Archive for the ‘Denny Rehberg’ Category

by jhwygirl

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

First – You have to see the ad:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

Goddess Bless Vice President Biden, an everyperson’s working Joe. Such a regular guy, he commuted from Delaware – by train – to DC daily during his multiple terms as senator….while his wife worked and his kids went to public school.

I’m not happy with the current economic situation, but I’m old enough to remember how it was in the early 80’s. It was crap. For quite a while. And Reagan wasn’t handed the crap that Obama was before he even turned the keys on the White House.

THE FACTS ARE that George W. Bush took a $237 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit. George and his band of thieves left us bankrupt in every sense of the word. While, again, I have great concern over the current situation, my concern lies more with the everyperson, and not the top 2% that would benefit from extending the Bush tax cuts – which did not create jobs, btw.

Republicans, though can’t seem to keep to their contracts with America. Those tax cuts were set to expire because they were known to be creating a deficit when they were approved.

Let’s say that again: The Bush tax cuts were known to be creating a deficit when they were implemented.

Also again: The Bush tax cuts did not create jobs.

Now for the real poop behind those tax cuts that Boehner and his buddies – you know, guys like Dennis Rehberg? – are out there saying need to be extended: If you are married making less than $237,000 a year? Or single, making less than $200,000 a year? You will actually pay less in taxes. So small businesses? Benefit. Middle class? Benefit.

Tax payers? $1.45 billion less in deficit spending.

