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

Archives Index, 2017 June 16–30


30 June 2017 — 1639 mdt

Backyard sky


29 June 2017 — 1712 mdt

Understand Sam Rayburn to understand why Nancy Pelosi
plans to be the U.S. House’s Democratic leader forever

Sam Rayburn served 21 years as the Democratic leader in the U.S. House, from 1940 until 1961, when he died at 79, his gavel still in his hand. Understanding that is the key to understanding why Nancy Pelosi, now 77 and in her 16th year as the House’s Democratic leader, refuses to consider stepping aside for a younger representative. She intends to beat Rayburn’s record, and probably intends to let the Grim Reaper pry the gavel from her fist.

But as Logicosity and Ed Kilgore observed this week, she’s overstayed her welcome. Her defenders argue that she’s irreplaceable, that her detractors are misogynists, but those are disreputable arguments. Humankind would not have lasted as long as it has were leaders irreplaceable, and opposition to a woman’s remaining in office is not by definition misogyny.

Pelosi has stayed on as Democratic leader far too long for any good that she’s doing. Her deputy leader, Steny Hoyer, is 79, and Jim Clyburn is in his mid-seventies. They enjoy their positions, but they’re selfishly subordinating the good of their party to their personal ambitions. Instead of waiting for death to extinguish their torch, they should pass it to a new generation of leaders.



28 June 2017 — 1418 mdt

Keep the heat on Daines — here’s how and why

Mitch McConnell has delayed a vote on gutting Medicaid. He hasn’t given up, and won’t. He just needs a bit more time to find the price of 50 votes for his bill.

Meanwhile, as Sen. Steve Daines prepares for a “telephone town hall” this evening, the Billings Gazette reports that McConnell’s bill would cost Montana $5.3 billion, and cause the state to “struggle to pay for education, infrastructure.”

Opponents of the bill should not give up, either.

Keep the heat on Daines, directly through calls, letters, and the usual means, and indirectly, through contacts with hospital trustees and executives and other conservative community leaders. Groups such as Big Sky Rising should also consider calling Daine’s donors in Montana and asking them to ask him to oppose the bill. The donor list is available at the Federal Elections Commission.

…read the rest


27 June 2017 — 1439 mdt

Flathead briefs

School District 5 needs to do a better job of vetting applicants for principal. Yesterday we learned that John Blackman won’t be the new principal at Flathead High School because he was exposed as a plagiarist. In an email introducing himself to FHS’s faculty and staff, reports the Missoulian, he ripped off the words of an educator at Strawberry Elementary in Santa Rosa, CA. That’s brazen as hell, and I suspect it may not be the first time he’s claimed another person’s words as his own.

…read the rest


26 June 2017

Note to readers

There’s no shortage of things to blog about, but there’s a shortage of blogging time available this week. Posts will infrequent and probably shorter than usual. Part of this results from our chief blogger’s decision to take a bit of a break, part from nonblogging obligations that have priority.


24 June 2017 — 1621 mdt

Saturday roundup

Government needs to investigate the Presbyterian camp deck collapse that injured 50. Four of the injured remain hospitalized, reports the Flathead Beacon. A friend faces serious surgeries and a long, difficult, recovery. That no one died is remarkable.

According to the Beacon, Lake County’s sheriff won’t open a criminal investigation into the accident. He’s leaving the sleuthing to the insurance companies. That’s a mistake. Someone screwed-up. Who made what mistakes, and why, needs to be determined. There needs to be a public accounting.

…read the rest


23 June 2017 — 1341 mdt

Note to readers

Flathead Memo is standing down today.


22 June 2017 — 2024 mdt

Trump will sign a healthcare repeal bill that combines
the worst of the GOP’s House and Senate bills

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his party’s Affordable Healthcare Act repeal bill today. I some ways it’s worse that the bill the House passed a few weeks ago. Both bills amount to a whopping tax cut for the rich financed by a whopping health care cut for the poor. It’s Reverse Robin Hood on steroids.

Do not suppose that “moderate” Republicans will make the bill less mean, or keep it from passing in the Senate. There are no moderates in the Republican party. Those who sometimes sound moderate compared to their shrilly ideological colleagues always cave-in to the reactionary right when the vote is taken.

The Senate will pass McConnell’s bill. The conference committee will combine the worst of each chamber’s bill. The result will be passed and signed into law by President Trump.

