Archive for the ‘2010 Election’ Category

by jhwygirl

But shhhh…no one’s supposed to know. He has a plan.

Out on the far right of the state (can’t get any further west Senate District 7) Greg Hinkle – a favorite around these parts for years – has decided that he’s not going to run for a second term.

Even though Hinkle won by about 1000 votes over Democrat Paul Clark in 2008 (5555 to 4581), incumbents have an advantage and Hinkle knows that. So no one’s supposed to know that Greg doesn’t plan to file.

Why? The Tea Party (of which Hinkle is part of) has two good reasons for this: One is that Mark French is planning a run for that seat, and Hinkle wants to see him run unopposed.

French, if you recall, made a run for the chair of the Montana GOP last year after losing his congressional run (25K to Denny’s 96K) in the GOP primary in 2010. After that miserable loss, he then a run for the GOP chairmanship in 2011.

He failed there, too, to Missoula’s most refined and civilized Will Deschamps.

The second reason no one’s supposed to know that Hinkle isn’t going to file for SD7? Back in 2010, the Sanders County GOP had a bit of a split in their ranks, things having gone haywire after the Tea Party tried to take over. The details are foggy to me right now (why oh why didn’t I write about it then???) but the county group split, then later regrouped with the Tea Party triumphant.

In between, Judy Stang, a Republican and former county commissioner in Mineral County then began a write-in campaign for SD7, but eventually withdrew due to Montana GOP harassment, throwing her support to Democrat Paul Clark.

Yeah – things got a little crazy. There are still a lot of pissed of Republicans up there, and the incidents of 2010 have yet to dissolve from the memory for many.

Republicans, though – older ones, especially – still abide by that ‘speak no evil’ rule – which is where Hinkle’s incumbency shines. He knows no one is going to challenge him and that means something.

And so will his endorsement.

So when Hinkle doesn’t file, but Mark French does just a few days before the filing deadline, Hinkle is planning on endorsing Mark French.

Delightful plan, huh?

Incidentally – Hinkle made nationwide news last year with his spears-for-hunting bill, which died in standing committee.

