Sen. Jon Tester supports anti-immigrant policies and impedes immigration reform.

A guest post by Helena Immigration Attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, posted by Jamee Greer

Jon Tester (D-MT) is facing a tough run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but he just keeps giving progressives more reasons not to vote for him. His track record on immigration issues has been abysmal, as I’ve written about before. Make no mistake about it — Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the Senate on the issue of immigration, and he is one of the most vocal. The way he talks about the issue, you would think Montana wasn’t one of the states with the least number of immigrants in the whole country.

Despite outrage over his despicable vote against the DREAM Act, Tester hasn’t decided to leave immigration policy to states that actually have a dog in the fight. You won’t see him bragging about his DREAM Act vote, mind you — after all, Daily Kos famously called him an “asshole” for that reprehensible vote, and he doesn’t want to rekindle the ire of the netroots crowd. However, he has continued to make his anti-immigrant positions a core part of his campaign, jumping at every opportunity to link immigration to national security concerns. For instance, when a college in California was found to be enrolling foreign students without proper accreditation, Tester quickly issued a press release noting that “several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.”

Recently, Jon Tester put up two web pages on the issue of immigration that are so ignorant you would think Tester locked anti-immigrant zealots Mark Krikorian and John Tanton in a room with a bottle of whiskey and posted whatever they came up with.

In fact, these two immigration pages are so wrong-headed that they require some analysis and interpretation to fully make sense of them. One web page outlines his unsophisticated view of the immigration issue in four paragraphs. His other page lists his immigration “accomplishments.” (By accomplishments, Tester seems to mean ways he has screwed immigrants and wasted federal money.) I’ll review both of the pages together.

Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them. That’s why Jon opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During his first year as Senator, Jon helped put a stop to a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Jon voted in 2007 to defeat the Immigration Reform Bill, telling his colleagues, “We don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.”

Where do we start? Polls have consistently shown that the people think our immigration system is broken and want some form of immigration reform. The last time our immigration laws were substantively changed was in 1996, and almost everyone agrees that those changes were ineffective — in fact, they created more problems than they solved. People are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to act, and don’t believe that “enforcement only” solutions are going to work. As a result of the federal government’s inertia, states like Arizona, Utah, and Georgia have begun to enact their own immigration policies, which raise significant constitutional concerns including due process violations and racial profiling. While I strongly oppose state level enforcement of immigration laws, and I believe that these state laws are misguided, it is difficult to fault the states for at least trying to take action when the federal government will not.

Yet, Jon Tester considers it an “accomplishment” that he has ignored the will of the public and done absolutely nothing to fix our immigration system. In fact, he is proud that he helped derail immigration reform in 2007, and has continued to sabotage efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s nice that he sets the bar so low for himself, but the rest of the country is expecting a little more.

Tester refuses to acknowledge that our system needs to be fixed, stating “we don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.” The problem, of course, is that our system is broken and we need to reform our laws in order to more effectively enforce them. Current immigration reform proposals aim to increase enforcement on the border and interior of the country, but recognize that in order to curb undocumented immigration we also need to fix some of our laws that are creating the problems in the first place. For instance, our laws include huge gaps in coverage, where many family members have no reasonable opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States. Among other things, reform proposals would open new paths to family-based immigration that were causing needless undocumented immigration.

Tester remains willfully obtuse in his opposition to so-called “amnesty” for immigrants who lack lawful status. “Amnesty” means a general pardon for an offense against the state, but Tester uses the term “amnesty” to refer to any changes in the law that would create a path to legalization — even if the path is strenuous and imposes a strict set of requirements. He even used the term amnesty to refer to the DREAM Act, which would have created a seven (or more) year path towards citizenship for men and women who serve our country in the military or go to college. There is no “amnesty” on the table, and there hasn’t been for years. Instead, what is being proposed is a way for immigrants who are already here to earn their way back into lawful status by paying fines, back taxes (if they haven’t already been paying like most immigrants), and potentially even community service. After all, even Newt Gingrich understands that it is not realistic to deport all of the 11 million people who are here without status.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform won’t be expensive, as Tester states, but will actually increase wages for all workers and improve our economy. Time and again, it has been proven that spending money on border security alone, without any other changes to our laws, is untenable and ineffective. Nevertheless, Tester has chosen to advocate these “enforcement only” solutions.

Instead [of immigration reform], Jon has focused his energy on boosting security along America’s borders, particularly our northern border with Canada. From his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

That same year, Jon introduced and passed into law a measure requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on weaknesses along the northern border and develop a plan for improving northern border security.

So let me get this straight: Instead of working for immigration reform to help the entire country, Tester is pushing for huge government expenditures to protect us from Canada? It is foolish to tout Canadian border security as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, because it is clear that the risks from an unmonitored northern border have almost nothing to do with the larger immigration problems our country is facing.

While the GAO issued a report stating that Department of Homeland Security needs to work better with other agencies and partners along the northern border, the GAO didn’t endorse Tester’s crusade to spare no expense to “secure” the border. Indeed, the GAO previously pushed back on claims about insecurity on the northern border.

