Archive for May, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Matt Singer at Left in the West has invited me to blog at his site, and I’ve decided to take him on his offer.

It’s a bittersweet move, of course. Left in the West is a great blog and has a large and dedicated readership. I’ll be writing the same stuff and in the same way I write here – a style a little different than Matt’s – so I’m not really going anywhere. Matt and I – tho’ we don’t always agree on policy and politics – are working towards similar progressive goals, so the switch seems to be natural, even inevitable.

On the other hand I’ve scratched out 4&20 blackbirds from nothing. I get a fair number of readers every day, a few hundred, and have had over 150K clicks since I switched over to WordPress about six months ago. And I’ve put a lot of work into this blog. I know it’s just code and a Web address, a couple of graphics and a lot of text, but it’s come to feel like my little house. So I’m sad to leave it behind.

That said, I’m not taking 4&20 blackbirds down. I’m trying to convince some suckers — er, some interested people to take over the site and make it more of a local blog, focusing on Missoula city politics and issues and culture. Everyone reads the national blogs, but I think local and state blogging is where the real effect of blogs will be felt, as bloggers can bring attention to and explain municipal and state issues, topics that really aren’t commented on enough in the traditional media.

If that happens, I’ll no doubt pop over and post now and then on local issues or events.

In the meantime I invite you to follow me over to Left in the West. I’ve got a bunch of topics on the back burner that I’ll be able to write about now that the legislature is over and done with. The 2008 election is coming up; you’ll be able to follow the state and federal races at LiTW, as well as providing rockin’ commentary on the issues crucial to the state as we plunge further into the 21st century…

Come on! Let’s go! What are ya gawkin’ at?

Links…

CQ’s Matthew Spieler praises “Red State Dems,” including Jon Tester.

USA Today: “Senators who weakened drug bill got millions from industry”; with graphic that includes a certain Montana Senator.

Matt Singer sees in Lange’s sacking the result of his compromise with the Good Guv. That is, the MT GOP wants to be more combative and obstructionist…

Jeff Mangan pitches in his two cents on the end of the special session…

The AP is reporting that the Governor’s “square deal” made it nearly intact through the Montana legislature.

Singer examines the “Give it Back” website and its backer, Steve Daines, and thinks something fishy is going on. I have to agree: why would someone start this movement now, when it was too late? Seems to be an anti-Schweitzer political ad, if you ask me…

jhwygirl is a little appalled at all the recent nutso crime in Missoula.

Steve Benen: “On the one hand, they hate frivolous lawsuits. On the other hand, they hate gay people. What’s a conservative movement to do?”

Wolfowitz: “It’s my girlfriend’s fault.” Classy. Let’s hope he loses his job and his girlfriend.

Gonzalez: “It’s McNulty’s fault.” Classy. Let’s hope he loses his job and…and…his dignity? Already gone.

Democrats are falling down on lobbying reform. Remember why we voted for you, you c*cksuckers!

Republicans are gloomy about the state of the party, blame Bush.

Fox News mixes up race and voter fraud, apparently scaring up support for Republicans’ phony voter fraud claims.

Fred Thompson passes muster with secret right-wing foreign policy group, the Council for National Policy.

Newt edging towards a presidential bid? Oh man, I hope so.

So…both the Iraqi parliament and the US Congress want us to withdraw from Iraq. Mitch McConnell: “…if they vote to ask us to leave, we’ll be glad to comply with their request.” Colby wants to know why the Iraqis’ vote is more important than Congress’.

An update on the state of the Feingold-Reid bill to cut off funding for Iraq. Presidential campaign politics enter the mix…

Josh Marshall on the death of US soldiers in Iraq: “…the service and sacrifice wash the death clean of the folly of the leaders who ordered them into battle.”

Leave it to the Bush administration to make John Ashcroft look like a paragon of restraint and a man more committed to his country than his pet ideologies.

Oops. MSNBC quotes a satire site on Jerry Falwell. I guess they should reconsider outsourcing their producing to India…

Ed Kemmick realizes his corporate overlords think an Indian bus-boy could do his job, sweats.

Jon Stewart on “ongoing investigations.”

Colbert pays homage to Tony Blair.

by Jay Stevens

The bill that would close the tax loopholes for out-of-staters was scuttled by the House Republicans. In response, the equipment tax reductions for businesses was scrapped.

That’s not terribly surprising. The GOP has been against the tax-collection bill since day one. What’s interesting about this particular report is what Sales has to say about the bill:

House Speaker Scott Sales sent a clear signal to Democrats on Tuesday that the “revenue enhancements” would not get through the House.

“Hell no,” he told Senate President Mike Cooney after Cooney asked him in a morning meeting to reconsider the issue.

“I’m not raising taxes on someone to cut taxes for someone else,” Sales said.

Got that? First, Sales acknowledged the bill would have meant more revenue from the state. Second, the Speaker also considers tax collection to be a form of “tax increase.”

It appears that Speaker Sales is saying that poor tax collection is a known form of tax cut for big business. It’s an interesting moment of truthfulness from the House Speaker, isn’t it? He apparently would undermine the laws and government agencies of the state in the name of ideology. Classy.

by Jay Stevens

Oops!

The House adjourned after passing its tax and budget bills without waiting around to see if the Senate will pass them. If the Senate rejects any of the bills, the Governor will have to call another special session…

As ID’s Jason says, “I am beginning to think that Mr. Sales really just doesn’t get how the Montana Legislative system works.”

The first casualty in the brouhaha is now former House majority leader, Michael Lange, who was stripped of his position, largely over his obscenity-laden tirade.

A couple of things. First, I told you so!

Second, I actually feel bad for the guy. Apparently having learned his lesson from the fallout of the angry rant, he was one of the 13 House Republicans to reach out to the Good Guv and rescue the state’s budget.

I suspect there will be other casualties from the 2007 legislative session. I suspect we won’t ever see another Sales Speakership, for one. Or another Constitution party member in the body (Jore terms out after this session). Or Sinrud given the reigns of the Appropriations Committee.

Whether Schweitzer has suffered any damage this session remains to be seen, but despite some institutional criticism in the papers, some critics in the blogosphere (myself included), and general disgruntlement in political circles, I suspect it may be Schweitzer who may emerge from this session as the “winner.” Certainly it could be – and likely will be – spun that Schweitzer stepped in and saved the day.

Update: It’s over

by Jay Stevens

Dagnabit! Just when I was going to sit down and write a post about how the special session was hummin’ along for budget issues, but foundering on tax issues – and not over the substance or amount of relief – but on the collection of taxes, I see David Sirota beat me to the punch:

…the Republican leadership in the Montana legislature has no problem with resident taxpayers paying higher taxes because out-of-state landowners and corporations are being allowed to get away with not paying what they owe. This, folks, is the war on the middle class at work.

