Archive for the ‘Denny Rehberg’ Category

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.

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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 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

Baucus pulls a Rehberg

The rhetoric was pure Rehberg but it came from the mouth of Max Baucus.  On the heels of the State of the Union address, the first comment from our congressional delegation was Max blasting Obama for not ramming through the Keystone XL pipeline.

Granted, it was just a local TV news snippet and I’m sure the station was looking for the most controversial quote, but Max gladly provided it.

He joins the ranks of Joe Leiberman, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln as party skanks.  Montana Republicans should be grateful that Max Baucus is their senior senator.

Baucus says he’s “quite disappointed” that Obama didn’t reference the pipeline.  Here’s the link to the 10 p.m. newscast.  Max is about four minutes in.  Viewing not recommended for those with a queasy stomach.

On the other hand

In light of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, both Baucus and Tester are pushing for a Constitutional amendment that would regulate campaign spending.  This will be no cakewalk as it takes two-thirds of both chambers and three-quarters of the states (38 states?) to ratify the amendment.  Maybe just making our elections publicly financed would be easier, although I’m sure that, too, would end up in SCOTUS.

Of course Rehberg likes the idea of unlimited corporate influence in elections.  He believes there just needs to be more “sunlight” (or transparency) in campaigns, which mens a five-minute scroll of all the contributors at the end of a sixty-second negative hit spot on TV.  Yeah, right.  Like we can’t already figure out where all the millions of dollars are coming from.

It will be interesting to see how aggressive Congress is in advancing this amendment and how accountable members will be to citizens (and by citizens, I don’t mean corporations).

Update: Here’s Pogie’s take on Rehberg and Citizens United.

by jhwygirl

We all know congress is a mess. These guys are beyond any sense when they can’t keep the nation’s flood insurance program running on anything but rims. Congress has surpassed incompetence at this point – it’s malfeasance when you look at the purposeful will with which they make these decisions.

Montanans across the state might want to take note, given that La Nina is supposed to be hanging around here this winter (though little of her presence has been noted recently). If predictions hold true, last year’s flood season may only have been a practice for what we’ll see in 2012.

And if ice jams are an issue for you (Gallatin Gateway? Bitterooters?) you may want to make sure you’ve purchased your flood insurance before the program expires this Friday, for what is at least its 4th time this year. I got dizzy looking back at how that program’s been extended this year:

Back in June, during the deficit debacle, the National Flood Insurance Program expired – expired – June 1st, and wasn’t signed back into law until June 31st – and of course, it was retroactive to June 1st. The program was extended until September 30th.

On September 29th, the program was extended until October 4th.

5 days?!?!

On October 4th, it was extended until November 18th.

And on November 18th, the program was extended until December 16. That’s this Friday.

And get this – last Thursday, December 8th, HR3628 was introduced to extend the program through May 31st.

May 31st. Really?

Now – I didn’t go any further back than that expiration of the program on June 1st, but in 2010, the National Flood Insurance Program lapsed four times and flood coverage could not be purchased or renewed for a total of 53 days.

Wonder what that uncertainty in flood insurance is doing for the housing market?

Proposing an extension of a program that is needed for areas that cover huge populations of Americans – and significant investments in tax base – through May 31st is plain ridiculous.

The GOP wants to toss around the uncertainty of regulation and they guys can’t even propose a decent extension of a program that damn well know isn’t going to go away. Not only that, they propose an extension that sets it to expire just as the flood waters start rolling down the Missouri on its way to the Mississippi as spring starts to thaw out Montana and North and South Dakota.

Frankly, it’s pretty surprising, given that the industry has been asking for a 5-year extension.

Montanans would do well to call Denny Rehberg and tell him that maybe he should get to work and tell his colleagues that the National Flood Insurance Program is a pretty important thing here in Montana, and that proposing an extension that has the thing expiring in May of 2012 is just plain stupid. Time is running out…and this thing has to come out of the House, which is the worst of the mess we’ve got over there in D.C.

Right now Rehberg’s a little too busy proposing a federal land swap for a Jesus statue.

Of course, I’m betting a federal land swap, even if it is only 625 square feet, will keep a whole bunch of bureaucrats employed for at least a few years. Maybe that’s Rehberg’s jobs plan.

And the cost of that land swap is most certainly publicly funded – he wouldn’t want those Jesus statute advocates to have to pay the cost of administering that land swap, I’m sure.

Let Rehberg know that perhaps he should get to working on keeping the largest economic sector – housing – a little more stable. A lot of JOBS are at stake – something you’d think he’d realize. All of that aside from helping out a whole bunch of Montana taxpayers who rely on the flood insurance program to protect their private property.

Rehberg can be reached toll free at 1-888-232-2626 – or you can click this link and shoot him a quick email.

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A quick note here, but it looks like the Republicans in the House have found a way around their own self-imposed earmarks ban. I wish I had the time, but hopefully someone will go poking around those committees that Rehberg is on – Appropriations? – and see if any hypocrisy is going on there. I highly doubt the GOP is only circumventing their own ban on earmarks in Armed Services.

