Well… We have a winner… (and it isn’t me, or you, or America, etc…)

By Duganz

I’ve been quite busy this week with work and a family illness, so I haven’t had time to update anyone on responses from Sen Max Baucus, Sen. Jon Tester, and Rep Dennis Rehberg about my simple question: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

So far it’s been seven days, and not much has happened. This is the scorecard:

  • Baucus: Sent a form letter the day after my post went live.
  • Tester: No response so far of any kind.
  • Rehberg: No letter, but (for some reason) is now following me on Twitter.

That’s it. That’s the amount of response I’ve received from my simple inquiry into why we’re pissing away money and lives on armed combat in two countries that never attacked us. At all.

I know my hopes were idealistic, but regardless of that they were from a place of honest concern for this country and its people.

But still, it’s been a week and…nothing. It’s like high school again, I keep waiting for girls to call me (in this scenario played by the Three Wise Men) and they never do. The difference is that this time it isn’t about my weight or acne––they just don’t care.

Tester and Rehberg could have at least had someone in their intern pool send me a form letter. I don’t agree on most things with Sen. Baucus, but at least he was willing to placate me with a carrot on a string––”See it? See the carrot? Yeah. Good. That’s me caring about your opinion. No. No. You don’t get to eat the carrot. It’s just there to placate your juvenile desire to have your opinion matter. So you stay here and keep chasing that carrot you myopic, hayseed piece of shit…”

Well, anyway, after a week of patiently waiting for my BlackBerry to receive thoughtful letters from Rep. Richy Rich, Sen. Tester and (more than a slapped together form letter) from Sen. Baucus, democracy is dead to me.

How pathetic of a country do we now live in where only one elected official out of three can take the time to have an intern press “send” on an email? I wasn’t asking much, and I got even less. While some of you may say that it’s only been a week, and that they are busy men (this country ain’t gonna destroy itself––we’ve got conflict to fund, and tax cuts to bicker about, and health care reform to destroy after all), this is not the age of men on horseback shuttling parcels across an untamed land. It’s 2010 and information flows at such a rate as to be almost too much to process.

A week and only one form letter only vaguely addressing my question in that it uses the words “Iraq” and “Afghanistan.” My god, what the hell’s the point of a representative democracy if no one can take the time to care about those they represent?

If you care to read the Baucus email, click here:

Dear Patrick:

Thank you for contacting me about the duration of America’s military presence in Afghanistan.  I appreciate hearing from you on this very important issue.

As you know, the U.S. and our allies face an enormously complex and difficult fight in Afghanistan.  We need to increase diplomacy, development, and coordination with Afghanistan’s neighbors and other important regional actors like Iran, Pakistan and Russia.  It is essential that we focus the fight on our enemies, and not engage in nation-building.

As you may know, I recently supported Senator Feingold’s amendment that would require we have a  timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.  I will continue to work on behalf of every Montanan and American serving in our military to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to carry out their missions safely.  During my recent trip to Afghanistan, General Petraeus and I had a good discussion about the challenges we face in Afghanistan.  I can’t think of a better military officer for the job.

I was very happy to see U.S. combat brigades returning home from Iraq.  The Iraq war has been a heavy burden for all Americans, especially Montanans.  America has lost more than 4,400 troops, and another 30,000 or more have been wounded.  I believe the top priority is to support the remaining men and women protecting our country, and I have tried to do so by working to ensure our soldiers have proper equipment and tools they need to stay safe, and to accomplish their mission.

I will always support our nation’s troops.  They have shown exemplary strength, and have done everything that we have asked of them.  They removed the tyrant Saddam Hussein.  They have done their job well, and their service has been outstanding.

As the U.S. mission in Iraq changes from a combat mission to an advise and assist mission, we must make sure the Iraqi government takes responsibility for the security within its borders.  Iraqi leadership must take the hard steps required to resolve sectarian conflict and restore its political legitimacy.

In Congress, I will continue to stand with my colleagues in demanding that the Iraqi government be held responsible for the establishment of its own democracy.  The Iraqi government must take control of its country’s future.