The Great Falls Tribune gives us more details, reporting that Republicans offered “amendments rang[ing] from reducing the number of lawyers in the state Department of Revenue to cutting funding for a tax-gap analysis.” And the Billings Gazette and the Daily Interlake gives us some details on exactly who is pulling the strings – it’s Republican Reps. Scott “My Vote’s For” Sales, Bob Lake and John Sonju.

From the Daily Interlake’s piece, Bigfork’s Bill Jones sums up the current session’s logjam:

Rep. Bill Jones, R-Bigfork, said he’s not aware of the details, but he is “disturbed that we’re talking about revenue enhancements when we have a surplus.”

Jones was not among the Republicans who met with Schweitzer’s staff last weekend, but he often votes with that group. He voted in the Republican bloc to pass the major education bill Friday and the governor’s energy bill Saturday.

“There’s two steps that I’ve supported them on right there,” he said.

Looks like Republican corporatists are caving on the budget, on the composition and amount of tax relief (Interlake: “Sonju and Sales, R-Bozeman, both said the bill is laden with so much harmful tax policy that they would not support it even though it also contains tax relief provisions”…), but are trying to derail the process over collecting taxes. That is, they don’t want big business to have to pony up.

And while the Governor is not winning any friends this session and has made a lot of bonehead blunders, it’s quickly becoming evident that this whole Legislature crash has been about protecting out-of-state big business from their tax responsibilities.

I’m not as quick as Sirota to accuse Sales of being bought. After all, Sales and the gang may actually believe it’s in the best interest of the state to relieve business of their tax obligations. It makes for a “business friendly” state! Unfortunately for the rest of us, being “business friendly” means having to pony up and pay a disproportionate amount of taxes.

Sirota calls it a “war on the middle class.” As much as I often chafe at Sirota’s demagoguery, I have to agree.

by Jay Stevens

So a guy gets plastered, causes a wreck in Bonner, drives off, veers into a bicyclist and kills her in front of witnesses, crashes into a stop sign, then staggers off home where the cops nab him.

And then he pleads “not guilty.”

Is he still drunk?

It’s *sshats like this that test my opposition to the death penalty.

And don’t even get me started on this guy. Violent women-hating stalkers bug me.

Update: My knee-jerk passion is corrected by defense attorney, “Ty,” in the comments:

An arraignment is just an initial presentment – usually your first time in court. The entry of the plea at that stage is basically a formality. Often that will be the first time you see a lawyer. It is the rare case that anyone would plead guilty at arraignment, where you may not even have a lawyer yet and certainly no lawyer has investigated your case, talked with the prosecutor about a potential plea bargain, or considered all your options and advised you about them. It would be unethical for a lawyer to just advise a client to just plead guilty at arraignment without having investigated the case at all.

Good to know. I’m not crazy about bicyclist-killing drunks, but I admit I went a little overboard… 

by Jay Stevens

Jon Tester won a Senate seat way back in November. The battle for credit continues to rage, this time between Howard Dean’s DNC and Chuck Schumer’s DSCC.

The core of the argument? Who spent how much when!

Schumer told the DNC that his committee put $500,000 into building a voter file in Montana, about 10 times what the national committee had invested in voter registration and identification.

“He said, ‘What are you talking about? We put in half a million into voter registration and you put in 50,000 [dollars],’” one source said.

[snip]

The DNC spent between $7 million and $9 million on Senate races and between $2 million and $3 million on House races, according to congressional Democratic estimates. Senate leaders were satisfied with the amount given by the DNC, but House leaders were not.

Most of the DNC’s spending went toward building party infrastructure in traditionally Republican states and helping Democrats to win state and local offices.

By touting its activities in Montana, the DNC stepped on Schumer’s pride.

Here’s what I know. I wouldn’t have joined the Missoula Democrats, volunteered for Tester, or started blogging without Dean’s infrastructure.

The voter lists were nice…but about a gazillion organizations had similar lists. How many of you Democratic-leaning Montana voters received phone calls this election, raise your hands! And how many of you received like a gajillion phone calls? That is to say, the lists didn’t carry the day. In fact, if I recall correctly, not only did the Beltway gang back the wrong pony at the start of the race, they dumped some pretty horrible ads on the state.

Stop with all the DC chest-thumping. It was dumb luck. Great political timing. An honest, decent man with the right issues running against a corrupt Missouri auctioneer from a corrupt, incompetent political party. A lousy war. A desire for change, and a lot of naive joes and janes just optimistic enough, just dumb enough to do the gruntwork.

Jon won that race. Montanans won that race. Thanks for all the money, though.

by Jay Stevens

There’s a nice story in today’s Gazette on how 13 Republican legislators met over last weekend with members of Governor Schweitzer’s staff to come with a broad agreement on spending and taxation for the legislative special session.

First, the thirteen. Revile or praise them, as is your wont:

–Llew Jones (Conrad)
–Alan Olson (Roundup)
–Michael Lange (Billings)
–John Ward (Billings)
–Edith Clark (Sweetgrass)
–Tom McGillvray (Billings)
–Elsie Arntzen (Billings)
–Gary Maclaren (Victor)
–Wayne Stahl (Saco)
–Jesse O’Hara (Great Falls)
–Carol Lambert (Broadus)
–Bill Nooney (Missoula)
–Walter McNutt (Sidney)

Nooney, for one, had to know his voting record this legislative session won’t play well in this town, even in the conservative neck of Missoula he represents. That’s the downside of marching lockstep with your caucus, especially if it’s on the extremist side. No doubt he’s anticipating a reelection battle; compromise now will help him appear to be a moderate.

Then there’s this little nugget:

Conspicuously absent was House Speaker Scott Sales, the highest-ranking Republican in the House.

Sales said later he wasn’t invited. Those at the meeting said they wanted people there who were willing to negotiate. Sales, an outspoken conservative, has been adamant in his call for deeper spending reductions and longer-term tax cuts.

Even his own party views him as an obstructionist.

There was some talk to rehabilitate Sales’ image – Lange, notably, said that Sales intransigence gave the 13 Mutineers some advantage in their negotiations with the Good Guv’s people. In other words, the GOP went along with obstructionism and helped scuttled the general session for…a bargaining chip?

I know how much the Speaker enjoys his manly war analogies, so I’ll offer this one up: when you surrender, you offer up your sword with the hilt given to you enemy. Don’t stick him with the point.

by Jay Stevens

So far and so good: nothing unusual or unexpected has yet occurred in the special session of the legislature. It looks like the education bill will leave the Senate tonight for the House tomorrow – where it’s likely some sparks will fly. The budget bill is still being hashed out.