By JC

I’m not one wont to beat up on Denny Rehberg (I usually leave that up to others, but I hadn’t seen a report on this yet), except when he does really stupid  things like go on drunk rampages in boats across lakes, call Pell Grants welfare, and now, he wants to steal kids’ lunch money. Having just returned from 3 days in Billings, and talking with friends whose kids go to school there (and pointed out the Gazette article), I thought I’d offer up some more on the creep watch.

At a recent tour of a school in Billings (where his sister is principal) Rehberg got back into his schoolyard bully ways:

…[Rehberg’s sister Shanna] Henry was accompanied by Brenda Koch, the district’s new executive director for the kindergarten through 12th grade schools on the east side of Billings.

Rehberg asked the pair pointed questions about fraud and whether families ever dupe the free and reduced-price meal system.

Koch explained that each year, a random sample of families who sign up and qualify are audited by the district to make sure they meet the income guidelines.

On top of that, she said, the district is audited by the state every year on how its Title I dollars are spent.

“And that’s a good thing. It’s not a bad thing,” she said. “Those funds are just crucial to our schools.”

Rehberg is chairman of the House subcommittee on labor, health and human services and education and is eager to make sure the funds he oversees are spent correctly.

“I’d like to punish those systems that rip the taxpayers off,” he said…

[Rehberg] said as a congressman in his office in Washington, D.C., he sees the numbers, the statistics and balance sheets.

“But you gotta see it and touch it and smell it,” he said. “It makes it real.”

What does Montana’s Superintendent have to say?

In Montana, the concern is not fraud caused by poor families, according to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, but rather poor families not getting the assistance they need. Her office told TPM that “there are many people eligible for free and reduced lunch who don’t apply for the program out of stigma.”

“The Superintendent has absolutely no concern that Montana families are committing fraud,” Montana OPI spokesperson Allyson Hagen said.

Hey Denny, know what’s real? Poverty. But about fraud, if  “you gotta see it and touch it and smell it” why don’t you head on down to Wall Street and check out the lunch menu of the 1%. Then dole out some real punishment. What a pathetic maroon.

by jhwygirl

A picture is worth only so much. An endorsement from Citzen United’s Political Victory Fund will be worth a whole lot more.

Apparently Denny Rehberg got that endorsement today after a lovely lunch with lots of corporate lobbyists looking on:

That’s David Bossie, president of Citizen’s United, there with Rehberg.

Let it not be said Rehberg doesn’t support unlimited corporate money in politics. Taking an endorsement from the chief money prostitute in politics is about as disgusting as it could get.

Citizen’s United, you may recall, won a landmark decision at the United States Supreme Court about a year and a half ago which concluded corporate political donations could not be limited by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act.

Public outcry over this decision has been huge. There are calls for a constitutional amendment to limit spending – like here and here. Public polling is overwhelmingly in opposition to the decision.

Another org, People for the American Way are taking on the issue – and former Attorney Generals and other prominent lawyers around the nation submitted this letter to congress prior to hearings held last year to investigate into corporate spending and what the Citizen’s United SCOTUS case would mean.

Hell, even former gubernatorial candidate, Republican Bob Brown has spoken out on the evils of corporate money influence in politics.

Montanans should find Denny’s friendly embrace with Citizen’s United even more offensive. Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of Montana’s history – or anyone that’s seen the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which based on one of Montana’s own Copper Kings, Sen. William Clark, who bought himself a senate seat that the U.S. Senate refused to seat – should find this utterly offensive.

Citizen’s United is a direct affront to Montana’s own Constitution. In 1912, citizens here in Montana united against the Copper King corruption in Helena and passed several citizen’s initiatives directed at quashing corporate influence in state politics.

It’s a fascinating history. All the makings of a soap opera with corruption and scandal and lots of money all thrown in for extra measure.

More recent history puts Montana and center at this issue – Attorney General Steve Bullock was called on to testify at at those senate hearings I mentioned above. This link will take you to a video of his testimony, while this link will take you to his written statement submitted at that hearing.

Rehberg’s a corporate whore. We can officially and unequivocally add that to his list of endearing qualities. Others of which include Homophobe and Elitist.

~~
Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it – Edmund Burke, 1729-1797

by jhwygirl

Republicans got no one running the show up there and Democrats are just sitting around waiting for anyone to take the lead. Harry? Put what you got onto the Senate floor. Lead the debate. Lead a debate. Debate. Something. Anything.

At least make us think you all are actually earning that free pizza dinner it appears Boehner & crew enjoyed tonight on the taxpayer dime.

One of the things I’m wondering about is this: Didn’t Republcans, Rep. Denny Rehberg and the rest of the burgeoning pre-2010 tea party complain about voting on bills without 72-hours posting? Didn’t Rehberg refuse to vote on some sort of money/finance/budget bill because it was ‘4 inches thick and who can read this thing overnight?’??

I don’t know what the last Boehner bill scored, yet alone the content of it. Frankly – I don’t know what is in the Reid bill either.

Rehberg’s word isn’t worth crap and too bad Congress doesn’t have a public noticing requirement.

By JC

If you’ve been paying attention to all the hoopla, you’ve heard by now that the House passed a draconian bill to address the looming crisis over the debt ceiling. I’m not going to go into details. Pogie put up a nice summation of what is going on over at ID, and I’ve got some comments about what’s going on there.

As part of the discussion over there, Steve W. mentions that there will be a protest at Rep. Rehberg’s Missoula office at high noon on this friday in front of Rehberg’s office at 301 E. Broadway.

