Archive for August 30th, 2006

Has anyone been over to the website of Americans for Limited Government recently? There’s a little surprise:

Meet Howie Rich! The picture alone is worth a blog post. Previously the Manhattan real estate developer and hidden funder of Montana’s trio of terrible initiatives – 154, 97, and 98 – was about as camera-friendly as a mafia don. The only picture on the Internet of Rich available was a grainy snapshot from some Manhattan function on Hart Williams’ blog. He was a recluse, pulling the strings for putting fiscal social engineering intiatives on the ballot in Arizona, California, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Washington, buying signature gatherers through front organizations in an attempt to make the initiatives look like grassroots-driven legislation.

The ruse is over. This web page is an obvious acknowledgement that Rich is behind the intitiatives.

Check it out. All the information is there. Under “Our Campaigns” you see the proposed inititaives. Under “State Partners” (now there’s wishful thinking) is listed each state and the initiative Rich has put on the ballot and links to the local websites. There’s even a blog, which posts the outrageous anecdotal perfidies of government – completely unrelated to Rich’s initiatives – the usual pap used to whip up the usual gang of outraged anti-government nuts.

Heck! I’m bookmarking this site! Instead of trying to follow Hart Williams’ exhaustive work uncovering the connections of each state to Rich, I’ll just trundle over here! There’s no more need to link to every story that traces their state’s proposed legislation through the financial labrynth and paper trails to Howie Rich: it’s all right here!

I’ll hand it to Rich. He’s no dummy. It was obvious his secretive work was damaging the initiatives politically – thanks to the blogs! Maybe five years ago slipping under the radar would work, especially considering traditional media’s almost nonexistant coverage of the issue. But the blogs were making a stink, so Rich put up this page, posted a generous portrait, and is apparently on a PR offensive, pretending that he’s been on the up-and-up all along.

Good luck with that.

So here you go, Montana journalists. The link from the initiative to its financier. Of course, now that Rich is tacitly admitting his support, it’s no longer a story, is it?



Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connely on the anti-incumbency feeling sweeping the nation and featuring Conrad Burns and Jon Tester.

Speaking of corrupt incumbents, Bill Frist is in Montana to stump for Burns.

Matt Singer on Kendall van Dyk and HD-49. He needs support.

The tale of another corrupt and incompetent Bush appointee. He sure knows how to pick ‘em, doesn’t he?

Why does Joe Lieberman hate democracy? And apparently his staff doesn’t know if the sun’s rising or setting.

Ugh. George Allen is a peach. A Cleveland lawyer explains from personal perspective of why his comments were so hurtful.

Matthew Yglesias calls out the prevailing opinion that Iran is actually a threat to the Middle East. He makes good points, but neglects the fact that Iran and its militant Islam have supporters among the poor and middle class throughout the region.

I guess using your news network as a blatant mouthpiece for government propaganda has its effects.

Freepers go after the recently kidnapped Fox News journalists. Um…and you wonder why I have to say “um” a lot? I just don’t understand these people.

Maybe the best editorial on Donald Rumsfeld this summer: “In recent weeks, he has been laid bare in public more often than Pamela Anderson.” (Via Shane.)

Okay, I admit I’m not into all the Katrina nostalgia. It all makes me queasy. But Crooks & Liars is doing it right – they’re reposting all the good video and story links that were published during that time. Check it out.

So who secretly blocked the government transparency bill? You got it, “Mr. Series of Tubes” himself, Ted Stevens of Alaska. He gives Stevenses a bad name.

Apparently conservatives would rather let a working health-care system die than open the door for a single-payer system. And screw vets in the process. Had enough?

Maybe the best editorial on Donald Rumsfeld this summer: “In recent weeks, he has been laid bare in public more often than Pamela Anderson.” (Via Shane.)

So the NRA is supporting Conrad Burns by hosting fundraisers across the state. (Sorry, no link. I just know these things, heh heh. It’s part of being a Montanan.) For many of my out-of-state readers, some of whom are “coastal elites,” this is a big deal. Montanans love their guns.

(Note that I’m pretty “squishy” when it comes to gun control. I think some communities can have a legitimate interest in limiting the type of guns in their neighborhoods. That said, I think the current background check system is decent enough, if enforced, and I’m comfortable with Montanans and their guns. Ultimately it’s not much of an issue with me. But this ain’t about me.)

Why is the NRA supporting Burns? Jon Tester is an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. When I emailed his office for his position on gun control, I got the following “official” statement:

“Jon Tester is a hunter and sportsman who fully supports Americans’ second amendment rights to keep and bear arms.”