It might sound crazy to some – and he tried to legitimize it as taking up a cause of the poor persecuted spear hunters of Montana thing – but it is symbolic of the Tea Party: Wanting to take Montana back to the day of the Cro-magnon man.

~~~~~
Have I dastardly foiled the Hinkle/French/Tea Party plans for Senate District 7? Who knows. But will Republicans and Democrats and Fake Republicans and Fake Democrats be considering a run for that seat now?

If they read this, they just may. Especially the ones that are calling themselves the “real Republicans” after this last eminent domain-enabling, more-government-intrusion legislative session.

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by jhwygirl

It’s not a violation of Montana’s election laws for a candidate to post a photograph of a marked absentee ballot on Facebook.

Good Goddess. I read the first sentence of this news article and wondered what idiot would think that posting your completed absentee ballot for people to see would be illegal.

Look no further than criminal and former state GOP executive director Jake Eaton and and tea party activist Jennifer Olsen

I’m no lawyer, nor do I play one on this blog, but how stupid do you have to be to see the law (“secret ballot“) and think that it means anything more than a person has the right to a secret ballot.

That if they don’t want it to be secret, it’s up to them and falls under free speech.

What is it with Eaton, reading things into laws that aren’t there (see those underlined links above and gosh darn it, when is a county attorney worth his salary going to file felony charges against Jake Eaton for (at minimum) swearing out a false affidavit and (at maximum) fraudulently interfered with a federal election? What is the statute of limitations on this crime.

Is there not one county attorney for any of the counties affected that respects the integrity of the electoral process enough to take steps that would send a message to political whore operatives like Jake Eaton that you can’t screw with elections?

{breath}

I am serious about that though.

{breath}

Back to Jake Eaton and his tea party activist cohort Jennifer Olsen: How much of a nanny-state government interference do they want? How “small-government” can these Einstein’s be if they’re going to file complaints based on their lack of reading comprehension or common sense.

Someone needs to teach these fools what a real election violation looks like.

by jhwygirl

I noticed a brief – maybe 20 seconds – commercial on your station KTMF-TV around 5 o’clock this evening. It was Western Sky Financial offering its financial services to your viewing audience, which pretty much is solely in Montana.

I wasn’t really paying attention at all, but did hear the person in the ad say “If you need $2,500 in your checking account tomorrow then call Western Sky Financial. Yes, the money’s expensive but there’s no collateral required!”

As I mentioned – the ad was awfully quick…but I love my DVR for stuff like this (and political ads, city council meetings and legislative sessions) because when I backed up and replayed the commercial I noticed the numbers (barely) in real small fine print at the bottom of the commercial.

139% APR?

Max Media and ABC Montana and KTMF should know that those kind of loans are illegal here in the state. As a public media source with an FCC license, I would have to think you have some responsibility to not air advertisements for services that are illegal.

Western Sky, in fact, isn’t even registered with the Secretary of State here in in Montana.

It is my belief that regardless of the legal issues regarding the Western Financial Loan Sharking commercial, legitimizing these types of reprehensible loans that are illegal here in Montana and forbidden by federal law for all military personnel by airing 20 second ads that flash toll free numbers guaranteeing no-collateral $2,500 loans over the phone isn’t something you should be doing.

I will be contacting the Secretary of State regarding both Western Financial and the legal ability of any Montana media source to sell and air station time for their ads and any other business like it.

Montana voters did not overwhelmingly vote to make these businesses illegal only to have advertising sources such as your stations to gain revenue by selling ad space to out-of-state loan sharks.

Sincerely,

/s/ Dawn Quixote

    by Pete Talbot

    At least in recent memory?

    There were some nasty sessions during the Copper Kings Era and during World War I when we had the Sedition Act, but I can’t remember a more virulent, inane legislative session. And I’m getting long in the tooth.

    Did Montana voters really want our newly elected legislators to submit this unholy number of boneheaded bills? Being an impatient lot, the voters wanted the change that the Democrats promised: jobs and economic recovery and fiscal restraint and real health care reform and lots of other unfulfilled mandates. So two years after voting for a lot of Democrats, they voted for the other party.

    Has the other party delivered? Not even close.

    I’ve been out of country for awhile and on my return, I’ve been catching up on the news stories and blog posts. Disgusting. Whacky gun laws, invasive procedures on women, forming militias, restricting access to our waterways, reducing renewable energy sources, rolling back voter rights …

    Consider this an open thread.

by jhwygirl

Try these ones:

All this crap of living within our means and look at the per capita subsidy on some of those counties.

ROTFLMAO

Hypocrites.

by jhwygirl

“How’d we get here?”

Anyone paying any attention to what is going on in Helena has, no doubt, asked themselves that question. Myself, I’ve conversed on the subject lately with more than a few people.

So did I laugh today when I saw this story in the Missoulian? You betcha. Then I had to see what the Ravalli Republic had to say.

DO make sure to read the comments.

Hudson-Smith has worked in the clerk’s office for 16 years – sixteen years – and now she wants to hire an expert to help her learn her job?

She doesn’t have any friends who could teach her?

This woman ran a hate-filled anti-everything campaign, and the anti-everything I-hate-government crowd voted for her and now they’re mad that she doesn’t know how to run her government office? She did nothing but create havoc in that office for the last 9 months and wouldn’t accept any training, and now the small-government tea party princess wants to hire a high paid expert CPA to train her?

Ey yi yi.

Which – btw – Thank Goddess for Vickie Zeier, no? I was just saying this the other day, too.

Just imagine how those county and school elections are going to run.

Boy – if I were in Ravalli, I might jump on the recall train…so that someone can keep that very important office of records for all the citizens of Ravalli – democrats, republicans, indy’s and yes, even those tea-drinking fools – from going all to hell.

Seriously. Money is at stake here. Property. Private property. Taxes. Marriages, deaths, births. Some of this stuff you wouldn’t know or need to know for decades – imagine trying to fix some kind of bureaucratic error 20 years old?

That is not a good situation for anyone.

In the meantime, hopefully they’re not letting her anywhere near the electronic records.

by Pete Talbot

Despite temperatures in the teens and a nasty Hellgate wind, Missoula was Montana’s hot spot this weekend. Lots of folks out-and-about, and here’s what I gleaned, politically, from overheard conversations (sources, unbeknownst to them, include Sen. Jon Tester, state senators John Brueggeman and Ron Erickson, state house members Sue Malek and Bryce Bennett):

The Montana Legislature will be a microcosm of the U.S. Congress. Both the state house and the U.S. House of Representatives have substantial Republican majorities.

The Republican majority is much smaller in the state senate and the Democrats have a slight edge in the U.S. Senate. The similarity in these two senate bodies, if the Democrats can hang together, will be the ability to stop veto overrides by the Republicans.

We’ll have to wait and see how much the President and our governor wield the veto pen. Judging from some of the bills already being considered in Helena, and the rhetoric coming from the newly elected in the U.S. House, there could be ample veto opportunities.

Here’s a link to the Helena bills. Prepare to take a week off if you want to review them in detail — there are already hundreds.

Some that came to my attention: Missoula’s only Republican legislator, Champ Edmunds, wants to repeal (not just revise) Montana’s Environmental Policy Act. So much for the Montana Constitution’s “clean and healthful environment” clause. Helena’s Republican Senator Dave Lewis wants a resolution demanding that Congress withdraw the United States from the United Nations. I can’t think of anything less important to a Montanan’s day-to-day existence than the doings at the UN. Thompson Fall’s Greg Hinkle (R) has a slew of wacko bills (example: Restrict authority of FWP to regulate ammo or firearms for hunting, otherwise known as “hunting whitetails with a grenade launcher” bill).

Well, the list goes on-and-on.

From the Democrats I listened to, there was guarded optimism. They certainly won’t be advancing any groundbreaking, progressive legislation but feel they can withstand the most virulent bills offered up by the Republicans. The trump card being a Democratic governor in Montana and a Democratic President.

Democrats at both the state and national level see some fissures in the GOP as the Tea Party types jostle for power and prestige with the more establishment Republicans. Democrats also offered encouragement for 2012, which, of course, they have to do after the drubbing of 2010. The point they make, though, is things just aren’t going to get that much better in the next two years, especially considering the dearth of bills from the Republicans actually addressing unemployment, fixing health care, getting us out of wars or reducing the deficit. And the voters, being a fickle lot, will toss the Republicans they just elected.

