitly blessed beating-up protesters. Trump does just that. Marco Rubio says Trump is behaving like a third world strongman. That’s close, but he’s also behaving like El Duce.

Salon’s website, incidentally, is one of the biggest CPU hogs on the internet. Be warned.

Leftists trying to keep Trump from speaking at his rallies are making a mistake. “On the activist left,” the Washington Post reported, “the shutdown of Trump’s Chicago rally was not a threat to free speech but an exercise of it, aimed specifically at rejecting hate speech.” Those who try to suppress what they consider hate speech do not have confidence that their own arguments have the power to refute Trump’s arguments. It’s a deeply paternalistic and authoritarian attitude. Zealots on the left can be just as authoritarian as zealots on the right.

An argument against Daylight Saving Time to which I can relate. I’m not an early morning person, unless I stay up all night. I like DST’s extra hour of light in the evening. Some do not, and while I don’t agree with them, I respect their opinion. But there’s one aspect of springing ahead and falling back that I detest: resetting my clocks, watches, and cameras. This year I must reset 12 of 13 devices. The exception is a 120-volt-AC LED clock that I left on DST. I might just leave everything on DST and mentally subtract an hour during the four and one-half months we’re condemned to MST.



12 March 2016

Bullock gets primary challenge, Billings Gazette gets called out for BS

Bullock gets primary challenge, heaves huge sigh of relief. You’ll find the story at Logicosity. Montana has a stupid campaign finance law that needs to be repealed.

Intelligent Discontent excoriates Lee newspapers for their story on Gov. Bullock's airplane. Rep. Brad Tschida (R-Missoula) is a single issue candidate. He thinks Bullock commits waste, fraud, and abuse whenever he files on Montana's airplane. Here's some of what I wrote when Tschida raised the subject last year:

For people who believe the governor’s time is valuable, and who believe that travel by air is safer than travel by automobile, the governor’s traveling by King Air is a virtue and a no-brainer.

But for freshman Rep. Brad Tschida (R-Missoula), the governor’s airplane is a $ 1,650 per hour boondoggle. He believes it would be cheaper if the governor traveled by commercial airliner or chartered aircraft, and to places such as Butte, by a state motor pool automobile. Therefore, he convinced the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government to strip from the state’s budget $662,000 for operating the governor’s aircraft.

It’s not a new idea. As Charles Johnson reported yesterday, Democrats tried, then abandoned, a similar ploy when Stan Stephens was governor.

It was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now. Tschida and his fellow Republicans may claim they’re trying to impose fiscal discipline on the governor’s office, but they who believe that will believe anything. This is high school level political gotcha and playground bully political harassment. Voters hate it.

Tschida reprised his malarky this week, aided and abetted by a flack for Montana’s Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Billings Gazette treated this as a straight story instead of as the political hit job it is. At Intelligent Discontent, Don Pogreba called out the Gazette this week, using pungent but accurate language.

Tschida filed for re-election in House District 97. Two Democrats have filed for the Democratic nomination in HD-97. Either one would make a fine replacement for the man who wants to ground governors and condemn them to risking their necks on roads driven by the nation’s worst drivers.


11 March 2016

Legislative filings update, raw milk sickens legislators, bottled H2O

Local legislative updates. Lisa Morrow switched from the House District 8 to the House District 6 Democratic primary. C Paige Rappleye filed for the HD-8 Democratic primary. HD-6 (map) is safe from a Democratic victory.

I haven’t found much about Jack Kearns, who filed for the Republican primary in House District 5. He shares a famous name, however. Jack “Doc” Kearns was heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey’s manager.