While showing solidarity against Rehberg’s vote is a good thing, I still feel that everybody left of center should be aware that part of the right wing strategy here is to suck democrats into some kind of vote against Medicare and/or Social Security and Medicaid so as to blunt the effects of them having gone on record as wanting to privatize Medicare with their budget vote in the spring.

Republicans would love nothing better than to be able to turn the tables on dem candidates by showing them to have voted against Medicare, S.S. and/or Medicaid on the debt ceiling vote.

And of course, we have no way of knowing what will be in the final debt ceiling bill, and how our two dem senators will vote. Which is why I’d like to suggest that folks turn out in droves to the protest at Rehberg’s office and carry signs telling Baucus and Tester to keep their hands off of Medicare, S.S. and Medicaid cuts.

For those who want a bit more meta on the debt ceiling story from the left, George Ochenski has a great article “Dear Democrats” over at the Missoula Indy. And he puts my sentiments very clearly:

“When I hear Obama say Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all part of what might have to be chopped in his secret deal-making with Republican leaders, deep resentment wells up in me. And I am not alone.

…there are a handful of Democrats, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who say they will never renege on Social Security. But it’s a very tough thing for Democrats who want to keep faith with the party’s working-class base when their President is so obviously willing to give in to outrageous Republican demands…

So here’s the simple message to Democrats: We are watching and we are fed up with you selling us out. Your choice at this juncture is equally simple: Listen up—or lose.”

I’ve appended a version of the email alert that went out in Missoula today about the rally after the jump.
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

I won’t even give these scums a link – but you can google it and find the new campaign Erik Iverson & Co. have out there attacking Sen. Jon Tester on the basis that he “voted to raise the debt limit 5 times.”

Really?

Under George W. Bush, who was in office from January 2001 until January 2008, the debt limit was increase 7 times.

Guess who was also in office from January 2001 until present?

Now, what that means is that Rehberg voted to increase the debt limit 7 times, but that was all rainbows and purple unicorns because, well, a Republican was president.

And…in case your wondering…McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor? They were all on board too.

So if the horror is supposed to be in the fact that Tester voted to increase the debt limit 5 times – well, Rehberg ups that by 2 and adds in 5 counts of “I’m a partisan hypocrite willing to tank the “good faith and credit of the United States of America” on the unprincipled stance of tea party ideology.

Ultimately, this is what we are going to see for the next year and a half. The Iverson/Rehberg duo don’t have much else. Stand him next to Sen. Jon Tester and they have absolutely nothing. No record, no substance and no resume of accomplishment over the 11 years Rehberg’s been up there. Unbelievably ineffective.

I look downright forward to seeing Denny and Jon debate. Downright forward to it. David and Goliath…and you all know who Goliath is.

Ha.

By CFS

Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming a part of people’s daily life and when it comes to politics, social media is an indispensable tool for organization, spreading information, and connecting people of like-minded attitudes.  But few politicians are actually making good use of these new tools.  Rather sadly, many politicians are using the tools to their own detriment or are simply using them to insulate and shut out criticism.

 

Here in Montana, politicians are beginning their primary pushes which means the long process of building a support network and raising funds, and in today’s age that means using twitter and Facebook to directly connect with as many people across the state as possible.  But so far this cycle our would-be political representatives seem a bit clueless.

Here are my suggestions of how our crop of Montana politicians can use social media effectively:

  1. Engage, engage, engage.  If you are using Twitter as a repository of press release like boring links, don’t even bother… I’m looking your way @DennyRehberg.  Twitter is a continuous conversation, be part of it, open your ears, and actually have a back and forth.
  2. Get rid of the staff.  I know social media can be a time-suck, but it is disingenuous to represent yourself on twitter and have a staff be the one tweeting.  If its overwhelming, have two accounts, one for the campaign run by a staffer, and a personal account that is solely yours.
  3. Don’t mass follow people… it just looks desperate and is akin to what sleazy internet marketers do.  That means you Franke Wilmer, who followed me the other day.  The first politician to seek me out for a follow.  Your followers, whether on Twitter or Facebook should come organically and not be sought after.  If you are a good candidate people will naturally gravitate to you.
  4. Make it personal, but not too personal.  Followers should feel as though they have an in on who you are and what your campaign is about that they can’t get via the television news, blogs, or newspapers.
  5. Google search for James Knox (R) Billings.  Look at his use of social media, then proceed to do the exact opposite.  Threats, crazy assertions, and lying in the social media sphere only get you ridicule and draw people’s attention who then quickly tear your arguments apart and make you look like the fool you are.
  6. Have a filter.  Before you hit that send button, think for a second whether you really want to put what you just typed out their.  As a politician you should realize that many of your followers are probably reporters, bloggers, and political insiders that will make as much noise and trouble for you given any opportunity.
  7. Be creative and witty.  Social media is geared to short bits of information, and to get attention you need to put out creative and authentic updates, being boring will kill you.
  8. Finally, study what people have done right.  For Montana, that means taking a look at how state legislators Ellie Hill, Bryce Bennett, and Mike Miller have used social media, especially during the hectic legislative session.  They were the best source on how things were shaping up at the capital and even during the busiest of times, kept their followers in the loop on legislative developments.  For my money, they are the best examples of politicians using Twitter effectively.