I will continue to monitor both situations with an open mind, and look for common-sense solutions.  Rest assured, I will continue to take into consideration your comments should legislative proposals come before me in the Senate.

Please feel free to contact me with any additional comments or questions. I also encourage you to visit my website at http://baucus.senate.gov for more information on issues at home in Montana and across the nation. Thanks again for keeping in touch.


  1. Matthew Koehler

    That’s just so weird that Senator Tester hasn’t responded to your simple question sent via his website’s email comment form.

    I mean, at last December’s Senate hearing for his mandated logging bill, Senator Tester’s told everyone, “I review all the emails.”


  2. petetalbot

    Enjoyed the line in Baucus’ letter that “they (the armed forces) removed the tyrant Saddam Hussein.” I didn’t realize that our country’s job description was to remove tyrants. Next up: Bhutan, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, China …

    Anyway, not surprised that Rehberg didn’t respond. He’s really busy doing … nothing. Disappointed in Tester, though.

  3. After plenty of letters and form letter responses, I went in person, with a hundred other neighbors, to find our Senator had called us there not to hear from us but to have one of his peons TELL us what we were going to get. It had already been decided by those who funded his campaign. 99 people there held up their hand to signify support for a better idea. And when we had people go to the Senate hearings to speak that view, Max Baucus had them thrown out and arrested, and aughed while he did it.

    The clearest way to evaluate how Tester is going to work out is by looking at his recent statement that the Senate rules work just fine.

    And Rehberg….what a joke.
    You probably will get a form letter, it just takes a while for your name and address to work through the system.


  4. *laughed* while he did it —the man laughed while arresting citizens for wanting to be heard, citizens who reflected his own constituents’ views.

    • citizens who reflected *some of* his own constituents’ views.

      There, I fixed that for you. Not one poll ever presented showed that a majority of Montanans favored single payer. In fact, I’m unaware of any poll in which a plurality of Montanans favored single payer over any other options. The most popular stance for Montana was public option. Baucus screwed us on that too. But re-writing history is unseemly from the right or the left. How ’bout you not do that.

      • Polls are polls–there may be lots of polls you’re unaware of–I’m sure there are lots of polls I’m unaware of and obviously polls Baucus is unaware of–so? It’s certainly your right to quibble about the definition of “constituents” vs. “some constituents” but you speak for yourself— I stand by the facts I observed. I saw real people, who showed up, in person, on May 28, 2009. They wrote down their real names, everyone in the room participated, and clearly indicated their wishes about what they wanted to be considered. “I want Montana’s voice to be heard loud and clear in the national debate on health care reform, to make sure that any proposal is right for our state” was what he said when we were invited to come. But when we showed up the staffer handed out the plan that was already written out in detail. There is no factual question about that or what happened later.
        And no surprise that a vaguely-related form letter was all that came of the subject of this post. Max doesn’t represent or answer to ordinary voters in Montana, majority or not. *That* is what’s unseemly.

      • There’s been steady support for single payer over decades, but polls often times “educate” as well as ask opinions. So you often hear that people are in favor of single payer “until they learn that … ” blah blah blah.

        What if they were asked the following question”

        Would you favor single payer health insurance if you knew that countries that use it provide quality health care to their entire populations at one-half per capita of our cost?”</blockquote?

        That question is never asked. The best that can be said about American public opinion regarding health care is that it is muddled, and that information obfuscates more than enlightens.SO CG is right -polls don’t matter.

  5. Duganz, I’m not trying to deride you. But I have to wonder. Is there a point to harping on a lack of meaningless gestures from our representatives in response to a meaningless gesture from yourself? If you honestly expected that your letter would garner an honest response, then I suggest to you that you’re late to the party … The Tea Party, that is. They’ve already cornered the market on pointless wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    • “Late to the party… The Tea Party.”–ZING! A regular Garrison Keillor amongst us.

      My attempt was honest, and hopeful. If you don’t have that, well, that’s your own issue.

      • Your last sentence makes no sense. And I never said you weren’t being honest or hopeful. I just said that your letter was pointless. And before you dismiss my comment as an attempt at humor, ask yourself why the Tea Party is being listened to, and you’re not.