The Democratic Party is powerless to stop this evil, both now and probably in the foreseeable future. Democrats in the Senate may slow the bill’s passage, but they lack the votes to stop it. Thanks to identity politics, the party no longer can win Presidential and statewide elections, or district elections outside of urban areas. It has condemned itself to what may be a permanent minority status.

If you’re poor, or belong to the middle class, your life depends on your not getting sick. Do not expect help from your fellow Americans. They’re sick and tired of your weaknesses, of your feckless expectation that the government, that the New Deal and Great Society, will rescue you from the troubles you’ve brought upon yourself. They’re freeing you to stand on your own two feet, which they’re convinced God intended.

If you do become ill and survive, the cost of surviving will be a medical bankruptcy. You must now take personal responsibility for your health: exercise, eat your vegetables, take your vitamins, and if you’re religious, pray that you’ll not fall victim to accident, your genes, hostile microbes, or the infirmities of advancing age.

Don’t ask Heaven for help. When Hillary lost the election, she gave the deed to the pearly gates to Donald. The Republicans own Heaven because the Democrats have gone to Hell.



21 June 2017 — 0731 mdt

Is the Montana Democratic Party’s press release machine broken?

During the special congressional election campaign, Flathead Memo received as many as a half dozen press releases a day from the Montana Democratic Party and the Quist campaign. Then the email stopped. The MDP’s last sign of public relations life, a three-paragraph emailed statement on Greg Gianforte’s assault on Ben Jacobs, arrived on 25 May, the day the election concluded.

Sometimes the MDP blows its horn too loudly, or off key, or both, but not to blow it for a month is not a communications strategy that I would recommend.



21 June 2017 — 0645 mdt

Ossoff’s loss was not a surprise

Jon Ossoff’s 3.8 point loss to Republican Karen Handel in yesterday’s special congressional election in Georgia should neither surprise nor demoralize Democrats. Although one of America’s 15 best educated congressional districts, for decades GA-6 has elected reactionary Republicans, among them Newt Gingrich, and most recently surgeon and now Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, by whopping margins. The wonder is not that Ossoff lost, but that he came so close to winning.

…read the rest


20 June 2017 — 1303 mdt

Notes on voter turnout in Montana’s Indian Country

In the 2016 presidential election, 5,334 ballots were cast in Glacier County, home to the Blackfeet and legislative districts 15 and 16, two of Montana’s six Indian majority districts. Six months later, the county’s population essentially unchanged, Glacier’s voters cast only 3,077 ballots in Montana’s special congressional election.

As NPR’s Nicky Ouellet and Rachael Cramer observed last week, that was one of Glacier County’s lowest turnouts in years — a low turnout that coincided with, and possibly in part was caused by, Glacier’s opening only two polling places instead of the usual five.

Glacier was not the only low turnout county in Indian Country in the special congressional election. Turnout also was low in Roosevelt and Big Horn Counties. These three are not the only counties in Indian Country, but they can serve as a rough proxy for Indian Country as a whole.

…read the rest


16 June 2017 — 1512 mdt

Pressure Daines & GG by pressuring hospital boards & executives

All progressives know, or should know, that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his henchmen are working in secret to write a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. They hope to sneak it through the U.S. Senate by the Fourth of July, just two weeks from now. It will, as you know from many sources, be profitable for the rich and deadly for the middle class, and especially deadly for the poor.

Although Montana’s progressives should continue applying heat, and plenty of it, to Sen. Steve Daines and Rep-elect Greg Gianforte, they should also apply indirect pressure to Daines and Gianforte by applying plenty of heat to the boards of directors and executives of Montana’s hospitals, who are facing an almost $5 billion shortfall in Medicaid if the ACA is replaced by the Trump-Ryan American Health Care Act.

Daines and Gianforte are rich men who won’t listen to the 95 percent, but they will listen to their social peers, and near peers, who administer Montana’s hospitals and who sit on the boards of those hospitals. Bringing public and private pressure on these people will stiffen their spines and put them in a stronger position to insist that health care for the many should not be sacrificed on the altar of lower taxes for the few.

Some hospitals try to keep the names of their directors secret, a shameful practice that’s solid proof they’re doing things they shouldn’t be doing, and that they don’t want to hear from the public (they’ll say this is done for security reasons, but that’s horse manure). Keep digging.

Keep smiling. But if necessary, start shouting. Do what’s necessary to make yourselves heard.