Other than that, good luck to all our candidates, except for Denny Rehberg, may Tester bitch slap you with his two-fingered hand.

For those of you interested in getting more information on our crop of Montana candidates take a look at the list I have compiled below.

Senate:

John Tester (D): Campaign site, @jontester, Facebook
Denny Rehberg (R): Campaign site@Rehberg2012, Facebook

Congress:

Franke Wilmer (D): Campaign site@Franke4Congress, Facebook

Dave Strohmaier (D): Campaign site@DaveForMontana, Facebook

Steve Daines (R): Campaign site@DainesforHouse, Facebook

Kim Gillan (D): Campaign site

Governor:

Rick Hill (R): Campaign site@RickHill2012, Facebook

Ken Miller (R): Campaign site, Facebook

James O’Hara (R): Campaign site, Facebook

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

A new study shows that the death penalty costs $300 million per person.

The main drug used in lethal injection is no longer in production in the U.S. That means that no state can obtain the drug legally. (with a hat tip to Steve Dogiakos)

If you haven’t read this piece, you should. From Time Magazine’s political blog Swampland, it’s an indepth look at Montana’s Tea Party. The piece is recent – June 17th.

So yeah…more national attention on Montana.

Has anyone read Sarah Palin’s InBox yet?

Public Policy Polling has all kinds of polling out on Montana 2012 races. With both a Senate and a Governor’s seat open, there’s lots of national interest.

Must read from The Nation on reimaging our economic future. There’s lot’s to it – a series of articles – but well worthy of bookmarking.

Pogie reports on this weekend’s gathering of the John Birch Society with featured guest Derek Skees. It’s a must read. And do remember – that’s straight-up serious stuff he’s talking about.

Button Valley recently threw down on the economic realities of Arch Coal, one of Montana’s newest raider of taxpayer-owned natural resources. Poor Arch Coal. Thank Goddess the Montana taxpayers were able to subsidize their bid for the state’s schoolchildren’s coal. Corporate coal welfare – what would the industry do without it.

Which reminds me – Steve Bullock for Attorney General. Only.

by jhwygirl

Montanan’s – and the world – first found out about Rep. Denny Rehberg’s push for “hard science” about two weeks ago when he pushed for an amendment that would require “hard science” before the FDA could enact regulatory controls.

Rehberg’s amendment passed. Whee for him, right? And screw the health of Americans….Rehberg was finally able to add something to that very slim resume of his.

Not really…..Rehberg – even as chair – couldn’t follow procedure, having attempted to legislation through Appropriations, which is against House rules.

How embarrassing. Let’s point out here that Denny is chair of that committee. Clearly, he isn’t very effective and doesn’t understand some of the basic parameters of his own committee. I’m sure he blames it on his staff.

What exactly is “hard science”? Here’s the definition, right out of Denny’s original amendment:

Sec. 740. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Food and Drug Administration to write, prepare, develop or publish a proposed, interim, or final rule, regulation, or guidance that is intended to restrict the use of a substance or a compound unless the Secretary bases such rule, regulation or guidance on hard science (and not on such factors as cost and consumer behavior), and determines that the weight of toxicological evidence, epidemiological evidence, and risk assessments clearly justifies such action, including a demonstration that a product containing such substance or compound is more harmful to users than a product that does not contain such substance or compound, or in the case of pharmaceuticals, has been demonstrated by scientific study to have none of the purported benefits.

Yep. Humans as lab rats – body counts required.

Honest to Goddess. And don’t you know those tea party people think they are oh so smart by coming up with the term “hard science” for this crap.

What was Rehberg’s original intent of his amendment? To stop the FDA from regulating what many have said for decades is the overuse of antibiotics in livestock – which is resulting in humans increasingly becoming bacteria resistant, resulting in the need for stronger and stronger antibiotics (or death).

Take a look a the FDA’s apparently-not-“hard-science” report.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week threatened to take up Denny Rehberg’s “hard science” cause – having ingeniously found a way to get around that can’t-legislate-from-House Appropriations thing.

Trouble for Rehberg and the rest of the tea party patriots down there in the House is that a bipartisan group of Senators have offered up their own bill which would restrict the use of antibiotics in cattle.

So the tea party bats are loose, crapping in the U.S. House now..and we’ve got dueling bills on an issue that has been generally agreed upon accepted science. Until Denny Rehberg came up with his own new concept: “hard science”.

It’s sad, really. In the future, historians will look back upon this early 21st century political scenery and find accounts of elected officials not only ignoring science, but dismantling the very foundations built by America’s greatest legislators and administrations all to appease the corporate interests of the upper 2% of the population.

by jhwygirl

Montana’s own U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg proposed an amendment to the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill that could undercut U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of tobacco products. That amendment passed through the House Appropriations Committee last week by a vote of 29 to 20 earlier this week.

So I guess we can add this amendment to his list of accomplishments.

What does the amendment do? It halts funding for U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) rule-making activities or guidance programs unless they are based on actual harm…not the collective evidence of harm. In essence, it requires the harm to actually occur first before the FDA can act.

