Human Services Meets Winter In Montana

by Travis Mateer

This week’s podcast episode is a conversation I first posted last February with my former co-worker at the Poverello Center, Patrick Duganz. I think it’s timely, and also my interview planned for this week had to reschedule.

Thanks for listening!

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The Seduction Of New Missoula: Andy Hotel Vs. Homeless Camp

by Travis Mateer

Yesterday I combined some video footage I took over the MLK weekend. It’s timely, considering today is the day (January 18th) that the NEW official sanctioned homeless camp is opening up, right next to the sewage treatment plant and the city’s composting facility.

I’ll include two of the images I put in the video in this post. The first one is the virtue-signaling sign prominently displayed on the chainlink fence of the camp:

And here are the rules that will ensure this camp will NOT be a place anyone will want to stay without some degree of coercion:

And, finally, here’s the video I made about the seduction of New Missoula. Did I succumb after staying at an Andy Hotel in downtown Zoom Town? I guess you’ll have to watch to find out.

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You Need To Hear What This Man Has To Say, Missoula

by Travis Mateer

By the end of this post I hope you are angry that I told this man–who you REALLY do need to hear from–not to bother submitting his opinion piece to local media.

Who am I talking about?

Before I answer that question, I’m going to string you along just a bit longer by explaining why this post wasn’t written two years ago.

It’s pretty simple. The humility of the Stevenson family, combined with my lack of due diligence as a citizen journalist, temporarily obscured the impressive catalogue of achievements Dr. Kenneth Stevenson has earned for himself.

Today, two years and twelve days since his son died in Missoula, I’m going to do my best to bring Dr. Stevenson out from obscurity in preparation for the day you WILL hear from him.

Let’s start off with a bang.

In 1979 (the year after I was born) Ken Stevenson was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) recognized for kicking ass in AT LEAST three of the following categories:

  • Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment
  • Political, legal, and/or government affairs
  • Academic leadership and/or accomplishment
  • Cultural achievement
  • Moral and/or environmental leadership
  • Contribution to children, world peace, and/or human rights
  • Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership
  • Scientific and/or technological development
  • Personal improvement and/or accomplishment
  • Medical innovation

John Denver and Bill Clinton were two other notable TOYA awardees.

Let’s see, what else?

Following high school, Stevenson won a Congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy. It was the beginning of a fourteen-year Air Force career which saw Stevenson graduate as one of only five blacks in his class of almost 700.​

After pilot training, Stevenson was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) as a B-52 co-pilot and rapidly progressed to instructor-copilot one of only two In SAC to hold that position at that time. He volunteered for combat duty in Southeast Asia and amassed almost 1200 combat flying hours and 210 combat missions. He received ten Air Medals and three Distinguished Flying Crosses for his service. He also advanced to command his own B-52 crew at the age of 25 and was one of the youngest commanders in SAC.

Determined to improve himself academically, Stevenson was selected by the Air Force Academy to attend a Master’s program at the University of Pittsburgh and returned to his hometown. While he was enrolled in this program, the University administration recognized his diverse talents and (while he was still a full-time student) asked him to establish and teach an undergraduate course in Black Literature. He took on this responsibility in addition to serving as a Liaison Officer for the Air Force Academy. Even with this full schedule, he finished his Master of Arts in English, Cum Laude, in only nine months.

There’s more. Much more. And the synchronicities are ALL OVER this for me, like watching the series Carnivàle and having a little scene with a shroud placed over the body of “management” floor me because it’s a clear reference to the shroud of Turin.

Did I mention Dr. Kenneth Stevenson has done significant work on the shroud, has written several books, and that two of those books recently arrived at my studio by mail?

I’ll leave it there, for now.

Happy MLK day, Missoula!

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School Board Trustee Mike Gehl Is Exposing The Cheap Theatrics And Empty Posturing Of MCPS And Its Missoulian Media Jim Enablers

by Travis Mateer

Mike Gehl should thank Missoula County School Board members and the Missoulian for amplifying his simple refusal to mask up at last week’s school board meeting. For parents like me eager to pry control of policies from people like Grace Decker, Mike’s move, and the hilarious reaction to it, is just what we need to inspire more sane people to come forward and run for open board positions.

Today’s post is will be a blow-by-blow look at the Missoulian’s editorial. Here’s the opener:

If students in Missoula County Public Schools are looking for role models, they shouldn’t look toward trustee Mike Gehl.