Finally, some links to outdoor issues in the lame duck Congress and budget considerations in the Montana Legislature to go along with my keen political insights.

“It was an accident… I’ll leave it at that.”

–Montana State Senator Greg Barkus on his drunken and near fatal escapade last year
barkus drunken crash site
By JC

With his November 29th trial pending on three felony counts for “piloting” his boat with Denny Rehberg and staff to a near fatal crash on a rocky outcropping on Flathead Lake, outgoing Montana State Senator Greg Barkus decided that the cards were stacked against him, and filed for a plea agreement. And of course, his attorney waited until the day after the election to file the motion:

Glazier said the timing of his motion for a change-of-plea hearing – one day after the Nov. 2 election, which saw Rehberg re-elected to a sixth term – had nothing to do with politics. The date of the filing had only to do with the court’s scheduling docket and the fact that plea negotiations have wrapped up.

“Quite frankly, it didn’t even cross my mind,” Glazier said. “He’s termed out anyway, so the election wasn’t a concern.”

So… let’s get this straight. The lawyer for a prominent politician didn’t even think that filing a motion the day after the election had any political motive? And that the passenger on that boat was a U.S. Congressional Respresentative running for reelection, and whose name was on that ballot?

That flies in the face of all sensibilities. Of course, the real political move was done when the judge set the trial date for almost a month after the election. Just a minor detail so the defense could have a little plausible deniability.

And of course, the details of the plea bargain won’t be known for a while:

[Flathead County Attorney Ed] Corrigan was not available for comment on Monday, but Vickie Eggum, administrator for the Flathead County Attorney’s Office, said details of the agreement would not be released until the document had been signed and finalized.

Hmmm… That’s the same Ed Corrigan who endorsed Senator Barkus as being “tough on crime.”

Let’s just see how tough on crime big Ed turns out to be. Of course, in the era where some peeps have greater privileges than others, who you are dictates how you are charged, and how your crimes are settled in “plea agreements.”

Let’s not forget the case last summer where the Morgan Stanley Wealth Manager, Martin Erzinger, recently had his hit and run charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, because…well, he drove a Mercedes, and a felony might impact his job, and…blah, blah, blah.

Senator Barkus is term limited, and doesn’t have a job to worry about. But he has friends in high places. Some who boast about being tough on crime. Let’s just see how tough they are on Denny Rehberg’s friend, even when he almost killed Rehberg, and left Rehberg’s Chief of Staff with a brain injury and other disabilities that he’ll have to deal with the rest of his life.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a quote from commenter madderthanhell at the Great Falls Tribune who sums up my feelings rather well:

“No, Greg, it was not an accident, you were drunk off your rear”

Once more, a well-connected politician who believes the law does not apply to him commits a crime and seriously injures the people around him and will walk away with his get out of jail free card intact. How can someone with no code of ethics act ethically in the legislature? To say nothing of those who helped him skirt the law.

“It was an accident,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.” No, Greg, it was not an accident, you were drunk off your rear and it was reckless endangerment at best, attempted manslaughter at worst. You deserve to wake up in a 6×8 cell next to Otis, the drunk. Oh wait, I forgot, you are Otis the drunk. Hey Greg, give us a preview of what your gonna do next year, be DUI and run over a hooker somewhere?

by lizard

When I hear Republicans talking about Government spending, my eyes glaze over and my brain recoils. As far as messaging goes, the persistent depiction of Democrats as the main offenders in Government largesse has been wildly successful. As far as reality goes, our national GDP is over 14 trillion dollars, and our national deficit, according to the US National Debt Clock is $13,732,848,917,316.31. If current trends continue, our deficit will be 100% of our GDP by 2025.

We didn’t get to this point because Democrats are the evil socialist spenders the right portrays them to be. We got here because the insane philosophy of unregulated free market capitalism has bought a bipartisan consensus in Washington D.C., and has spent the last several decades spreading across the globe, searching for new markets to exploit. This metastasized form of capitalism has killed and corrupted virtually all the regulatory power of the government, and has incrementally rolled back the advances hard working Americans fought and died for at the beginning of the last century, putting the robber barons in their place.

The result is we no longer have a government or media independent of corporate control. The New Deal is dying before our eyes as Republicans gnash their teeth about spending. And their solution? Destroy the social safety net for millions of Americans who scrape by in the wage-slave service sector economy that has taken the place of the manufacturing base they helped move to China and Mexico.

The corporate stranglehold is sickeningly obvious when it comes to war. Through the most significant bipartisan consensus, “defense” spending will stay “off the table” as the spending crisis heats up, and other top national priorities fill the corporate airwaves, like repealing health care and taking out Obama (politically of course).

So, while Republicans go big with their scorched earth policies of total negation, remember, we will still have enough money to spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world COMBINED. That means billions of taxpayer dollars to support the apartheid state of Israel, and billions of dollars to provide payoff “military aid” to countries like Egypt and Pakistan. And hundreds of millions of dollars to blow on corrupt multinational corporations. And there is absolutely no political will to address this insanity in either party.

*

And now, a personal anecdote.

The only surprise this election produced for me was an e-mail I received from my Father a few days ago. To put this in context, my Father has never been very open with me about his political views. I suspect he voted for Bush in 2000, and since then the only political conversations we have tend to be one-sided diatribes that I unload with such frequency it’s become something like a schtick he quietly suffers through.

The reason I think my Father’s little e-mail rant merits inclusion here is because it comes from a man who dedicated a good portion of his life to working for corporate America, specifically Sprint. What that dedication meant was traveling at least two weeks every month as he climbed the corporate ladder. When my Father learned the hard lesson that loyalty and hard work doesn’t exclude you from down sizing when the company starts going down hill, it’s entirely possible my diatribes began sounding less like relatively youthful defiance and more like legitimate criticism of a broken system.

So I asked my Pops if I could pass on his political disgust, and he said why not. Here it is:

I thought the main goal of elected officials was supposed to be governing well and finding solutions to problems facing the people and the nation. I thought that the political parties were supposed to put our interests first, not their interests (i.e., getting money from special interests and getting re-elected). When I hear that the main goal of the Republican party is to deny Obama re-election, it makes me sick. Pharisees, that’s what they are. They holler in the temple and the streets about their virtue and their godliness, all the while seeking only to enrich themselves. They have no compassion. They have no sense of compromise. They are anxious to do harm to the good of the People if it will benefit them. Anyone who voted for a Republican should be ashamed of their vote to put these scoundrels and Pharisees back into office where they can do harm to the People and our nation. We are in for a very bad two years. If the Republicans disdain any attempt to build a consensus and find compromise solutions, I hope Obama vetoes every bill they put forward and it becomes very, very clear that the Republican party is only seeking to benefit themselves, even at the expense of the nation. Shame on the Republican party and anyone who voted for them.

by Pete Talbot

It appears you can buy the Montana Constitution. Witness CI-105.

Here’s how it’s done: select your special interest initiative; make sure there isn’t an organized, moneyed constituency to oppose it; spend a ton on TV, radio and mailings; threaten a loss of equity in your home and a tax increase, and do it during a recession.

The stars aligned for Montana Realtors and their mouthpiece, the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors. (It was the national association that pumped more than $2 million into this race, which is something like 99% of the money spent on this campaign.)

Now we have a constitutional amendment that benefits a narrow, self-interested industry. And we’re hamstrung if we ever want to use a real estate transfer tax to balance a budget or mitigate other, more onerous taxes or maybe get a few dollars out of those second or third million-dollar McMansions that sprout up in exclusive Montana resorts.

Speaking of the Montana Constitution, it did my heart proud to see voters reject the initiative to rewrite our constitution. Our constitution is an excellent document that was hammered out in a bipartisan manner in 1972 and it endures. And fiscally speaking, a rewrite is an expense we don’t need during these tough budgetary times.

I was pleased to see I-164 pass. This ballot initiative put a 36% interest cap on payday loans. The libertarian voice in my head said, hey, if someone wants to pay an exorbitant interest rate for a short-term loan, what the heck. But, Wulfgar! summed up my final thoughts on this initiative:

