Archive for the ‘2012 Election’ Category

by JC

stasi-2-205pxThis will be a very long post. I would break it up into manageable chunks, but I fear that having to defend my writings from entrenched stalwarts of the status quo in the democratic party would sidetrack this post.

There is an intersection of events and ideas that together lead to a much darker conclusion than addressing them individually. It is no secret that Edward Snowden has unleashed a firestorm of debate with his revelations about the state of surveillance in America, and around the world. That topic alone is far too large for one post to address, but it has unveiled some interesting material to work with.

The photo to the right is from protest signs being carried around various protests in Germany this summer, organized against the collusion of the American and German spy networks.

President Jimmy Carter rocked the foreign media last month with a statement he made in Atlanta at a conference on U.S.-German relations:

“America has no functioning democracy at this moment”

The quote was not covered by any major American media, but was reported in Germany’s Der Spiegel. Carter further went on to show support for Edward Snowden:

“‘… I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far,’ he said.

‘I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that [Snowden’s] bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.’

Asked to elaborate, he said, ‘I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing.'”

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By JC

“President Barack Obama’s inauguration committee will accept unlimited corporate contributions to fund its January festivities, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed…”

Need we pretend anymore who runs this country?

by Jay Stevens

Hey, everybody! I thought I’d drop in and say hello and give shouts out to old friends that did well in their election bids yesterday. Jhwygirl and I chatted on the phone the other day, and she said I should post every once in a while, and why the heck not? I miss Montana politics and the hubub of election day in Missoula.

So, anyhoo. Congrats go out to Jon Tester and Steve Bullock, who won very close and extremely important races. Congrats, too, to Linda McCulloch for destroying Brad Johnson, again. (Who will ever forget Johnson botching the 2006 election? Not Montana, apparently.) And to Monica Lindeen in defeating the reality-challenged Derek Skees. (Who won 46 percent of the vote?) Tim Fox‘ win in the attorney general race, and the nearly neck-and-neck OPI race should remind us how nuts and frustrating Montana election results can be. Do folks really like Fox’ dirty politicking? And why would anyone support Juneau’s excellence in public office with a vote for Welch? (Please speculate freely in the comments!)

Congrats, too, to old friends JP Pomnichowski, Bryce Bennett, and Ellie Hill for winning their races. And my sympathies for Richard Turner — a great guy and good friend who deserves a seat in Helena, even if his neighbors don’t see it. I wish someone had written more about the state races this year — I used to do it, and enjoyed it. Anybody want to analyze this year’s results?

What I really came here to talk about, though — me and everyone else, apparently — is Nate Silver. Yes, we all know about the punditry backlash, the dust-up with Joe Scarborough, and the fact that Silver nailed it. (I’m with Conor Friedersdorf: I trust Silver more because of the bet.) Okay, Silver might have destroyed punditry (um, no), but he’s not perfect: He muffed Montana.

Read it again: Nate Silver got Montana’s US Senate race wrong. 

Actually, he missed it by quite a bit. Silver projected that Dennis Rehberg would win the race, 49.9 percent to 48.4. Tester, according to the unofficial results, won 48.5 percent to 44.9. That’s a swing from a +1.5 Rehberg win to a -3.6 Rehberg loss, over five percentage points off from his projection. The odd thing is that recent polls showed Tester with a small lead — even Rasmussen, which tended to overestimate Republican support. How did Silver interpret those results with a “lean Republican” projection?

The big factor in his analysis was an adjustment he called “state fundamentals,” which, according to the blog, is “an alternative forecast of the outcome that avoids polls and instead looks at the partisan environment of a state, public fundraising totals, statistical measures of left-right ideology and candidate quality, and other quantifiable factors.” According to that measure, Rehberg had a 50.7 to 42.2 percent lead. 

That was egregiously wrong.

Why? For starters — and I’d need to check other states’ election results over the years to confirm this — Montana is notorious for splitting its ballots. Montana’s perfectly comfortable, for example, in voting for a Republican president, whisking in Democrats to all the statewide seats, and increasing the number of seats Republicans hold in the state legislature — all in the same election, which happened in 2008. This year, Montanans went for a Republican president, Democratic governor, and Democratic Senator, while dividing the statewide seats.

For another, Silver apparently didn’t calculate the effect of a third-party candidate. This election Libertarian Dan Cox won a whopping 29,979 votes, good for 6.52 percent of the vote, which is nearly double Tester’s margin of victory. That’s reminiscent of 2006, when Libertarian Stan Jones’ vote haul (10,377) was more than Tester’s margin of victory over Conrad Burns (~3,500). Tester, after all, won a smaller percentage of the electorate in 2012 than he did in 2006. It’s just that Montanans apparently dislike Dennis Rehberg even more than they did Conrad Burns — after his disgrace for his involvement in the Abramoff corruption scandals.

Either way, Silver’s election projection model is good, but it ain’t perfect.

By JC

“This election is not between Obama and Romney, it is between corporate power and us.” — Chris Hedges

There have been many asides and aspersions cast about the blogosphere and elsewhere about 4&20 lately concerning why we have or haven’t had much to say about the 2012 elections (or where we choose to write them). Both Liz and jhwygirl have alluded to their reasons — combinations of disgust over corruption and hypocrisy, among others —  and I decided 6 months ago to hold my tongue during the long run up to the election. Pete’s been putting up some posts at PoliticalMontana.

I choose not play into the hands of party hardliners who want to accuse us independent lefties of somehow being responsible for whatever dem losses that transpire (either directly through third party votes, voting regressive, or somehow doing the work of the right by suppressing dem, independent or undecided voters as we try to hold a politician accountable). Actually, I really don’t care if dem/lib/progressive party activists lambast me, as I really doubt that I have much influence over established voting patterns, outside of the few phone calls I get from fam and friends asking about issues or candidates on their absentee ballots.

