Now that sanity, and that elusive sense of the ephemeral realizations of equality, reason and scientific thought has returned to the State Capitol in Helena, I have a few questions regarding procedures and protocols.
The Legislature wants us to be able to fully protect ourselves and others, so we no longer have to wear masks, but we can carry guns. What I’m wondering is if I’m at the grocery store and an unmasked person sneezes in my direction and he is not six feet away can I shoot him right there in the produce aisle or do I need permission from the department manager?
He has, after all, endangered me and I apparently have the right to protect myself. Or does this just apply to violent attacks—like a shoot-out on Main Street or a back alley rumble with the Crips or the Bloods? Although I do tend to think that infecting somebody with a potentially lethal disease is a fairly violent act, I’m not sure if an inconsiderate act of an uncaring and mean-spirited individual is deserving of a deadly vigilante reaction.
And yet, somewhere in the backs of the tiny little brains that much of the Legislature seems to possess, there was a sense that while schools and bars are completely safe places to have guns, they won’t be allowed in the Capitol building because that could jeopardize their safety.
Guns in bars and schools bother me but mostly in bars. Bars serve alcoholic beverages that have been known to alter a person’s simple reality. Add guns to the mix and tell me what could possibly go wrong. I’m just not comfortable sitting anywhere near a guy with a pistol setting next to his bourbon ditch. I understand that might be sheepish, so b-a-a-a.
Returning to beat what should by now be a dead horse over the mask issue, Governor Body Slam sees the wearing of masks as being a huge stumbling block to making money, although tax cuts for his wealthy friends can be done from behind masks that will also disguise his snarky smiles as he heaps more misery upon the underclass. He certainly doesn’t seem to have the best interests of the people he’s taken an oath to serve much in mind. When it comes to heeding the advice of medical and science experts, he follows his own moronic instincts.
Remember, he’s the only U.S. governor who believes that “The Flintstones,” was a documentary, and that the six-hundred-year-old Noah didn’t deplete the U.S. treasury by drawing social security entitlements. This guy makes Judy Martz a beacon of light and hope.
Turning to other medical news, the Montana House Judiciary Committee just passed HB 415, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Carlson (R-Manhattan), that would prohibit hospitals, child care providers, governmental entities, employers, and others from requiring that employees, customers, or others be vaccinated against communicable diseases, or from “discriminating” in any way against those who choose not to be vaccinated. This comes right out of the QAnon playbook and plays into the hands of dangerously stupid people, many of whom now carry guns. I have a pale white spot on my arm from a childhood vaccination against polio. It worked.
People with actual knowledge of such matters are opposed to HB 415. And the dimwits who liken vaccines to Auschwitz, should—if they’re even capable—read some history. Just yesterday, I had a rough day after getting my second Covid-19 vaccine. In no way did it seem like an incarceration in a death camp. Not even remotely.
To even suggest such a comparison does not only show the depth of one’s ignorance, but it serves to be completely disrespectful to the memory of the six million innocent Jews who died in the Holocaust. And yes, it happened.
Rep. Jedediah Hinkle (R-Belgrade), another willing consumer of the Kool-Aid, said that this conspiracy-driven anti-vaxxer tripe is “the most important bill of the session.” Second in line must surely be the one that addresses youth sports in which there might be transgender participation. I’m guessing that third in line must have something to do with legalizing discrimination against the entire LGBTQ+ community. Where’s the progress on behalf of human rights and decency? Who are these repressive-minded people whose lives are not in the least bit affected by some stranger’s sexual orientation?
Weaponizing education against those who are educated has been a favorite pastime over the last four years for about a third of Americans. It doesn’t seem to be abating in Montana—at one time a pleasantly purple state whose alluring moniker, The Last Best Place, has served as inspiration to those who want to keep it that. From the dynamic and progressive Mike Mansfield, we’ve sunk to being represented by Steve Daines, an avowed Trump toady.
The Montana House passed HB 269 which seeks to dismantle local public health authority and replace it with a rule to require elected officials to approve rules and regulations for wastewater. This is a job that has been done by local boards of health and trained municipal staffs for decades—efficiently. Besides trying to fix things that aren’t broken, these yahoos seem to just want to wrest away power from people who actually know what they’re doing.
I’m not sure how wastewater is managed but, since there doesn’t seem to be much of a backlog of it, I assume it’s being dealt with successfully. Beyond suspecting that the wastewater from our house somehow ends up at a filtration plant where it is bottled by a subsidiary of Nestle’s and then sold at convenience stores, I don’t want to know.
I’m satisfied to know that I am competent at a few things. For everything else, there are the Yellow Pages.
But what would a week of law-making have been without an invocation and a moment of silence to honor bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, and racism all wrapped up in the name of the hate-filled Rush Limbaugh, a man who was as deserving of a Medal of Freedom as I would be for Olympic Gold for watching a diving event on television?
And let’s not forget to thank the Legislature for keeping Montanans safe from a group that doesn’t exist, while ignoring those that do, and which pose quite real threats. That’s right, Antifa has been declared a terrorist organization. It is quite possibly the first time since the Middle Ages that a mere idea or concept has been declared an act of heresy.
Meanwhile, the Oathkeepers, Proud Boys, the KKK and any gathering of three with AK-14s and cell phones are upstanding, law-abiding, God-fearing organizations that exist to protect the rights of the evangelical extreme right wing of the crumbled Republican Party.
As has been noted, General Eisenhower was antifa.
And just for good measure, the Legislature is trying to stick its collective nose into the state’s higher education system which, as it turns out, is in violation of the Montana Constitution—a document they have sworn to uphold and protect. Nowhere, however, does that oath suggest that even a cursory reading of that document is necessary.
There are few entities the far-right hates more than NPR and its member stations. They’ve already shown their contempt for divergent ideas, so they propose HB 542, which would defund public radio and prohibit universities from entering into licensing agreements with public radio.
If you don’t like what somebody says, after all, make sure they have no voice with which to say it.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Many tomato soups strike me as bland and watery. This one is neither. Dare I suggest a grilled cheese sandwich as an accompaniment? This is comfort food in a time of great discomfort.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
10-15 sprigs thyme, tied together
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1–2 tsp. sugar, divided
1/4 cup (or more) heavy cream (optional)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. Aleppo spice (4:1 — sweet paprika:cayenne)
Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, 10–12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5–6 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, Aleppo spice, 1 tsp. sugar, and 8 cups water to pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 2 quarts (8 cups), 45–55 minutes. Remove soup from heat; let cool slightly. Discard thyme sprigs. Purée soup until smooth. Add cream , if using, and reheat.