…read the rest

Commissioners’ foreign policy should be based on fact, not fear

Insofar as I know, there are no serious proposals to resettle any Syrian refugees in Flathead County. Nevertheless, yesterday, after hearing 15 minutes of anti-refugee/anti-immigrant public comment, the Flathead County Commission approved sending to the federal government a letter opposing the resettlement of refugees here:

…read the rest

Post Republican debate music — All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down

For Republicans it was an amazingly civil debate. No schoolyard taunts, no “Be quiet, Little Marco” shushes from Big Trump. The craziness was in policy — attacking Social Security is not the best way to win votes in Florida — not style. Jake Tapper and his colleagues deserve a lot of credit for that. Unlike Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, they tried to incite a serious discussion of the issues instead of starting a ratings boosting bar fight.

Still, I shuddered after it was over. Men whose positions on the issues make John Kasich seem moderate make me wonder whether I fell into a time warp and emerged into 1930s Europe. But rather than selecting music from that time and place for this morning’s video, I remembered this double caffeinated performance in Austin, Texas, by The Mavericks. It’s an audio antidote to what happened in Miami last night.



10 March 2016

Democrats push to recruit candidates for unwinnable districts

In both major political parties, but probably much more so in Montana Democratic Party, there’s a last minute push on to persuade loyal party members to file for legislative districts their party hasn’t a snowcone’s chance in Satan’s fireplace of carrying. It’s partly a matter of pride, partly a belief that voters in every district should have options on the ballot, and partly a determination to obviate sanctimonious editorials tsk-tsking the party’s inability to recruit candidates.

Meanwhile, if Montana’s Democrats have a push on to run someone for attorney general, it’s well hidden.

I like having choices in all districts, but I don’t like how candidates who can’t win are cajoled and pressured by their parties to spend time and money in a hopeless cause. Occupying a place on the ballot in an unwinnable contest is honorable in and of itself, an exercise in political self-sacrifice. Those who do it should not be shamed by their party's cutthroats for spending their weekends fishing for trout instead of voters they can’t hook.



9 March 2016

Note to readers on this evening’s Clinton-Sanders debate

You may be spared some snark this evening. Personal exigencies prevent my watching, let along Tweeting, Hillary and Bernie debate in Miami. If Hillary was rattled by Bernie’s victory in Michigan, she might revert to the vengeful, disdainful, deeply unpleasant, Hillary that she sometimes, with varying degrees of success, tries to suppress. I wonder how many questions they’ll get about Cuba and Castro.

Legislative filings, shooting LaVoy Finicum in the back

Latest local legislative filings. Lisa Morrow filed for the Democratic primary in House District 8 (map), which currently is represented by Republican Steve Lavin. He’s filed for a fourth term. Morrow is an active supporter of Bernie Sanders. HD-8 is a suburban district that leans heavily Republican.

I usually wait a few days after filings close to allow the secretary of state to correct any errors in the online filings report. Candidates must also file forms with the commissioner of political practices. All of this information should be online in one place, of course, but Montana’s elected decision makers and entrenched bureaucrats prefer semi-chaos and horse and buggyish system.

Another modified limited hangout on the killing of LaVoy Finicum. The Deschutes County, Oregon, sheriff who conducted the investigation released a new video of the event, said the shooting was justified, Finicum was shot in the back, and reported that members of the FBI’s hostage rescue squad are under criminal investigation for lying to the people investigating the Finicum shooting. Whether the sheriff released the full written report of the investigation is not clear.

In any event, I want to study the report before forming hard conclusions. Finicum didn’t help himself by trying to flee from the police and FBI, but the law enforcers were not in hot pursuit of someone who had just committed a violent crime. When the state police shot Finicum — and shot him in the back — they created a martyr; not a smart move. The incident reminds one why Black Lives Matter exists. And the FBI’s alleged lying — if that’s confirmed by the investigation, the liars and their supervisors should be fired, and so should FBI Director James Comey. There needs to be accountability.

Credit John Erlichman with the phrase “modified limited hangout.”


A depressing day at the primary polls

Hillary Clinton’s apologists are having the devil of a time explaining away Bernie Sanders’ win in Michigan, a state a Democrat can carry in November. One argument is that she won among Democrats, but lost because independents invaded the Democratic primary to vote for Sanders. Another is that because the polls reported she was leading by 20 points, many of her supporters voted in the Republican primary to help Trump, whom Clintonites prefer as her opponent in November. I think he won because his positions on free trade agreements are identical to those of the United Autoworkers union.

