Archive for August 17th, 2012

by lizard

I’m still a mostly ignorant newbie when it comes to understanding Montana politics, especially Montana Democrats. I have no clue what really goes on in Helena, and what little I know (outside of what traditional media reports) comes from a handful of blogs, so there’s that.

Take, for example, a recent post from Montana Cowgirl, calling out Max Baucus for taking $40,000 dollars from the Koch Brothers.

This is just a personal observation, but it seems to me that ever since signaling back in April he’d like 6 more years of corporate suckling, the knives have really come out against Max. I guess maybe some have deemed it time to take this cash cow to slaughter, hand out a few steaks, and wait for the next side of beef to stride forth (wearing a bolo tie?).

According to Cowgirl, Koch money is bad because:

The Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to persuade the American public that climate change is a hoax. Generally, they fund much of the racist and inciteful enterprise known as the Tea Party, from grassroots (or astroturf) organizing to TV ads. They also bankroll anti-union candidates in dozens of states, including major support for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The attempt by the Koch brothers to financially support climate change deniers is well known, and it does cast a nasty shadow on the corporate suckler, Max Baucus.

What bothers me is the political context in which this is being pointed out. There’s a political scorecard being kept here, and climate change is just a way to score some points, this time against a “Democrat” who has fallen out of favor.

If climate change was to be taken seriously by this political blogger who likes to moo for Democrats, then other positions taken by Democrats should be scrutinized, like Tester’s support of the Keystone pipeline that will transport tar sands crude across America. When Obama postponed construction of the pipeline for purely political reasons, Tester had this to say:

“I am disappointed in the President’s decision. Just as I have supported Montana’s renewable energy jobs, I have long supported responsibly building this pipeline with the highest safety standards and with respect for private property rights. Oil, coal, natural gas, wind, geothermal and biofuels all provide good jobs in Montana. I will continue to champion Montana’s role in securing America’s energy future.”

Good jobs and securing America’s energy future are nice sounding talking points, but the Keystone pipeline project won’t produce either. Of course pointing that out wouldn’t help Jon get reelected.

Then there’s our Governor, the clean coal cowboy. In an article posted earlier this month at Counterpunch, Joshua Frank put it like this:

There’s a coal battle brewing in the great state of Montana and front and center in the fiasco is Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a good old-boy with an affinity for fossil fuels.

The latest trouble with Gov. Schweitzer dates back in 2009 when he and other members of the State Land Board, all Democrats, voted 4 to 1 to open up the rich coal tract of Otter Creek, an approximately 10,000-acre checkerboard of public lands, to development in Montana’s region of the Powder River Basin. An estimated 572 million tons was auctioned off to Arch Coal despite its unpopularity. Currently the lease approved by the Land Board is open for public comment, but opponents fear the Democrats residing on the panel won’t listen to their concerns.

“The main beneficiaries of leasing Otter Creek coal won’t be coal miners or schools or the Northern Cheyenne or the residents of Powder River County,” wrote local residents Bill and Judy Musgrave in the Billings Gazette leading up to the Land Board vote. “It will be coal speculators and the proposed Tongue River Railroad.”

At the beginning of August the Land Board decided to delay its public hearings in response to a weeklong protest spearheaded by Rising Tide North America. They appeared to be frightened of the spectacle that would ensue. Even with the rescheduled public hearing, opponents of coal exports and the Otter Creek mine are still planning a sit-in in Helena beginning on August 13. The non-violent civil disobedience will take place between the offices of Governor Brian Schweitzer and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, both of whom are Land Board members.

It’s protests like these that Montana ought to get used to as long as the state continues to extract its vast coal deposits.

Max’s dirty Koch money is certainly worthy of criticism, but for those concerned we’re quickly moving beyond the point of no return with climate change, the positions of many Montana Democrats should be looked at critically as well.

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