The winds of change
Former Senator/Ambassador Max Baucus and current Sen. Jon Tester have said single-payer health care is something “we should start looking at.”
This is a reversal from both of these Montanans’ earlier stands. So why the change of heart? It could be that after Senate Democrats (with the help of three Republicans) were able to hold off the right’s dismantling of Obamacare, things have evolved. Tester said as much at a meeting with Missoula Democrats in July. From an earlier post:
Health care was a heady topic and an audience member asked about advancing a single-payer plan. Tester responded that keeping the ACA (Obamacare) in tact was a big enough battle — single payer was off the table.
Now, according to Tester, it’s back on the table. As for Baucus, after he took single payer “off the table” during the 2009 health care hearings, he might be seeing the light (and he doesn’t have to fundraise for an election).
What’s also possible is that the American public is beginning to see the light, plus single payer is a simpler thing to grasp than the complicated ACA (Obamacare) or AHCA (Trumpcare) that has been offered up. From WaPo:
In conversations this week, several Democrats said that a lesson from the 2016 campaign, applicable to health care, was that voters favored an idea they could quickly understand over an idea that was means-tested (ACA) but overly complicated.
Implementing single payer also won’t be that simple but it’s where we’re headed — maybe start with a government option and move forward from there.
Let it rain
When the predicted precipitation begins falling later this week, reducing smoke and fires, let us not forget how miserable the past few weeks have been.
Some in-depth reporting on fire behavior would be welcome. Right now, it seems to be mostly gadflies and pundits telling us what’s what — picking up where Montana Republican leadership left off — with more logging and less litigation the meme making the Letter-to-the-Editor rounds.
So, what’s the reality? Did the fires burn in areas already logged or in virgin stands? In places where forests were thinned, was the spread of fire lessened? Are prescribed burns the answer? What’s the role of climate change in our increasingly intense fire season?
Some real science applied to these questions and reported in Montana’s media would be a welcome change although a good place to start for some background, suggests Last Best News, is Red Lodge author Gary Ferguson’s “Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West.”
One letter that bucked the trend of blaming “environmental extremists” and also put a smile on my face is in today’s Missoulian:
This morning we breathed smoke, ate breakfast, listened to reports of unprecedented coastal devastation by Harvey and Irma and wondered why Montana’s epic fires aren’t getting national coverage. Perhaps it would help to give them catchy names and, to give credit where it’s due, name them after our politicians who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of climate change.
The toxic hot gasses generated by the Lolo Peak fire make it a candidate for the “Trump Complex.” The athletic sprint of the Lodgepole Complex reminds us of macho Commander Zinke. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, well-practiced at choking people, deserves an honorific, as does U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, whose fundraising letters are masterpieces of inflammatory rhetoric.
Daines “inflammatory rhetoric,” continued
To commemorate the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center 16 years ago, Sen. Steve Daines sent out an email to his constituents. This is a solemn occasion, no doubt, and worthy of remembrance. Of course, Daines took the opportunity to get political, beat a dead horse and pander to his base:
We also remember the American lives lost in the September 11, 2012, terror attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. We still push for answers on what happened that tragic day.
Benghazi, really? Then there was his plug for a flag-burning amendment. I personally find burning the American flag abhorrent but a Constitutional Amendment? One that trumps the First Amendment, you know, the one about free speech?
At the end of September 11, 2001, and every day since, the Stars and Stripes has still flown high. I have introduced a Constitutional Amendment to give Congress the authority to prohibit burning the American flag because I believe this symbol of hope and freedom ought to be respected and set apart as a protected symbol worthy of honor.
Continue your irrelevance, Senator.
U.S. House wannabes
Four names are being bandied about for for the 2018 Democratic congressional primary. More are sure to follow since Republican Representative Greg Gianforte’s mug shot should figure prominently in the November general election. The fact that he hasn’t held a town hall meeting with constituents, even during the August recess, doesn’t bode well for the incumbent.
Grant Kier of Missoula’s Five Valleys Land Trust is showing interest. He was glad-handing delegates at the Democrats’ convention last month. He’s a political neophyte but is known for working well with both sides of the aisle when it comes to land conservation issues in Western Montana.
Bozemanian Tom Woods, a three-term member of the Montana House, is exploring a run. What’s holding him back, he says, is the “absurd” sum of money he’d have to raise to be competitive. I can certainly respect that. Big money is the name of the game in politics these days.
Lynda Moss of Billings, who served two terms in the Montana Senate, is interested, according to Logicosity: “Moss has been reaching out to those within her network to determine how much support she might expect if she were to jump in.” At this point, she has the most name recognition, at least in Montana’s largest city.
Another Billings resident, John Heenan, has been the most aggressive candidate of the four. He has formally announced and even has a TV spot out. Here’s the one-minute version. He’s a political newcomer but is making the rounds and has actively courted the progressive wing of the party.
It’s still, relatively, early and The Montana Post will keep you updated.
She had a good run
On Sunday, a friend and compatriot ran for the title of Miss Montana USA.
I don’t ordinarily promote pageants but Anita Green is an LGBTQ activist and political progressive who I’ve worked alongside on candidate and issue campaigns. She’s also the first transgender woman to compete in the Montana pageant.
I’ve learned firsthand from her and her friends about the struggles — the discrimination and even violence — they’ve faced in Montana. I love how she’s shaking up the status quo (and, hopefully, giving Jeff Laszloffy and fellow travelers at the Montana Family Foundation, conniptions).
Anita broke new ground and was a gracious competitor. From her Facebook page:
In case people didn’t hear the news yet, Dani Walker won the title of Miss Montana USA 2018. I’m honestly very happy for her! I don’t think any of the other contestants invested anywhere near as much time as her into the pageant industry. Congratulations Dani! You really did earn it!
As for me, I didn’t place. Was it for political reasons? Was now just not the time for a transgender woman to win a state title? Or did I genuinely not perform as well as the other contestants? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.
I’m glad I took advantage of this opportunity and I certainly learned a lot, but I think this was a one time thing for me. Who knows what the future has in store for me though? For now, I’m just going to catch up on some much-needed sleep!