Did the polls get it wrong? Yes, and some much more wrong than others. Some polls used automated voice response equipment, sampling only registered voters with landlines. Those tend to be older voters, who favor Clinton.

Clinton actually won more delegates yesterday because of her landslide victory in Mississippi, a former Confederate state no Democrat will carry in November. Prevailing in such states wins delegates in primaries, but not electoral votes in November.

Bombastic megalomaniac Donald Trump won three of four primaries yesterday, barreling through Mitt Romney’s roadblocks like locomotive knocking aside balsa sawhorses. His supporters vote with their middle fingers, not their heads.



8 March 2016

Late Tuesday briefs

I spent the day on foot prowling around northwest Kalispell, taking photographs, especially of the construction activity on the bypass route. Below, an excavator loads trucks.


More filings for Flathead legislative districts:

Republican Jack Kearns of Whitefish filed for House District 5 today. He’ll face teenager Chet Billi in the GOP primary. Thus far, only David Fern has filed for the Democratic primary. HD-5 leans Democratic.

George Dickenson of Bigfork filed for the Democratic primary in House District 10. Incumbent Mark Noland (R-Bigfork) faces Laura Hartland of Bigfork in the GOP primary. Hartlands email handle is “Ateen4christ,” so it’s possible there’ll be a holy war in Bigfork’s elephant land. To say the district leans Republican is to say a tree lying on the ground is leaning.

Democrat Rolf Harmsen of Polson filed for Senate District 6, which extends north to south Kalispell. Incumbent Sen. Janna Taylor (R-Dayton) is retiring. Rep. Albert Olszewski, MD, currently representing House District 11, has filed for the GOP primary in SD-6. Former Sen. Carmine Mowbray expressed an interest in running again, filing a C-1 late last year, but so far she hasn’t filed for the office, and I’m beginning to suspect she might not. This district is so red that a fluorescent fire engine pales by comparison.


Old pros keeping it together: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

The lyrics of this performance of the old gospel hymn by Rodney Crowell and his seasoned country singers generally are faithful to the Carter Family’s version, which dates from around 1935. But the verse sung by Emmylsou Harris is in neither the Carter Family’s nor the original 1907 Ada Habershon version. Charles H. Gabriel, possibly the most prolific writer of English language hymns in history, composed the melody. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band put the song on the hit parade.



7 March 2016

Gianforte taps obscure county commissioner as his running mate

Her name is Lesley Robinson, a rancher who sits on the commission of tiny Phillips County (Malta), which of today has 2,559 of Montana’s 634,127 registered voters (0.4 percent). Phillips county is so small it does not seem to have an official website.

Robinson seems an odd choice, especially compared to Billings Mayor Tom Hanel and Republican heavyweights whose names have been mentioned.

Three possible reasons for choosing her come to mind:

  1. As a woman, her presence on the ticket will somehow remind voters of the Angela McLean fiasco, encourage Democratic feminists to defect to Gianforte, or innoculate Gianforte against charges that he's bad news for women.

  2. She shares some special bond — religious, social, ideological — with Gianforte that makes him more comfortable with her than with any other candidate for lieutenant governor.

  3. No one else would join his ticket. I favor this theory.

The Gianforte-Robinson pages should have been ready yesterday and uploaded to his campaign’s website the moment his 1000 MST press conference today ended. But as of 15:34:18 MST Gianforte’s website had not been updated to include Robinson. To me, that suggests sloppy staff work and/or that Robinson was a last minute choice.

Having selected John Walsh and Angela McLean as his lieutenant governors before smartening-up and appointing Mike Cooney, Steve Bullock is in no position to argue that Robinson’s a lightweight unfit to be a heartbeat away from being governor. But others can and will make that case.