If anything, the attacks have pushed me (and many others) further away from the mainstream of contemporary electoral politics, and solidified our views that the system as it is, does not provide avenue to meaningful reform. So it becomes an exercise in how, if, or to what degree does one participate in elections, knowing that anything less than a soft revolution is necessary to bring about the conditions in which our future can realistically be built. Or are apocalyptic visions of the future really just a matter of degree and timing, and resistance is futile?

So the following article, “Why I’m Voting Green” by Chris Hedges comes at the appropriate time for me to do a “me too” ditto on his take and his conversation with Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party nominee for President. While I believe that Hedges does a good job in his article and interview with Stein, I still think that he isn’t willing to go the extra mile and approach directly the question of whether or not capitalism and democracy can coexist. I for one, don’t think that they can — at least not as currently conceived and constructed.

The policies that Stein advance are likely to be better liked by those to the left of the political spectrum, and if this election were only about policies, she most likely would win. But our elections no longer are about policies — or maybe they are not about the big questions of out times: empire & war; capitalism; climate change; eroding civil liberties, etc.. They more and more are about wedge issues designed by the corporate funders of our elections meant to instill fear, and reduce the voting populace (and the less the better) to contests based around ignorance and deception, to which the defending party turns into the lesser of two evils and harm reduction candidacies. And there are many who believe that the better harm reduction is done when democrats are in minority status in the Senate.

Having said all that, I will vote, as down ticket races still have some meaning at the local and state level. There are several ballot issues to be voted on that are designed to either restrict further our civil liberties, undo the work of bat shit crazy legislators, or to begin the process of identifying the roots of some of our electoral and constitutional problems.

Instead of just taking Hedges’ piece and reducing it to blurbs to illuminate, or asking you to click a link and jump to another website, I’ll include Hedges’ piece intact, and hope that you take the time to read it, and comment here.

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by jhwygirl

In case you missed it, supermontanareporter John S. Adams busted out in his blog this morning with a preview of tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s Frontline on PBS, titled Big Sky, Big Money.

It’s a political “BOOM” if I’ve ever seen one – pulling together a strange connection of a stolen car, a meth dealer, the Montana GOP and American Traditions Partnership, ProPublica paired up with Frontline, releasing their report this morning.

I’m still reading through it all, but all I can say right now is that I’m really disgusted. What the ProPublica/Frontline report lays out is NOT a group of one or two bad individuals, but really an institutionalized and flagrant disregard for Montana law.

For a party that attempts to Lord some sort of moral superiority over Democrats. Or liberals. Or progressives – it’s a pretty sickening case of hypocrisy. They like the salutation “Patriot”? More like “Traitor.”

What’s clear is this: The Montana GOP are running candidates that are flagrantly violating established Montana law. This isn’t some sort of Ed Butcher bloc of crazies. The ProPublica/Frontline reports on 23 Montana legislators? How many more are there that we don’t know?

These guys swear to uphold the Montana and the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, it means nothing – they’ve got their own interpretation of it, and that’s how they fly.

It’s disgraceful.

Set your DVR’s for 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. Go read What everyone’s talking about: Big Sky, Big Money” over at The Lowdown – he’s got tons of links.

by jhwygirl

At this point the unethical behavior of GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill and attorney general candidate Tim Fox is pretty astounding. To be clear, I’m not talking about things like Rick Hill’s lobbyist connection to the insurance industry nor Tim Fox’s ethical conflicts with running for an office when his own private work has him profiting off of American Tradition Partnerships, the “Citizen’s United” group which has sued the State of Montana to allow corporate money into our elections and to eliminate maximum limits in campaign donations.

I’m talking about Rick Hill keeping $.5 million bucks and Tim Fox keeping $32,000 in anonymous money laundered through the Montana Republican Party in a donation during a six-day window between court rulings on the American Traditions Partnership v Bullock State of Montana case which has out of state interests suing the state to remove maximum limits to campaign donations.

On October 9th, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock won an appeal to the 9th District Court a week after a lower court had removed Montana’s campaign donation limits. It was in that six-day time period where the Montana Republican Party let loose with a $532,000 donation to the two offices that clearly they desperately would like to win in November’s election.

Which should raise concern for any voter.

There’s more unethical murkiness to this – and Charles Johnson details it here: On August 30th, the Montana Republican Party had $64,450 in the bank, but on October 4th – the day after the ruling which opened that six-day window – the Montana Republican Party somehow found $500,000.

Want more unethical murkiness? Executive director Bowen Greenwood won’t say where the money came from either – telling Johnson that it would show up when they made their next campaign finance filing.

Now really? Why not let Montanans know where $500,000 came from? When it has to be reported anyway? Is that the Montana Republican Party’s attitude toward transparency?

Why am I asking these questions when clearly I already know the answer?

The whole darn thing reeks to an astounding level. At a time when objections to money in politics is at an all-time high, Rick Hill and Tim Fox and the Montana Republican Party are essentially part-and-parcel with American Traditions Partnership/Citizen’s United in seeking to dismantle Montana’s long time laws regarding campaign finance.

I won’t get into the whole legal/illegal maneuverings going on between both campaigns – that’s going to play out long after the election is done. It also detracts from some of the very important choices we have, and pulls voters that don’t pay real attention away from resources that might and should be focusing on those other very real issues.

What is fact about Rick Hill and Tim Fox keeping $532,000 in anonymous money given to them during a six-day window between court rulings on a case seeking to dismantle Montana law – emphasis added here since Rick Hill and TIm Fox are seeking state offices – is that they are UNETHICAL.

Lets say that again: UNETHICAL.

And ETHICS, my friend, isn’t necessary about law – ETHICS is about the APPEARANCE of improper behavior.

And Montana, my friend, has laws about that…and I mention that because while I said I wasn’t going to get into the whole legal/illegal maneuverings, I will again add emphasis here in stating that Montana has ethics laws for its elected and appointed officials – and we have Rick Hill and Tim Fox not only seeking to dismantle Montana’s laws and are currently seeking elected offices in the State of Montana.