Said the FDA of the amendment:

“(The) FDA must sometimes act when there are credible risks, but before the weight of scientific evidence has been established. This amendment would require that consumers actually be harmed before FDA can take certain actions to protect the public health.”

U.S. News and World Report calls it “a gibberish agenda,” I call it dismantling America.

Now we want to promote children smoking? Or are we saving the rights of the tobacco industry? What is, exactly, Rehberg’s goal?

I knew Rehberg was intent on dismantling health care reform, what little we got – who’da thought he’d start campaigning on making America more unhealthy?

Here’s another thing: It’s 2011. I’d like to think by now the American Cancer Society could be focusing the main thrust of its funding towards subsidizing private investment in finding a cure for cancer…but instead they’re having to take 40 steps backwards to the 1970’s and ’80 to battle the tobacco lobbyists and Congressional lunatics like Denny Rehberg.

What is it about “hard science” and tobacco usage that Rehberg denies? He and the rest of the 29 people that voted for this amendment? Do we really need to educate them in the very real science that tobacco is bad for people? And worse for kids?

Under Rehberg’s “hard science” rule, kids would have to die before the FDA could kick in with regulations.

Think about that.

Why not send Denny a quick email and ask him why he wants more kids smoking tobacco. Ask him why he’s wasting time dismantling America.

by jhwygirl

I signed up some time ago for google news alerts on Jon Tester. The stories stacking up there lately are not something I like to see given the amount of personal time and effort I put towards his campaign. I mean, I was making calls for Jon Tester back when the reply was “Jon who??” Someone needs to say something, so here goes.

Banking reform passed congress last year and was signed into law. It was some pretty weak stuff. It was forward moving, I can give it that….but the banks also didn’t whine too much.

Until now.

Banking reform included implementation of limits on bank card swipe fees. Those debit cards? They cost retailers – and by association, consumers – pretty hefty fees. Banks want a delay in implementing limitations on these swipe fees.

Our Senator Jon Tester? He has been trying to delay implementation of this aspect of banking reform by introducing his own legislation. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid was none too please, but did agree, recently, to give it a floor vote.

Want to know how I’d like my Senator Jon Tester to be handling this issue? Take a read of Senator Dick Durbin’s open letter to Jamie Dimon, CEO and President of JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Seriously. Read it. Frankly – I hope Senator Tester reads it. Durbin dismantles banking’s argument against implementation bit-by-bit.

Who else is wanting to see delayed implementation of swipe fee limitations? Who’s championing Sen. Jon Tester’s legislation? The Heritage Foundation.

Whining about losing rewards? Wow. Talk about priorities.

Senate returns next week. The showdown on these fees is inevitable. Interestingly, last night the New York Post reported that Jon Tester is so hell-bent for getting these banks a delay in limiting their swipe fees – that he’s pushed to attach his Heritage-approved legislation as a rider to the Economic Development Reauthorization bill.

Roll Call confirms the rider story: “The provision is likely to come up as a rider on one of two noncontroversial bills, according to industry lobbyists. And with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supporting the delay, the outcome is still very much up for grabs.”

Now is the time to contact both Senator Tester and Senator Baucus.

And meanwhile – media? While I appreciate you pointing out that Sen. Tester is doing something that we here in Montana pretty much didn’t elect him to do, it’s not really fair that all you pull out of Rehberg is that he “hasn’t taken a position on this yet.”

Seems to me that’s pretty incompetent of Rehberg – and given he’s challenging Tester and he, too, is in congress, Montanans deserve an answer…and a more visible push to get it from him.

Given all the opportunity of late with flooding, surely getting at him again with what his position is on swipe fees isn’t too hard. Same with Baucus. Inquiring Montanans want to know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Pete Talbot

(Jhwygirl beat me to the draw, as usual, but here’s my perspective on some of her Various & Sundry observations, plus some other stuff.  Also, I changed my original Denny Rehberg headline (a strike through wouldn’t cut it) because it lacked class.  And while I have no respect for the man, I still have some for the office.)

Disingenuous Denny

I had forgotten that Rep. Denny Rehberg was going to be the speaker at Missoula’s City Club luncheon on Thursday.  I didn’t miss much, though, according to the Missoulian.  The same old: lower taxes, cut programs, reduce regulation.  Then there was this gem:

He also claimed that family planning services were losing billions of dollars by duplication between Medicaid and Title X services.

Missoula Planned Parenthood volunteer coordinator Tannis Hargrove, who asked about the family planning spending, disputed Rehberg’s duplication claim. She said Title X services were not available to Montanans eligible for Medicaid, and that Medicaid eligibility was too strict to allow that kind of double-dipping.

Rehberg also said it was the fault of the federal government that the housing market collapsed, leading to the Great Recession.  It had nothing to do with the credit default swaps of JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, etc.  Thank God those markets aren’t better regulated.

And you can blame those pesky regulations for your $4-a-gallon gas.  That’s what’s keeping the petroleum industry from modernizing its gasoline infrastructure, which is keeping consumer gas prices high, says Denny.  I guess it’s hard to invest in new infrastructure when your first quarter profits are only $10.7 billion.

The rest of the Rehberg story is here.  Read it and weep.  KECI also has a story but I’m boycotting NBC because of that stupid Celebrity Apprentice show, which leads me to …

Rob Trump, Donald Natelson?