Note to candidates filing in the 7–14 March window

Filing for statewide or legislative district office before 1700 on Monday, 14 March?

Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or another political persuasion, we’d like to hear from you by email.

Here’s what bloggers and mainstream media reporters like to find in your press packet:

  1. Your official mug shot, as long as it’s not more than two years old.
  2. Links to video clips.
  3. Your email address and telephone number.
  4. The URL of your campaign’s website (which should be fully built before you file).
  5. Facebook and Twitter URLs.
  6. Your platform. If your platform is missing, Flathead Memo assumes you are in 100 percent agreement with the platform of your political party, but are afraid to take a public position on any issue.

Remember, everything is on the record.

And, regardless of your party or proposals, thanks for standing for election.



6 March 2016

Political briefs

Ohio makes right call in banning 17-year-olds from voting in primary elections. Think Progress has the story. This should not be a difficult issue. As established by the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, Americans must be age 18 or older to vote. Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote if they will be 18 by the day of the general election in the fall. Ohio adopted that approach in 2008, but the latest election manual for the state says its residents must be 18 to vote in the primary. Some Democrats are howling mad at the change. I’m not. Those who are not 18 on the day they vote should not be permitted to cast votes.

Will a Democrat file for attorney general in Montana? There’s not much time left. Filing closes at the end of business on Monday, 14 March. So far, no Democrat has stepped forward, or even expressed an interest in the position. That’s probably because (1) a lot of Democrats consider Tim Fox unbeatable, and (2) the Montana AFL-CIO and MEA-MFT, usually backers of Democrats, have endorsed Fox. The brutal truth: a lot of Democratic leaders want Fox re-elected, and they don’t want a Democrat getting in Fox’s way. This is neither reaching across the aisle nor high-mindedness transcending partisanship. It’s a craven abdication of a political party’s raison d’être: fielding candidates to seize control of the government.

Hillary Clinton does not have an insurmountable lead in delegates. Her campaign would have us believe otherwise, but she’s only leading 663–457 in delegates won through primaries and caucuses. Many of the delegates she’s won are from old Confederate states that no Democrat will carry in November. Her lead in superdelegates, the party insiders who can vote for whom they wish, is 458–22. If she begins to falter, many superdelegates may defect to Bernie Sanders. Winning the nomination requires at least 2,383 delegates.

Ted Cruz would be a more dangerous Republican nominee than Donald Trump. If Cruz wins the nomination, the GOP establishment will hold its nose and support him. His comments are not as outrageous or frightening, but his politics are every bit as conservative. He’s an authoritarian’s authoritarian, and a highly intelligent authoritarian. He has a better campaign organization than does Trump. And he’s a much more skilled debater, easily the equal of Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. His major flaw is not being likable, but that might not hurt him that much if Clinton is the Democratic nominee.



5 March 2016

April Gaede says armed man did not belong to her protest group

On 1 March, I observed and spoke to an armed man who was standing with the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee group organized by April Gaede. Today I received from Gaede an email asserting that the armed man was not a member of her group:

Nobody associated with the counter protest was armed. The armed person just happened to walk by and spoke to those holding signs. We are in Montana you know so things like that might happen to either side. Open carry is legal, you see it in the grocery stores even.

If you had been observant you would have noticed, like I did, that the clothing of none of the counter protesters (holding signs) matched the clothing of the man who was open carrying his firearm. They could just as easily have posted pics of the open carry person and indicated that he was from the Love Lives Here side trying to intimidate them.

Those are her words. You can decide for yourself whether to believe them.


Dismissal of charges against Lenio may trigger calls for new laws

Charges against David Lenio, accused of malicious intimidation for his disturbing online posts, were conditionally dismissed (document) yesterday (Flathead Beacon, Missoulian). That probably brings the criminal justice component of this affair to a practical conclusion.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is happy with the outcome. But dismissing the charges was the right call. From the beginning, it was clear to dispassionate observers that the case against Lenio, while sensational, was tenuous, difficult to prove, raised important free speech issues, and likely to create bad law. Taking such a case to trial would have aired all the evidence and arguments — but with such low odds of a guilty verdict, the trial, and its burden on the defendant, would have been an unjust de facto attempt to inflict punishment without a conviction.

