Archive for October 26th, 2006

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers!:

But let me suggest something here. Run adams’ piece [on Walter Schweitzer] by Ochenski and see what he says about it. If George says it’s a good story, I’ll accept it.


If anything is evident from Adams’ story, the blog comments, and the e-mails flying around the capital that the public will never see, it is the need for, at a minimum, full disclosure and clarification of Walter’s role. Without that, the climate of fear that permeates the issue will continue—and Montanans deserve better than to be afraid of their own government.

Now you know where I stand on Adams’ accusations. I don’t have a problem with Walter Schweitzer, I don’t have a problem with a strong arm in the Governor’s office, and I think that maybe the problem here is Montana’s nepotism law that forces Walter to stay off the official record.

I also think — judging by the comments on my and Ed Kemmick’s blog — that most people had no problem with Walter Schweitzer participating in policy or “bullying”; but that they did have a problem with accountability and oversight, as did Ochenski. I’d have to agree.

As for why Montana’s other papers didn’t run with this story — other than an apparent policy to never touch anything the Independent or a blog touches first (kind of like Ms. Marvelous and food) — there’s really not much substance to the article other than a couple of complaints from disgruntled party members and activists and an possible opposition candidate. There are a lot of questions, yes.

Ultimately Adams’ story and the outpouring here and at Ed’s is a gift, an opportunity for the Governor to do a little self-correcting. Keep Walter, just make him transparent. As Keenan demonstrated, the GOP is ready to play ball with this issue in the 2008 elections. Let’s not give ’em anything they can sink their claws into.

Posted by touchstone

So the Billings Outpost endorsed Tester:

We need a senator who will stand up for a balanced budget, even if that means voting against money that would line the pocket of his constituents. We need a senator who will stand up for the civil liberties that have made this country worth fighting for. We need a senator who resists ill-conceived attacks against foreign nations. Sen. Burns has demonstrated, amply and repeatedly, that he is not that senator.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Outpost also endorsed Rehberg – even after admitting our Representative shares many of the same failings as our junior Senator:

Sadly, much of the criticism of Sen. Burns above could also be applied to U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg. Like the senator, Rep. Rehberg has been willing to sacrifice liberty on the altar of the war on terror. If he has a better plan for handling Iraq than we have heard in the other house of Congress, then we haven’t run across it.

Moreover, he has a dismal record on environmental issues, and he has backed dubious constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and prohibit flag desecration. This is government at its most intrusive, running roughshod over the rights of states and of citizens to direct their own lives and loyalties.

The Outpost then admits Lindeen is “articulate and focused.” So…um why is the Outpost plugging Rehberg?

Still, we are not quite ready to cast Rep. Rehberg aside, especially since it seems likely that we already will have a freshmen senator in Congress. While we don’t like everything Rep. Rehberg does, we do like the way he handles himself and his office. We watched him grow as a candidate, from an inept race against Max Baucus for the Senate to a well oiled campaign against Nancy Keenan to reach to the House. He is personable and diligent, and he has managed as much as possible to avoid antagonizing groups that disagree with his votes.

I’m a little flabbergasted. The Outpost is endorsing Rehberg because of pork and because he’s a slick campaigner who avoided airing his views in public? You’re rewarding him for that? You’re throwing US soldiers, our public lands, and the Constitution under the bus because Rehberg looks good in a suit???

First, on the pork. In all likelihood, Rehberg will be a member of a bitter and caustic minority party in the House after November. (He better be, I’ve got five bucks riding on it.) He won’t get his appropriations any more! If elected, Monica Lindeen would have more say in the House than Dennis Rehberg will next year.

This endorsement smacks of the Outpost’s attempts to remain “objective.” If you endorse two Democratic candidates, then you’re at risk of being labeled a “liberal” paper. So you endorse Tester, then find some reason to like Rehberg, even if you have to throw the country to the sharks in doing so.

Or maybe the Outpost likes a safer bet. You want to stay on your Representative’s good side, right?

Seriously, if the Outpost couldn’t think of one negative quality for Monica Lindeen, why did it endorse her opponent who it already accused of endangering our civil liberties and contributing to the Iraq War mess? I wish they had the courage of Kansas’ The Johnson County Sun, who boldly claimed “the Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally,” and stood by its principles, appearances be d*mned.

Enough of the mealy-mouthed platitudes towards “balance,” “objectivity,” or futile gestures to a non-existent “center.” Just vote your principles. Do the right thing.

Posted by touchstone


Man! There sure is a lot of dirt on Burns coming to the surface lately! Ouch! Without further ado, let’s see what folks have to say:

President Bush campaigns on behalf of Burns in Billings! Boy, that should help. Not.

Oh, and what about all those appropriations Connie’s brought to the state? Baucus says he’s the man, not the junior member of the delegation.

And from TesterTime, Jon’s campaign blog, there’s a whole passel of info: some questionable voting the same day he cashed a check from big oil; a taxpayer advocacy calls for Burns to step down from the Senate Appropriations Committee for his flagrant spending habits; and a nice roundup of the Marianas Island debacle, complete with links.

The Bozeman Chronicle reports that the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics names Burns one of the “13 most corrupt” members of Congress.