Yes, 300% (more) interest is way too high. I get that. There still needs to be an alternative for the working poor … (snip) … Hopefully, I-164 will open a gap into which others will move. As a society, we often focus on the fact that these folks are poor, and ignore that they are working, very hard most often. They need a safety net as much as anyone else. Payday lenders have given them that. Passing I-164 won’t alleviate the need for such. It will only appease a symptom, and certainly not cure the disease.

Finally, I-161, the outfitter v. local hunter initiative. I called hunter friends and family members, and got opinions all over the map, literally and figuratively. I heard more dissension and debate on this initiative than the other three combined … but this is Montana, after all.  To be honest, since I’m one of the few Montana males who doesn’t hunt, or so it seems, I didn’t lose any sleep over this one. I voted against it and my wife voted for it, so we canceled each other out. The initiative passed 185,546 to 159,346, apparently freeing up more licenses for resident hunters but not really dealing with the bigger issue of hunter access.


by Pete Talbot

I was hoping the pundits and polls were wrong, but they weren’t. What is even more depressing is that Montana followed the national trend of moving to the right. In some cases, moving to the far right.

Let’s start with the PSC races. The Republicans now have a majority on the commission that regulates most of the utilities in our state. Expect looser reins on industry, fewer renewables, a greater emphasis on coal and a short-sighted energy policy. Consumer protection will take a hit, too.

Two veterans, Democratic PSC incumbent Ken Toole and former Democratic State Senator Don Ryan, lost their bids to Republican newcomers Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla, respectively. Toole ran a strong campaign — raised money, bought media, worked the district — but it wasn’t enough to overcome the “radical” tag that Gallagher hung on him. And you can also thank Flathead County voters for helping to take Toole down. May their utility rates increase tenfold.

In the other PSC race, let’s face it, Kavulla campaigned harder and raised more money than Ryan in what is basically a Hi-Line district. Even Great falls went for Kavulla.

Democrats lost big in the Montana legislature. Keep on eye on Billings’ Senate District 25, though, where Democrat Kendall Van Dyk is trailing Republican Roy Brown by one vote. Update from Billings Girl: “Last night when the votes were counted. Van Dyk was leading Brown by one vote, not trailing. And after some provisionals were added he is now up by 16. He has stayed ahead the entire time.” Kudos to Kendall.

My math may be a little off but I have the Montana House at 69 68 Republicans to 31 32 Democrats and the senate at 28 Republicans to 21 22 Democrats (the 50th seat to be decided by the Van Dyk/Brown race).

There were a few bright spots but more disappointments. On the upside, in my house district (92), Democrat Bryce Bennett won a close race against Republican Don Harbaugh, 2201-2072.

Two big letdowns. Democrat Willis Curdy losing House District 100 to Republican Champ Edmunds, 1858-1606. Curdy had a great profile and worked his ass off. I don’t know if we’ll ever pick up that seat, which is too bad, because otherwise Missoula County would be an all Democratic delegation.

It was also sad to see Bozeman’s JP Pomnichowski (D) lose to Tom Burnett (R) in HD 63 by 2682-2618.

Glad to see Beth Baker win the Montana Supreme Court race against Nels Swandal.

Finally, after all the “kick out the incumbent bums” election rhetoric, one of the biggest bums had an easy win: Denny Rehberg (around 60% of the vote) against Dennis McDonald (about 34% of the vote). Libertarian Mike Fellows got about 6%.

My take on the elections is that voters are frustrated by the party in power for not fixing things and that trickled down to the Montana races. But what a mess the Democrats were handed, and the voters must be smoking a lot of medical marijuana because their short term memory is shot.

It could also be a disgust with party politics in general as witnessed by the election of an Independent as sheriff (Carl Ibsen) here in Democratic Missoula County. It should also be noted that McDonald even lost Missoula County. It was only by 198 votes out of 34,892 but WTF?

I’ll try to get a post up later on the Montana ballot initiatives (I went 50-50 on those).

But I won’t even get into the national stuff, and I have no further pithy analysis or keen insights into this mid-term disaster, but here are some links to a few Montana folks who do:

http://leftinthewest.com/diary/4450/it-still-hurts-in-the-morning

https://4and20blackbirds.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/how-did-it-all-go-so-wrong/

http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/gop_scores_big_in_west/C37/L37/


thanks montana

 



by problembear

for doing the right thing and passing the measure to cap the interest rate at 36% and giving the boot to payday lending and vehicle title loan sharks.

By JC

We might as well have an open thread up about the election. So instead of talking about the particulars of each race and ballot issue, I think it might be instructive for folks to get into the grist of the issue:

How did Democrats, after two solid elections that took control of Congress, and a landslide victory for the presidency two years ago, manage to lose control of the message and the agenda, and gave it all back to the republicans and the t-party?

The search for a pariah could begin with Max Baucus. In a post at Slate, and making the rounds in the Montana blogosphere (LitW and MtCowgirl already are on this one) the finger pointing has begun:

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. Unless you’re talking about the 2010 elections, in which case the list of scapegoats for likely Democratic losses is long and growing…

Max Baucus. Health care might not have happened without Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Then again, it might have happened a lot faster. Over the course of four months in 2009, Baucus made one compromise after another—scrapping the public option, killing the employer mandate—in order to attract Republican votes that never materialized. That gave Republicans time to demagogue the bill and ate up valuable time on the congressional calendar—time that could have been used to pass legislation like immigration reform or an energy bill (which, of course, would probably have hurt Democrats, too).”

Had Baucus not gone on his fools errand looking for 10-20 republicans to sign on to his health insurance bill, and instead worked for a public option and not alienated the progressive base by such acts as having activists and leaders arrested in chambers, maybe the base would have stayed energized and worked harder to turn out the coalition of voters that swept Max and Obama into office.

Jes’ sayin’…

That August recess last year really kicked the air out of the progressive base with the t-party having time to get organized and begin to demagogue Baucus’ bill, and from there everything else the dems tried to do. Of course, that little antic with Robert Gibbs ostracizing the “professional left” didn’t help much either. Of course, I advocated kicking the republicans while they were done, so as to solidify the dems around the progressive wing of the party, but no…

Thoughts? Have at it!

Election Coverage

by jhwygirl

The University of Montana journalism school has been covering election politics statewide this year.

MontanaVotes2010 has been added over there on the left – but be sure to head over there for election day coverage and live reports on results.

They’re even on Twitter.

They’ve been reporting since mid-October – from legislative races in Bozeman to initiatives to tea party activities. It’s a pretty cool mix of radio reports and print stories. Do head on over.

by problembear

for most of us there is no need to go into long explanations about why we need to vote for capping the interest rate for payday lenders. it is kind of a natural gut reaction for most people to hate sharks. but if you feel that it’s ok to charge 300 to 650% interest to dangle easy money in front of  folks who can barely scrape by and then trap them in a cycle of debt that reaps huge profits for predominately out of state loan sharks then by all means support the payday lenders.

payday lenders have reached out to touch family members and friends of most of us here in montana. we know from experience that these loans rarely help anyone in chronic poverty and they are even more destructive for people struggling to survive a recession.  in many cases payday lenders make a desperate situation for our most vulnerable low wage workers much more difficult.

only three more days to git ‘er done montana. let’s stop rewarding bad behavior and make these slimy merchants work within a reasonable regulated market place. please vote yes on I-164 and cap the payday lending rate to 36%

montana is just too good to allow this feeding frenzy on our poor anymore.

by jhwygirl

That’s because the state’s low income health insurance plan for children through the age of 19 covers prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care for teen moms.

The cost? $720,000.

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the State of Montana for its selective policies regarding denial of birth control, saying it is a violation of privacy and equal protection rights in the state constitution

What is their policy?

Montana Public Radio reported that teens insured through CHIP, part of Healthy Montana Kids, cannot obtain birth control if it’s being used only to prevent pregnancy, though they can get birth control to treat acne or heavy menstrual cycles.

Now, that makes sense.

And how did this happen? State Senator Keith Bales (a Republican) struck a deal in the last days of the session which removed funding for CHIP recipient’s birth control – but only when it’s used as birth control.