Yep – that’s right, extending the Bush tax cuts will double the U.S. deficit, while benefiting the very very top of the income earners in the U.S.

~~~~
Today, Joe Biden told Boehner and his buddies what he thought of their economic ideas. You can read it here. It’s a damn good version of take-your-idea-of-economic-stimulation-for-the-rich-and-shove-it.

And Max? If you are out there, paying attention? I hope you read that link above – because if you really want to extend tax cuts to the middle class – and I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m betting a whole lot of us Montanans don’t make more than $250,000 – you’ll take your position as chair of the Finance Committee and quit the nonsense, spread the word, and END THE BUSH TAX CUTS.

Thank you.

by jhwygirl

No?

by jhwygirl

Via The Clark Fork Chronicle comes news that Montana’s lone congressional representative Dennis Rehberg is in Montana holding seven listening sessions around the state.

His last stop is Missoula – tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Continuing Education Center over at the University of Montana.

With so much going, I’m sure Montanans have a lot on their minds that Rehberg needs to listen too.

Me? He’s all over the deficit, but I’m wondering where he’s been for the last 10 years? Sleeping on a couch?

What about the state GOP’s platform which seems to have a problem with both the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution? That sounds pretty unpatriotic to me…

Has he changed his position on tort reform? I’m thinking he might have….but maybe someone should ask.

How about some real regulation of the oil industry? Does he support some changes there? How’s about making them responsible for the clean-up and the jobs lost?

Just a few of the things off the top of my head.

So beat the heat – head on over to the U. (plenty of parking AND there’s a convenient bus stop less than 100 feet from the front door) and let Rehberg know what is on your mind.

by Pete Talbot

In his Fourth of July newsletter salutation, Congressman Denny Rehberg warns us that:

“ … teaching American History and the Constitution has taken a back seat to a politically correct alternative history curriculum.”

Seems to me that American History curriculum is actually headed in the other direction. Texas for example, has rewritten its curriculum. From the New York Times:

… the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

Texas textbooks will also challenge evolution and minimize the role of important Latino figures in Texas and American history.

So I’m not sure what Denny’s issue is unless it’s his usual goal of stirring up his base with misinformation and fear.

Then he poses one of his lame quizzes that, of course, will lead to nothing except to agitate his supporters even more.

Matt over at LiTW nailed it on Rehberg’s recent quiz on Health care.

Someday Denny will present us with the important issues of the day and suggest some solutions to the real problems that face Montanans. Yeah, right.

(Update: Looks like Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent saw the same newsletter. Here’s his take on it.)

by jhwygirl

Congress has set a new record. With a big ole’ kick in the keister from every Senate Republican and one Democrat – Ben Nelson of Nebraska – congress failed to pass an unemployment extension bill at at the highest unemployment rate in history.

Senator Tester, for his own part, had proposed to cut $25 per week from benefits to save $6 billion per year.

All while nearly 10% of this nation – and certain states are higher than that – are having trouble putting food on their tables.

Unemployment benefits expired nearly a month ago. By the time congress gets back to work, two million U.S. workers will be without benefits. Every economist recognizes that this will drive the economy into further dearth.

Welcome to Hooverville

This is a congress that managed to preserve a tax loophole that benefits wealthy money managers at private equity firms and other investment partnerships. They also derailed an effort to end widespread tax avoidance by owners of small businesses organized as S-corporations.

So here’s a proposal for congress, and here’s a proposal I pray that just one of our delegation will bring forward. Maybe Tester should be the one, considering he was the one who proposed cutting $25 from unemployed Montanan’s supper tables. So here it is: Let’s have one of you bring forward a proposal – you deficit hawks you – to cut your own pay. Let’s start with 3%…see if that pays for unemployed benefits for the 2 million without unemployment.

If that doesn’t work, how about 5%? Will that will hurt you? With 10% of Americans unemployed. With 54% underemployed?

7.2% of Montanans are unemployed. Representative Rehberg? The House is on the floor right now looking for solutions. How about you actually do something useful (after spending all that $ over the last 10 years) and give a hand-up to 7.2% of Montanans and 10% of Americans?

Is it too much to ask?

Shame on you all.

by Pete Talbot

The numbers were already in when I arrived, late, at the Union Club. It doesn’t take long to tally votes in a primary.

Tyler Gernant was there and had mixed emotions about the outcome. He did much better than he could have hoped for when he first launched his campaign, but it wasn’t enough. The Democrat’s standard bearer, Dennis McDonald, had a 14 point lead. Gernant, with 15,724 votes, received 24% and McDonald, with 24,134 votes, had 38%.

It wasn’t a shock but I predicted closer numbers in the Gernant/McDonald contest.

Melinda Gopher with 13,287 and 21% came in a close third (which surprised both me and Gernant since she didn’t have a strong field operation). She did well with tribal voters and I’m guessing women, too. She definitely pulled some votes from Gernant.

As did Sam Rankin, who also raised very little money and didn’t really have an organization, but pulled an amazing 16% (10,233).

I and other Missoula area bloggers have been accused of being “Missoulacentric.” After all, Missoula is the center of the universe. But being here in the Garden City, one’s point of view can become a bit jaded. Tyler seemed to be doing so well in Missoula and he did capture 1143 more votes than McDonald in Missoula County. So, obviously, McDonald worked hard in other Montana counties. This shatters one of my long held opinions that if you can win Missoula County in the Democratic primary, you win the state.

I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Gernant, though.

Another race I thought would be closer was Teresa Henry’s loss to Tom Facey by 26 points. Tom’s door-to-door work is unparalleled, they say, and as a Missoula area teacher for decades, he has good name recognition. Still, Ms. Henry has a fine track record in Helena and has served more recently than Facey. I thought this race would go down to the wire but Facey ended up with nearly 63% (1190) to Henry’s 37% (708).

Ellie Hill’s victory received a rousing round of shouts and applause at the Club when her numbers were announced. She beat Lou Ann Crowley by almost 100 votes (Hill, 712 or 53% to Crowley’s 618 or 46%). Ellie ran a textbook campaign — fundraising, the doors, targeted mailing, GOTV — she did everything it takes to win and she pulled it off. I thought this race would be closer, too, but some of the yard signs of the many I saw for Crowley were in Republican yards and those folks probably voted in the Republican primary.

And on the Republican side, congressionally, voters went big for the right (incumbent Denny Rehberg got 86,271 or nearly 75% of the vote), followed by the far, far right (Mark French, 21,989 or almost 20%). Not a lot of moderate votes cast (A.J. Otjen, 6668 or close to 6%).