Either they have no understanding of ethics.

Or they do and they don’t give a damn.

Either way, what Rick Hill and Tim Fox are doing by keeping $532,000 in anonymous money is UNETHICAL.

Neither of them deserves to be elected. Hill and Fox are working to dismantle Montana laws, they’re skirting around court rulings, and they and their party are bathing themselves with anonymous money.

Hill and Fox are UNETHICAL and are flaunting it at Montanans.

By JC

By JC

By JC

By JC

Yes, isn’t empire wonderful?

By JC

Via the Turley Blog:

“For those long unhappy with the Democratic leadership, it was a telling symbolic moment. Once again, it appeared that Democratic voters (even delegates representing the most loyal activists) are given only the appearance of participation in their party. For years, Democratic leaders lied to their members about their knowledge and even support for Bush’s torture program and surveillance policies until it was revealed that key Democrats were briefed on the programs. The party leadership then worked with Bush to scuttle any effort to investigate torture and other alleged crimes to avoid implicating key Democratic members. Likewise, while the majority of Democratic voters opposed the continuation of the wars, the Democratic party leaders blocked efforts to force a pull out under both Obama and Bush. These controversies were seen by many that the Democratic Party is primarily run to ensure the continuation of a small number of leaders in power with voters treated as ignorant minions. It was a particularly poignant moment in an uncontested convention after Democratic voters were not given any alternative to Obama.

The image of the chair just ignoring the obvious opposition from the floor of the conventional symbolized this long simmering tension. For full disclosure, I have long been a critic of both parties and have argued for changes to break the monopoly on power by the two parties. It is really not the merits of these two changes that is most bothersome. Arguments can be made on both side of such issues. It is the disregard of the views of the members and the dishonesty in how the matter was handled. The illusion of democracy was all that the leaders wanted in the vote.

Notably, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seemed to be ready to acknowledge that the delegates clearly rejected the change on the first vote. He then insisted on a second vote and it got worse. He seemed about to admit the failure of the motion and then called for a third vote which sounded even more lopsided (with not just a failure to get two-thirds but even a majority). Yet, he declared the motion passed to the boos and jeers of the delegates.

In creating the illusion of democratic voting, the delegates might have just as well bleated like sheep in protest. It did not matter. The message was clear that the delegates are just a backdrop to be used by party leaders to celebrate their reign.”

This one clip underscores why I have paid no attention to the conventions this year. Sadly, it all is just a meaningless show. Want to see a real platform that all democrats and left of center indies could support? Check it out.

by jhwygirl

The GOP can chatter all they want about jobs and the economy, but the fact is that the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is voting tomorrow for the 31st time to repeal the health care reform Affordable Care Act.

It’s not about jobs..and it’s not about the economy for the GOP – it’s about trying to repeal a law that they don’t like 31 times.

I think that no matter what you feel about the actual bill itself – the fact that the GOP would take 31 votes on trying to repeal something speaks supported this volumes about who really is preventing the real work of fixing the economy.

The GOP is one huge big sore loser – and they’d rather rehash – for 31 times in 18 months the repeal of health care reform.

Not once have they offered an alternative. Not once have they offered a fix. Or their own version.

The GOP has offered NOTHING in the form of addressing the rising economically crippling and humanly catastrophic costs of health care.

But tomorrow, Montana’s own Rep. Denny Rehberg will once again – for the 31st time – vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

When Rep. Denny Rehberg wants to talk about why nothing is getting done in Washington, he should look at himself and his party. I’d suggest that doing something 30 times and failing and trying to do it again – the exact same way and without any alternative – demonstrates sheer failure in the ability to legislate.

I say “Have at it, Denny!” – you’re the best advertising for why Washington can’t accomplish anything. Keep it up!

By JC

Wish I would have come across this sooner, and raised some hell. Following up on a link provided by feralcatoffreedom in a comment yesterday, I discovered the controversy surrounding Montana Attorney General (and Dem gubernatorial candidate) Steve Bullock was not doing all he could to secure victory in his defense of Montana’s near century-old Montana Corrupt Practices Act against corporate campaign bribes contributions.

In the wake of the infamous Citizen’s United ruling, American Trade Partnerships (founded by former MT republican congressman Ron Marlenee) sued the State of Montana to vacate the state’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the Corrupt Practices Act. They lost that suit in a 5-2 decision. ATP then asked the Supreme Court of the US to overturn the Montana Supreme Court ruling.

Steve Bullock, as Montana Attorney General, has been the lead  attorney defending Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act against ATP and Citizen’s United. That case currently is being considered by the SCOTUS, but it seems that Bullock’s refusal to use a particularly important defense — 11th Amendment sovereign state immunity — does not square with his proclamations to be doing all he can to defend Montana in this most critical of lawsuits that could open the way for states to protect themselves from the onslaught of corporate political money.

As is being tracked by many courts and 11th amendment advocates, it is a mystery why Bullock has refused to invoke the state’s 11th Amendment sovereign immunity against being sued by a corporation or individual in federal court. This case could easily be won by Montana asserting its Constitutional rights. Many folks are raising this issue at the last minute, as the SCOTUS will decide soon, if not already, how it will proceed with this case.

According to a report published on Saturday by Russell Mokhiber in the well-established Washington, D.C. newsletter, Corporate Crime Reporter, Attorney General Bullock’s office told a lawyer who filed an amicus ”friend-of-the-court” brief in support of Montana that the attorney general is refusing to assert Montana’s 11th Amendment constitutional sovereign immunity from suit because it is feared that the immunity argument could actually win the case.”

So Bullock is being accused of pulling back because he doesn’t actually want to win the case. Incredible. And this is the man who wants to be the next Governor of Montana? If the Montana Supreme Court case is overturned by the SCOTUS, based on an ineffective — and possibly sabotaged — defense, it will go poorly for the dems and their candidate.