Ok, kids, get ready! Missoulian publisher, Jim Strauss, and his executive editor, Jim Van Nostrand, are going to educate you about why your potential roster of role models SHOULD NOT include Mike Gehl. Forget for a moment the role of these men peddling advertisements while sculpting public opinion. We are going to find out how DEEPLY they care about your health.

The lack of respect and proverbial middle finger he showed to his fellow trustees on Tuesday, when he refused to wear a mask to an in-person school board meeting, were astonishing.

The meeting closed after four minutes, when the other trustees decided they were unwilling to put up with the maskless behavior anymore.

Obviously these men respect the quality education these kids receive in public school as they mount and ride out on their PROVERBIAL horses. Why else use such fancy language? And obviously Mike Gehl was issuing a very disrespectful MIDDLE FINGER, proverbially speaking, when he didn’t comply with mask etiquette like my kids are expected to do without question.

Notice I said “etiquette” and not “law” or “ordinance”. That’s because there is no law requiring submission to mask Nazis, a pesky fact that produces my favorite part of the op-ed:

Was he required to wear a mask? Maybe not. The Montana Legislature passed HB 501 in the last session, which says that a person who refuses to wear a mask in place that requires masks cannot be cited for criminal trespass.

We aren’t talking about criminal trespass, though. We’re talking about basic civility and respect for your colleagues. Gehl’s action appears to be a premeditated and unnecessary act of political theater. He has acknowledged that he has been asked to wear masks before, and that he has refused. Perhaps Tuesday’s drama was the explosion from a long fuse that has been burning for some time.

So, no law can be used to force mask compliance on Mike Gehl. How nice for MCPS to then try Gehl in the court of public opinion.

The problem with this move is that the court of public opinion has to include other data points and context, like the obvious theatrics of the Elsie Arntzen letter tantrum from School Board Superintendents.

A recent Missoulian article detailed the “struggle” Superintendents are having showing up to an actual meeting like they say they want.

Since the OPI received the superintendent’s letter on Dec. 7, Arntzen has made several attempts to meet with the superintendents to discuss their concerns.

Arntzen reportedly texted Upham and Moore, who represent the two largest districts in the state, the same day she received the letter. Upham responded the following day, but Moore did not, according to a timeline of correspondence provide by the OPI.

The following week, Arntzen requested individual meetings with each of the superintendents. A meeting was scheduled with Bertram and his team for mid-January, but Moore did not respond to the request.

A few days after the request for individual meetings, Watson asked to set a meeting with all the superintendents for early January. The following week Arntzen set a meeting for Ja. 6 at the Capitol with Zoom participation offered. Watson could no longer make the date work and asked to reschedule for Jan. 14.

I include all this tedious detail because it lends credence to the assertion that superintendents like Rob Watson are just playing political games, with my kids and the fabric on their face just convenient pawns for a power play to cause political damage to OPI. The meeting, in case you’re wondering, never happened (perhaps after 1/6 the word “Capitol” is PTSD triggering).

Anyway, lets return to the Missoulian’s role in providing op-ed propaganda for this larger effort to maintain control of school boards and their VERY SCIENTIFIC mask policies. Remember, Jim Strauss and Jim Van Nostrand had just concluded the last paragraph quoted with a BOMB metaphor. Nice!

He is saying that his individual rights trump the greater good, including anyone else’s desire to shield themselves from the scourge of the pandemic. A horrible message for our youth.

Yes, the bold emphasis includes the word “scourge”, a fun word that means two things: a whip used as an instrument to inflict punishment, and a person or thing that causes great trouble or suffering. The use of propaganda during this pandemic has been the most impressive assortment of coordinated mind-scourges I have ever seen, but I don’t think that’s what our mind-whippers had in mind.

Let’s continue, this is getting long.

“I’m not paid staff and you need to research the law a little better, the only people that they (the district) have legitimate control on is the students and their paid staff employees,” Gehl said in an interview with the Missoulian. “Other than that, they have no jurisdiction and the law that changed last year at the Legislature made that perfectly clear.”

“I’m not bound to follow district policy, I’m an independent,” he added.

And it’ll be longer because now the lawyers are getting involved.

Gehl is incorrect if he is saying that he does not have to follow any board policies, according to Elizabeth Kaleva, a local attorney who represents the school district.

School district trustees are expected to adopt policies and rules governing the school, she said.