  6. Chuck

    If Tester doesn’t respond in a week call his staff…Bill Lombardi at his house in Helena.

  7. Ingemar Johansson

    These guys are busy, leave them alone.

    There’s tax cuts to be voted on.

  8. I like to think of this as a teaching moment. I don’t care what you learn from it, but if you went into it, Duganz, thinking that elected representatives make policy, I hope you walk out of it with a little clearer view. They are no more than a side show.

    • My favorite part of your comments Mark is that each is made with care and consideration, and not even a bit of condescension.

      Nope. None. Just pure thoughtful consideration.

  9. Did I say that I was the teacher for this teaching moment? No – it’s events. And apparently you are not in learning mode. If I come back here a year from now, will you still be wondering why Obama, Tester and Baucus just don’t seem to represent you? That they just don’t get it?

    Sorry, but I’m miles ahead of you, years under my belly, and as I mentioned elsewhere, you have to go through the learning steps on your own. If none of this sinks in, if you don’t answer your own questions with honest answers, then you are no more than another dumb Democrat.

    But I hope hope for you. You did ask them why we are in the war – the answer – that they don’t have any control over those things, eludes you?

    • Again so condescending.

      I never said these men are perfect representatives of me, my morals, or desires. They are the ELECTED representatives (people not necessarily chose by me) by the state of Montana.

      I know why they don’t “get it,” Mark, but that’s not the focus of the post. It was a simple experiment in getting an answer as a civilian. I could have gone the route of calling their offices, or personally visiting their offices. I also could have submitted a press request to each office.

      The point of sending emails was that that is what most people would do. They’d send a letter over the interwebs. By going the route of the average person I got no answers. That’s the point. They’re not concerned with normal people contacting them by normal means.

      You act as though you’re some HighPriest who must endure the constant onslaught of ignorance by the wee pleebs of this site, but it seems more often than not one of us has to connect the dots for you. Don’t preach to me about “learning steps,” there is nothing you can teach me.

      • Sorry man, but you really don’t get it. They don’t represent the people who elect them. They represent the people who finance them. It’s that simple.

        The point I made at my website about you, which you likely missed, was that it was impossible for someone like me to simply step in and do a truth dump on you. You’re not ready for it. You can’t go from 2 to 6 without the intervening 3,4 and 5. Call that condescension is you wish, but it is true.

        What I have noticed is that most people are frozen in their views and do not progress. I can guarantee you that one year from now,Coobs and Kailel will hold exactly the same views as they do today. I thought that your willingness to ask important questions meant that you were progressing, that you were wondering and not sure of pat answers, that when you were met with contraction, you realized that you were operating on bad premises.

        Did I misoverestimate you? Apparently.

        • “Kailel”= Kailey, “contraction” = contradiction. Resolution of contradiction is the key to progress in understanding people and events.

        • I actually did catch that, Mark. I just didn’t feel the need to comment. Your post was rife with the same condescension you have brought here.

          You may have 35 years on me, but that does not give you the right to act in some grandfatherly way, patting me on the head with a stern, “Someday… you’ll understand.” At your age you should be better at rhetoric than resorting to age-ist tactics. If not, then I have not time for you.

        • You’re not catching the basics here. You and I can take the same information and come to completely different conclusions bout it, and I won’t tell you that you’re wrong. The point is that you must try. I thought I saw something in you that is kind of rare – you were questioning official truth and wondering if reality is really reality. I don’t give two shits where you go with it, as I certainly don’t have the answers. I am just saying that it is rare to find that kind of curiosity.

          Was I wrong? Did I read too much into you? Are you withdrawing now because you don’t self-reflect very well? That would be Kaileyish.

  10. Well Duganz, you at least got a 33% response – which is much better than a typical bulk mailing.

    But at the risk of sounding condescending, our elected representatives have nothing to gain by answering you, the way that you did it.

    Denny just won re-election, without your vote.

    Jon Tester believes that you will vote for him in 2012 just because he has a (D) behind his name, so he really doesn’t have to keep his campaign promises to end the war(s).