This case is the only current hope that any effective defense against Citizen’s United can be raised by the states until the Constitution can be amended to reverse it. Why the hell isn’t the dem gubernatorial candidate doing all he can to win it? Guess he took the 5th, says his PR flaks:

“We have filed our brief. We don’t intend to make any commentary until after the Supreme Court decides how it will proceed.”

Un-frickin’ unbelievable. Especially if the SCOTUS decides to do a summary reversal, meaning they undo the Montana Court’s decision, and refuse to hear the case. By then it is too late to raise the 11th Amendment jurisdictional issue. And Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act fades into history.

by jhwygirl

I’m about 200% certain that Rehberg’s calendar is going to open up, but for now, he’s claiming scheduling conflict. I tend to think that if your campaign commits you, you’re obligated to attend.

For now, though, Sunday’s senatorial debate, sponsored by the Montana Broadcasters Association will go on without Rehberg in attendance . He apparently has something more important to do.

Like this, perhaps?

That’s Denny – with David Bosse, president of Citizen’s United at an endorsement luncheon held by Bosse & friends back in September

The original story I caught Friday has been updated some – but the basic story reads that the Montana Broadcasting Association confirmed the date and time with his campaign seven months ago.

And then again in February, March and May.

Rehberg’s camp isn’t using the word “liar” for Greg MacDonald, President of the Montana Broadcasters Association – but they are saying this:

“The claims being made by Greg MacDonald, the President of the Montana Broadcasters Association, are completely false. And despite repeated requests, MacDonald has refused to provide any evidence of his claims because it simply does not exist.”

Wow. Really?

Note that article says that he “will not be able to attend.” Today’s story has him claiming that he “was never formally invited.”

My question – does a radio broadcast of this debate bother Rep. Rehberg? You’d think he’d be all over an opportunity to reach out to voters – live – across the entire state.

I say fine – who wants to hear him anyways. Let Senator Tester and Libertarian Dan Cox talk issues.

I believe it’ll be all that more interesting with only two candidates involved.

And finally? In the end, where does this settle out? Rehberg being unable to hire competent staff? Rehberg being unable to prioritize a few debates into his schedule? I mean – seriously – a week and a half out from a Sunday morning debate during one of the nation’s most hotly contested senate races and Rehberg can’t adjust his schedule for a debate?

What else is a subdivision rancher running for office doing on a Sunday morning 150 days before election? Heading up to the lake for a weekend boat ride?

by Pete Talbot

The tackiest thing I ever saw at a Montana Democratic Party Convention, and I’ve been to a bunch of them, was a little dog that had Judy Martz written on a tag hanging from its collar.  It was sitting in a woman’s lap.  This was from Gov. Martz’ famous line, “I’ll be a lapdog for industry.”

Classy?  Probably not.  Amusing?  Yeah, somewhat.

Compared to the bullet-laden outhouse referred to as the Obama Presidential Library that is gracing the Montana Republican Party Convention here in Missoula, the little lapdog gag seems pretty innocent.

Also included in the outhouse were a fake Obama birth certificate stamped “Bullshit” and “For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)”

I like to think I have a sense of humor.  This is not humorous. Remember when President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley? Pretty funny stuff, right?  That’s the level of this joke.

Even party chairman Will Deschamps said, “Some of that stuff is not real good taste” — although he went on to say, “It’s not something I’m going to agonize over” and dismissed it as “a sideshow.”  Who are these people?

Is the general public even paying attention?  It keeps clamoring for bipartisanship in our elected officials.  How do you compromise with people like that?  I sure hope the voters remember this crap when they go to the polls in November.

UPDATES: John Adams at The Lowdown, has more detail, and photos, of the scene outside the GOP convention.

Adams also reports that Montana Republicans removed the “homosexuality is a crime” plank from their platform although their support for “traditional marriage” remains in the language. This is still a smart move if the party wants to attract younger voters into the fold. Kudos for bucking the far right on this controversial, for the GOP anyway, plank.

by jhwygirl

Governor Brian Schweitzer had an op-ed in today’s New York Times today. I am reprinting it here in it’s entirety because (a) it’s an op-ed and (b) he’s our Governor.

Schweitzer is throwing his weight behind Stand With Montanans, a group working to ban corporate campaign spending here in Montana under Ballot Initiative 166. The national attention he can draw to this issue – transposed with Montana’s history’s role not only here in Montana, but nationally – is invaluable.

Make no mistake Montana – there are those out there here in this state (with funding from Canada and out-of-state) that are working to removal all barriers to corporate spending here in Montana. It’s a good thing that Schweitzer taking a leading role on this issue.

Mining for Influence in Montana

IN Montana’s frontier days, we learned a hard lesson about money in politics, one that’s shaped our campaign-finance laws for a century and made our political system one of the country’s most transparent.

Those laws, and our political way of life, are now being threatened by the Supreme Court — which is why I recently signed a petition for a federal constitutional amendment to ban corporate money from all elections.

Montana’s approach to campaign law began when a miner named William A. Clark came upon a massive copper vein near Butte. It was the largest deposit on earth, and overnight he became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He bought up half the state of Montana, and if he needed favors from politicians, he bought those as well.

In 1899 he decided he wanted to become a United States senator. The State Legislature appointed United States senators in those days, so Clark simply gave each corruptible state legislator $10,000 in cash, the equivalent of $250,000 today.

Clark “won” the “election,” but when the Senate learned about the bribes, it kicked him out. “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale,” Clark complained as he headed back to Montana.

Nevertheless, this type of corruption continued until 1912, when the people of Montana approved a ballot initiative banning corporate money from campaigns (with limited exceptions). We later banned large individual donations, too. Candidates in Montana may not take more than a few hundred dollars from an individual donor per election; a state legislator can’t take more than $160. And everything must be disclosed.