Nevertheless, Tester is so eager to appear strong on immigration enforcement that he managed to get an appropriation for military grade radars on the Canadian border. He also wants to expand the use of unmanned drones (and they are already being used in some areas). Those radars and drones would have come in handy last year, when I helped a Canadian kid who got lost and accidentally drove his ATV across the border.

As George Ochenski put it: “For most Montanans, the border with Canada has never been and likely will never be seen as a threat. After all, the U.S. and Canada share the longest border on the continent, and it has been our ally in world wars as well as regional conflicts. It’s also our largest trading partner and our closest, largest and most secure source of oil. Treating Canada as some variant of Pakistan’s border is, in a word, insulting to both Montanans and our Canadian friends.”

Jon was the only Senate Democrat to put his name on legislation pumping new resources into border protection for new technology and new border patrol officers. Jon cosponsored the measure after securing a pledge that a certain percentage of those new resources would be spent along the northern border.

Here’s a tip for Tester’s staffers: When you’re the only Democrat to put your name on a piece of legislation, its probably nothing to brag about. The bill that Tester is referring to is actually a corollary to one that was introduced by his opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Jon Tester partnered up with Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-AZ), among other Republicans, to co-sponsor a $3 million amendment. This bill also funded construction of the fence along the Mexican border — a project that has been abandoned and condemned as a tremendous failure and waste of billions in taxpayer dollars.

And from his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

One of Tester’s “critical upgrades” was a $15 million dollar renovation to the border station in Whitetail, MT, which was reported to get about five crossings a day and no commercial traffic. After facing criticism for needless spending, Tester and Max Baucus reduced the appropriation to only $8.5 million. Meanwhile, Canadian officials closed the road leading to this border station, rendering the whole project useless. This embarrassing episode didn’t make Tester’s list of accomplishments.

Of course, even though he votes against any legislation that isn’t directed purely towards deporting immigrants, Tester wouldn’t want you to get the impression that he is against immigration:

Jon knows that legal immigrants, like his grandparents, helped build America into what it is today. But he also believes that no one is above the law.

In public statements and constituent letters, Tester is constantly stating that his grandparents “waited in line” and followed the rules, implying that new immigrants should be expected to follow the same process. However, it appears that Tester’s ancestors entered the country in 1916 — before our current immigration system even existed. At that time, our immigration policy was comparable to an “open border” policy. Years later, quotas were enacted to limit immigration and more stringent criteria for entry were developed. It was not until 1965 that the current Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted, with its very limited methods for gaining permanent residence in the U.S.

There is no question that Jon Tester’s ancestors faced a dramatically different immigration system than those who are immigrating today. Tester and other enforcement advocates often evoke the image of a “line” that immigrants must simply wait in. However, the truth is that for most immigrants, there is no “line.” Tester’s own grandparents may not have been able to enter the country under our current immigration scheme.

Jon Tester seems intent on mimicking Rehberg in many ways, including sharing his anti-immigrant views.

Jon Tester’s vocal anti-immigrant positions have placed Montana progressives in a difficult position. Contrary to the attacks of those who want to silence any opposition to Tester’s bad policies, none of us are excited about the prospect of his opponent, Dennis Rehberg, being elected to the Senate. Indeed, Rehberg’s stance on immigration is no better than Tester’s. However, Tester’s ignorant views on immigration are also making it impossible for us to lend him our vote.

Tester’s positions on immigration are not gaining him support with Republicans, but they are causing a split among Democrats. The best thing for Jon Tester to do is distance himself from the issue of immigration, because each time he opens his mouth, he brings many progressives closer to sending a difficult message: The progressive movement cannot tolerate a Democrat who has an anti-immigrant agenda, regardless of the consequences.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath blogs about local immigration issues at Border Crossing Law Blog.

  1. David W

    Hey, you don’t need to worry about Tester. He’s simply pretending to not support illegal immigration. If there’s ever a really important vote, he’ll tow the Obama line just like he did on Obamacare.

  2. Steve W

    I’m shocked that Tester would take a position that would so endanger Democratic Party control of congress and what that means to women, the middle class and to the majority of Americans.

    It’s the demographics, stupid! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the numbers.

    Voting like that could mean we Democrats lose local, state, and national seats all over the country just so Tester can prove he’s a bigger xenophobe than Rehberg and can personally benefit with what he imagines are more votes.

    If opposing Tester’s Mandated Forest Cut Bill loudly and strongly is condemned as poor politics because it hurts Tester, then Tester’s loud and strong opposition to the Dream Act is a public slap to the face of Democrats running in tough races all over the country, mil graciosa a Jon.

    Why is Tester undercutting Democrats now, with 2012 looming? Doesn’t he realize how important control of the Senate is for the country? Maybe Montana Cowgirl should tell him. Since that’s a message she likes to send.

  3. Ingemar Johansson

    Whatever ya got going here, keep bringing it.

  4. i cannot wait to see this hay-seed/baucus tool, Gone – He’s a Luzer from Day One. His vote for War 3 times – pleeeeeze – don’t vote for this pig.

  5. Message received.

    I’m out.

