Montana Blogosphere Melodrama May Matter (Probably Not)

by lizard

It’s probably early enough in the Walsh campaign to take the first real shot in what is sure to be a delightful primary—Report: Lt. Gov. John Walsh improperly used adjutant general position.

I don’t really care how this primary shapes up, so I won’t quote from the article. It’s just politics as usual—and for Democrats in Montana, it’s all about deciding who is going to lose to Steve Daines.

Instead I’m going to wade into some melodrama because I think it says something about what online political engagement is becoming.

Let’s start with Intelligent Discontent, specifically Don’s post about anonymous Republican blogs:

Other than denying women access to reproductive health care, nothing seems to unite Montana Republicans more than their hatred for anonymous political blogs attacking their candidates. They whine and caterwaul and complain about blogs like Montana Cowgirl and the Montana Streetfighter, but not without their typical hypocrisy. Despite their drumbeat of criticism on social media, they’ve repeatedly tried—and failed—to develop anonymous blogs of their own. I think they may just be bad at it.

The implication here is, unlike anonymous Republican blogs, anonymous Democrat political blogs, like Montanan Cowgirl, are good.

Back in July, I took a shot at Montana Cowgirl’s lack of moderation in the comment threads. The conversation that ensued is interesting (if you care about this kind of crap, and I totally understand if you don’t).

Baucus retiring his seat, then suddenly getting tapped for China, has been the biggest political news in Montana. And because there are national implications for control of the Senate, Montana politics is sure to get plenty of scrutiny.

And that’s why I think it’s interesting that Montana Cowgirl—Montana’s premier Democrat mouthpiece with proven chops validated by national media—is becoming such a joke.

Mark Tokarski, a possible victim of cyberstalking by a Cowgirl regular, is trying to make sense of the Cowgirl. Jack Ruby and myself both posted about our nostalgia for what the Cowgirl once was.

I’ve also caught whiffs of nostalgia for Matt Singer and Left in the West, an online forum that actually provided the launching pad for Cowgirl, who was asked to leave because of anonymity issues—meaning LitW decided to no longer allow anonymous posting (smart move, Matt). If I’m wrong on that, please correct me in the comments.

I have also contributed to the nostalgia, remembering online presences who added substance during what now seems like better days.

As evidence that Montana’s online better days are in the rear view mirror, a Cowgirl post titled Choices for Everyone currently has 239 comments, exposing, imho, what a total lack of direction and moderation emanates from Montana’s premier anonymous Democrat blog.

Does it matter? Probably not. Who actually reads this shit, right?

There should be some standards for what we allow to happen on the forums we oversee. Cowgirl is derelict in “her” duties.

There is one comment I remember making at Intelligent Discontent that Don deleted, and he absolutely should have. It crossed a line.

Maybe weekends means overtime the Democrat party can’t afford because Max has’t written any checks yet:

Sen. Max Baucus’ decision not to run for re-election in 2014 leaves the Montana Democrat with more than $4.8 million in campaign money — and no campaign to spend it on.

Baucus has several options for what he can do with all that cash, according to Federal Election Commission regulations. The only real restriction is that he can’t keep it for himself.

He could transfer any amount to national, state or local Democratic committees. He could donate to other candidates — within state and federal contribution limits. He could use some cash to defray travel costs and expenses related to winding down his office. He also could turn his campaign committee into a political action committee.

Baucus’ campaign organization will be closing in the coming weeks. Baucus officials say he intends to support the Montana Democratic Party, Democratic candidates and charities or foundations Baucus believes in.

 
Will that money get spent on a seemingly doomed campaign for Max’s seat? And if there is some extra cash laying around, please, give it to the Cowgirl. She obviously needs some support.


  1. Instead of digging for my implication, you could rely on what I literally wrote. It’s insanely hypocritical for Republicans to complain about anonymous blogs because they do the same thing. They’re just really bad at it.

    They try and try–but can’t generate an audience of any size, so they give up.

    As for the crusade to clean up blog comments, I just don’t get it. I’d think the comments in the daily newspapers all over the state are in much worse need of moderating. As you say, who reads comments on the blogs?

    • lizard19

      the Missoulian has actually improved, slightly. Cowgirl’s has declined, dramatically. do you dispute the latter?