These laws have nurtured a rare, pure form of democracy. There’s very little money in Montana politics. Legislators are basically volunteers: they are ranchers, teachers, carpenters and all else, who put their professions on hold to serve a 90-day session, every odd year, for $80 a day.

And since money can’t be used to gain access, public contact with politicians is expected and rarely denied. A person who wants to visit with a public official, even the governor, can pretty much just walk into the Capitol and say hello. All meetings with officials are open to the public. So are all documents — even my own handwritten notes and e-mails.

All this is in jeopardy, though, thanks to the Supreme Court and its infamous Citizens United ruling. In February the court notified the office of Montana’s commissioner of political practices, which oversees state campaigns, that until further notice, we may no longer enforce our anti-corruption statute, specifically our restriction on corporate money.

The court, which will make a formal ruling on the law soon, cited in the 2010 Citizens United case that corporations are people, too, and told us that our 110-year effort to prevent corruption in Montana had likely been unconstitutional. Who knew?

The effects of the court’s stay are already being felt here. The ink wasn’t even dry when corporate front groups started funneling lots of corporate cash into our legislative races. Many of the backers have remained anonymous by taking advantage of other loopholes in federal law.

But it’s easy to figure out who they are: every industry that wants to change the laws so that more profit can be made and more citizens can be shortchanged.

I know this because I’ve started receiving bills on my desk that have been ghostwritten by a host of industries looking to weaken state laws, including gold mining companies that want to overturn a state ban on the use of cyanide to mine gold, and developers who want to build condos right on the edge of our legendary trout streams.

In the absence of strict rules governing campaign money, these big players will eventually get what they seek. I vetoed these bills, but future governors might sign them if they have been bribed by the same type of money that is now corrupting our State Legislature.

This will mean, sadly, that the Washington model of corruption — where corporations legally bribe members of Congress by bankrolling their campaigns with so-called independent expenditures, and get whatever they need in return — will have infected Montana.

That’s why, in the event we don’t win in the court, I’m also supporting a federal constitutional amendment that would enshrine the right of a state to ban corporate money from political campaigns. I’m hoping the rest of Montana will join me — indeed, the petition will be presented to voters in November.

It’s not much, but it’s a start. If other states get into the act, maybe we can start a prairie fire that will burn all the way to Washington. In the meantime, we will see whether the court decides to blow the stink of Washington into Montana, or whether we can preserve our fresh mountain air.

by jhwygirl

Lots of people have been asking me – today alone I had 3 people ask me about their ballots. There are only a handful of votes I’m certain about, and for Montana’s next U.S. Representative, Bozeman’s Franke Wilmer is my choice, hand’s down, as the best person to represent Montana’s interests in Washington D.C.

Wilmer’s been a favorite around this blog going back to at least 2009. In a politically schizophrenic town like Bozeman – who doesn’t seem to be either Republican or Democrat – Wilmer’s been elected to the state House 3 times, showing she knows how to represent her constituents who are clearly a mixed bag.

I mentioned the women’s gathering in Helena a few weeks back? Here’s Franke Wilmer speaking to the crowd of about 250 people that gathered that day.

I already know Wilmer’s record. I’ve watched her in 3 legislative sessions now, and I know Wilmer knows her issues. I also know she knows how to speak to them. What I like about this video is it shows the thoroughness with which Wilmer approaches the issues. It’s that kind of knowledge that gives her the voice of conviction needed for Montanan’s (and the rest of the U.S.) in Washington D.C. right now.

If I had signed up for absentee ballot, I’d show you a picture of her dot blackened…but for now I will continue to endorse Franke Wilmer to anyone who asks (and those of you reading here.)

(In a fuller disclosure, I’ll note that this last session, Franke departed from one very key issue I wrote extensively about, even before the session began: Eminent domain. That bill passed, and Schweitzer signed it into law. Still stings for me and many others. Regardless, I’m moving on.)

by jhwygirl

For you non-Rapture types, Montana Women Vote is co-sponsoring a Congressional Candidate Forum in Missoula tomorrow night, April 12th. (And while I am loath to utilize facebook, MWV do update their page a lot – so here’s that link.)

Head on down to the University Center Theater, 6 p.m. I’m told Pat Williams (Montana’s former U.S. Representative) and Jen Gursky (President of ASUM) will be moderating.

Here’s a piece from Olivia Riutta:

Montana has just one Congressional seat in the US House of Representatives and you have to opportunity to hear directly from candidates where they stand on issues that affect Montana women and families. From education to reproductive health care to funding for programs and services that help Montana women and families, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet the candidates before the June 6th primary election. There will also be time at the end when we will take questions from the audience.

Republicans, it looks like, are once again passing up a non-partisan candidate forum. Is that 5 now? Or 6? Convenient for them, I guess, though I see their party spokespeople online lobbing attacks at the candidates. All this while 3 Republicans and one Libertarian get to hide from the main stream public unbiased forums which seek to get at issue positions.

Why, exactly, are they avoiding public non-partisan debates?

Montana Women Vote will also be at the event registering voters. It’s fine organization doing excellent work in the community educating people on meaningful participation in the democratic process through education and other information-based strategies. I have always been impressed by their presentations.

If you have questions, contact Montana Women Vote at 543-3550 x213

By JC

With those words, Franklin Delano Roosevelt invoked his Economic Bill of Rights during his State of the Union speech on January 11th, 1944:

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.”

Americans cherish their creed of: “With Liberty and Justice for All” contained within the pledge of allegiance, but that is just one pillar of a society built on true democratic and egalitarian principles. Roosevelt was alluding to his economic bill of rights as being a second bill of rights in this country, needed to advance us to a moral and just society.

But this discussion would not be complete without reference to the French notion of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Liberty, equality and brotherhood (or sisterhood). The original pledge of allegiance was written with the words “equality and fraternity” in mind, but those words were rejected due to perceived opposition to the notions in the late 19th century.