    • lizard19

      Pogie, not like it matters, but i’ve lost a lot of respect for you. you come over here sneering about “principles” and what do you expect? moo-girl ridicules people, name calling activists by calling them hippies, and mocks the issues they’ve invested a major portion of their lives in. again, what do you expect? rob does the same thing, and you endorse his behavior with your silence.

      you don’t like the message here? you want to take your marbles and go home? is this discontent not intelligent enough for you?

      jon tester is a big boy, and he’s made his political calculations. some people don’t agree with those calculations, they have opinions about it, and they express those opinions.

      ain’t democracy great?

      • lizard19

        i’m going to add that if Tester thinks it’s a good idea to spend scarce federal money to militarize our border with Canada, including the use of drones (which i find really disturbing) then i’m going to reconsider my previously stated “practical” support.

    • Jamee

      This is going to be long, I have a lot to say.

      I almost never read the comments, so I’m only piecing this together from Don’s most recent tweet and his other comment on another post, but I’m sorry Don. For a couple of reasons:

      I think that you have added, and will hopefully continue to add, a pretty solid analysis to the greater discussion on the left. This nonsense where people attack you in comments isn’t fair, it isn’t getting us anywhere, and it’s just not cool. And I think that reasonable disagreements are no reason to jump to this attack mode that seems to happen way too much deep down in the internet’s anonymity.

      I really believe that reasonable disagreements are only going to make us a stronger and more cohesive movement, something that doesn’t happen if we get burnt out on constantly having to defend ourselves, or eventually feel like we need to quit participating because we’re tired of the b.s.

      Comments on this post aside, I do think that Shahid’s point is a reasonable one, and if I had thought it wasn’t — I wouldn’t have put it up as a guest post.

      As an immigration attorney, one of only a handful in the whole state, he sees on a daily basis the real harm caused by the many enforcement-based, draconian and xenophobic policies on the books. And I think there’s some understandable frustration that Jon is not only standing on the wrong side of history by voting in step with a fearful group of (mostly) Republicans on this issue, but that he’s speaking out about this issue in ways that are harmful and, frankly, just plain mean. All of his campaign statements, just like the unfortunate press statement he needlessly issued the day of his DREAM Act vote, paint him further into a corner where he not only has to compete with Rehberg over who can take the toughest, nastiest stance on the human and civil rights of immigrants — but also increasingly compete with himself.

      I gave a lot of time to Jon in 2006, so much so that it impacted my coursework during the fall of the general election. I spent a lot of time with walk lists in my hands, phones on my ears, and I gave him what very little money I could from working part time at a cafe. And I did all of that because I met him in the fall of 2005 at a UM College Dems event, shook his hand and heard him speak about why he was running, and why we should care about his campaign. And I was sold!

      That feeling has been gone for some time, and I wish there was a map so I could find my way back there, back to 2005 and 2006.

      I receive a bit of sh*t from some of the entrenched who say I only believe what I believe because of my youth, and call me things like naive, spiteful and misguided. Emails from folks here in Helena have derided me for speaking out around issues of gender injustice, the economic security of families, LGBT discrimination, the rights of KIDS who are being deported because of unjust policies, and more — because it was inconvenient to hear from an “insolant naysayer” or an “Eeyore” in the midsts of a campaign season. True story. But we need to come to some kind of understanding that if re-election campaigns are going to begin immediately after they’ve been won, we must give the base time to speak up freely without being silenced by a chorus of folks who think the timing is too inconvenient.

      It’s probably not very convenient to those kids who will be deported because Jon listened to polling passed along by a career staffers, or because he listened to the shrieking phone calls made by angry Montanans with misplaced anxieties about latinos living and working in their communities. And those things, friends, are components of any campaign/movement that we can do better in addressing — myself included in that criticism. We certainly have a lot of work to do in changing those views and giving Jon the cover, the backing, for tackling reform in a way that is fair and just for all who come to the US. But his hostile stance and pandering is only making this problem worse.

      That is what happened here. Nothing else. And, I can’t believe I have to say this, but being upset about injustice is OK. It is necessary. It is HUMAN. It doesn’t mean we’re tanking the party, tanking the re-election campaign or tanking voter participation — by voicing our frustrations.

      And this rabid attempt to silence, deride or marginalize those who disagree with the folks in power has to stop if you want to build a movement and not just a two year campaign cycle.

      We have a lot of work to do and Shahid is one of those people doing that hard work, in the courts and on the ground.

      And Don is one of those folks doing the hard work, too.

      Let’s try to recognize that work for what it is: a strength.

      • i am sticking with jon tester as long as rehberg is the opposing candidate here.

        that being said, people differ on how we approach this next election vehemently and i think i do understand the frustration on both sides.

        this kind of reminds me of the seventies when the forest service would hold hearings on wilderness and try their best to anger both sides by placing themselves in the middle of the road. except it appears that jon has steered his bus way over to the right on way too many issues for most any progressive sane enough to be able to decipher the signs.

        we are just going to have to agree to disagree. i think pogie is a very sensible person and i respect his views and his hard work on progressive issues. let’s hope we can all calm down, show more patience and work toward a progressive montana together. we cannot afford to draw lines here. we must be flexible with each other and appreciate the different views that each progressive brings to the table.

        • lizard19

          it would help if Pogie acknowledged that the way Rob has gone after folks he doesn’t agree with on the left is counterproductive, and creates additional barriers to a constructive discourse. i actually agreed with parts of Rob’s point of view regarding wolves, but that commentary happened after the needless antagonism and flame-baiting, which honestly made it difficult to acknowledge he had some good points.