“Even without the application of criminal laws, the district has the right to control the conduct of those individuals present on school property,” Kaleva said. “(Several district policies) incorporate these rights to control the conduct of visitors, which would include board members, on district properties.”

After this quote there’s some more Gehl-bashing I’ll skip over to get to this:

People run for school boards for different reasons. We hope most want to make our public schools better, not to act as an agent provocateur to undermine them.

These two op-ed’ing Jims clearly have no fucking clue what an AGENT PROVOCATEUR is. I’ll use Wikipedia to try and cure them of their ignorance:

An agent provocateur (French for “inciting agent”) is a person who commits or who acts to entice another person to commit an illegal or rash act or falsely implicate them in partaking in an illegal act, so as to ruin the reputation or entice legal action against the target or a group they belong to or are perceived to belong to. They may target any group, such as a peaceful protest or demonstration, a union, a political party or a company.

If the Jims hope to stick this label on Mike Gehl, they should bone-up on what the term actually means because I think it could more accurately apply to State Rep Danny Tenenbaum’s shady antics than Gehl’s.

The plot now is to whip-up the Covidians to mob Gehl (figuratively, I hope) with their scourges. This assumes the majority of parents are still supportive of mask mandates.

Are they?

Hey, I know, maybe poll us parents on what WE THINK is best for our kids.

No, it’s been clear what parents like me are supposed to do: SHUT UP AND OBEY.

For parents like me, Mike Gehl’s refusal is VERY appreciated.

Thanks Mike!

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Montana Democrats Won’t Reclaim Purple State Status In 2022 Because They Won’t Stop Their Identity Politics Bullshit

by Travis Mateer

Montana Democrats weren’t always losers. That is why Montana used to be considered a “purple” state. But that designation was obliterated during the last election cycle.

In the wake of historic losses in Montana’s 2020 election, state Democrats are hoping to bounce back, as the 2022 campaign season officially begins Thursday – but some acknowledge it may be a long, uphill climb.

“I’m not sure they can right the ship in 2022,” says David Parker, chair of Montana State University’s political science department. “I mean, it’ a mid-term election, and mid-terms do bad things for the party in power nationally.

Yep, things aren’t looking good for Montana Democrats, and some of the candidates announcing bids for local elections indicates Dems haven’t learned a damn thing from their historic losses. Here’s more from the link:

In 2020, all statewide Democratic candidates on the ballot in Montana lost decisively – a sweep that hasn’t happened here in more than five decades. They also lost every rural county – except some with Indian reservations – and claimed victory in only a few urban counties, such as Missoula, Butte (Silver Bow County) and Bozeman (Gallatin County).

“In rural counties, we have to get over this idea that we’re not going to win, so we don’t need to show up there,” says Zach Brown, a Democrat who, in 2020, won a formerly Republican county commission seat in Gallatin County. “We have to go talk to those communities and be present and demonstrate that we’re different than the national party.”

Brown also says Democrats must stop focusing on what he calls “identity politics” – appealing to specific groups and their grievances – and make their pitch based on broad-based economic issues.

“It’s not a popular thing to say within my party, but I think it’s true,” he told MTN News.

The emphasis in this quote are the parts I think Democrats in Montana should pay close attention to, but they won’t. Instead they’ll run candidates like Maggie Bornstein and Zooey Zephyr.

Here is a portion of the identity politics platform Maggie Bornstein will be bringing to her losing campaign:

“In Helena, Maggie will focus on housing through the lens of domestic and sexual violence, the leading cause of homelessness among women in the United States, food insecurity and affordable child care,” the release said.

If Bornstein gets into any problems with her past political shenanigans, maybe the AOC defense can be deployed. What’s the AOC defense? It’s positing that critics of your maskless Miami hypocrisy really just want to fuck you.

Seriously.

It turns out there’s a reason Republicans are hostile to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: They want her to be their bae.

That, at least, is the Democrat’s explanation for why conservatives mocked her for fleeing COVID-plagued New York for Miami Beach during the holidays with her sandal-wearing boyfriend, as shown in photos posted by National Review.

“If Republicans are mad they can’t date me they can just say that instead of projecting their sexual frustrations onto my boyfriend’s feet,” fumed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in a Friday tweet. “Ya creepy weirdos.”

Since I no longer identify with the progressive window-dressing adorning liberal authoritarianism, I’m glad Montana Democrats plan to keep sucking in 2022.

So stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

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