I like things easy and Rob Natelson makes finding a topic to post so easy.  This time, he’s picking up where The Donald left off. Couched in some historical nonsense about the English monarchy, Rob’s worried that a U.S. President could hand our country over to some foreign power.  I’m pretty sure he’s targeting Obama and the President’s penchant for all things Kenyan.  I’m surprised he didn’t raise this issue about Reagan’s Mexican proclivities.  He should also be worried about Gov. Schwarzenegger selling California to Austria.  There are just too many examples to cite. Be afraid, be very afraid.

“Extremely far-right extremists”

That’s a quote from former Sanders County Republican Chairman Mike Hashisaki.  But it looks like it’s the extremists who are running things now that state party chairman Will Deschamps says the new Sanders County Republican Central Committee will be certified at the Montana GOP convention in June.  How far to the right is the new committee?  Well, Denny Rehberg is a socialist.  According to the Missoulian:

The convention then chose Katy French of Paradise chairwoman. Her husband Mark, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg for the Republican nomination to Congress in 2010 – charging that Rehberg had backed “irresponsible, unconstitutional and socialist issues” – was elected state committeeman.

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

I guess the 62nd Montana Legislature could have been worse, but not much.  One of the major disappointments for me — the failure to pass a bonding bill that would have paid for a new UM College of Technology building, among other buildings around the state.  It would have pumped $29 million into the Missoula economy, and would be an investment in Montana’s future by educating and training Montanans.  There was plenty of other bad stuff, too, some of it yet to reach the governor’s desk.  The Associated Press has a round-up.

by Pete Talbot

You get who you vote for

Montana’s PSC is one of the most important government bodies we have in this state. As the banner at its website reveals: energy, telecommunications, water/sewer, transportation and pipeline safety are all under its purview. Since last November’s elections and the new 3-2 Republican majority, the commission has been in turmoil. The latest dust up is being well chronicled by Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, and by the Great Falls Tribune, Lee Newspapers and the Associated Press.

But since the voters decided to return the incendiary “rogue commissioner”* Brad Molner to the commission, and replace utility expert and consumer advocate Ken Toole with utility owner Bill Gallagher, well, what do you expect?

The jury is still out on Travis Kavulla.

* Attributed to PSC Commissioner Gail Gutsche.

Denny’s going down

Rep. Denny Rehberg toed the Tea Party line when he voted against House Resolution 1473, the congressional compromise that cut $38 billion but kept the government up and running.

From the L.A. Tribune’s Washington Bureau:

The bill approved by the House and Senate Thursday will fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year on Sept. 30, cutting $38 billion from environmental, health, education, job-training and other domestic programs. Despite the steep reductions, the measure didn’t go far enough for the House’s most conservative members, exposing divisions among Republicans. (Emphasis mine.)

It’s still early and anything could happen but if the Senate race isn’t already trending to Sen. Tester, I’d be surprised. Tester has been in the news a lot, lately: his wolf-delisting rider, veteran’s issues, and a wilderness bill (there are folks on both sides of the aisle upset with his wolf and wilderness stances, which indicate that they’re moderate positions). And Montanans, for the most part, are a moderate lot, which bodes well for Tester.

Rehberg has done nothing of note (besides casting Tea Party votes) and therefore hasn’t been getting much press, either good or bad, which goes to the old political axiom: I don’t care what you write about me, just spell my name right.

And I was so worried that Gadhafi would appear on the ballot

Some Montana legislators have offered up crazy stuff this session but most of the bills have died in committee, on the floor or have been vetoed by the governor. Not so in Arizona, where a bill promoted by the “birthers” is on the Arizona Governor’s desk awaiting her signature — and it’s possible the socially-conservative Republican governor will sign it. The bill demands proof of U.S citizenship before allowing presidential candidates on the ballot, and Arizona wants to see hospital records, baptismal certificates or circumcision records, along with other affidavits.

Always good to see that Montana’s legislature hasn’t cornered the market on wacky.

By JC

Well, let’s knock another $15 million out of the Montana economy, and beat up on the poor some more while doing it.

“You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college. And there ought to be some kind of commitment and endgame”…

But in Montana, Rehberg has been taking some heat for voting for the House GOP budget resolution, which would reduce the maximum Pell Grant from $5,500 to $4,705 and narrow the eligibility of applicants. Financial aid officials at the University of Montana and Carroll College in Rehberg’s home state recently told reporters that they were disappointed in his vote and urged Montana’s two U.S. senators to preserve funding.

In Montana, 24,000 students are scheduled to receive a Pell Grant next year. If the House budget bill becomes law, the state would lose $15 million in funding for the program.”

Gotta pay for them tax breaks for himself, er, the rich somehow.

bozo the drunk

by Pete Talbot

Of course, with his excellent taxpayer paid health care, he’d get state-of-the-art treatment.  If, however, he was a lower or middle-class man or woman seeking affordable treatment in Montana, his options would be limited.  Whether it was an STD or some other reproductive health issue, or just some condoms, considering the bill he and his congressional cohorts passed, he can forget about Planned Parenthood.

It’s called the Pence Amendment, named after a very nasty little Republican representative from Indiana named Mike Pence.  It’s an attack on Title X family planning and specifically Planned Parenthood. The vote was 240-185, pretty much along party lines.