          • Congratulations, Lizard. You’ve graduated to adept at the right-wing talent of monster making. Look at you, condemning another blogger for not doing what you want as regards a man who you feel has offended your delicate fee fees. Yes, that’s real principled of you. Have you condemned JC or Matthew Koehler for doing the very thing you referred to Mark T as a “little shit” for? I didn’t think so. That hypocrisy is the very reason I have little to no respect for your vaunted “principles”.

            My problems with this website began when I disagreed with JC’s very personal vendetta against Jon Tester. On that score, you’re nothing but a fanboi, climbing onto a bandwagon that you think promotes you. Regardless of my ‘tone’, I’ve been about the issues from day one. Pogie has been reading me well longer than you’ve apparently known what a blog was. And now you want him to condemn me for being mean to you, when you obviously don’t even understand what is going on here. This website has taken a very hardline stance against discussion. To the some of the fragile little flowers around here, discussion means agreement, and disagreement means attack. Sorry, kitten, the world doesn’t work that way.

            There are a lot of things you would agree with me about, if you would get over your own butthurt. But your feeeeelings are more important to you than actually accomplishing anything. So, to you, your respect is supposed to mean something to Pogie or to me. If you didn’t think so, you wouldn’t have mentioned it. Speaking strictly for me, you’re not that important in the world. Look at you. Deriding Jamee Greer for he “might not be the best person” to tell you that your will isn’t holy and sacrosanct given the stakes involved, because he doesn’t read your oh so important comment threads.

            • lizard19

              I said the way you go after people is counterproductive, Rob, because it is.

              • Yet again, that’s assuming that you know what I want. Define what “productive” is before you tell me I’m being counter that.

              • lizard19

                you make a great point. i was being generous and assuming you wanted to write persuasively about a candidate you believe in, and if that’s the case, then you are being counterproductive.

                but if your aim is more akin to disruption, to picking fights, to making things personal in order to distract people and derail legitimate concerns about Tester, then you are doing exactly what you want to be doing.

      • lizard19

        first, Jamee, thank you for promoting this piece.

        second, if you don’t read comment threads, then you might not be the best person to be passing judgment on the “fairness” of the “attacks” against Don.

      • Well said.

        And this rabid attempt to silence, deride or marginalize those who disagree with the folks in power has to stop if you want to build a movement and not just a two year campaign cycle.

        That goes both ways. The problem at hand are those who think in binary terms, generally centered around single issue focus. I don’t agree with Tester regarding pretty much anything concerning immigration reform. But because I agree with him on other things, I am marginalized around here as just a guy with a “D” behind his name who will slavishly support Tester no matter what. In fact, supporting one who is in power is less ‘hip’ than supporting … oh wait those others aren’t really supporting anything other than “not Tester”. Right now, “not Tester” means “Rehberg”. It’s truly amazing how poorly that is understood by those who want to want to silence the “for Tester” folks.

        So very difficult, these choices …

        • carfreestupidity

          I’m not trying to speak for anyone of the contributors here, but saying that people are supporting “not Tester” is a little much.

          I would like to believe that criticisms of Tester’s votes/policy positions/etc come from a desire to make Tester the best candidate he can be. I know that the political cycle is extremely fast these days even for someone that only faces an election every 6 years, but there has to be some time in there for debate and self-reflection.

          “How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.”

          -Albert Einstein

  6. rawr

    Is this supposed to be surprising? Jon Tester has proven time and time again that he is completely incompetent.

  7. ladybug

    Montana is blessed with people who are not always easily fooled by labels and packaging. It’s hard to fake authenticity with this bunch. Celeb status? Who cares? Tester’s identity struggles seem, well, so parvenu. If there is a true Jon, he will need to settle in pretty soon. His fart-in-a-skillet routine is drawing a lot of unwanted attention.

  8. Turner

    The best reason to vote for Tester: Denny Rehberg.

  9. Ingemar Johansson

    Maybe Jon should listen to Debbie.

    “republicans think undoc’s are criminals”.

  10. mr benson

    As Jon says, “what part of “illegal” is hard to understand? He’s got my vote for that, and his forest bill. I deplore his Obamacare vote, but he’s a straight up genuine Montanan who deserves our support. It’s not that he’s running against Rehberg, it’s that he’s Jon Tester.

    If some radicals called Jon Tester an asshole, then they’re just seeing their reflection there in the mirror. Take that, grammarians!

    Tester’s middle of the road positions, such as opposing handing the country to illegal aliens, support for protecting our borders, and coming on strong for traditional montana jobs and values, are winning him votes and support from centrists.

    He might be losing those people willing to call him an “asshole” at the drop of a hat, especially the hate america first crowd. But he’s been winning friends on the other side, especially those who recoil from the focus on the family far right.

    It gets harder and harder to side with the MHRN as the continue to radicalize their positions. LGBT Montanans are citizens of Montana and the United States. They deserve equal protection. Illegal aliens aren’t and don’t. Venture too far down the path of “everything for everyone” and you’ve watered down to nothing what was a strong, and principled stand for Americans into a giant giveaway of everything American.