~~~~~
This really is the kind of stuff that is at stake here at the state level. Ya’all might not care to much for the national stuff, but I certainly hope everyone is paying attention to the state level. Make sure everyone you know is voting – shoot an email around, pick up the phone.

Get ‘er done, people It’s THIS important.

by jhwygirl

…but are they all from the GOP?

I wrote a post the other day about HD63 GOP challenger Tom Burnett making robo calls in the Bozeman area. Thing is, not only are the calls automated and recorded, they’re recorded by Tom Burnett.

Pogo Possum had a comment in that post that suggested Bryce Bennett, Democratic candidate for HD92 was putting out robo calls – but when it gets down to it, he puts out that they weren’t actually recorded. Someone called him – probably read from a script – and that isn’t illegal. You can call from a fascimile machine – you just have to be a real person on the line.

I know Bryce, and I know he wasn’t doing robo calls. He has plenty of volunteers making calls, but they are all real people who are talking on the phone…and that is not a robo call, per state law.

Yesterday I came across a tweet from Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller a “re tweet” from Missoulian Reporter Keila Szpaller of something from Matt Hagengruber, a Billings Gazette city reporter that said this:

Got a Kendall Van Dyk robocall at my work #. Not a good idea to notify reporters that you’re breaking state campaign laws.

I got to thinking – and wanted to tweet/ask Ms. Szpaller, but didn’t – is her work number a Billings phone number? Because why would Kendall Van Dyke’s campaign – which is a senate seat for Billings – be calling a Missoula phone number? Automated at that?

That just plain doesn’t pass the smell test….