Here’s a synopsis from Montana Planned Parenthood’s CEO, Stacy James:

In attacking Planned Parenthood, the House Republican leadership including Representative Rehberg, has launched an outrageous assault on the thousands of Montanans who rely on our local clinics for primary and preventive health care, including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, family planning visits, birth control, HIV testing, and more.

I suppose that the representatives voting for this bill thought they were targeting abortion providers.  But by restricting access to sex education and birth control, they’re actually increasing the chance that an abortion will be needed.

And Rehberg is leading the pack in this assault on Montana families, particularly woman who don’t have high-end health care plans like Denny.  More STDs and abortions, fewer cancer screenings, less access to birth control, the end of sex education for teens; thanks Denny.

By JC

Look what stunk up my Inbox this morning. I don’t think this needs any further prologue…

denny

30-Second Survey



stop, watch, and listen

Starts now…

The State of the Union called for more government:

While some politicians want to talk about where they were sitting at President Obama’s second State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Montanans care more about how they will vote in the next two years. Americans face many challenges – from high unemployment to the increasing cost of health care and a gallon of gas. In the State of the Union, President Obama made his case for more government solutions. But we’ve already been down that road. It’s a dead end.

Solutions will come from the American people:

There’s a better way forward. Instead of making government bigger, we can unleash the ingenuity of the American people by reducing the size of government, reining in reckless spending and empowering individuals with choices and opportunities. We have more government than we could handle in the last two years, and all it gave us was a bigger debt and fewer jobs. It’s time for government to get out of the way of recovery.

The State of the Union

The average price of a gallon of gas is more than $3. Do you:

– Agree with the President that we should raise taxes on the domestic production of oil?
– Agree with Congressman Rehberg that we should keep all our energy options on the table?
– Other/Not sure

The federal deficit exceeded $1.4 trillion in 2010, adding to a record debt. In the last two years, government spending has exploded. Do you:

– Agree with the President that simply freezing existing levels of overspending will solve the problem?
– Agree with Congressman Rehberg that in order to balance the budget we need to actually reduce spending?
– Other/Not sure

Obamacare is poised to irreversibly change the American health care system to be more like the socialized systems of Canada and Europe. Do you:

– Agree with the President that Washington politicians know better than the American people and that Obamacare is the best way forward?
– Agree with Congressman Rehberg that the Obamacare blueprint should be abandoned in favor of true reform that reduces costs while increasing quality and access?
– Other/Not sure

~ Submit & Join ~

* By answering this survey, you are subscribing to my newsletter.

If you are having trouble, click here.

By Duganz

I’ve been quite busy this week with work and a family illness, so I haven’t had time to update anyone on responses from Sen Max Baucus, Sen. Jon Tester, and Rep Dennis Rehberg about my simple question: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

So far it’s been seven days, and not much has happened. This is the scorecard:

  • Baucus: Sent a form letter the day after my post went live.
  • Tester: No response so far of any kind.
  • Rehberg: No letter, but (for some reason) is now following me on Twitter.

That’s it. That’s the amount of response I’ve received from my simple inquiry into why we’re pissing away money and lives on armed combat in two countries that never attacked us. At all.

I know my hopes were idealistic, but regardless of that they were from a place of honest concern for this country and its people.

But still, it’s been a week and…nothing. It’s like high school again, I keep waiting for girls to call me (in this scenario played by the Three Wise Men) and they never do. The difference is that this time it isn’t about my weight or acne––they just don’t care.

Tester and Rehberg could have at least had someone in their intern pool send me a form letter. I don’t agree on most things with Sen. Baucus, but at least he was willing to placate me with a carrot on a string––”See it? See the carrot? Yeah. Good. That’s me caring about your opinion. No. No. You don’t get to eat the carrot. It’s just there to placate your juvenile desire to have your opinion matter. So you stay here and keep chasing that carrot you myopic, hayseed piece of shit…”

Well, anyway, after a week of patiently waiting for my BlackBerry to receive thoughtful letters from Rep. Richy Rich, Sen. Tester and (more than a slapped together form letter) from Sen. Baucus, democracy is dead to me.

How pathetic of a country do we now live in where only one elected official out of three can take the time to have an intern press “send” on an email? I wasn’t asking much, and I got even less. While some of you may say that it’s only been a week, and that they are busy men (this country ain’t gonna destroy itself––we’ve got conflict to fund, and tax cuts to bicker about, and health care reform to destroy after all), this is not the age of men on horseback shuttling parcels across an untamed land. It’s 2010 and information flows at such a rate as to be almost too much to process.

A week and only one form letter only vaguely addressing my question in that it uses the words “Iraq” and “Afghanistan.” My god, what the hell’s the point of a representative democracy if no one can take the time to care about those they represent?

If you care to read the Baucus email, click here: Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Unemployment benefits expired for millions of Americans at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning while congress debates whether to spend $56.4 billion for the near 10% of Americans that are unemployed or $700 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% of Americans?

Each week, more millions will be added to that number of people that will have no source of income. Think about what that’s doing for the economy.

I’m of the mindset that President Obama has already compromised on the tax issue by saying he’s willing to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts to ninety eight percent of Americans. It shows some sensible restraint with regards to deficit spending. At a time when our government can’t afford to expend money without great assurance that virtually 100% of it returns back into the economy, keeping more money in the hands of ninety eight percent of Americans is a smart thing to do.