And now for the rest of the news:

Is the massive concentration of US naval strength off the coast of Iran just manly posturing or provocation for war? I guess we’ll find out right before the election.

Jaime has a scoop about the trio of terrible initiatives! Apparently Howie Rich’s group, Americans for Limited Government, lost its authority to do business in the state from February to September of this year, the same time it was funneling money through Travis Butcher to fund their initiatives. First fraud, now this?

Speaking of terrible initiatives, Oregonians rue passing Measure 37, the regulatory-takings initiative and b*stard stepsibling of Montana’s own CI 154.

Scott has some endorsements and observations about state legislative candidates after attending a candidate forum.

Buzztail urges us to pay attention to the issue of poverty this election. So vote for the minimum wage initiative already, people!

Internal polls have Idaho Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brady up two points over his Republican counterpart, Butch Otter. Sure it’s an internal poll, but even so that’s good news in this (formerly?) conservative state. (And look who’s there to announce the good news!) (Julie’s take, with details.)

And national Republicans feel compelled to dump money in Wyoming to save Barbara Cubin’s bacon. You know what to do. Every little bit helps.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Democrats are surging. Good news everywhere…

And Nicole has words for everybody involved in the Schweitzer-Koopman age-of-the-Earth kerfluffle.

Colby: Sir, Barak Obama is no liberal!

The Crashing the States guys blew through Montana recently, leaving lefty Shane and righty Craig in their wake. A good time was had by all, and much amusing epistolary evidence was created.

Bookmark this! Gristmill gives you a handy reference sheet on how to talk to a climate change skeptic.

Glenn Greenwald comments on the New Jersey’s decision that gay couples deserve equal spousal rights.

Racist attack ad against Harold Ford is pulled from the airwaves. Mehlman is in denial.

Peter King thinks the NAACP and AARP are radical organizations, which only shows how far off the charts he is.

Boeing involved in rendition. Got any Boeing stock?

Olbermann comments on Limbaugh’s tasteless criticism of Michael J. Fox. (Includes video of Limbaugh mimicking Fox’ symptoms a classy response by the actor and some cheap shots at Limbaugh.)

Karl Rove is p*ssed that reality has a liberal bias.

Vanity Fair has a great article on the Haditha massacre. It’s not accusatory, but instead contemplates the conditions that may have created it.

Ten cool quotes about “patriotism.” I’m sure you’ll be able to guess my favorite.

Well, here’s an interesting rumor that’s worth passing on to you: an indictment is waiting in the US Justice Department for our very own Conrad Burns.

Rumors flying out of the US Justice Department say that…new indictments in the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal are now prepared, but are being held back until after Election Day…The two about to face the music are Senator Conrad Burns of Montana and Congressman John Doolittle of California according to sources inside Justice…

But far beyond that, the last thing the Republicans need is more news stories about corruption in Congress. The question know is,  have Bush and Rove interfered in an ongoing Justice Department investigation because of a political agenda?

So it looks like somone’s playing politics with the US Justice Department, and it ain’t the Democrats. Well, I’ve been saying for months that Burns is likely headed for the ‘pen, and it looks like his time is approaching.

It’s ironic, then, that Burns’ supporters are touting seniority as the reason we should vote for him. Take Brad Franklin’s endorsement of Burns in the Sidney Herald:

Conrad is on the committee on appropriations; committee on commerce; committee on science and transportation; committee on energy and natural resources; committee on small business; and the committee on aging. Max is on the finance committee; environment and public works committee; and the agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee. Denny is on the committee on appropriations. I have not included their sub-committee positions.Finance and appropriations committees in Washington, D.C., relate to financial benefits received by all Montana residents.

We, in Montana, cannot afford to lose the above positions, of which, the first criteria is longevity/seniority. Consequently, as I see it, we must re-elect Conrad Burns and Denny Rehberg in November 2006, and Max Baucus, if he runs, in 2008.

Remember, all you Republicans and Democrats, we have people in majority and minority positions of power, no matter if the majority is Democrat or Republican in the Senate.

Why would any Montana voter, regardless of political preference or whether you like or dislike the candidate personally, vote to lose our envious positions in national politics?

Besides being completely amoral, this line of thinking was well countered by Matt in a post today about this very issue of seniority. Basically he argues that both Burns and Baucus aren’t much longer for the Senate so in 8 years (tops!), we’ll have to start fresh anyway. Why not start building seniority now before Baucus retires?

Of course, if Conrad wins the election, it appears that this is the most likely scenario:

Burns Gets Reelected, Gets Indicted, Resigns: In this scenario, we’re in the absolute worst case we could be. Whoever gets appointed to finish Burns’ term doesn’t go in tied with his or her fellow newly elected Senators for seniority, they’re always a step behind. That will matter. And there’s no promise from caucus leadership for a seat on approps, so kiss that committee behind, if it’s truly a big deal to you.

Remember, if Burns loses his office, it’s the Governor who gets to name his replacement. If appropriations are your gig, it’s better to vote for Tester and allow him to racking it up right away rather than wait until Burns dons the orange jumpsuit.

Posted by touchstone

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