Matt Gouras filed a story about this morning’s Republican caucus, in which Scott Sales confronted his mutiny:

House Speaker Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, called a meeting of House Republicans and told them he was not in on the compromise, didn’t authorize members of the caucus to cut a deal and won’t support it.

A Republican moderate then stood up in front of his GOP colleagues, many of whom didn’t look pleased, and explained why he has decided to go along with a package being put together by Schweitzer’s office.

“This common ground is something I can accept,” said Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad. “Is this common ground acceptable to everyone? I don’t know.”

[snip]

Jones, in talking about his decision to be among the dozen or so Republicans who took it upon themselves to negotiate with the governor, said he believes “folks on the extremes are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

[snip]

Right afterward, conservative Republican Rep. Ed Butcher of Winifred, stood up to take issue with the package.

He said Republicans supporting it are “rolling over to give the governor what he wants.”

[snip]

Sales told the House Republicans at their meeting that he would not tell anyone how to vote over the next three days of the special session.

“You are accountable to yourselves,” Sales said.

Me? I’m just glad some Republican moderates stepped up and made the deal, putting the interest of their state over their political party.

by Jay Stevens

A little while ago, I wrote about Sen. Baucus’ clash with the administration over closing the tax gap, and offered a recommendation of how he could achieve his goals.

The post got picked up by a rightie (and eventually found its way to a North Dakota television station) and linked to a WSJ report on some errors Max made in his taxes. The point was that the tax gap isn’t made up of just cheats, but also by those making honest mistakes, like Max Baucus.

(But that conclusion didn’t stop the Montana GOP from labelling Max as a tax cheat in a You Tube video. Is this any better than suspecting Vogel’s subpoena had something to do with Republican corruption? Answer: no. Or, to paraphrase Dennis Rehberg: “[The Montana GOP’s] implications in the [hosted video] are false, shameful, and unbefitting anyone who claims to be a Montanan.” Or whatever. It’s early to start bloviating, folks.)

Hey, I’m all for simplifying taxes! (Of course, it was Congressional GOPers who made ‘em complex so their fat cat friends could exploit the subsequent loopholes.) And I never advocated going after those who messed up on their taxes, but those big corporations and the mega rich who use offshore accounts to dodge millions in taxes.

Max’s example shouldn’t be a reason to give up on closing the tax gap. In fact, it should encourage Congress to simplify the tax code and close those loopholes.

Links…

Missoula Rep. Kevin Furey’s being called to active duty. The Missoula County Democrats selected his father, Tim Furey, to sit in for him during the Legislature’s special session. Good luck to both father and son, and our wishes for Rep. Furey’s safety.

The Guv’s budget man, David Ewer, gives us a peek at some of the tax and budget legislation you can expect to see this weekend.

Sen. Jim Elliot (D-Trout Creek) and Rep. Gordon Hendrick (R-Superior) seek to explain to the The Clark Fork Chronicle and the Frenchtown School Board the reason for the Legislature’s gridlock.

Jon Tester profiled in Men’s Journal: “Montana’s Organic Farmer.”

Baucus: Hedge fund tax bill “nowhere in sight.” He’s not so wishy-washy on banning the AMT, though. Ugh.

You know why I won’t be supporting Hilary Clinton? Meet Mark Penn.

A reminder of why you pulled the little blue lever: House Democrats are proposing the restoration of habeas corpus. The New York Times: “There is nothing “conservative” or “tough on terrorism” in selectively stripping people of their rights. Suspending habeas corpus is an extreme notion on the radical fringes of democratic philosophy.”

Kossak Kagro X isn’t sure if the tendency of Congressional Republicans to use their wives as fronts for their corrupt operations is a sign of feminist progress, or simply traditional exploitation of women…

The ninth fired US attorney. (Steve Benen’s take.)

All right! This is more like it! Charges may result from attorney firings. Let’s hold these *sshats accountible.

Don’t eat pork. Or chicken. Or fish. Thanks, you “loyal Bushies,” for giving the treatment to the FDA.

Let’s see…Chevron gave Saddam Hussein illegal kickbacks in the infamous oil-for-food scam…and Condi Rice was on the board of directors at the time…

Let’s see…the administration wants to nominate Dell Dailey to the State Department post that’s responsible for coordinating international efforts to combat terror…only he was in charge of our country’s rendition program…a kidnapper…seems to me this is a no-brainer thumbs-down vote for the Senate.

Let’s see…Iraqi’s parliament signed a petition demanding US withdrawal from their country…um…why, exactly, are we there?

Let’s see…a former US military commander urges Congress to “act now to protect our fighting men and women” from the President’s failed strategy…so, um, why can’t we get enough votes to override Bush’s veto?

Michael Erickson managed to acquire an early copy of the schedule for the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Ed Kemmick touts the Butte Press Club meeting this weekend. All are invited to attend. I admit I’m tempted, but it’s hard to jet out of town for a weekend when there are toddlers around…

by Jay Stevens

Bush has threatened to veto the Democrats’ newest Iraqi funding bill because it includes “unacceptable language restricting funding.” Like, for example, requiring Bush to report progress in Iraq to Congress.

Booman Tribune:

If the President is going to veto over that then we really are entering into some kind of wonderland. I don’t think he can hold his caucus together on this veto. I’m not saying the GOP would override his veto, but there will be a lot more defections.

This veto dance is getting silly. I realize the Prez can’t sink much lower among the American people, so there’s no concern in the administration for that, but at some point folks are going to realize this man is out of control.

by Jay Stevens

Steve Benen is one of my favorite bloggers. No, strike that. He is my favorite blogger, which should be evident to regular readers of my “Links…” post. He’s prolific, his posts are well-written and well-thought-out, and he seems to be always right.

Well…almost always.

He recently wrote a post criticizing Rep. Ted Poe’s quoting of Nathan Bedford Forrest on the House floor. To Benen – and a number of other liberal bloggers – Forrest’s background as slave trader, Confederate general, and founder of the KKK implied that Poe is a racist f*ck:

Shouldn’t this be a bigger deal? Given all of the racial problems of the Republican Party, isn’t it rather scandalous for a Republican lawmaker to rely on the words of the founder of the KKK?

Er…yes…but this was the quote: “Git thar fustest with the mostest.” (The correct quote is “git thar fust with the most men.”)

Sorry, Steve, but this is a form of ad hominem attack. It’s bad rhetorical form to discount an idea because of the moral makeup of its source. Despite Forrest’s politics, racism, and battlefield barbarism (Fort Pillow massacre, anyone?), he is also known by military historians as perhaps the Civil War’s greatest tactician.

Rightie Ed Morrisey:

It’s an anecdote used by people to talk about military strategy, as Poe clearly did, instead of some invocation of racism. It’s not particularly bright of Poe to quote Forrest — especially since the quote is essentially meaningless as well as fabricated — but discussing Forrest’s military acumen (which was considerable) doesn’t mean people support the Klan, a point that is rather obvious when considering authors such as Catton who catalogued Forrest’s strategic thinking.