Of course, I didn’t lure you all in here for just some trite history lessons. Lizard introduced us to the notion of political nihilism yesterday, which offers a nice segue into some material I’ve been thinking of writing about. And after last week’s springtime meetup between Liz, Pete and I on the deck of the Old Post (thanks Pogo!), their words of encouragement to me to do some writing was taken to heart.

Being a bit of a political nihilist myself, I mentioned that I would have a hard time offering paeans to the democratic party and most of its candidates, including President Obama, and to the theology on the political necessity of the lesser of two evils. What has interested me most about fringe traditional politics this year is the emergence of a new candidate for the Green Party, and no, it’s not Ralph Nader (whom I have voted for in the past).

Jill Stein, this year’s Green Party front runner, has invoked FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, and is sidling up to the French notion (and aborted Pledge of Allegiance credo) of Liberté, égalité, fraternité in her campaign. I thought it might be refreshing to traditional democrats to see some ideas that might inspire a current generation of democrats to embrace.

Of course, even a platform arising out of traditional democrat and american themes now seems too radical for a mainstream democratic party that has drifted aimlessly to the right, attacking any and all efforts to drag it back to its roots. For starters, I’d like to offer up a few tidbits of Stein and the Green New Deal speech she gave for the “People’s State of the Union” earlier this year, that would work to stem the rush to a fascistic dictatorship in this country.

A four part program:

  • “First, we will guarantee the economic rights of all Americans, beginning with the right to a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work.
  • Second, we will transition to a sustainable, green economy for the 21st century, by adopting green technologies and sustainable production.
  • Third, we will reboot and reprogram the financial sector so that it serves everyday people and our communities, and not the other way around.
  • Fourth, we will protect these gains by expanding and strengthening our democracy so that our government and our economy finally serve We the People.”

The Economic Bill of Rights:

The Green New Deal begins with an Economic Bill of Rights that recognizes our rights to an economy that serves people. This means that everyone willing and able to work has the right to a job at a living wage. All of us have the right to quality education, health care, utilities, and housing. Each of us has the right to unionize, to fair taxation, and to fair trade.”

And this is just the start of a truly progressive plank by which democrats should seek to judge their candidates if they truly believe that the democratic party is of any use to mainstream politics. But it is still only the foundation for a  second of the full tier of rights and moral obligations of civilized nations.

I’ll be back for more in the future. And of course I, and others who support third party alternatives to mainstream political shlock, will most likely take a lot of heat for offering up what will be characterized as political nihilism. And you know what? I’m ok with that.

And if you want to watch a true progressive politician talk about the Green Party vision for this country, the video of Jill Stein’s speech is right after the jump.
Continue Reading »

By JC

James Conner over at Flathead Memo has a nice analysis of polling numbers in the Tester/Rehberg race. He also mentions that Tester is leading the money battle:

“…Tester’s trailing in the polls while leading in campaign contributions suggests that something fundamental is amiss with his campaign.”

It just takes a quick trip over to Open Secrets to see who has been funding Jon Tester’s Senate campaign. In the top 20 list of contributors to his campaign, outside of #1 being the LCV, the rest are a motley crew of bankers, PR flaks, lawyers and lobbyists.

Something fundamentally amiss? Look no further than the businesses represented by his individual donors:

1 League of Conservation Voters $61,982
2 Thornton & Naumes $45,600
3 JPMorgan Chase & Co $45,000
4 Visa Inc $33,500
5 First Interstate BancSystem $29,000
6 WPP Group $26,000
7 Pederson Group $24,700
8 Comcast Corp $23,750
9 Wells Fargo $23,500
10 Cauthen, Forbes & Williams $20,800
11 Akin, Gump et al $20,732
12 Kelso & Co $20,000
13 TCF Financial $17,969
14 Patton Boggs LLP $17,500
15 Credit Union National Assn $17,000
16 US Bancorp $16,200
17 AFLAC Inc $16,000
18 Citigroup Inc $15,500
19 Williams Kherkher $15,250
20 Bergman, Draper & Frockt $15,150
31 American Express $12,500
33 Goldman Sachs $12,300
47 Bank of America $10,000

What’s amiss is that Senator Tester has spent his time in D.C. following in Max Baucus’ footsteps learning how to pander to Wall Street and other corporate interests to fluff his campaign coffers.

Of course his poll numbers are lagging. He’s representing the wrong constituency. As a contrast, Denny Rehberg’s top 20 list of contributors doesn’t contain a single Wall Street Bank.

What does candidate Tester expect his poll numbers to reflect, when his primary campaign contributors come from the constituency most detested by democrat and independent voters?

by Pete Talbot

I’m on my quarterly visit to the Magic City, which always gives me pause for reflection.

Consider this a sort of stream of consciousness open thread.

Things are booming, relatively speaking, in Billings.  I tend to stay in the west end of town, with occasional visits to the Heights and Lockwood.  Construction, both commercial and residential, is on the upswing.  Miles-and-miles of ubiquitous six-foot-tall white plastic fence line 32nd Street West, separating the new subdivisions of apartments, condos and single-family homes.

The energy boom at the Bakken Play, and Wyoming coal and methane fields, is helping to fuel the Billings economy.  And when I tell the in-laws that I’m not all that excited about the Keystone XL Pipeline, well, I might as well be telling them I’m here for their guns.

I was told once that Billings got its nickname ‘Magic City’ because of its amazing economic growth from its early days as a little railroad town.  It was also mentioned, although not in the Chamber of Commerce brochures, that Billings has magically hung around through numerous boom-and-bust cycles, like the petroleum bust in the early 1960s.

We’ll see how the current boom treats Billings denizens in the not too distant future.

Since I’m a dead tree edition junkie, I read the Billings Gazette while I’m here.  It’s not that much larger than the Missoulian, which surprises me since Billings is about twice the size of Missoula.  As a matter of fact, the Sunday and Monday Billings papers had as many Missoulian bylines in them as Gazette bylines. Interesting.