    • What you’re saying doesn’t actually hold water, Don. If they were really being hypocrites, wouldn’t all the conservative blogs be successful and well read? The fact that conservatives don’t actually support anonymous blogs and attack Democrats for supporting them seems like consistent ideology to me, not hypocrisy. If just finding one bonehead Republican on the Internet who takes the 30 mins to figure out WordPress is indicative of all Republican ideological thought, then I guess you can all go home and give all your respective blogs to Norma Duffy and Bob Brigham.

  2. Turner

    So Daines is a shoo-in? When did Montana become Mississippi?

    • lizard19

      maybe Max can buy a libertarian to run to peel off enough Daines supporters to make this thing competitive. it worked for Tester.

      • larry kurtz

        Like MTGOP or the LP is going to lead Montana out of the gulag? Good goddess, liz.

        • lizard19

          there are other ways. Happy New Year, larry.

  3. “…it’s all about deciding who is going to lose to Steve Daines.” That kind of pessimism, which I do not share, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Earlier this year, especially after Schweitzer decided not to run for the Senate, I had little hope that a Democrat could defeat Daines for the Senate. I still think Daines could win, but thanks to his earning the nickname of Shutdown Steve, he’s no longer a sure bet. I now believe a strong Democratic candidate can win.

    *****

    My personal preference is that left of center bloggers not make public attacks on their colleagues. We are not so numerous in Montana that we can afford to entertain right wing bloggers with our internecine feuding.

    • lizard19

      left of center? clearly you aren’t referring to me, since I’m a proud member of the lunatic fringe ;)

      I’m sure you realize, James, that the primary fight is going to bleed Walsh, and diminish his chances. that 2010 report about Walsh won’t help either, making ad-fodder for bottom feeders like Brigham, and then Daines. and if Daines and Tester get a win with FJRA, then instead of shutdown Steve, the narrative might be victorious bipartisan Steve.

      Democrats are doing most of this to themselves. if pointing out the dysfunction entertains right wing bloggers, well, that’s not a good enough reason to self-censor.

      I bet the traffic at those bad anonymous Republican blogs increased after Don brought attention to them. I would suggest treating them like many people treated OWS: ignore, ignore, ignore.

      • “I’m sure you realize, James, that the primary fight is going to bleed Walsh, and diminish his chances. that 2010 report about Walsh won’t help either, making ad-fodder for bottom feeders like Brigham, and then Daines. and if Daines and Tester get a win with FJRA, then instead of shutdown Steve, the narrative might be victorious bipartisan Steve.”

        No, I don’t realize it because it’s conjecture, not fact. Obviously, there’s a possibility the primary will become toxic, but that’s not a given. I don’t think there’s a snowcone’s chance in a blast furnace that FJRA will become law. The 2010 report won’t be a factor (I commented on it at Flathead Memo yesterday) because it’s so obviously an anal retentive hatchet job (see Mike Brown’s comments today at the Western Word). And it contains material I could use for a counter ad. I don’t think Bohlinger will be a factor (it’s sad to see him embarrassing himself during his last hurrah).

        Finally, you may be the only person in Montana able to distinguish left of center from the lunatic fringe, a rare talent that will be useful in 2014. Happy New Year!

        • lizard19

          you make good points, James. thanks for commenting (and keeping us birdies on your blogroll). Happy New Year!

          • Craig Moore

            Didn’t you mean payroll? ;>)

            • Lord, I wish I had that big a budget.

  4. steve kelly

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/usstates?id=on&mt=on&or=on&sd=on&wy=on

    The U.S. Senate is firmly authoritarian-right. Differences lie in matters of degree. Anyone arguing realistically for a “left” or “progressive” outcome in 2014 (nationwide, from Montana to New York) is whistling past the cemetery — or whistling Dixie.

    Neoliberalism and unregulated global capital must be put in a museum somewhere, or we’re condemned to watch reruns indefinitely, in black and white. No such candidate has emerged in Montana in quite some time.

  5. Greg Strandberg

    Well isn’t the filing date January 9th, or have some of these candidates filed early? Or are we just talking about intentions to run here? Because anyone can go down to their courthouse and pay $1,735 and challenge all these clowns. So who’s going to put their money where their mouth is?