Ed note: see comment below from Keila – I overlooked the “re tweet” status of it. I have not heard any of the same speculating out of Billings, although I wonder if Hagengruber’s call sounded like what I describe…or if he got a number

Interrupting this post….

I’ll be – just got a call from the same number Pogo refers to in his comment on the Burnett robo-call post…406-258-0500. I said hello and it took a good 10 seconds for a person to talk back, saying hello and identifying herself as a person with the Willis Curdy for HD100 campaign. She launched into her speech – and she read from a script in spurts with a thick accent. I stopped her and said that I was confused – “who are you?” I asked. She stopped and identified herself as “Sarah” and I asked her again who she was with – she said slowly – again, as if reading from a script – “I’m with the Willis Curdy for House District 100 campaign.”

So I told her I was still confused because I didn’t live where I could vote for Curdy (which is unfortunate, really – I hope he wins) – and she then went back to her script and said “well I’m sorry and thank you very much for your time,” and then “good night.”

The person on the other line was clearly uncomfortable reading and had to take time to speak the stuff she was reading.

406-258-0500? That’s the same number that was allegedly calling for Bryce Bennett. And truth be told, that 258-0500 number has been calling me for some time. I just don’t like actual live calls much, so I haven’t picked up.

But when it did call me the first time – on the evening of the 21st – I reverse-looked up the number and it came up as an inactive number….and when it dialed me again and I didn’t pick up I called 411 on my Alltel phone and they, too, told me that they had it as an inactive number.

Well – clearly it isn’t inactive.

So after I got off the phone with “Sarah” at 258-0500 I called someone closely associated with the Curdy campaign to ask them about the call I had just gotten.

There is no Sarah working or volunteering for the Curdy campaign, as she had clearly stated twice for whom she was calling.

Curdy isn’t even making calls. He’s knocking doors and has been doing so for months.

Matt is conjecturing that there’s dirty tricks afoot. I say conjecture no more…clearly this is a sloppily organized mud job.

Laws are being broke here – we have one phone number making robo-calls for Tom Burnett 319-294-7021…and we have another one that is making false calls for campaigns they are not associated with.

Today, both the Bennett campaign and the Curdy campaign issued statements regarding these calls. They are below the fold. Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

Commercial irony

Challenger Dennis McDonald’s latest TV commercial has drawn the ire of Congressman Denny Rehberg. Jhwygirl has a post up on it. Rehberg’s outrage is hypocritical. He and the Republican party having been running negative hit ads for ages.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, though. I hate this kind of campaigning. Rehberg has been worthless as a congressman and that should be enough to get him booted from office. Unfortunately, it’s the personal, not the policy stuff, that commercials focus on these days. I guess that’s what plays best in our ADHD society. It’s a shame.

TV station ownership tends to be conservative but it looks like the stations will continue running the spots despite Rehberg’s lawyers’ threats. There’s money to be made.

A pitiful TV spot

Speaking of spots, this is one of the worst TV commercials I have ever seen. Put the politics behind you for a second, if you can, and just look at the spot aesthetically.

Poor Jan Rehberg. She could be a nice woman, for all I know, but she should kick the ass of whomever conned her into doing this spot for Nels Swandal. Who let those robots on the set?

Bad script, bad delivery, bad composition, bad lighting, bad everything.

This is also supposed to be a nonpartisan position but I guess we know where Nels stands on the issues. We’re looking at Tea Parties during recess.

In this race for Montana Supreme Court Justice, and I hate to judge a candidate by their TV (no pun intended) but Nels’ commercial is painful to watch. Even though I’m voting for Beth Baker — Swandal’s opponent — I’d give her a hard time, too, if she’d produced such a low-rent spot.

A little humor

Let’s end this post with some levity. I used to be pathologically obsessed with yard signs but when you think about it, it is a funny way to advance a candidate. Anyway, here’s the Onion‘s take on it:

Yard Sign With Candidate’s Name On It Electrifies Congressional Race

October 25, 2010 | ISSUE 46•43

The sign, above, which pundits say may have fundamentally altered the American political landscape.
 

by jhwygirl

Suing the City of Billings and its fire department isn’t enough, Dennis Rehberg’s gotta set to serving papers on his opponent for Montana’s lone congressional seat – Dennis McDonald.

First – You have to see the ad:

You know, I really have no problem with this ad – Rehberg did do “all of the above” – that and more.

Rehberg may not like that there is an ad that says these things, but truly, who’s fault is that? He’s the one who made an embarrassment out of himself and Montana when he was in Kazakhstan. That’s well-documented in a variety of news sources.

The ad doesn’t mention a 2008 expense account claim – which he later amended – that billed his campaign for a couch that he slept on in the basement of a Washington DC bar……

Keep that in mind when you think of the claim that he sleeps on a couch in his office in DC – all of the above of which are also well-documented.

Is his office the bar? Or is it the other way around?

Then there’s that pesky boat incident. His friend Greg Barkus has managed to keep the trial off until after election day. Convenient for Rehberg to not have to testify during a campaign.

McDonald’s ad, apparently, is a distraction from the campaign for Mr. Rehberg. Considering that it really isn’t untrue, Rehberg mighta been better to let the ad play itself out for whatever McDonald spent on it….but Rehberg and his darn staff of fools went out and are now trying to lawyer themselves out of a public embarrassment.

Making it, not-so-ironically, a public embarrassment.

by jhwygirl

I know I’ve come across his name recently and I know he’s been back in the state for some time now – but when I read this comment from Left in the West’s Matt Singer, I got pretty pissed.

In a just world, election fraud of the sort perpetrated by Eaton wouldn’t result in termination. It would result in prison time.

This, by the way, is why I didn’t vote for Fred Van Valkenburg for prosecutor (without an alternate option, I left the race blank). When he decides to do his job, he’ll get my vote again.