Well put, but then is followed – as are many rightie responses – with finger pointed to former KKKer, Sen. Robert Byrd, who happens to be a Democrat, as if somehow Byrd’s presence in the party negates all of the eliminationist, nativist, and racist rhetoric flowing from the right lately. (And there are a whole lotta links I didn’t post.)

At worst, Poe was giving the ol’ wink-and-nudge to Confederacy idolizers and their passion’s racist not-so-subtle subtext. And to be fair to Benen, Poe’s office’s explanation of the quote didn’t help quash that suspicion:

“The reference to Forrest was used in an historical context comparing the request to Congress for support of the Confederate troops to the request that is being made today by our Generals in Iraq.”

Huh?

In all seriousness, there should be no prohibition from bringing up people’s names or accomplishments because of their background. Should we ditch the interstate highway system because Hitler came up with the idea first? Should we spurn pasta because Italy went for Mussolini? Should we push Texas into the sea because it propelled Bush into the nation’s top political seat? Well…now that you mention it…

Terror attack!

by Jay Stevens

Dig this:

Gee. A terror plot involving Christian radicals. Imagine that. And to think I got jumped yesterday (and today) in email and attempted nasty, unprintable comments for expressing concern as to whether or not the bombs seized in Alabama involved white supremacists, and today we read about a terrorist plot against a woman’s clinic that was supposed to take place on American soil – planned out by ……………… Christian radicals.

You idiots on the wingnut right who only see the media and ‘Islamofacists’ as the “real” enemy ever gonna get a clue? Ever going to get beyond slamming people for rightly worrying that an explosion or a thwarted plot is the work of an Christofascist? Was your first thought today when you heard about this plot was that it was a “Islamic” plot? I wonder which one of the righty ‘nuts declared the news of this thwarted plot as ‘overblown’ first?

Ever since I saw the newstory about the clinic bomb, I’ve been wanting to take a rightie rant about terrorists and do a find-and-replace. I didn’t have to wait long, thanks to the idiots who wanted to shoot up a military base.

Basically I took “Sista Toldja”’s hysteria-laden post about a “Islamic militant terror plot” to attack Fort Dix, and replaced a few key words and links.

Not to downplay the Fort Dix gang…yet, but the administration does have a history of passing off less-than-dangerous and less-than-organized plots as proof of a world-wide organized Islamic terror threat. What’s already known is that the Fort Dix six were not affiliated with any known terrorist group.

Were they dangerous? Of course, just like any other group of alienated twenty-somethings with assault rifles. (See, “Shootings, Virginia Tech,” for more details.)

But what’s not in doubt is that they were nowhere near as well-organized or had as much history of violence as anti-abortion clinic bombers and militia groups, both mentioned in the links above.

My point is that terrorism isn’t inherently Islamic – or even religious — or the purveyance of dark-skinned illegal immigrants. To simplify the problem to a set of preprogrammed ideological values only diminishes the complexity of the problem.

I’m happy the Fort Dix six were caught before they could act – I’m especially happy for the soldiers stationed and training there – but let’s not pretend they’re the vanguard of an “invasion” of Islamic radicals or something, eh? There are plenty of violent loonies right here at home we need to deal with.

by Jay Stevens

We got ourselves a humdinger this legislative session.

Governor Schweitzer called the special session of the Legislature this weekend – starting Thursday — and has declared it will meet for three days, through Saturday.

Here’s what we know from the news reports. Schweitzer and his administration have met with “a dozen Republican legislators,” including House Majority Leader Mike Lange. Apparently the Governor and the rogue Republicans have struck some sort of deal.

My thoughts, and things to look for:

— It appears that John Sinrud, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Scott Sales, Speaker of the House, were excluded from the deal.

That’s huge, and means that the Governor has to line up more than just a couple of Republicans to his tax and budget plans. Sinrud can table any appropriations bill – such as, say, a budget bill – that passes through his committee. Sales can tweak procedures to sit on bills. He can use “pocket vetos” – simply putting passed bills into a desk drawer or refuse to sign them. Both men have this past legislative session used those procedural tactics to deal with legislation or legislators they don’t like. (Yes, a lot of bills vanished.)

In order to bypass these procedural difficulties, the Governor needs 60 House votes to “blast” bills out of committee. That means he needs at least eleven Republicans to vote with a unified Democratic bloc to get bills past the Sales/Sinrud bottleneck.

— If Schweitzer does have his “dozen” Republican legislators, we’ll see some internecine sparks fly on the House floor. Maybe even more angry speeches from Sales again questioning the morality of his opponents and no doubt some of his one-time allies.

If Schweitzer does have his “dirty dozen,” then we may be witnessing the beginning of an internal struggle for the Republican party. Scott Sales won the House speakership over the more moderate wing of his party by a single vote; is this the first sign of a moderate versus radical struggle in Republican electoral politics, we’ll see intensify in 2008? Are state party leaders and donors pulling the party back to the center?

— Schweitzer’s plans and call for a special session caught the Democratic leadership completely off guard.

That doesn’t bode well for some of his pet projects, notably the “green” energy bill he tried to pawn off on the Legislature this session. A complete mess, possibly illegal as it’s written, only one Democrat voted against it the last time around – Jim Elliot, a Senator who’s facing term limits, and who had nothing to lose politically by opposing the Governor. You can bet more Democrats step up against this dog when the bill threatens to become reality. Does the Governor have enough Republican votes to overturn his own party’s defection on questionable legislation?

— Right now, this is the Governor’s game. By most accounts, his leadership – or lack of it – was a major reason why the 2007 Legislature’s regular session failed so spectacularly. (The other major contributor, of course, was demagoguery from the House leadership.)

 I’m really beginning to hear a lot of negative comments about the Governor’s communication style, and a lot of internal, muffled disgruntlement with policies and politeness stemming out of Helena.

The bottom line is this: if Schweitzer pulls this special session off – and there’s a lot of reasons why this session could crash and burn – it’ll be a major political coup for the Governor. If so, it’ll be seen as a validation for Schweitzer’s diplomacy and policy-making. That’s not a good thing, but I’ll take it if it comes with a budget and the public humiliation of right-wing extremists Sales and Sinrud.

(I know the Good Guv reads the blogs, so let me make a personal appeal: a crash is coming. Poor policy and poor manners will catch up to you. It may not happen now, it may not happen before your re-election; but if you’re thinking bigger and beyond, you need energy policy that’s well written and effective. And you need friends.)

So there’s my views on the special session. Your thoughts?