A Sunday AP story that caught my eye was this one on Sen. Max Baucus gearing up for a 2014 re-election bid.  Good idea, Max, since you’re going to have a tough time raising any campaign money for this Senate race (snark).

To be honest, Max has done some good stuff lately: his work on the Rocky Mountain Front, his support of women’s health care and reproductive rights, his call for a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan …

Not sure that cancels out the debacles of the deficit super committee he served on or health care committee he chaired, his earlier support of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, his sh*t-eating grin as he stood next to George W. Bush during the signing of the tax breaks for millionaires bill …

So it disappointed when I read this line in the story:

“Baucus continues to be the main funder of the state party and its candidates, making a primary challenge nearly impossible for anyone seeking institutional support.”

Way to further democracy, state party and its candidates.

Rumors abound that Gov. Schweitzer is the logical candidate to challenge Baucus, although Schweitzer adamantly denies this.  It’s also common knowledge that Baucus and Schweitzer aren’t the best of buddies.  I’m not sure who I’d support in a Baucus/”Coal Cowboy” primary, though I’m leaning Schweitzer.  I know where Montana Cowgirl stands.  The comments there weren’t particularly kind toward Max, either, but then again, it is a rather Schweitzer-centric site.

Schweitzer is definitely more of a maverick and Montana loves a maverick.  Still, what I’d really like to see is someone who will dramatically shift the paradigm — call for the public financing of elections, reign in lobbyist influence, promote economic and environmental sustainability — someone to really shake things up.

So it’s always good to take the pulse of the Magic City.  As I’ve said for the umpteenth time, as Billings goes, politically, so goes the state of Montana.  Maybe the 2012 elections will give me some indication as to where Billings is headed but I don’t believe it’s ready to embrace any radically shifting paradigms as yet.

by Pete Talbot

Will the tea party candidate take out the moderate Republican? Will the progressive beat the mainstream Democrat?

Lots of races will be decided in a little over two months.

In about 40 days, you will receive your primary election ballot in the mail (if you filed for an absentee ballot).

And if you’re in a heavily Democratic district and there’s a legislative primary, the state senate or house winner takes all. Same with the strong Republican districts.

There’s a Democratic attorney general primary; a Republican secretary of state primary; lots of PSC primaries; and nonpartisan supreme court and district court races that will winnow down some candidates.  There are county commissioner races.

Of course, there’s a congressional race: seven Democratic candidates and three Republicans.

The U.S. Senate race has a Republican primary (Vote Teske!).

And the governor’s race, with seven Republican candidates (and their running mates) and two Democratic teams competing.

Who knows, if the Republican Party hasn’t settled on a presidential candidate by Tuesday, July 5, Montana might get to play a role there.

Campaign folks in the know tell me that 50 percent of all voters in the 2012 election will be using absentee ballots — and 40-50 percent of all absentee ballots are filled out within the first week of voters receiving them.

You should also know that by voting early absentee, you’ll be getting fewer annoying campaign phone calls, emails, etc.  Any campaign worth its salt will scrub you from its get-out-the-vote list once it knows you’ve already voted.

No endorsements here (except Dennis Teske for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary — a man among men!).  Just a heads up that the primary election will be happening before you know it, so it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the candidates.

Here’s the Montana Secretary of State’s website.  It can answer a lot of questions and also direct you to your county elections office. Sample ballots should be available for viewing soon (right Linda?). Don’t forget to vote!

by jhwygirl

The last candidate forum I wrote about, Kim Gillan touted oil spill disasters as a job creation industry for Montana, so who knows what can happen.

There’s 7 – SEVEN – candidates on the Democratic side, so let’s hope the Montana Standard maintains well enough control to let everyone speak, while ensuring that we get a wide variety questions put out there for them to answer.

Mark you calendars – and I plan to be there to live blog or tweet the thing.

April 3, 7 p.m., at the Montana Tech Auditorium.

AND – in an added bonus, the Montana Standard is taking suggestions for questions. You can email your suggested questions to editor@mtstandard.com

by Pete Talbot

Consider this an open thread because I’d like others’ insights into this race.

Here’s my rather rambling take on Montana’s U.S. House race.  The candidates are Kim Gillan, a state senator out of Billings; Diane Smith, a newcomer from Whitefish; Dave Strohmaier, a Missoula City Councilor; Helena lawyer Rob Stutz; and Franke Wilmer, a state representative from Bozeman. Jason Ward of Hardin has also filed but doesn’t seem to be actively campaigning.  Melinda Gopher is also rumored to be a candidate but she hasn’t filed yet. The FEC has John Abarr filed as a Democrat but since the former Ku Klux Klan organizer has dropped out, I won’t go there.

First, the money side of the equation as of Dec. 31, date of the last filing report:

Name Total Contributions (from time announced running until Dec. 31, 2011) Fourth Quarter contributions (October – Dec. 31, 2011)
Steve Daines, R $953,505 $173,315.68
Kim Gillan, D $175,159 $52,014.76
Franke Wilmer, D $154,877 $55,260.93
Diane Smith, D $100,033 $100,033
Dave Strohmaier, D 72,151 $23,080.24
Robert Stutz, D $13,315 $3,265

Republican Steve Daines, the basically unopposed millionaire, has more campaign money than all the Democrats put together but that’s not the focus of this piece.

Democrat Diane Smith wasn’t at the ‘Pasty Party’ held in Missoula Sunday night and sponsored by the Missoula County Democrats. Gillan, Strohmaier, Stutz and Wilmer were, and they all spoke.

So I don’t have any personal experience with Smith but there’s this: she has about $75 grand in the bank (I like round numbers, so let’s say $100K raised and $25K spent).  She’s only been in the race since November so that’s a pretty good chunk of change she’s raised.  Smith touts her support of gay and choice issues but stresses her fiscally conservative business roots.  She received a few contributions from Whitefish and Bigfork but the majority of her money comes from the D.C. area, where she was in the telecommunications business.  The Flathead Memo has an interesting piece on the lack of transparency from Smith’s contributors.