The dismissal may lead to proposals for new laws in Montana.

Lenio’s attorney, Kalispell public defender Brent Getty, told the Daily Interlake that Montana does not have a general threats law. I suspect that bills to create such a statute will be introduced in the 2017 session of the legislature. A general threats law, if found constitutional, would give police and prosecutors a powerful tool for punishing unpopular utterances.



4 March 2016

Democrat with Minnesota address files for MT Senate District 18

His name: Logan Thiel. He’s a Democrat. The address he provided to the Montana secretary of state: 258 South Snarr Hall, Moorhead, MN 56563. That’s a dormitory at Minnesota State University, Moorhead (known as Moorhead State College when I lived in Minnesota). He’s a student, class of 2019.

…read the rest

Friday political briefs

Last night’s Republican debate was obscene. Figuratively, and worse, literally. Donald Trump admitted he has small hands, something to which the man he calls “Little Marco” has called attention, then averred that does not mean other of his parts are small. Yes, Long Schlong Trump. I don’t want to see the movie.

Why is Denise Juneau running for the U.S. House of Representatives? Yesterday, she finally got around to officially filing. But, although her website provides a link for donating to her campaign, it still doesn’t have an issues page. That’s neither acceptable nor responsible.

Schoolteachers should pack a lunch, not a sidearm. Which means, voters should not support Initiative 175, young Chet Billi’s ballot measure to allow elementary and high school employees to carry concealed weapons at work. As Logicosity’s E.R. Burrow observes this morning, I-175’s text has the effect of prohibiting school districts from purchasing extra insurance to cover the possibility that the janitor might accidentally shoot the wrong person. It’s an excellent analysis that nicely complements and extends Flathead Memo’s more lyrical post last June.

The controversial Montana Meth Project refuses to die. Meanwhile, reports William Skink, quoting an excellent report in the Missoula Independent, there’s no evidence that the project actually has an effect on how much meth is used in Montana. According to the Independent, the project lists Gov. Steve Bullock’s wife as a member of its board of directors. That should help if the project seeks funding from the government.

White supremacists and Craigslist. Yesterday I reported that the counter-demonstration to the Stand for Tolerance rally on 1 March was organized through messages on Craigslist. That, readers advise me, has been going on for years. I’m not surprised. Craigslist never has struck me as a reputable source of information, but its rants and raves section does provide a way to broadcast calls to action. Am I going to start monitoring Craigslist for right wing news? No. The mischief makers who waved signs Tuesday belong to a cohort that’s growing older, but not more numerous. Although loud and obnoxious, they’re politically harmless.

More arrests in the Cliven Bundy case — are some Montanans getting nervous? I think some should be. Ryan Payne of Anaconda is already in the slammer, indicted for both his role in the Malheur occupation and the standoff at the Bundy ranch in 2014. Other Montanans, mostly militia genre small fry, traveled to Nevada to support the standoff. They might be wise to lock their weapons in the basement and instead carry a card with the phone number of a good criminal defense attorney.


Friday morning music for heavy hearted Republicans

The burden of Donald Trump, and the disgruntled voters who support him, weighs heavily on the Republican establishment this morning. As the Bushes, Romneys, and their committee boat captain friends, weigh their options while hoisting another rum and orange juice, here’s some music to rub in their misfortune: The Weight, made famous by The Band, and performed by every coffee house singer I heard in college.



3 March 2016

Kalispell Stand for Tolerance rally draws armed counter-demonstrators

Updated 5 March 2016 at 12:56:57 MST. April Gaede asserts that the armed man described below was not a member of her group of protesters.

Sixty to 70 Flatheaders assembled in Kalispell’s Depot Park late Tuesday afternoon (images) to show their support for tolerance and extending a warm welcome to political refugees who may resettle in Montana.