Links…

Tester kills liquid coal bill. Is he splitting off from the Good Guv over coal-to-gas? Let’s hope so, because that scheme ain’t got legs, IMHO, tho’ Eastern Montana is getting goose bumps just thinking about it.

The Senate kills a bill that would allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from Canada. So much for “free trade.” Baucus was among those that took this legislation down.

Montana legislative special session to convene on Thursday. Jeff Mangan is surprised at the timing and length of the session, the Good Guv’s optimism, and wants to know what the Governor knows, and when he knew it.

Ed Kemmick has a modest proposal on how to lubricate legislative relations.

Sarpy Sam doles out the blame for the infusion of contaminated wheat gluten into our food supply. Warning: you do not escape his critical eye.

Canada has better health care than the US. Oh yeah, it costs half as much.

In an effort to create its own politically-biased video web site – QubeTV – Nicole Belle sees a pattern in which the conservative movement seeks to create its own “reality.” Kind of cult-like, if you ask me.

Obama tells Detroit car manufacturers they need to start implementing better fuel efficiency.

Dave Neiwert kicks in his two cents on the racism – subtle and otherwise – surrounding Obama’s entry into presidential politics.

Jon Stewart on the first Republican presidential debate.

It’s one thing for Giuliani to flip flop on abortion, but it’s another altogether to have made donations to pro-life bugbear, Planned Parenthood. IMHO, Giuliani’s stance on abortion is the only reasonable thing about him. And it’s what will sink his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

Pogie’s found his 2008 presidential candidate: Eugene V Debs.

Kevin Drum points out some of the ideological absurdity that created the 2003 Medicare prescription bill. Say! Wasn’t Baucus a key player in this?

Shane points out that SCOTUS nominations matter, and lists the folks who both voted to end the filibuster, and for Alito. Say! Didn’t Baucus vote for cloture on the Alito nomination?

Aftermath of Kansas tornado hampered by missing equipment deployed to Iraq.

Robert Gates has a mind of his own when it comes to Iraq. That’s sad that things have gotten so bad most of us are relieved that we have a rogue Defense Secretary.

Republican legislators, too, and getting nervous and considering timelines. Shane’s take.

The case for endless war, debunked.

LA Times: “Bring them home.”

A primer of the DoJ hiring practices, starring Goofus and Gallant.

Dept. of irony: DoJ Civil Rights division appears to have discriminated against African-Americans in its hirings…

John Doolittle accuses the DoJ of searching his home to take the heat off of Alberto Gonzalez. (A nice profile of Doolittle here…)

Former White House staffer confirms impression that the administration is isolated from reality.

Bush at all-time low in polls, and is dragging all of the GOP presidential hopefuls with him.

Iconic Republicans are turning into Democrats, thanks to Bush et al. Welcome aboard, you Eisenhowers, (Teddy) Roosevelts, and Goldwaters!

Miliblogs praised by Big Sky Blog’s David.

Bloggers are a bunch of young punks…not!

Blogging 101

by Jay Stevens

Ah, the Internets…

Remember waaa-a-a-a-y back when – in the Dark Ages of the Montana blogosphere? Last September? When a class at the University of Richmond was blogging the disputed Senate races, including Montana’s own brouhaha?

(Looking back at the Montana Senate blog, it appears one of the students…well…had a nervous breakdown.)

Anyhow, a prof in the Ohio State system is teaching an English class using blogs as an example of rhetorical exercise.

Good luck there, Mr. Boczkowski.

For nascent bloggers, I have some advice:

–Do not write in italics. It hurts the eyes.

–Use a lot of paragraph breaks. Those spaces give the mind a lot of comfort.

–Always remember the funny.

 (If you do go over for a visit, do be gentle on the class. Remember, I’m here by choice and offer myself up for your jabs; those poor souls are indentured servants toiling in the fields of higher education.)

I do think studying blogging for a composition class is a good idea. There’s a variety of language styles, voices, and ways to frame ideas. That’s something a lot of 4&20 b’bird and blog haters miss: different tone, vocabulary, and voice is appropriate to different situations. And determining a voice that “sells” your blog is a valuable skill – if you can decipher the rules and conventions that govern a media (blogging, in this case), and adapt your writing to fit in, you’ll find communication is a snap. But it is an exercise that requires practice…

Oh, man, do I not miss teaching English composition…

Links…

by Jay Stevens

The Good Guv fishes for a Republican he can cut a deal with…

Matt Singer *gasp* praises Dennis Rehberg for protecting a constituent’s privacy

Missoula Senator Greg Lind ensured that more young people would be insured.

David Sirota finds class warfare waged in a working-class town in the recent economic conference; Ed Kemmick implores Schweitzer to negotiate, and Sirota to STFU; Matt Singer responds.

The Missoula town council mulls its sidewalks.

Larry LaRocco announced his candidacy for Idaho’s disputed Senate seat.

Olivier Roy argues that Islamic radicalism is more accurately a result of the westernization of Islam, not an organic, Islamic-born radicalism.

Apparently the Vatican, like bedwetters, see nothing but terror in basic liberty.

The quagmire of current affairs we find ourselves in has “…all hallmarks of a pathological masculinity that confuses diplomacy with weakness and arrogant rigidity with strength. It is founded not on a self-assured sense of what it is but on a neurotic loathing of what it secretly fears it may be: wussy. And it will go to the grave insisting on battering-ram stiffness (stay the course! don’t pull out!) as the truest mark of manhood.”

Congressional Republicans oppose hate crimes bill because it doesn’t include seniors and military personnel. Er. Not really. Too bad they just can’t come out and say they don’t think gays should be protected by hate crime legislation.

Jon Stewart on the DC madam scandal.

Grover Norquist on DC madam’s list?

The winner of the first Republican primary debate: Ronald Reagan.

Ron Paul was spot on when he said that the rush to war in Iraq went against all traditional conservative foreign policy values. Too bad we don’t have many principled conservatives in the federal government. We sure could have used one a couple years ago.

Shane likes Senator Clinton’s plan to deauthorize the war in Iraq. I agree. Would the deauthorization be subject to a veto?

A Washington prosecutor claims US attorney John McKay was fired by the DoJ because he wanted to concentrate his resources, not on bogus voter fraud cases, but on investigating the murder of assistant US attorney, Tom Wales. Why would the loyal Bushies take offense at that? Because Wales was in favor of gun control.

Did Karl Rove coach DoJ testifiers to mislead Congress? It sure looks that way.

Condi Rice’s office keeps “dodging” Henry Waxman. Does she think he’ll give up?

Does Bush’s threat to veto any legislation that “allow[s] taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life,” mean that he’s going to cut off funding for the Iraq War? Seriously, though, it’s telling that clumps of fetal tissue evoke more compassion from Bush than Iraqi civilians or US troops.