    Let’s see, $1,735 plus, oh, maybe 1,000 tanks of gas to get around the state and knock on everyone’s door. Let’s just say 2,000 tanks of gas. How much is that? Now some light breakfasts, I figure you can sleep in the car or truck most days, and maybe some dinner.

    I’m not sure what donations are, but I guess if you get some donations from people that will offset the costs somewhat. Of course you’d be saving on advertising as well, at least TV, because you don’t really need to bombard people after you’ve shaken their hand. They have an amazing ability to remember that just once.

    So if you look at the whole thing I think anyone can realistically challenge any of these knuckleheads for, what, $10,000 or so? That would take me about half a year or longer to make, so I guess I’ll have to sit this one out.

    • Federal candidates must file with the Federal Election Commission as well as with the Montana Secretary of State. Once federal candidates begin raising money, they file papers with the FEC, usually many months before the start of formal filing in MT.

      The FEC, incidentally, is a mess. See http://www.rollcall.com/news/fec_vulnerable_to_hacking_ig_warns-229873-1.html and the links therein.

  6. Entrenched Stalwart

    Wow, the Missoula progressives are already claiming that dems lost the senate race. Once again the far left proves to be in lock step with the teaparty when it comes to ideological purity. If you can’t find a candidate that passes your ridiculous/radical litmus test you claim failure and start cheering against your own best interests. It’s sad really, you would rather throw in the towel on a person that you view as a moderate then actually get out and help. The far left of the Democrat party is almost as destructive as the tea party, the only difference, teabaggers can get elected.

    • Steve W

      Time will tell whether “Entrenched’s” slightly desperate sounding response is correct or not.

      Personally my opinion is that the Walsh supporters have already called the Democratic primary race. So jumping the gun isn’t exactly an exclusive failing.

      • Greg Strandberg

        If these people can read minds and tell the future why haven’t I heard of their names? Shouldn’t they be on some infomercials or something?

        I mean, wow, we know who’s going to win the primary! Holy cow, get on the horn Delores, this is a big day in MT!

    • lizard19

      Entrenched, I am happy to be your party’s scapegoat. please feel free to blame me and the “far left” for every unforced error your party makes. it was clearly the far left that orchestrated the Bohlinger primary challenge, and it was the far left that suggested Walsh misuse his position.

  7. I am neither a Missoula progressive or a far left person but unless something radically changes, Steve Daines will go to Washington as our new Senator. Bohlinger has over-extended himself and Walsh is running a non-campaign at this point.

    Walsh has to start reaching out to voters for more than just donations. He needs to learn how to use Social Media to get a message out (beyond “please give me money”). He needs to develop an issues platform and he needs to start talking about it to EVERYONE. At this point, he is behind in name recognition, exposure and issues. Bohlinger is at least trying to build a platform, even though his lied about his past support for certain issues.

    Daines is the man to beat. He has incumbency, money and a well oiled campaign machine. He has the support of both the Montana Republicans and the national Republican party. He won’t make the verbal gaffs of Burns or Rehberg and he won’t engage another candidate over the issues unless he is forced to do so.

    Make all the fun you want of the writers at 4 & 20, but on this one, they pretty much have the right of it. Any other conclusion at this point is wishful thinking. It won’t matter how much the Democrats campaign for either candidate if the candidates themselves are not willing to the do the work to campaign.

    • I don’t understand a lot of this anti-Bohlinger talk; at least the guy’s running, which is a lot more than many are doing. Like you said, at least he’s trying.

      If people don’t think he’s tried hard enough we’ll find out by early June when we have the primary, which is the intention of those things – to find out once and for all who people want and who they don’t. Anyone can run. My hat’s off to everyone who’s giving it a shot.

      • lizard19

        what bothers me about Bohlinger is the initial use by his campaign of our state’s failure to expand medicaid as a political poker chip. what bothers the Walsh people is having to contend with a surprise primary challenger. I further suspect that behind Bohlinger is the Schweitzer clique trying to get back at the “establishment” Tester clique for whatever happened in the outing of Brian’s dark money ties, something that seemed to keep him from assuming the Senatorial throne his loyal admirers thought was his for the taking.

        the older I get, the more I realize none of us truly leave high school.

  1. 1 Montana Blogosphere Melodrama, Pt. 2 | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] been pretty clear about my opinion regarding the melodrama emanating from the Cowgirl. As national attention prepares to descend on Montana politics this […]




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