Across Highway 93, a tenth as many, at least one openly carrying a sidearm, countered with signs alleging refugees are murderers and rapists (images). In a crude attempt at satire, one counter-demonstrator, dressed in a gorilla suit, danced and pranced on the street corner, waving a sign reading “Kalispell Needs Sharia Law” (video).

…read the rest

Is the Republican Party on the eve of destruction?

A good question. Some think so as they recoil in horror as Donald Trump comes closer to winning the party’s presidential nomination. The tea party’s in the saddle and thundering at full gallup down the road to Hell — or worse, the White House. If Trump is nominated, will the party hold together?

That question reminded me of P.L. Sloan’s protest song from the Sixties, Eve of Destruction, made famous by Barry McGuire, who is 80 and still performing. Seems like a good song for the day of another Republican debate (Fox, at 1900 MST, in Detroit — will anyone ask about the lead in Flint’s water?).



2 March 2016

Note to readers on Stand Together rally report

I hope to post it by noon. I had hoped to post it after dinner yesterday, but my Mac crashed while I was processing HD video of the counter-demonstrator in the gorilla suit who was dancing on the corner while waving a sign saying Kalispell needs Sharia law. So I’m running way behind schedule.


Hillary and the black Democratic primary/caucus vote

Hillary Clinton did especially well in the deep south Confederate states on Super Tuesday, winning by landslides in Alabama and Georgia, and by 60–40 or better margins in Arkansas, Texas, Virginia, and Tennessee. She also won by a landslide in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday.

Exit polls report she’s winning the black vote by eight or nine to one. I therefore decided to plot her percentage of the primary or caucus vote as a function of the black percentage of the voting eligible population for these states, using VEP data from 2012. Not surprisingly, there’s a solid correlation:

Now, a couple of caveats. The regression equation suggests a strength of correlation that probably doesn’t really exist. Although an important factor, race is just one factor — and my analysis looks at only one race. Moreover, Nevada and Texas have significant Hispanic/Latino populations. Hispanic/Latino is an ethnic, not a racial, grouping, approximately half of which self-identifies as white. Therefore, take this graph’s r-squared statistic with a shaker of salt, and be wary of using it to win cocktail party debates. Still, it’s interesting, which is why I’m publishing it.



1 March 2016

Stand Together Against Violence rally in Kalispell today

The rally, which begins at 1700 in Depot Park, is one of five in Montana today, all sponsored by the Montana Human Rights Network. Love Lives Here in the Flathead is organizing the Depot Park affair, and urges those attending to bring signs:

Feel free to make signs:
“No Hate, No Fear, No Violence.
Not in Our Town!”
Or bring candles as we stand in solidarity against hate.

It’s probably best to leave signs of the “Trump is a Bigot!” genre in your garage. It’s not that he isn’t a bigot, but that the rally is supposed to be nonpartisan.

The rallies are being held as counters to the 500-person anti-refugee rallies held in Hamilton and Kalispell in recent weeks.

The NWS predicts a 60 percent chance of rain or snow, 44°F, and a nine mph wind, for the rally.


Hillary Clinton as a proxy for Barack Obama’s third term

That’s how she’s managing to frame the race. It helped her in South Carolina, where she captured almost nine of 10 black votes, and it ought to help her in several former Confederate states today. Unfortunately, few of those states are likely to opt for the Democrat in November.


Blue means the state was won by a Democrat; red, by a Republican. Gold indicates a third party win; George Wallace in 1968, Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond in 1948. In 1960, several members of the electoral college went rogue, voting for Harry Byrd (D-VA).

The graphic above was derived from data from Dave Lieb’s excellent U.S. Election Atlas. The blacks percent of VEP numbers are from Pew. Texas has a sizeable Hispanic/Latino population, but that’s an ethnic category. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 just over half of the Hispanic/Latino cohort self-identified as white.

When the spreadsheet on which the graphic is finished, I’ll release it.