Eugene Robinson: “Is George W. Bush even trying to make sense anymore?”

It’s true! George Bush is the CEO President. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Jon Stewart: Don’t call them “timetables,” call them “glory goals.”

Colbert on rendition: “We pay the price for having to torture innocent people. It feels terrible!”

Nicole’s butt rash song is a finalist in Look Daddy’s song lyric competition! Go vote for her! (But whatever you do, do not sing “Joe-Ray-Lee,” or you, too, will be compelled to vote for it.)

Bring civility to your blog posts!

by Jay Stevens

Rehberg’s office released information on Randy Vogel’s subpoena (sorry no link available): it has nothing to do with investigations into ethical questions wrongdoing (paragraph breaks mine):

The subpoena in question was issued by the U.S. Department of Justice at the request of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The subpoena has absolutely nothing to do with Randy, me or my office…

On March 13th, an agent of the IRS came to my Billings District Office and demanded a copy of a file retained in our office regarding a constituent we had conducted casework for in the past. This particular constituent was having problems with the IRS and came to my office for assistance. The IRS wanted to examine this file because, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, it had decided to pursue legal action against this constituent.

The IRS agent spoke with Randy, who told the agent that because of House of Representatives Ethics Rules, and our internal office policies, he could not turn over the file because it is considered confidential information and would violate the privacy rights of a constituent. The IRS agent said he understood and that he would return with a subpoena for the file.

Randy then contacted the U.S. House of Representatives Office of General Counsel to notify them of the conversation and was advised to forward the subpoena directly to the House Counsel and they would handle the matter.

The next day, March 14th, the IRS agent delivered a subpoena to my office, at which time Randy tendered the matter to the General Counsel’s office. Randy further followed the rules of the House and alerted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that our office had received a subpoena. My office, working on the advice of House Counsel, has complied fully with the subpoena.

Good for Vogel. I’ve heard nothing but good of the guy, and I’m glad to see he’s not mixed up with Abramoff or INSA.

In yesterday’s post on the matter I declined to speculate on why the subpoena was issued. And, boy, am I glad that I did.

Unfortunately, Montana’s Democratic Party chair, Dennis McDonald, in his press release yesterday, didn’t. “Where does this federal grand jury subpoena lead?” read the release, and speculated on a number of possible, corruption-related reasons.

If a blogger feels uncomfortable speculating on a story because of a lack of evidence, chances are it’s not a good thing to run with allegations. McDonald goofed. He owes Vogel an apology.

But then Rehberg, in today’s press release, attacks McDonald in polarizing, shrill language that makes even a blogger blush:

Mr. McDonald’s implications in the press release are false, shameful, and unbefitting anyone who claims to be a Montanan. Mr. McDonald should be ashamed of himself for unfairly and publicly attacking the character of one of my employees who was merely doing his job….

The actions by Dennis McDonald, insinuating that Randy was in some way involved with convicted felons, were dishonest and shameful…. Mr. McDonald chose the low road and launched a sleazy, deceitful political attack against one of my employees. Accordingly, Dennis McDonald should voluntarily resign his position as Chairman of the Montana Democratic Party. I call upon Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senator Max Baucus, as the leaders of the Montana Democratic Party, to join me in asking Mr. McDonald to step down. Montanans deserve better than the dishonest actions of Dennis McDonald.

Talk about overreacting. Resign? Over this? If misguided political hyperbole were the criteria for shamed resignations, there’d be no one left to pen the Montana GOP e-brief.

Okay, folks: take a deep breath….now let it out…count to ten…

So much for the meme that bloggers are divisive, polarizing blowhards. These guys make us look like tea-sipping nannies.

Links…

Max Baucus “unlikely” to implement earmark disclosure on his committee’s bills. “That means that the Senate’s defense authorization, water resources and appropriations bills are expected to reveal earmark sponsors, while targeted tax and tariff breaks will stay veiled for now.”

Matt Singer examines Bill Mercer’s two jobs

Ed Kemmick gets to the heart of the legislature’s dispute over stream access.

Dave Neiwert comments on Mike Lange’s civility.

Sirota hassles the capitalists in Butte.

Arctic sea ice melting faster than predicted. Climate change deniers accuse North Pole of having a liberal bias.

The Sierra Club convenes a “climate brain trust” comprising experts from across the ideology spectrum to offer solutions to global warming.

What do conspiracy theorist cranks and the SCOTUS have in common on the issue of abortion? Digby: Neither will allow a woman to make “a decision she might later regret.” Next stop: women who have abortions are a danger to society.

Steve T links to Glenn Greenwald’s poignant post on the Israeli commission report that indicts Israeli leadership for bungling – and even for pursuing — its recent attack of Lebanon. Steve highlights the post to show how far removed militant Israel backers are from Israel itself in an obvious jab at a local blogger. I like the post because it shows an appropriate response of a functioning democracy to a failed war policy. (Jon Stewart’s take.)

Glenn Greenwald reacts to a Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for a “strong executive”: “The point here is not to spend much time arguing that Mansfield’s authoritarian cravings are repugnant to our political traditions. The real point is that Mansfield’s mindset is the mindset of the Bush movement, of the right-wing extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and governed our country completely outside of the rule of law for the last six years.”

House to look into voting machine glitches in 2006 FL-13 race.

When citizen activists bang up against political machines: Obama muscles into My Space.

jhwygirl is trying to get John Edwards to make an appearance in Missoula. I’d be into that! Edwards is right now my favorite of the Democratic candidates…

Mitt Romney just can’t win.

Wow. A National Review columnist suggested the only thing that might “save this country” from “degeneracy” is a military coup. Seriously folks, when the majority of Americans find your ideology abhorrent and useless, the answer is not forcefully imposing that ideology on us. Going away for a long rest is a better idea.

The fruit of politicizing the nation’s civil service: Interior Department official resigns for “altering scientific conclusions” and providing internal documents to lobbyists.

The Bush administration appoints a “food safety czar” to plug the holes in the administration-crippled FDA, just one Czar in a long string of Bush-appointed Czars. Weird, isn’t it? It’s like a team of little strong-arm bureaucratic dictators, as if the Bushies think a dictator is the most efficient way to get things done.

Plenty of prosecutor purge news today! Goodling’s in trouble for “screening attorneys for party affiliation”; a DoJ official tried to “bully fired prosecutors into silence”; the Senate Judiciary Committee wants Rove’s emails; no one knows who decided to fire the attorneys in dispute; Mercer’s in hot water; Timothy Griffin admitted the White House purposefully exploited the Patriot Act to install him as attorney without Senate approval; Lam testifies a DoJ official said she “would be gone” no matter what changes she made in the handling of cases, and the order came from the “highest levels of government”…

If Gonzo won’t resign, we should impeach him, says Frank Bowman.