    • lizard19

      if what you say proves to be correct, mr. b., then jon has nothing to worry about. the naysayers are just whiny hippie radicals and they’re opinions are insignificant. the rapid response team should realize this and just let that insignificance waft away in the wind. fanning flames is not a good strategy.

    • JC

      The Constitution doesn’t distinguish between “Americans” and others who are in the country–“illegal” or not for equal protection.

      I find it odd that those who would espouse “middle of the road solutions” would shred the rights of all individuals in this country–citizens or not, visitors, or undocumented indivuals–to the protection of our Constitution.

      The Constitution does not distinguish between the rights of citizens and the rights of all individuals within our borders, except in a few explicit circumstances like the 15 Amendment’s statement that “right of citizens of the United States to vote…”

      So, I disagree that “illegal aliens” don’t deserve equal protection. They do. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) affirmed equal protection for illegal immigrants:

      “Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is surely a ‘person’ in any ordinary sense of that term. Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as ‘persons’ guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments…The Equal Protection Clause was intended to work nothing less than the abolition of all caste-based and invidious class-based legislation.”

  11. Kirsten

    Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them.

    Two problems here with Testers “just follow the law” baloney:

    1. When the law makes it impossible for the vast majority of people to immigrate, people who wish to immigrate to the United States, by definition, MUST NOT follow the rules. This problem has been created by the United States government, and pretending that we welcome immigrants so long as they follow the rules to get here is disingenuous at best.Here is an excellent graphic representation of what the rules are and how they make it nearly impossible for most people to immigrate legally:

    2. “We”- meaning the government- must not enforce the laws. For one thing, the laws are unConstitutional. Enforcing the highest law means not enforcing the lower laws that violate it. Beyond that, the laws violate basic human rights, are racist, and are in all ways unjust. Not only is there no obligation to enforce them, there IS an obligation NOT to enforce them.

    There is only one policy that the United States or any of its lower level government bodies should have regarding immigration: Let peaceful people cross borders freely. Anything short of that is a travesty against basic human rights.

  12. mr benson

    There is no “basic human right” to live in the United States.

    • JC

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

      Would you not call these “basic human rights?”

      • carfreestupidity

        Too bad thats in the Declaration and not the Constitution.

        It may not be a “basic human right” to immigrate to this country, but immigrants are what made this country great. without immigrants, this country would just be a country club of anglo-saxon protestants.

        “Give me your tired, your poor,
        Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
        The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
        Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
        I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

        – Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

  13. Norm

    I agree with problem bear’s first statement. Plus, if Jon could put a face on this issue like I can, he might change his tune. I’m still deciding whether to do campaign work for him or send him money, but I REALLY don’t want Denny. It’s the old rock and a hard place dilemma.

  14. And the Dem civil war continues – this is great reading – NEXT CHAPTER PLEASE !

  15. Jamee

    A couple of thoughts:

    I have had it with how every time a Democrat (or a progressive, or a person on the left, or whatever) gets upset at another Democrat, they’re marginalized and it is implied that they only care so strongly because of a personal vendetta against somebody. It is getting really old, really tired — and you need to start finding new ways to marginalize your friends. Get creative and mix it up!

    Also, all this back and forth is a convenient way to not actually discuss the substance of Shahid’s post which is that there are children of immigrants, not born in the US and here without authorized status but who are for all other purposes just as “American” as any of us, who are and who will be, deported because Jon Tester was one of five democrats who tanked the DREAM Act.

    It is ok to be upset about that. And if it is “radical” to think that deporting CHILDREN is not ok, then we have some serious problems, a lot of work to do, and frankly, some very different values.

    Finally, several of you have made some weird attempt to paint progressives upset over various issues as folks who only complain about Democrats and never Republicans. Were you drunk during the first four months of the year? Were you not paying any attention whatsoever to what was happening at the Montana Legislature? Come on, folks!

    This nonsense, this pathetic attempt at taking the discussion away from the meat and substance of the actual problem is why people outside this circle rarely participate on political blogs in Montana — and that goes for all political blogs. Crashing through the gates of enormous ego takes so much energy and determination, why would anybody bother?

    • Jamee, there are times when what is happening really is a personal vendetta, and when those who are your “friends” really aren’t.

      I would also point out that being “against” Democrats, Republicants, Government itself, is not a virtue.

      Shahid’s very point calls for the “one issue” position. I don’t disagree with his stance against Tester’s position, though I do disagree with the claim that it is a “refutation”. It is not. It is disagreement. Disagreement is not, in itself, a causal factor for voting or condemnation. When one begins to accept that it is, then that one has taken an extreme stance. That is not wrong, but it might be short-sighted or counter-productive. It is accepting the singular in place of the aggregate. Where things differ around these parts are those who believe that Jon Tester has personally insulted them.

  16. jack ruby

    Tester is trying to win an election. More Montanans agree with these positions (forest bill; wolves; immigration) that are unpopular with the left, even if they are demonstrably wrong or stupid in some way or other. This is Montana America and there are a lot of stupid people voting. He is not going to win a statewide election coming out as a pro-wolf pro-immigration pro-wilderness left democrat. That doesnt mean you cant or shouldnt still advocate for your positions and ride his ass but the reality is your alternative is Rehberg who wont even pretend to listen to you.