GOP Senators, on the other hand, have said that they are going to filibuster the current tax cut proposal to hold out for tax cuts for America’s richest 2% even though it is going to increase the deficit. They won’t talk START treaty, they won’t talk unemployment benefits.

Baucus, for his part, is once again sitting high. He’s the Democrat’s representative in the Group of Six put together by Obama.

Yeah…..

Baucus has also brought a bill to the floor last night that will extend unemployment benefits for one more year.

So I got a little panicky….

….but I’m breathing a bit of a sigh of relief tonight – because Baucus’ bill is the product of the Gang of Six, and it extends tax cuts to 98% of Americans. It extends Making Work Pay credit, the research and development credit, and lower tax rates on investment income.

Sure sounds like compromise to me.

If Obama or if any of our representation in Washington thinks that extending $700 billion in tax cuts for the top 2% wage earners in America is a “deal” well, they have the wrong idea of how to cut a deal. The current proposal includes tax cuts for businesses and investment income. It extends cuts to 98% of America. What’s to grump about?

Rabble Rouser Republicans like Boehner, McConnell and Cantor have, for the most part, toned down their rhetoric (although they were reluctant to do so as they were doing so):

One can’t help but to see how much the Sun Tan Man seemed to love the limelight, with Cantor a close close second. Yet we have yet to see offer of a compromise.

Big Swede likes videos. I don’t know how to capture this one (but a friend-of-4&20 has offered to work on it), but I hope he (and those folks up in Washington) can see this video from NBC’s KECI Missoula. What would they tell this man if they were standing there?

What will they tell 10% of America?

Would Boehner stand there with his my way or the highway and tell that Montanan that he’s without any income in the middle of winter? 3 weeks before Christmas?

I dare him.

~~~~~
(Big Swede? I don’t know why you can’t post under your Big Swede name. I can’t figure it out, but it isn’t because of any setting here.)

By Duganz

I remember sitting in my high school computer lab when we started shocking and awing Iraqi civilians, and soldiers into oblivion. Some of my classmates were cheering. I was 18 so I could only think of Johnson, Nixon, and the story my Dad’s plan to run to Canada when he got his draft number (just a few months before the end of the Vietnam draft).

We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over nine years, and in Iraq nearly eight years. The cost of the wars has exceeded $1 trillion. Nearly 100,000 American troops have been wounded, and thousands have died.As for civilians of those two nations, thousands are dead, homeless, or slowly descending into a mindset wherein bombs are a fashion statement.

All those years, all that money, and all of those wounded human beings and I still have yet to get a sound reason for this question I’ve had all along: “Why are we fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?”

It’s a childish question, I know. But it is nonetheless relevant. The Left has laid blame on reactionary tactics (Afghanistan), and corporatism (Iraq). The Right is quick to beat the purity drum with a ratta-tat-tat roll for FREEDOM! FOR! ALL! The Left arguments may be true, we may be in these conflicts for empty reactionary reasons and our ongoing desire to burn dead dinosaurs. I don’t know.

As for the Right’s reasoning, well, I don’t know how an occupation creates freedom. And I mean that literally. How are people free if armed soldiers are walking around telling them what to do?

I ultimately want to believe the best in all people, even former President George W. Bush. I want to believe that he got bad intel, and that he stretched facts for pure reasons (it ain’t likely, but I want it to be true). I want to believe that we are still losing lives and money for the cause of freedom, even if I feel that war is a misguided means to an end when it comes not from the people, but from an outside force.

But, hell, it’s probably just imperialism and greed.

I want answers to why this has happened, and why it’s still going on. I’m Cruise in A Few Good Men. I want the truth (and, sadly, my government seems to think more like Nicholson).

So I decided to email Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Max Baucus, and Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg that one simple question: “Why are we fighting wars Iraq and Afghanistan?”

I didn’t put anything else in the email. Just the question; no slant or bias. I could have asked how any of them sleep at night knowing they could save lives, or if each flag-draped coffin means something to them. I could have asked Baucus if his nephew dying changed his mind.

I only used those eight simple words.

For those of you who have never emailed our national representatives, the easiest way is through the email forms available at their websites (links above). You give some personal info (most likely for future mailers), select a topic from a pre-made list, and then you’re free to write a little message.

But here’s something interesting:

At Tester’s site you cannot select Afghanistan as a topic, but you can ask about Iraq; Baucus apparently wishes to avoid talking about either (regret those votes Max?) as neither war is an available topic so I chose “foreign policy”; Denny is the only one providing an option for both under the heading “WAR.” I’m not lying. His topic list has the word “WAR.” Just like that. In CAPS. Like it should be proceeded by a grunt and the words “Good god, y’all. What is it good for?”

My emails have been sent. I’m waiting for responses.

I’ve been waiting for nearly ten years. I’ll post the responses as they come in.

***

Update (5:20pm): I posted this on Twitter at approximately 5:10pm MST. Rep. Rehberg’s account is verified. Sen Tester’s is not. It’s possible that Mr. Smith can infact no longer go to Washington, but Mr. Duganz can go to the internet.

“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 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/


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.
 




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