The Pentagon cracks down military blogs.

Just after the announcement, Bush praises the military blogs, praises their effectiveness in allowing family members to communicate with soldiers overseas.

The Bush administration informs Congress it’s going ahead with warrantless wiretapping, laws be d*mned.

The White House launches its own investigation into the guy that exposed rampant fraud and waste among contractors in Iraq. This wouldn’t be politically motivated – like everything else the loyal Bushies do?

Russ Feingold on Bush vetoing the Iraqi funding bill: “No one else should die in Iraq to give political comfort to dealmakers in Washington.”

Meanwhile political lines shift in DC after the President’s veto of the Iraqi funding bill. Democrats regroup; Republicans drift away from their president.

Sidney Blumenthal traces Bush’s love for cowboy kitsch to torture at Abu Ghraib.

Bush: “I’m the commander guy.”

Nation’s liberals suffer from outrage fatigue.

by Jay Stevens

Matt’s got this story posted, about how Montana’s Bill Mercer and Attorney General Gonzalez retroactively changed a law so as to enable Mercer to “work” two jobs at once:

On Nov. 10, 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sent a letter to a federal judge in Montana, assuring him that the U.S. attorney there, William W. Mercer, was not violating federal law by spending most of his time in Washington as a senior Justice Department official.

That same day, Mercer had a GOP Senate staffer insert into a bill a provision that would change the rules so that federal prosecutors could live outside their districts to serve in other jobs, according to documents and interviews.

Mercer’s non-presence in Montana was bogging down courts in Montana – at least that’s what Billings justice Molloy claimed in voicing his complaint. So the loyal Bushies jerry-rigged the rules to allow Mercer to ignore his Montana office, while (one assumes) still punching his time clock.

This maneuver is made even worse in light of the fact that the Dept of Justice used absentee office-holding as an excuse to fire New Mexico attorney David Iglesias. Only Iglesias wasn’t polishing wingtips in Washington DC during his absences, he was serving in the Naval Reserves.

That’s probably why Jon’s asking Mercer to step down:

For months, I gave Bill Mercer the benefit of the doubt that he was shooting straight with me and with the people of Montana. Mr. Mercer has been given every opportunity to do right by the people he represents; he has passed on that chance too many times. Mr. Mercer was operating outside federal law, so he had the law changed. That might work in Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, but it’s not how we do business in Montana. He should resign his post as Montana’s U.S. Attorney immediately.

(Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear similar statements from Max and Dennis?)

That’s one of my pet peeves, I admit, when folks use their office or wealth or connections to skirt the rules they then apply to the rest of us with officious zeal. So, yeah, I think Mercer should step down.

But will he? And what should we do if he won’t? All this grilling of Gonzo is good fun, but I think it’s evident that the man is unfit for his office, as are his underlings. Let’s do something.

by Jay Stevens

Shane got the same press release from the Democratic party that I did, announcing that Rehberg staffer, Randy Vogel received a federal grand jury subpoena:

Rehberg Staff Hit with Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

(Helena, MT) – It was learned today that the office of Congressman Dennis Rehberg has received a grand jury subpoena by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. According to the official Congressional Record, Rehberg’s State Director Randy Vogel has been summoned to a federal grand jury. Rehberg’s office would not disclose the reason for the grand jury subpoena.

I’m not going to speculate – unlike the press release – why Vogel was subpoenaed. A subpoena is a request to supply testimony for a criminal investigation – in this case of a federal crime – it doesn’t mean that the subpoenaed individual is under investigation.

You may remember Vogel: he was the Rehberg staffer involved in a little Iron Horse bathroom fracas. From all accounts, though, it was pretty obvious the incident was the obnoxious drunk’s fault.

by Jay Stevens

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker wrote yesterday about indictments brought against four registration recruiters working for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Missouri, and the indictments’ relationship to the prosecutor purge. Basically – and you should read it yourself – but US Attorney Bradley Scholzman rushed basically baseless allegations.

Four recruiters were indicted over six forged registration forms – turned in by ACORN itself.

The former U.S. Attorney for Little Rock Bud Cummins told Salon that in cases like this, the fraud is perpetrated upon ACORN, not by them. The organizers forge registrations in order to justify their $8.00/hour wages. Elyshya Miller, the organizer from ACORN, explained to me that the group frequently hires people who are in “desperate situations,” who “really need something at the time.”

That is, the organization policed itself, and was the victim of fraud. (Unlike, say, signature collection that was marred by “pervasive fraud.” Those organizations were, at best, indifferent to fraud.)

I won’t go into the details of the case itself, or how it fits into the prosecutor purge or the GOP’s phantom tilting at voter fraud in a bald attempt to discourage voting. What I want to talk about is hinted at in Kiel’s piece, where he mentioned the news of the indictments was covered by major news outlets. (Fox interviewed an elections official who said it was “the worst case of registration abuse in the last quarter century.”) And, as Steve Benen pointed out, five days before the election, the Wall Street Journal dedicated a front-page editorial to the case:

The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos. After the federal indictments were handed up in Kansas City this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement that “This national investigation is very much ongoing.”

The work was, of course, of a few yahoos.

What’s interesting to me, is to what extent major media organizations – in this case The Wall Street Journal and Fox News – rushed to support the allegations made by the “loyal Bushie” during a crucial moment in the 2006 elections. While the WSJ’s editorial is, well, an editorial, it’s obviously and shamelessly written in collusion with the Bush administration goals of crying voter fraud where there is none.

The question we should be asking, are these outlets working in collusion with the Republican party? Or are they rushing to judgment in support of an obvious conservative policy?

Because what’s clear is that they were concerned with neither the facts, nor journalistic integrity.

by Jay Stevens

Everybody’s angry that the Legislature adjourned without a budget. Partisan gridlock is to blame, they say, Democrats, Republicans, ptui! They’re all the same!

Yeah? Read over the transcript from Scott Sales speech after the Legislature adjourned:

…we’ve met a brick at every stage of the way. There was absolutely no compromise with the Democrats. They wanted to spend it all, and then some. We took the historic step of breaking the budget into eight…er…initially six bills became eight…we did it for one reason, and one reason only: we wanted to bring forward a sustainable, accountable budget for the people of Montana, so that we could then offer the tax, uh, tax cuts that they deserve!…and we received not one bit of help from the Democrats. In unison on 49 votes, they fought us tooth and nail and refused to participate in the budgeting process.

The bills went over to the Senate, and they blew the budget up way beyond the subcommittee work…I believe about a hundred seventy-five million, if the — correct me if I’m wrong – about 27 million above the Governor’s budget…they were horribly irresponsible! They spent money that…uh…uh…nobody could even imagine! I think it was obscene and immoral how they bloated that budget up. Without giving any concern to the taxpayers of Montana again!