  17. i am a results oriented bear, so unless some drastic radical action is being considered here which will endanger jon tester’s election in 18 months, i really don’t see the harm (or the seriousness) that don or mr wulfgar bring to this discussion. people are just talking here and venting their various frustrations with an incumbent candidate who looks for all the world to have been completely absorbed into the privileged and corrupt culture of washington dc.

    has jon completely forgotten his original aspirations to vote to stop the wars? has he cozied up to lobbyists from big banks to further their agendas regarding fees? has he sold out on his pledge to make sure that politics is more transparent?

    each commenter can answer that question for themselves. i have and the answers are yes. yes. yes. there are nuances of honesty about jon that i had hoped would survive the corrosive atmosphere of washington dc but i have had to admit that the more i see of him, the more cardboard and phony he has become. i had held out hope that his “common sense farmer” facade would also rise above the acid vat of the beltway but it too has apparently been dissolved into that amorphous mass of disintegrated morals known as play along to get along.

    the time-tested soul sucking baucus method of courting money and trading votes for support from those who pay for television ads makes for smooth sailing alright. and i anticipate jon will win handily in 2012. to that i say thank god and good luck.

    denny rehberg needs to be retired so he can spend more time figuring out how to sue firefighters and help his drunken friends plot better courses accross the dark waters of flathead lake.

    but don’t come over to this site and feel that you have the right to tell me or any one else what to think about jon tester around here unless you want me to reprogram your virtual reality. don is a fine person and so is wulfgar. i think the world of both of them. but they need to just realize that nobody here writes with any agenda or any strategy. we don’t hold meetings. this is all straight from the gut.

    i think that is a pretty god damn good reason to participate and if i were a reader, i believe it would be refreshing to know that we all work independently here. don’s remonstance (which cfs refuted) that we don’t hammer on rehberg enough around here for his satisfaction seems to be calling for an agenda.

    my question to readers here is: what do you prefer- a site that conforms to an agenda? or a site that works more like the real world- where people often disagree.

  18. I’ve been sitting this out, but there are a few things I’d like to address.

    Many of the comments have failed to discuss the topic of this post, or consider whether Tester’s anti-immigration positions are justified. This article was written to call attention to an issue that very few people are discussing in Montana. As one of only a few Democrats in the Senate who oppose immigration reform, Jon Tester’s vote is critically important on a national scale. He is Montana’s problem, and we owe it to immigrants in Montana — and the progressive movement in general — to put serious pressure on Tester to get him back on track.

    Several comments, both here and elsewhere, have attempted to divert the conversation to take a more personal slant. As insular as the Montana political blog scene appears to be, this wasn’t (and isn’t) about anyone in particular. Its about Tester’s unsupportable positions, and the need for progressives to take a difficult stand for what they believe.

    I am making a plea for progressives to leave “pragmatism” to the politicians, and demand what we know is right. My post is not intended to convince you to vote against Tester, but rather to force Tester to vote with you. I’m trying to express how many of us would like to vote for Tester, but he is making it extremely difficult.

    Some are upset about my article because they believe there should be no ideological “litmus tests” to apply to Tester.  They think people who are aggrieved by Tester’s immigration votes should be able to disagree with them, but that “there is room for disagreement among progressives” and it shouldn’t affect whether or not one would vote for Tester. They may even completely agree that Tester’s immigration positions are wrong, but they think that immigration issues are only one piece of Tester’s platform, and that as long as we can agree on other issues, we shouldn’t let his immigration votes stand in the way.

    Whether intentionally or not, when you say something like this, you are infusing the statement with your own values and priorities. Underlying this “holistic view” is the unspoken idea that the DREAM Act (and other immigration issues) aren’t of utmost importance or critical concern — that they are just one issue among many others that one should care about.

    Everyone has their own priorities, of course. But it is disingenuous to say that my position is an “extreme stance” just because I won’t simply agree to disagree on this issue. Those who criticize my “one issue” analysis cannot honestly say that they have no line in the sand — that there is no single issue that would frame whether or not they can vote for someone. Surely, almost everyone does have an issue that is so important to them that they cannot stomach a vote that would harm their cause.  What you are really saying is that immigration isn’t your issue. Immigration isn’t your line in the sand. You’re saying that you can “agree to disagree” on immigration while continuing to support Tester. That certainly doesn’t make you a bad person, and I’m not making that argument.

    It is understandable that people without a personal connection to the immigration issue are going to feel this way. Where you go wrong, however, is by failing to be a good ally to others in the movement. Where you go very wrong is by attempting to marginalize others in the movement by asking them to support a candidate who will vote against their interests, instead of working to make your candidate support theirs.

    For various reasons, some Montanans cannot take such a “laissez-faire” attitude about the issue of immigration. Perhaps they know someone whose life will be destroyed or whose family will be torn apart. Maybe they simply recognize that Tester’s votes on these issues are not abstract — they have concrete impacts on real Montanans. Some of us are seeing the impact of Tester’s votes firsthand, and it is crushing. Many of us believe that immigration reform is human rights legislation, for which we cannot simply “agree to disagree.”