Amen to that…

The Indy’s Alex Sakariassen got on the story first thing today…but I like Jay’s biased assessment just fine.

See – Jake Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my address when I hadn’t. He had no information to support that, either.

I’m but one – but one should be enough to go looking at the rest of the 6,000 or so voter challenges he swore out by affidavit to counties around the state.

My opinion about this has not changed. Jake Eaton committed fraud. He disrupted an election. He cost taxpayers around the state quite a bit of money.

Far as I know, there’s no statute of limitations. Frankly, it should be an insult for any election officer in this state – and for any county attorney of any county that got these fraudulent voter challenges – to know that Jake Eaton is not only back in this state, but reinstated firmly with a working on Montana GOP election activity.

by jhwygirl

problembear got to Sunday’s Missoulian editorial endorsing I-164, the citizen’s initiative working at reigning in the payday loan lending industry.

Thought I’d mention that yesterday we had the Billings Gazette with a guest opinion from Linda Reed, president and CEO of the Montana Community Foundation and Uriah King, vice president of state policy for the Center for Responsible Lending, which explains how payday loans prey upon Montana families. Their informative piece lays out some specific statistics for Montana:

In fact, taking out a payday loan and walking away completely paid off after two weeks is an experience that occurs only 2 percent of the time. The remaining 98 percent of loans go to borrowers who don’t have enough money to pay back a loan in full and pay other bills coming due during their pay period, so they are forced to repeatedly float the same $300 over and over. In total, over half of all payday loans go to Montana borrowers taking 13 or more a year — that’s more than one a month! It’s virtually never just a two-week loan.

Legalized loan sharks. Nothing more.

Leave this one to the legislators? Forget about that – reform has been attempted for at least the last 3 sessions, to no avail. Somewhat shamefully, it’s the job of the citizens to protect themselves here.

by jhwygirl

This post has been corrected.

Political campaign robo-calls are illegal in Montana, per Montana Code Annotated 45-8-216. Maybe someone needs to tell Tom Burnett, Republican candidate for Bozeman House District 63…..or the marketing firm making the calls, Marketplace One, with a phone number of 319-294-7021.

That would be CHICAGO IOWA, folks.

Yep – Burnett’s even got himself an out-of-state marketing firm.

Chicago sure is making a lot of money off of Montana elections, isn’t it? (I’d strike this, but it’s still true. Guess I could add IOWA too, now.)

What makes this even most indefensible is that the robo-call sounds to have been recorded by Tom Burnett himself. He talks about “recent attacks from my opponents [plural] against my ‘record’.”

Record? Burnett has never held public office.

I haven’t much patience for breaking the law – especially from people seeking lawmaker status. Beyond that, breaking campaign law is pretty despicably low – what can Pomnichowski do? File a complaint? Political Practices has a backlog as it is. It’s two weeks before the election.

Burnett can’t even run a fair and legal campaign.

Tom Burnett can’t follow state law as a candidate – let’s hope Montanans don’t get stuck with him a legislator.

JP Pomnichowski is the incumbent for this seat, and Burnett’s opponent. I have a link to her campaign over there on the right. JP is a fine legislator, who has been endorsed by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. In fact, I’ve done quite a number of posts that have mentioned Pomnichowski. Check it out.

by jhywgirl

I’m voting no on CI-105, the constitutional initiative to amend the state’s guiding document to prohibit a real estate transfer tax.

Montana is one of 13 states that don’t tax the sale of property. Get that? We DON’T tax the sale of property. I don’t think that we need to amend our constitution to prohibit something that doesn’t exist.

All that aside – Why is the National Association of Realtors, out of Chicago, spending nearly $2 million to PASS CI-105?

problembear has weighed in, as has Moorecat and Jay at Left in the West

When I first heard of Constitutional Initiative 105, I immediately thought of it as some California-type proposition that has ham-stringed that state government into paralysis and perpetual session.

Now to find out that out of state money is funding this behemoth? Pushes me even further away from the thing.

The ever-analytical James Conner, of Flathead Memo, sums it up with a fabulous economy of words in a comment at Left in the West:

This absolutely unnecessary and dangerous constitutional amendment is an excellent example of how a society begins to deprive itself of tools that might someday be necessary for governing effectively. For that reason alone, voters should reject it.

It’s also bad policy. A transfer tax can be limited to large transactions. That would raise a lot of money, yet protect small land owners.

As is usual in this kind of situation, the proponents are reactionaries and libertarians, many wealthy, who never met a tax they liked or thought was necessary…unless, of course, that tax was paid by someone else.

If this measure wins, and it probably will, others will be emboldened to add more anti-tax amendments in the coming years. We could well end up as hard to govern as California.

You can damned well bet that I’ll be checking the “Against” box on CI-105 on election day.

Conner is right, and he speaks to the hamstringing of government that I speak of above. 2nd home ownership in this state by out-of-state owners has placed tremendous pressures on property values in this state. A tax – if ever instituted – could be limited to any number of categories merely by specified criteria.

Besides that, there’d have to be one big mighty shift in this state politically to ever institute something like that.

by problembear

thanks to the missoulian editorial board for recognizing the importance of capping the interest rate on payday lenders and for supporting citizen’s ballot  initiative 164 in the upcoming Nov 2 election.

it is so well written that i want to provide some excerpts….

“While Montana law does prohibit borrowers from taking out more than one loan at a time, borrowers often “flip” or “churn” their loans by taking one out right after another to keep caught up with their repayments. In fact, according to Montana Women Vote, the average borrower in the U.S. will “flip” their loans eight times in a year and pay a total of $800 for a $300 loan. These borrowers essentially remain perpetually in debt to payday lenders. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, a full 76 percent of the total annual volume of payday loans in this country is comprised of churned loans.”

and this….

