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

22 January 2018 — 1916 mst

Short shutdown & net neutrality in Montana

Shutdown. Democrats criticizing Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) for agreeing to a reopen the government deal that does not protect the Dreamers might want to temper their disapproval. Democrats never had the votes to pass progressive legislation on immigration. And they won’t have the votes until they win the White House and a working majority in both houses of Congress.

But in exchange for agreeing to fund the government another three weeks, they got a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Under the circumstances — the GOP controls Congress and the White House — that’s an acceptable outcome. It would have been a better outcome had community health funding been included, and had the continuing resolution not included another $31 billion in tax cuts.

Net neutrality. Gov. Steve Bullock announced today that companies contracting with the State of Montana must agree to protect net neutrality. Montana is the first state taking this step, but it won’t be the last. Whether the requirement holds up in court remains to be seen, but from both a political and policy standpoint it was the right thing to do.

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21 January 2018 — 1408 mst

Kalispell women’s rally drew 450–500

That range is based on a count of heads in a high resolution panoramic image I made of the crowd at 1230 MST, just before the speechifying began.

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I shot the panorama’s images from the steps of the speaker’s pavilion in Depot Park. You can download the 10,000-pixel-wide image (2 MB) if you’d like to make your own count.

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20 January 2018 — 0017 mst

Kalispell Women’s March leaders have plan to sic cops on hecklers

The leaders of the Kalispell Women’s March have a plan for dealing with dissenters: if necessary, have the police throw them out of Depot Park. Here’s the official word:

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19 January 2018 — 1443 mst

Kalispell Women’s March & Friday roundup

Progressive women are assembling in Kalispell tomorrow to rally for democracy and diversity. Cliven Bundy is speaking in Paradise. And Congress, by not doing its job, is doing a job on democracy.

Kalispell Women’s March

The rally, one of many around Montana and the nation, celebrates “equality, diversity and democracy.” It begins at noon tomorrow in Kalisell’s Depot Park, and concludes two hours later. The speechifying begins at 1230. Among the speakers are:

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18 January 2018 — 0702 mst

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Montana’s Democrats should rally to John Heenan’s flag

Having the wisdom and courage to take forthright, sensible, positions on the most important issues matters. That’s why I’m voting for John Heenan for the Democratic nomination for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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17 January 2018 — 0426 mst

Anchorage is closer to North Korea than Honolulu is

And Kalispell is only 600 miles farther from North Korea than Honolulu is, a ballistic missile time difference of perhaps ten minutes. Of course, Pearl Harbor is a more militarily significant target than the yacht club at Somers. Honolulu residents probably do have more reason than Kalispellians to fear being vaporized by an atomic bomb from North Korea.

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Larger image. An old-fashioned school globe and a length of string is a good way to measure great circle distances, especially for children old enough to know the Earth is a spheroid.

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13 January 2018 — 0134 mst

President Trump’s loathsome immigration comments divert
spotlight from his administration’s sabotage of Medicaid

President Trump’s reprehensible characterization of Haiti and other impoverished, low quality of life, black, nations in equatorial latitudes has drawn condemnation across the political spectrum as a racist attack on black people. Although he used his pejorative adjective to modify the word “countries,” not people, the context of his diatribe leaves no doubt he was describing people, not nations, and asserting that white people are superior to black people. That’s the classic definition of racism. His unpresidential comment rightly brought opprobrium on himself and his nation.

Unfortunately, his comment on immigration also diverted many progressives from a far more important development: his administration’s endorsement of a work requirement for allegedly able-bodied recipients of Medicaid, followed immediately by an approval of Kentucky’s scheme for kicking tens of thousands out of Medicaid:

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12 January 2018 — 1605 mst

Rep. Frank Garner gets primary challenge

Robert Welzel, a former Marine aviator who now flies civilian cargo jets, today filed for the Republican nomination for MT House District 7 (old downtown Kalispell; map). Incumbent Republican Frank Garner, the popular former Kalispell police chief, filed for re-election yesterday.

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10 January 2018 — 1958 mst

Montana Dems are better at electing governors than state legislators

Democrats suffered disastrous defeats in state legislative elections during Barack Obama’s administration. Legislatures flipped from Democratic to Republican control. Radical conservatives resisted expanding Medicaid, and used their power to gerrymander legislative and congressional districts (see David Daley’s Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count).

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Montana was no exception.

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4 January 2018 — 1757 mst

Alan McNeil, 1951–2017

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Alan McNeil, a friend of 30 plus years, died of a heart attack on 29 December, returning from a grocery buying trip to Kalispell. He was 66. Al is survived by his mother, Cecily, son Henry and daughter Fiona, and brother Bruce.

I learned of Al’s death only today. Needing a respite from outside input, I had not opened my email, which contained the bad news, since Christmas. I last saw Al at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner, but was not able to join them for dinner on Christmas.

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3 January 2018 — 1118 mst

Tom Woods ends quest for Congress on a terrible note

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Yesterday, State Rep. Tom Woods (Bozeman) ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, citing fundraising difficulties. His decision was not a surprise, Logicosity reported. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s Freddy Morales:

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1 January 2018 — 1932 mst

Will 2018 bring a Throw the Bums Out! election?

Democrats hope so, Republicans fear so, and at least some analysts think so. I think some bums may get thrown out in what’s now known as a wave election, but I don’t think the probability that voters will give a lot of elected bums the heave-ho is as high as many suppose. My caution is based not on polling results but on my observation that Democrats have a preternatural ability, demonstrated vividly in the 2016 Presidential election, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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