    It is not fair to marginalize those who feel compelled to draw a line in the sand on immigration issues by implying that we must have a “personal vendetta” or “believe that Jon Tester has personally insulted them.” These are nothing more than an ad hominem attacks to discredit our views.
    I would hope that we can recognize that Jon Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the U.S. Senate on the issue of immigration, and as long as we remain silent, he has no incentive to rethink his views. I have been informed that Tester’s positions on immigration are so cemented that he won’t revisit them unless he receives enough public outcry to force him to do so. This post was surely a “stick” but there have also been attempts to use a “carrot” as well, and these will continue. There is much work to be done to get pro-immigrant voices to the table, to tell their stories directly. It is extremely difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is because they may not be in a position to speak out publicly. Other methods of organizing around this issue are in the works. In the meantime, I did something that was actually within my control: I wrote this article to call attention to the issue.

    If I had completely given up on Tester, I wouldn’t have bothered to write this article. It may be true that right now, Tester is getting more criticism from progressives than Rehberg. However, this is because we still hope that Tester is accountable in some way to us, while we know that our voices are lost with Rehberg. Despite everything, I would gladly return my support to Tester if he changed his views on immigration. Unfortunately, these views are not only entrenched, but Tester believes they are expedient. Therefore, its going to take a lot to make that happen.

    All I am asking is that progressives in the movement work to course-correct their candidate, instead of asking their allies to fall on the sword and vote against their values.

    • Shahid –

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post (along with a thanks to Jamee who posted it for you), and thanks for stepping in with your comment.

      the DREAM Act was an important vote. I wrote about it here, and both posts garnered a large number of comments.

      The idea that little babies and minors brought here by their parents..that have grown up here and committed no crime and in many cases excelled in our schools, their undocumented parents in most cases paying taxes and into social security for benefits that they will never be eligible for…should not be eligible and are somehow undeserving of some streamlined process to legitimize their residency is just plain wrong.

      It is an impracticable position, and one that Tester took. Voting against the DREAM Act represented (and still does) a position that essential maintains the status quo. Critics want something done but yet their black-and-white, illegal. period. stance towards undocumented immigrants

      Memory on this issue seems a little short, too, if you ask me. In this 2010 story from Politico, Montana Democratic National Committeewoman Jean Lemire Dahlman dubbed his vote against DREAM “a grave mistake,” and said “I was surprised. It didn’t seem to jive with what I expect of him.”

      I’ve got no problem with attempting to course-correct our candidate.

      Otherwise I have to wonder why I’d even bother to vote.

      Lobbyists might use cash to purchase their votes, but I’m just a poor resident on Main St. America – my vote doesn’t require anything but some representation of my values and protection of my interests.

      Ignore those things, and we both have a problem.

  19. A reader

    Shahid: You did make it personal… you accused another writer through a link of wanting “silence any opposition” which is anything but the case. To categorize the argument progressives should focus on Rehberg first over our own incumbent candidate as “silencing” opposition is the very definition of ad hominem attack.

    I don’t disagree with the premise of your argument on immigration. I disagree with your strawman argument.

    The drama that came afterwards from the other writers of this blog? Just plain silly.

    • JC

      How Kailey-esque of you build a strawman accusing the writer of this article of building a strawman and using ad hominem. Then proceeding to use your strawman to launch your own ad hominem attack against 4&20’s writers here as “drama” and “silly.”

      Don’t think Rob or a conflict troll would have done it any differently.

      Why don’t you leave the personal BS out of it and address the issue: our junior Senator has no better stance on immigration than his opponent?

      And a question: do you find my comments here referencing the SCOTUS case Doe or the snippet from the Declaration of Independence to be “drama” and “silly?”

      If so, that really outs you as a right-winger masquerading as a liberal with your “I don’t disagree with the premise of your argument on immigration” disclaimer to your own strawman.

      • A reader

        Please… you don’t know what ad hominem or strawman really mean…

        The person that started the “personal BS” was the original poster…

        I agree with the post. Tester is horrible on immigration.

        I disagree with the post that those want to focus more on the clearly worse candidate, Rehberg, are “silencing opposition.” That notion is absurd and is doing more to divide us than join us together.

        Remember when this blog was more than flame wars in the comments? It starts with the posts, folks…

        • Jamee

          “A reader”:

          Your ISP and your host say you’re from Amsterdam, which is probably not where you’re really commenting from, and makes me think you’re going to great lengths to hide who you are.

          Your email bounces back, I also tried contacting you there.

          When you stop playing games, feel free to participate.

          But until then, I’m going to ignore you. I suggest everybody else does, too.

          • A reader


            This is precisely the problem: you are saying because you can’t attack the person, then my argument doesn’t have value.

            This is no game. It doesn’t matter who I am. If it matters that much, that you obviously are the one more bent on silencing the opposition.

            I used to comment on this blog (and the others) quite a bit. But, it becomes more about attacking the person rather than rational discussion. This discussion has yet to rise above middle-school-like rhetoric.

            Now that the horrifying clown show of the legislature is over, “we” are doing what we do best, we are turning the attack in ourselves.

            I didn’t attack Shahid, I attack his assertion that Pogie is “silencing opposition.” There is apparently some debate on what kind of logical fallacy this is (sorry, it has been a while since I took Philosophy 201) but it was wrong.

            if you need to know my name or IP address (really Jamie? kind of big brothery, isn’t it? i didn’t know you had to be in Montana’s boarders to comment about Montana politics) to answer that, so be it. Ignore me as a troll.