Burns, too, has a record of supporting gun rights. In 2000, he won an “A” rating from the NRA for his lifetime record on gun issues.

Normally, if all things were equal, you’d think the interest group would just bow out and concentrate on other races. However, the NRA policy (no link here, either, just trust me) is to support the incumbent over the challenger because the incumbent has more advantages in Congress because of his seniority and committee assignments.

Only thing…Burns and Tester aren’t equal when it comes to NRA gun issues. There’s the little thing called the Patriot Act that separates them on the protection of Second Amendment rights.

You see, gun owners rightfully distrust the Patriot Act, and the NRA recently joined the ACLU in criticizing the legislation. Many (sane) conservatives don’t want government to intrude into their daily lives – which is why the Montana state legislature’s condemnation of the Patriot Act was overwhelmingly bipartisan. The NRA and their supporters are extremely vigilant in protecting their right to bear arms; the Patriot Act through its many and nefarious provisions allows unreasonable search, seizure, and imprisonment of US citizens…and their guns.

In the televised June Senate debate, Jon Tester

….said that after 9/11 we had a great opportunity, everybody was willing to effect real change and eradicate terror organizations. We had allies and willing cooperation. But all Bush told us to do was “go shopping.” And then came the Patriot Act, which “penalized our people first.” We don’t need to take away Americans’ freedoms to catch terrorists; we can still follow the rule of law and catch terrorists.

Burns? Big fan of the Patriot Act. (And note that Burns’ “A” rating came in 2000 — before the passage of the Patriot Act.)

Not only does Burns lag behind Jon Tester in protecting Americans’ personal liberties and their right to bear arms, apparently – as rumor has it – he’s been very disappointing at the NRA fundraisers. Apparently he shows up and gives a lame five-minute speech on voter registration and then splits, which only reinforces his commitment, not to Montanans, but to lobbyists and industry.

The NRA’s endorsement of Burns reveals one thing: they are not an interest group, they are blind, partisan Republican supporters.

NRA members and gun rights’ advocates: now is the time to write to the NRA and voice your complaint with their endorsement. The NRA should be about protecting the Second Amendment, not supporting Republicans. Burns does not support American liberties; he should not receive the NRA endorsement.

Anyone see the Gazette report on the Senate race? It’s mostly fluff, the kind of piece newspapers do to keep the non-political junkies abreast of the race, a quick summary of how excited Democrats are of the race and some random GOP speaking points tossed in.

The interesting stuff lands at the end of the article where “handicappers” – i.e., political pundits – weigh in on the race.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report:

“We have become convinced that the national environment is not going to improve for Republicans, that the strong desire for change we’ve been seeing is not going to abate and that Tester is running a pretty good campaign,” Rothenberg said…He added that the only way Burns has a chance of holding on to the seat is to paint Tester as so “ideologically radioactive” that moderate voters won’t consider voting for him.”Just calling Tester a liberal is probably not going to be enough in this election year,” Rothenberg said.

Oh boy. It’s not like Burns hasn’t already gone negative this campaign, the last thing he needs is a little encouragement.

The Cook Political Report:

“Incumbents, unless they are indicted, never go beyond toss-up in the direction of the other party, because incumbents have this funny way of closing gaps,” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate and gubernatorial races for the report…”Having said that, I think it’s hard for Burns to pull this off.”She said the factors hurting Burns’ chances are, in order, the senator’s ties to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, Burns’ verbal gaffes, the national political environment and finally Tester himself.

Oft-heard Gazette source stalwart, Larry Sabato:

“Burns simply has too many problems – from President Bush and the Iraq war to the lobbying scandal and his own uncontrollable tongue,” Sabato wrote on his Web site. “Burns will be exceptionally lucky to come out of his tailspin and win another term. Tester’s image seems just right for Montana voters, and Burns’ efforts to label Tester a left-wing liberal have not taken hold, at least not so far.”

If you’re Jon Tester, these tidbits have got to feel good. Like reading glowing reviews of the book you just wrote. Remember, these people never get carried away. Changing a race status from “leans incumbent” to “tossup” or even “leans challenger” is an act of daring bravado for these people.

My advice to all you Tester supporters out there is to take these opinions as incentive to keep up the hard work, volunteering, and donations. Relaxing will not win this race. We’re doing the right thing, and we need to more of it. So read these optimistic reporst and let it get you fired up!

You know the drill: Contribute. Volunteer. Talk up Tester to everyone you know.

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