The Memo also has stories on Smith’s past contributions to Republican candidates here and here.  It may not be a big problem in the general election but she has to get through the primary where the committed Democratic voters take a dimmer view of this.

Next up in the fundraising department is Kim Gillan with about $100 grand left in the bank.  She’s on top of the Democratic contribution heap with $176K raised.  She spoke at the ‘Pasty Party’ about her experience in the Montana Legislature and struck a moderate tone.  Lots of current and former legislators greeted her warmly.

Will Gillan split the moderate vote with Smith?  Maybe, somewhat. There are a lot more Democrats in Billings than there are in the Flathead, though, and name recognition will play a role.

The other aspect is that progressives tend to turn out for the primaries so maybe a moderate doesn’t have the leg up that they’d have in the general.

And there’s the Missoula factor: more registered Democratic voters in this county than any other Montana County.  Will Missoula Democrats turn out?  Will they vote for the hometown boy?

Which brings me to Dave Strohmaier, who has $15 grand in the bank.  He’s raised $72K.  The most passionate speaker at the ‘Pasty Party,’ he trotted out his local government credentials, his advocacy for a southern-tier passenger rail line and his strong support of GLBT issues.  Strohmeier was well received by the audience, the enthusiasm palpable, but it was his hometown crowd.

Rob Stutz spoke next.  His campaign isn’t taking any PAC money, which is admirable, and he advanced that.  Tough call, though, not taking the PAC money one might need to tell supporters he’s not taking PAC money.

Stutz has raised $13 grand and has about $6K left in the bank.

He also says his unique campaign has the best chance of beating Daines in November, although I’m sure the other candidates feel the same way.

Franke Wilmer spoke last, about international policy — which is refreshing because most congressional candidates gloss over this — but I’m not sure how this plays to the masses.  She also offered her blue-collar roots and experience in the Montana Legislature as references.  She’s the only candidate to come out publicly against the Keystone XL Pipeline (as opposed to our governor and congressional delegation) and that shows some chutzpah.  Wilmer received the second-most enthusiastic response from the crowd.

She’s raised a good amount of cash, $155 grand, and has $55K in the bank.

So it’s in play: a Missoula progressive, with less money but in a heavy Democratic county against a Bozeman progressive with more money but in a county with fewer Democratic voters.  The conventional wisdom is that being tagged ‘Missoula’ is harder to overcome in the rest of the state than being tagged ‘Bozeman.’

Then there are the moderates, Gillan and Smith, although Gillan has paid her dues in the legislature and with the party.  Both say that a moderate — someone who can work across the aisle — has the best chance of beating Daines in the general.

And then there’s Rob Stutz, who could peel away enough votes to be a spoiler in all four of the above-mentioned races.

In a primary like this, the most organized campaign with the best media and strongest ground game should come out on top. Moderation, money, passion and principles — and the candidates’ message — are important, too, but with this many in the field, it will be hard to get a message to resonate with anyone other than those who follow politics closely.

Any one of these candidates would be a vast improvement over either Rehberg or Daines, but you know that.

No primary endorsements from me here, just some info.  I await your comments with bated breath.  With your help, I’ll do more and better handicapping soon.

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.

by jhwygirl

If you aren’t reading James Conner’s Flathead Memo you are missing a whole lot of balanced political honest-to-goodness reporting and opinion on Montana politics.

James has been knocking it out this week (indications he has acquiesced to a caffeine addiction?), but most notably he’s pointed out – while Denny Rehberg is under reporting lobbyist cash – so is another candidate. A Democrat.

Diane Smith, a Kalispell resident seeking the Democratic nomination for Montana’s lone House of Representative seat – is also, too, under reporting lobbyist cash dollars.

Smith – ironically enough – is using the same tactic (failing to fill in the occupations on donors) – as our current House of Representative Denny Rehberg.

James point out that these things will happen, and social niceties and just plain old logistics often bring about situations where donations come in where that disclosure information isn’t always collected, “… but all campaigns have a legal and moral obligation to exercise due diligence. Cards should be followed by telephone calls.”

Conner, of course, is correct.

It’s excusable to miss one or two or even a few – but the extraordinary number of “information not provided” is not only a legal and moral obligation shirked, it’s laziness and failure to organize.

If Smith can’t run a primary campaign, why would any elector want her in Washington with those kinds of account skills and staff oversight?

(And that’s aside from Smith’s other issues, including the “Is she really a Democrat?” issue.)

by jhwygirl

Just a quick hit on this one: I’m sure everyone’s heard the news earlier this week that President Obama has blessed his very own Super Pac, something he had rejected in the past.

Of course, he’s still cleaner, somehow. This, from Jay Carney, White House spokesperson:

He said Obama still refuses lobbyist and PAC money in his campaign account, “which distinguishes him from any of his potential … general-election opponents.”

Who’s out calming the bankers? Montana’s very own Jim Messina headed to Wall Street on Tuesday to let them know who Obama doesn’t have a problem with:

At the members-only Core Club in Manhattan, Messina provided a campaign briefing last night for some of the president’s top donors, including Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive officer at Evercore Partners Inc., and his wife, Jane Hartley, co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC; Eric Mindich, founder of Eton Park Capital Management LP; and Ron Blaylock, co-founder of GenNx360 Capital Partners…..

In response to a question, Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions, according to one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Does this cause me some burn? You betcha. Messina – Obama’s campaign manager – justifies his actions by saying “We can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”

Well..there’s certainly an element of truth to what he says – but it’s also a two-wrongs-make-a-right defense, imo. I don’t know that it makes it OK.

At the very least, it’s a trench on a high hill that has now been ceded by Obama.




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