            I like almost all of you (sorry, Eric). We are an important group amongst Democrats. These blogs matter. It isn’t a game. This discussion is important.

            But, we are doing what Democrats do. It is destructive.

            A reader

            • i, like many thousands of montanans, am not a democrat. neither is jc.

              i am a progressive leaning independent. i like to think this site provides a place where those who “are not part of the club” and those who “are part of the club” can go to air their differences.

              i don’t consider intelligent and articulate criticism to be destructive. in fact, i find mt cowgirl boring in the extreme.

              here in montana most people like to go to a bar like charlies in missoula where people from all backgrounds, converge in a raucus and interesting mix. it makes things more interesting.

              if you like a more private affair at say, the missoula country club, where politeness and correctness is observed with an agenda of keeping those in power comfortable then by all means enjoy.

              many of us independents feel more comfortable in an environment where self-censorship is not applauded quite so much.

        • Steve W

          The word is hyperbole.

          It’s not strawman.

          When the OP linked to Pogie’s column as an example of “silencing all opposition” it was an exaggeration.

          Pogie clearly is interested in people toning down their remarks and in self censoring their criticisms of Jon Testers policies, legislation, political stances, and his votes that they disagree with.

          that was the whole point of the column he wrote.

          While he can want that if he likes, he’s probably not going to get it. And while I disagree with Pogie on this, i wouldn’t say it raises to the level of “silencing all opposition.” My opinion is that’s an exaggeration which would make that part hyperbole.

          I just hope Tester thinks about the good of the party and all our other candidates running all across America and changes his position on immigration.

          Not only would it help Democrats but it’s the right thing to do.

      • Don’t think Rob or a conflict troll would have done it any differently.

        You’re kind of an genius, aren’t you?

    • Oh poo. Pot Kettle Black.

      To categorize the argument progressives should focus on Rehberg first over our own incumbent as “silencing” opposition is the very definition of ad hominem attack.”

      The “silencing” of opposition isn’t coming from the writers and contributors here, “A reader.”

      It’s one thing to come in here and have an opinion on something written here – it’s another thing to come in here and tell anyone here what to write.

      May I suggest you go get your own blog, if you don’t already have one.

  20. Heather

    This blog gets more pathetic by the day. You people want to help elect Denny Rehberg so bad you can’t even admit it. If he wins, we’ll know whom to blame.

  21. Steve W


    Heather, you Republicans are so transparent.

    Good try though.

    • another reader

      Oh, I don’t know. That could be a Democrat party person too Steve W – they don’t like this place either.

      Their incentive to drown out the voices here is pretty strong.

      Then, they think, the Dems could walk on water.

  22. Steve W

    I know a lot of local active Dems personally and only a tiny insignificant minority would ever post something like Heather did.

    Most of the ones I know like 4&20 Blackbirds. In fact, some of them write for 4 & 20 Blackbirds.

    So I think you are mistaken when you say that Montana Dems don’t like 4&20. Sure, maybe an individual here or there, but not in general. And what’s not to like? That it’s “pathetic”? Sounds Republican to me.

  23. Statehood for Mexico!

  24. Heather: “…..we’ll know who(m) (sic.) To blame.”

    You mean like voters?

    I think jon will be just fine in 2012 with all the big bank and corporate slush funds buying him tv ads. He’s learned all the tricks of negotiating k-street well from brother max.
    If jon loses this it will be because he strays too far to the right. Not because some people on a blog voice honest opinions about issues. Denny is going to be toast in 18 months.

    I cannot imagine a more vulnerable opponent than denny for jon with all that tv time to excoriate rehberg for all the stupid things he’s done.

    • Pbear, her formal grammar was correct. And you undercut your own argument by pointing out that voters are somehow controlled by forces other than chosen will. Either by manipulation of corporate cash or wailing on a lefty blog, voters will choose Jon Tester or they won’t. One cannot be more to blame than the other, whether they work for him or against him. People are right to fear a Rehberg seat in the Senate, just as they are to fear Republicant control of that body.

      You are correct that the Republicants screwed up in running Rehberg against Tester. They’d have been better off running the unknown Steve Daines. Rehberg is crap and will be shown to be such. Politically speaking, well …

  25. at most 12 voters might decide whether to vote for jon based on what they read on this blog.

    a well placed and well run newspaper, radio and television ad campaign timed just right with the right message is far more persuasive than any blog known to this universe, leave alone this one.

    the money jon can raise with his committee assignments will enable him to reach nearly everyone in the state. i have no doubt that jon can burn rehberg’s little cigarette boat down with those 20 inch guns. rehberg is a prime target.

    tester’s gonna win by at least 30,000 votes. you know it and i know it. hell, anyone with a lick of sense knows a sitting senator with powerful committee assignments and connections is gonna beat hell out of a house member, leave alone a house member with a lousy record and a vulnerable personal history.

  26. Dennis Rehberg is going to blow away Jon Tester. Actually, Jon Tester is not really running. It is the unions who control the strings that control Jon Tester. he is a puppet, a fat face with nothing behind it.
    The Truth – Montana

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