Um, it’s unfortunate the way this thing turned out. We came in here this morning, and…uh…what the intention and every, uh, uh, effort, to try to come some sort of resolve with the Democrats, and come up with a sustainable, accountable budget and tax relief, and in fact, a couple of our guys – Representative Lange and Representative Glazier – were in the midst of a negotiation with the Senate to provide some sort of tax relief, and they were called out of that meeting, it was adjourned abruptly so they could sine die and run away.

Now yesterday…we have repeatedly made offers to the Governor and to the Senate, ah, what we wanted to get accomplished. Uh, yesterday we got an ultimatum from the Democrats, I don’t know if anybody brought it here, but I’d sure like the press to get it in their hands. Basically it was an ultimatum, you do it our way or the highway. They demanded unilateral surrender from us yesterday, if we wanted to adjourn. Um, we held firm, on the belief that the money belongs to the people, we turned down that offer, and they decided to unilaterally surrender against us.

And somehow we’re to blame. Somehow we’re to blame because we are fighting for the citizens and hardworking people of Montana.

I disagree. I think we’re very unified in this. I hope when we come back in the next session the Governor is willing to work with us. He’s called, I’m sure he’ll call a special session. And when he does I hope he decides to attend that one instead of being gone, like he was so much of this one. And, uh, that’s my challenge to the Governor. If you’re going to call a special session, please attend it. And please come to the bargaining table with House leadership, so we can work out a compromise.

It’s all the Democrats’ fault, they’re immoral and obscene, they refused to compromise, and by golly! The House Republicans preserved their collective manhood by standing firm and forced the opposition to “unilaterally surrender”!

The Democrats offered a tax rebate, and even increased the amount of the rebate after complaints from the Republicans.

The Governor did try to compromise, but was told to “stick it in his *ss.”

While manly Scott Sales “held firm” in the name of saving Montana taxpayers money, he’s also sticking us with $38K a day for the costs of the special session.

Honestly, could you think of a more acerbic, more confrontational speech on exit from a confrontational legislative session, which nearly every Montanan has decried as being too acerbic and confrontational?

No wonder Republican Senator John Cobb had public thoughts about the House leadership:

[House Appropriations Committee chair John] Sinrud continued to cut off comments by [Rep. Eve] Franklin and other Democrats. During a brief recess, Cobb stalked from the room after telling committee member Dave Kasten, R-Brockway, that the Republicans on the committee were “a bunch of idiots.”

“They’re using the rules to abuse people,” said Cobb during the break. “They think they can bully the governor. It’s no different than what goes on in a Third World country.”

If this is the kind of thing Republicans are saying in public, what are they saying behind closed doors?

Let’s hope they’re discussing a change in leadership. Because right now it seems likely as long as Sinrud, Lange, and Sales are in charge, the acrimony will not subside.

by Jay Stevens

This is one of those “I heard it from a friend, who has a friend…” rumors, so it could be completely without merit…but, I heard that the state’s GOP leaders are mighty displeased with Mike Lange’s recent public outburst, and are considering organizing his ouster.

It’s a rumor. I’ve no proof. I’ve no evidence.

But it sure makes a lot of sense! Pretty much everyone in the state is ticked off at the Legislature for failing the one thing they’re mandated to do by the state’s constitution: provide the state a budget for the next two years.

Newspapers, pundits, and bloggers alike have made every effort to include the Governor and the Democratic lawmakers in the list of blame for the legislative mess, but every list ends with Mike Lange’s obscentiy-laden tirade not long after being offered a compromise by Schweitzer.

Lange’s “shove it up your *ss” is the last taste on the tongue for the legislative session. It’s the one moment Montana is guaranteed to remember until November 2008.

And the video of the rant has circulated far and wide, so much so, that Lange is probably now the most recognized Republican officeholder in Montana. (Apologies to Dennis Rehberg, but you don’t want that kind of publicity.)

So even if this rumor isn’t true…it should be.

Links…

Montana Headlines is right: he and I could hammer out a compromise on tax refunds…just give us a quiet room, a pizza, and two hours. Makes you wonder why the Legislature can’t…

Matt Singer apportions the biggest burden of blame for the Legislature’s failure to Scott Sales. I can’t say I disagree: he did start the session off with inflammatory rhetoric and then appointed a right-wing extremist to the chair of one of the most important legislative committees. He poisoned the soup before they sat down for dinner.

Montana Legislature: what could have been.

New West reports on what the Legislature actually did.

The Good Guv refuses to name a date for the legislative special session.

Senate President Mike Cooney suggests legislative leaders should meet in Billings and hash things out, on their own dime. An excellent idea.

With all of the recent Republican mishaps – including Iraq – Matt Singer mulls the future of the state GOP.

Sarpy Sam is irked by the Legislature’s inability to agree on a budget. While some of the right’s most ardent supporters deny it, you legislators represent us all. Git ‘er done, people.

Ed Kemmick has a few thoughts dislodged by Billings’ panhandling ordinance and the online commenters’ reaction to it…

You know your Representative is out there if his beliefs are indistinguishable from satire: Jesus General has embraced Idaho’s Bill Sali as a kindred spirit. (Hat tip Sara.)

Julie Fanselow tracks Sali’s voting record and wishes he were merely satire. Luckily Sali is the least powerful member of Congress.

Sara Anderson – on a recent blogging tear – mulls the media’s depiction of women interested in the issue of abortion.

Half the world’s species may be extinct at century’s end, and what may follow…

Montana Liberty Project touts geothermal energy.

Shane applauds the recent SCOTUS decision on patents.

Obama takes the lead in the Democratic presidential race. Colby mulls the results.

A fifth of the Gitmo detainees are “free,” but have to stay for “months or possibly years” because of administration incompetence.

David Broder: Karl Rove’s quail-eating buddy.

Federal contractors owe over $7 billion in unpaid taxes.

Prosecutor purge links, including news of a secret memo empowering Goodling, Sampson to have final say over fires and hires.

Ex-CIA official claims he has evidence that the Vice President’s office forged the uranium-from-Niger letter.

Reagan’s former NSA advisor, General Odom, urges Bush not to veto Congress’ Iraqi funding bill.

Now even diehard Bush supporters are shying away from the President, seeing a “bunker mentality” in the man. Not good news for the country.

George Will, William Buckley worry that the Bush presidency has irreparably harmed the GOP. Will: “This could be a foreign policy equivalent of the Depression…”

The Bush presidency has created a “toxic climate” for GOP candidates, affecting fundraising and candidate recruitment. Looks like maybe impeachment could be a reality if this keeps up, eh?

Independent citizens are becoming the watchdogs of government. Yes, MT legislators, we’ll be checking out who’s funding you.




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