” The Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions reports that last year, payday lenders issued nearly 150,000 loans and raked in $7.5 million in interest and fees from fewer than 35,000 borrowers. That’s an average of four loans per borrower.”

payday lenders prey on the most vulnerable of our working poor by keeping them in debt with onerous interest rates that should shame anyone with a conscience. thanks missoulian, for recognizing this and urging our support of CI -164.

 


by Pete Talbot

This is just FYI but I’m curious to see other bloggers’ opinions on this story from the Montana Associated Press.

Montana Cowgirl is receiving some attention on a post written about the Van Dyk/Brown Montana Senate race taking place in Billings. Ms. Cowgirl is taking heat from the right and the left for portraying Roy Brown in less than flattering light. The comments after her post are a good read and should elicit some introspection.

Reminds me of the Sen. Baucus TV spot showing Max’s opponent back in 2002, Mike Taylor in disco regalia, rubbing a man’s head.

Also, questions about using state computers and a possible cozy link to elected officials, is in the mix.

Your thoughts gentle reader?

by problembear

when you are writing a script it is imperative that characters are well drawn and understandable to the audience. but that is not enough. if there is no tension or if the opposing characters are not evenly matched it is boring and too predictable and people soon lose interest.

now that payday lenders are finding it difficult to argue that interest rates that average 400%  for our working poor are reasonable they are resorting to their worn out script ….

“but where will the poor credit challenged go without us?”

and their companion piece….  “it will put our employees out of work.”

these be dragons folks. in other words, they are a concoction of imagination by payday lenders to make you think that these concerns are real.

now, i think a little plot twist at the end is very important in fiction, but in real life, these two dragons are mythical. first. i have never seen a law stop anyone from making money. you can’t tell me that 36% interest is not profitable and reasonable. second. many states (19 so far) have enacted similar laws and people still seem to survive just fine without being charged 400% interest. and the employees simply move where the money goes.

the thing about payday loans that is never examined is the ease with which they are taken out. ten minutes and no credit check. why? because at 400% interest the payday lenders are making so much that the few people who slip through their formidable collection net are simply meaningless and statistically irrelevant.

but let me ask one question…. what does it say about a nation that allows this slip-knot of easy money which traps people who cannot easily pay the original loan amount into a cycle of debt in the first place? it says that it is ok to be irresponsible with money. it says go ahead and ruin your credit all you want. it says eat live and be merry for tomorrow you die. it says why be an ant who saves for the winter when you can be a grasshopper who dies at the first sign of frost. payday lending  is simply not a healthy thing for our kids working low-pay jobs and our seniors on social security to turn to. it further impoverishes them to the point that already overly burdened non-profits during this recession must step in and support them.

the arguments of the payday lenders are false. beware the dragon…..it sells people on a false fairy tale of easy money that turns into a fire-breathing dragon in the end.

By Duganz

Tuesday October 12, 2010 should have been one of the single greatest days in the history of American Civil Rights: The end of Clinton’s idiotic “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and the freedom of brave soldiers to be able to serve openly as gay and lesbian.

But, the Democrats are in power, so we get this:

The Pentagon said Wednesday it had not issued written guidance on a judge’s order throwing out the ban, and commanders in the field said they did not know how to proceed on sensitive questions like pursuing existing investigations against gay service members.

You don’t know how to proceed with an order to stop? You stop. You just stop. You stop when ordered to stop. It’s easy. Think, Was I ordered to stop throwing people out of the Armed Forces due to their sexual preference? If the answer is yes you stop throwing people out of the Armed Services due to their sexual preference.

But maybe there’s a reason behind the confusion…

The Justice Department worked into the night Wednesday on its response to the judge’s ruling but gave no indication when there would be an announcement. Its first move may be to seek a stay, or temporary freeze, of the order. If that request is rejected, the department probably would turn to the federal appeals court in California.

Obama’s Justice Department is going to appeal a court case that called a dumb law unconstitutional, because… why? The Obama administration consistently says it is against DADT. Before the Federal Government got around to giving all people rights, the federal courts did. Even the most ignorant of people (I’m looking at you “Creation Scientists”) have heard of Brown v. Board of Education. Brown ended segregation in schools. After that decision in 1954 private groups, civil groups, and the government were able to erode the damages done by moronic Southern Racists.

So why not instead of fighting the courts, embracing that other branch given power under our Republic’s Constitution, and then point at Republicans and say, “Make your move, oh Great Defenders of our Constitution.” The paradox would make Christine O’Donnell’s head explode.

Alas, because of the weak-to-non-existent spine of the Democrats we get this in a statement from anti-DADT group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress. Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time.

Lack of leadership from the Democrats has put fear into the hearts of those fighting for freedom. And, ironically, the reason that Democrats aren’t leading on this issue is fear––fear of not getting re-elected.

But here’s the skinny: there is right, and there is wrong. It is RIGHT to stand up for gay Americans and their rights. It is WRONG to think of one’s own self-interest as far as getting more power. It is WRONG to allow 13,000 servicemembers to be discharged because of your lack of guts. (It is also wrong, just saying, to ignore an order from a judge Mr. President.) Even though most Senate Democrats (Not the ones from Arkansas) voted to repeal DADT, few are talking about it in their re-election campaigns.

So now we’re stuck with a President who despite being against a law, wants to appeal a Federal Court’s decision, and a Congress–House and Senate–that can’t get its act together enough to pass the smallest of Civil Rights legislation.

And again, as I’ve said here before, it is within President Obama’s power to end DADT on his own… Just like the judicial branch has the power to end DADT… and the Legislative has the power to end DADT (but doesn’t cause they are myopic wastebags)…




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