    Max is well, Max. As long as he wants to keep the job, the Dems will renominate him. No matter how much the far left of the Democratic Party grumble at him, and call him a DINO, the party doesn’t have the backbone to run a serious primary challenge at him.

    • If I may quote Ed McMahon, “You are correct sir!”

      • petetalbot

        I agree that there’s a certain naivete in Duganz’ request. Viva la naivete. It’s not like we’re California with some 37 million constituents to respond to. Our senators should answer Montanan’s queries. Granted, Rehberg has a large population to service for a congressman, but it doesn’t seem like he’s too busy on legislative matters. Basically, he’s just toeing the Tea Party line.

        The cynicism of Mark T and Coobs is depressing — when those two agree, I know something is wrong — hell, let’s all just throw in the towel. But I’m not ready to. yet. I know Tester is a decent guy and believes he’s doing the right thing for Montanans, although I certainly don’t agree with him all the time. Baucus, well, we could do worse (think Conrad Burns), although I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a primary race and actually think that could happen, if he decides to run again.

        And Rehberg. There’s no defense for Rehberg, although I would like to read his justification for our two wars.

        So, keep at it, Duganz, and keep us posted.

        • Do not mistake an accurate description of reality with “cynicism.” The latter implies that we expect the worst. We merely describe things as they are. It’s the starting point for reform – to understand reality.

          And I realize that representatives can’t read and respond to every query, and that the autopen and form letters are necessary. But I must make note here that Conrad Burns’ staff did a very good job communicating with constituents. All letters were answered and cataloged.

          The larger point here about Baucus and Tester is that they are out of touch, and an even larger point is that they don’t need to be “in touch”, as you are progressives, and will vote for them no matter what. They don’t answer to you because they don’t have to answer to you.

          • petetalbot

            God you can be a jerk. I will not “vote for them no matter what.” Never have, never will.

            One other thing. You praise Conrad Burns’ staff for their communication skills. Well, that’s just wonderful. While Conrad was out kissing Abramoff’s ass, making racial slurs, insulting women and firefighters … his staff was answering constituents’ letters. And you think my judgment of politicians is superficial!

  11. ladybug

    “I know Tester is a decent guy and believes he’s doing the right thing for Montanans, although I certainly don’t agree with him all the time.” Petetalbot, you know this how? You may think you know, but that’s not possible. Smoke another one, and share.

    • Really? How do know otherwise? Why isn’t it possible that Pete knows what he claims to know? You claim it’s not possible. Why not? What do you know, and what are you smoking? Just asking … smartass.

    • petetalbot

      I quit smoking, ladybug, but I still have the occasional beverage and spoke with Jon Tester at the Missoula Club not that long ago. I aired my concerns — war and peace, the economy and the environment, etc. — and he listened. I’m just going with what I know, but I haven’t seen Denny or Max make the rounds in Missoula. Tester, at least, is making an effort.

  12. cynic

    Have you ever worked in one of these offices? Interned? ANYTHING? Do you have any idea how many e-mails/calls/drops in a day they get with people asking questions/making demands/etc??

    I will give you a hint. It is not 1 or 2. It is not even 10 or 20. It is in the hundreds. At least. Every single day.

    I for one want my lawmakers to make note of constituent communications, but not spend their entire day devoted to it.

    As for your question. I think the complexities of foreign relations are a bit much to quickly type in an e-mail and press send. But again. That is just me.

    • Sweet zombie Jesus.

      I never expected to get a real response, cynic. I know these guys get lots of emails–you’re not bringing me new information. My point, as I said in the original post, was seeing if I could get answers in any form. (I even said I was expecting form letters.)

      What’s shocking is that I didn’t even get form letters from my representatives. And don’t act as if interns are so busy. I had a friend intern for one of our venerated reps. All he did was get coffee and stuff envelopes. For months.

      And as for complexities, I wasn’t asking anything these guys shouldn’t have a canned answer for. Obviously Max does.

  1. 1 Can’t Stop Till You Get Enough… of Dennis Rehberg « 4&20 blackbirds

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