Combat! blog breathes ash, isn’t useful



Fires rage about us, and Missoula has gone from mostly orange to that shade of blue that comes out of your car after Jiffy Lube sells you on the injector cleaner. There will be no Combat! blog today, because I did other stuff and am inexplicably sleepy. Everybody is. The Missoula valley is like the garage of a beeper salesman, filling with smoke as it lulls us into a restful end to our working days. Pray for wind, if you and God are still speaking to each other, and meet me back here Monday.



Ouroboros of time turns Republican against Republican, signaling final beginning

Kombat Kids! Don't worry about Cory the Ouroboros. You'll be dead long before it becomes an issue.

Don’t worry about Cory the Ouroboros, Kombat Kids. You’ll be dead long before it becomes an issue.

One of the few weathers to which my midwestern boyhood did not accustom me was “smoky.” Missoula is one big, smelly lighting effect right now, as smoke from any number of wildfires accumulates in our mountain valley. It’s red out. It itches. Probably a cold front will come through tonight and blow it all away, but maybe these are the end times. During the second reconciliation, Gozer appeared in the form of a giant slor. This year, he’s the Montana Republican Party, and he’s pissed.

As part of its ongoing lawsuit to overturn the state law allowing any registered voter to vote in either party’s primary, the Montana GOP has filed a motion to dismiss Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion. Bennion, a Republican, serves under Attorney General Tim Fox (R), whom he joined after successful tenures with the Chamber of Commerce and the campaign of former Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R–MT). As it was throughout time, the Republican Party of Montana is again an ouroboros, forever swallowing its own tail.

This whole thing started with a close primary for state Senate in neighboring Ravalli County, where moderate Pat Connell narrowly defeated the more conservative Scott Boulanger. The county Republican central committee subsequently declined to fund Connell’s candidacy in the general, which he won anyway, see footnote. But along the way, Boulanger complained Democrats had crossed over to vote for the moderate Republican in the primary.

Earlier this month, Connell was subpoenaed in the lawsuit. The second sign appears! And lo: the matter of his questioning was a campaign letter from former state senator Jim Shockley (R), who sent a targeted mailing to Ravalli County voters likely to go to the polls to vote against embattled treasurer Valerie Stamey. Boulanger supported Stamey’s appointment.

I assume you are rending your garments and running around in a circle right now, shouting hosannahs. Valerie Stamey was the greatest story Montana politics ever told. I thought it ended when she fled the state. Now, somehow, she returns as the beginning of this story. The seventh seal is open. The ouroboros is at hand.

You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. Like a novel about a made-up baseball team, Montana politics speaks to universal themes. Get on board while it’s a real ur-text.

Moral vs. structural problems of laser tag

The sport of kings

The sport of kings

Last night, a select few observed my birthday at The Hub Family Entertainment Center, where we played laser tag and drove go-karts. It was entertaining, and they let us in even without families. Even though I love it, I am terrible at laser tag and came in second to last, probably thanks to one of those five-year-olds who is operatively a stand for eyeglasses. But in my defense, one reason I got lit up so much was that a little girl followed me around the maze at a distance of about two feet, constantly pulling the trigger, not caring if I shot her and simply waiting until her gun reactivated to shoot me again. It turns out that’s a great strategy, in terms of maximizing points. But we didn’t come to laser tag to maximize points, to walk single-file and smile meekly at the person in front of us, even after he told us to go away, even after he tried to run off on his strong adult legs. So the big, important question:

  1. Is this little girl a dickbag, deserving of our censure? or
  2. Is this a structural problem of laser tag?

Continue reading

Quiz: How do you want to feel about Donald Trump?

Trump and a hat that suggests America sucks

Trump and a hat that suggests America sucks

Donald Trump addressed the audience at the first Republican debate so arrogantly I thought Virgil was going to come stand next to him. Apparently people love that. A CNN/ORC poll conducted over the weekend found Trump leads the field with support from 24% of registered Republicans. That’s after he said “our leaders are stupid” and started selling hats. With 11 points on Jeb Bush and 16 on Scott Walker, Trump clearly means something. But what? It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. What matters is how you choose to feel about his successful campaign for president. How do you want to feel about Donald Trump? Take this quiz and find out!

Continue reading

Close Reading: AT&T “doesn’t comment on matters of national security”

National Security Agency headquarters, which looks like freedom

The National Security Agency headquarters just looks like freedom.

Using documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the Times wrote Saturday that the NSA’s ability to spy on US internet traffic “has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.” NSA documents praise AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help” and remind contractors visiting the company to be polite, since “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.” I think we can all agree that a partnership between one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies and the federal government to secretly monitor our communication is an exciting direction for America to go. As if this relationship did not smack of corporatocracy already, there’s this refusal from an AT&T spokesman to discuss any of the findings: “We don’t comment on matters of national security.” It’s subtle, but it’s the subject of today’s Close Reading.

Continue reading