Archive for June 5th, 2006

About a week ago, I ran into a professional signature gatherer – flown in from Michigan, installed in a local hotel, paid to troll Montana’s streets – on the main drag in Missoula – Higgins street. I had just emerged from Taco del Sol with the kids, and he came up with three clipboards. Only they were the “terrible trio” of initiatives: 97, 98, and 152.

As he cycled through each, he’d describe them in the best possible way. “This one’s to stop the government from spending so much.” “This one allows us to recall judges.” “This one’s about eminent domain, to keep the government from seizing our property.”

No, no, and no, I won’t sign ‘em, I said.

“Don’t you feel like the people should decide on the ballot?” he asked. “I’ve had people sign these initiative because they thought they should at least go on the ballot. It isn’t up to one person to block these.”

A tricky turn of logic, this. Why not sign the petitions? It can’t hurt to get them on the ballot, can it? That’s democracy! Right?

Democracy is also getting enough signatures on a petition to get it on to the ballot in the first place. Theoretically, if a ballot initiative stinks, it will be harder to find people to sign it.

This reasoning takes advantage of two typical human characteristics: laziness and desire to do good. Most people are obsessively following politics and aren’t intimately familiar with what initiatives are floating around the neighborhoods. (That’s not a bad thing.) And most people also want to do right by contributing to their community through their responsibilities as a voter and citizen. So they sign petitions without paying too closely to them.

But the potential damage is real. If these initiatives make the ballot – especially piece o’cr*p, CI-97 – they could draw resources away from important legislative races. If 97 makes the ballot, then teachers’ unions will be forced to fight against it – as they should, since their job security might depend on it not getting passed. Money, volunteers, and time would be spent that might otherwise go to – I dunno – an important Senate race.

In short, here are the three initiatives and the “shorter,” 4&20-biased versions:

97. “Stop Overspending.” Concocted by rightwing fiscal extremists who want government to stop providing its people with services like public schooling, emergency response, or transportation, not to mention welfare, unemployment, etc. Puts a cap on state spending, leaving states helpless to deal with emergencies, a rapidly-aging population, or any significant shift in the economy.

98. Another rightwing plot to undermine the constitutional separation of powers by making it fairly easy to remove judges. Basically, social conservatives want to clear the land of “activist judges.” I.e., judges that won’t enforce their brand of social activism. Judgeships are traditionally life-time appointees to protect them from the irrational madness associated with temporary populist movements like the one pushing this bill.

152. Eminent domain law that handcuffs local governments from enacting regulatory change. Probably a result of Canyon Resource Corporation’s hissy fit against the state’s ban on cyanide leach mining. Values property over democracy.

If you don’t like these bills, don’t sign the legislation.

Matt Singer has put up an excellent summary on the Daily Kos of Tester's reception in Montana's cities. Jon's got the momentum and the volunteers. Things are happening, and we'll know tomorrow how everything stands…

Eric Coobs (?) once claimed that Tester's campaign would be a litmus test for the power of Montana's left blogosphere. Let's get the record straight: if Tester wins, it means the Montana left blogosphere is all-powerful, and Tester owes Wulfgar!, Singer, Pogie and me a beer. If Tester loses, Coobs is crazy. The Senate primary has nothing to do with us. (Tho' I think we should buy Tester as many beers as he can drink.)

Tomorrow should be exciting. When do the polls close?


New West’s Jonathan Weber explains why he “likes” Jon Tester. It’s, um, sort of an endorsement.

What’s Right’s Neomadison notices that Morrison is not doing much state auditing.

Last-minute profiles of Tester and Morrison.

The Independent has a feature on the “dark horse” candidates in this election, including the stylish Eric Jon Gunderson, whose website is worthy of a look-see.

Ochenski’s column on the Democratic primary is a little out-dated, but interesting.

American Prospect’s *ahem* excellent analysis of the Senate race. (Yes, I wrote it. Yes, this is shameless self-promotion.)

We’re not the only primary to watch tomorrow: California to decide who faces off against the Guvernator. And it ain’t pretty.

The Bush administration suppressed, edited, or just plain “disappeared” government scientific studies finding that global warming, indeed, does exist. Apparently they think science is supposed to confirm your business decisions.

Apparently God gave Pat Robertson the strength to leg-press 2,000 pounds so he could shill protein shakes.

Turns out the slashed anti-terror funding for NYC was signed off on by an incompetent, unqualified political appointee. Shocking, that.

World Cup coverage: The WaPo has an excellent WC blog. See Michael Davies p*ss-poor predictions for the tourney. And Soccer Blog has great video feeds of the world’s best, plus a lot of other cool posts.

I got a note from a friend with all the information for working for Tester in these last few hours. Please, if you have time, think about contributing.


Progressive cities like Missoula often suffer low primary turnout because everyone thinks that the most liberal candidate will win. Remember: the Presidency of the United States can turn on 300 votes. I expect an even smaller deciding margin next week. Your vote matters.

Tell others!

Write email to friends urging them to vote for Tester.

Monday and Tuesday, phone bank for Tester, either from home or at area headquarters. No experience necessary–and they'll feed you. Your calls can win the race. Every undecided voter makes a difference. Contact Denver @ 239-3421/ to volunteer.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, drop literature for Tester in the Missoula area. No talking necessary to spread the word. Contact Deb at 239-5988/ to volunteer.

Monday and Tuesday, honk and wave Tester signs in downtown Missoula during commuter hours 7-9 AM and 5-7 PM. Contact Aaron at to volunteer.

Our work over the next 48 hours will decide who joins the U.S. Senate for the next six years. Please do what you can to get out the vote.

(Thanks, Jeremy!)

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