Some other noteworthy observations: Republican voters went to the polls at twice the number of Democrats — 129,165 to 62,811. This does not bode well for the fall general election, especially in the congressional contest. The Democrats have their work cut out for them.

And the petition gatherers for CI-102, the “amoebas are human beings” constitutional initiative, showed real class. They paraded around outside Lowell Elementary School with posters of dead fetuses.

by jhwygirl

This post was updated.

Democratic congressional primary candidate Tyler Gernant has gained even more momentum in the last few days with news from both ABCMontana and the Flathead Beacon that the race is too close to call.

That in the context of taking on Dennis McDonald who was, much earlier this year, the presumed winner.

Gernant has worked hard – honestly, I am in awe of his steadfast work ethic and commitment to his campaign. The guy DOES NOT rest. Will he work for me in congress? Will he work for Montanans? You betcha!

TODAY he gained the endorsements of Jay Stevens at Left in the West – who thoroughly articulates his reasons for supporting Gernant and James Conner of Flathead Memo, who also, gives a fine analysis of why he is supporting Gernant along with a nice synopsis of the other candidates.

James Conner is a fine writer who provides (not often enough, IMO) thorough thoughtful nonpartisan commentary when it comes to politics. Moderates and Independents should take note of James’ endorsement.

Matt Singer – one of the finest people I know in progressive politics and someone I admire immensely – has put out a few posts on Tyler (like this one, Rehberg Gets Schooled by Tyler Gernant), and today he takes note of the momentum that Gernant has and says “I’d make a small bet that he pulls off this primary tomorrow evening — a victory that will be newsworthy for his age and the fact that McDonald should have this in a walk.”

Don Pogreba, a 2008 Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate, is calling the race for Gernant, saying “While Dennis McDonald certainly had an advantage in name recognition and connection to the party establishment, Gernant’s had a much more energetic and visible campaign.”

I have to say, all of this brings me great joy. Key factor here now is Getting Out The Vote. Give your friends around the state a call or an email tonight and remind them to vote in this important primary. Make sure your fellow coworkers have gotten their ballots in, or offer to get them to the polls.

Not registered? Head over to the fairgrounds. You can register right there.

by jhwygirl

The energy has been high on Tyler Gerant’s congressional democratic primary campaign for weeks now. He’s out raised his other primary contenders – including the former head of the Montana Democratic Party – in the last two FEC filings. His strong position on clean energy and green jobs – along with his consistent position on coal – have garnered the attention of the Montana Conservation Voters.

Gernant speaks to Montanans and the everyday challenges we face. In a strongly increasing corporatized America, Gernant dares to talk about rewarding work, not wealth:

“Somewhere along the line, we forgot the American dream – that anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules should have the opportunity to reach the top.”

That can be achieved, Gernant said, through reforming the tax code to “reward work instead of rewarding wealth” and promoting rural energy production like wind and solar power.

In the last few days, two notable letters to the editor have appeared in newspapers around the state. Sheila Mansfield Miller, speaking for her family, tells Montanans that Gernant has many of her “Uncle Mike’s” (the late statesman Senator Mike Mansfield) characteristics, saying that he is “principled, intelligent, and actually listens to others more then he talks.”

Not bad characteristics, huh?

Missoula Mayor John Engen endorsed Gernant on Friday, calling Tyler “an extremely gifted leader.”

I admire his quick wit, his intelligence and his commitment to the people of Montana. His hard work on the campaign trail, which has included multiple stops in communities throughout the state, and his well-thought-out policies on job creation, new energy and deficit reduction make him the stand-out choice in a talented field of candidates.

Montanans need a leader who will listen and represent – someone who will work for policies that lead to high paying sustainable clean energy jobs for Montanans. Gernant knows that Montana is positioned to be a leader in new energy, and he has taken the time to explore the possibilities of combining both new energy with the jobs that can be created here in Montana. Here’s Gernant in Bozeman, where Independent Power Systems employs 40 people working on solar energy panels:

Gernant is the next Representative that not only Democrats need, but that Montanans need. Someone who understands what it’s like to be the underdog – someone who will fight for hard-working Montanans by ensuring that policies regarding energy, jobs and taxes benefit us here at home.

Tyler Gernant will bring in home in November. Help get him there by voting Tyler Gernant this Tuesday.

by jhwygirl

I ruminated in a comment or two around here on how Rehberg really failed to engage in the primary. I had heard nothing of any forums – while I know that county Democratic organizations around the state held forums for their congressional candidates. It’s hard for any candidate that doesn’t really get the opportunity to engage, side-by-side, with their competitors. But hey – that’s Rehberg arrogance. Besides that, I know that Pogo Possum expressed an interest in hearing more from A.J. Otjen….so here you are folks. Information is power.

From A.J. Otjen:

In January, Denny promised me that we would have a Republican Primary Debate. It is now less than a week before the election and his schedule as never let that happen. It is just never in the best interest of the incumbent to debate. I have met him in public and have asked him specific questions and every time he says…”we are not going to debate now”. So when? Tell us why you are now fighting for a balanced budget without getting specific about spending cuts and where to find revenues. Tell us why you have sponsored hundred of bills and sent out thousands of press releases that go absolutely no where. Tell us why you vote against a stimulus package and then beg for the money to fund projects in Montana.

I am on the road doing my last tour of Montana before the election and do meet Mark French in public forums. He does have a following like a preacher has sheep. After one of his tirades, one of his followers even said as I stood up…”good luck following that”. Through out these events, it is always clear that he has no handle on facts. He is all fire. (The conservative conference in Missoula helped him raise money in one day) I call him the dramatic candidate and myself the practical candidate, undaunted by his brimstone. I am undaunted by his misrepresentation of me saying ‘Ms. Otjen who hates the constitution.’ I say, for that..you have to call me Dr. Otjen. Almost every male in my family has been in combat defending the constitution.

I have enjoyed most of all going into the French and Rehberg areas and turning folks around. It works mainly with small groups. When people have time to listen. When people do not get caught up with emotion and loyalties, the facts always win. There is so much hope for where we can go with politics if we treat it like an elephant that we eat one bite at a time. Even the TEA party. If they were truly just about Taxes Enough Already, maybe they would be OK. When we hold them to that….they calm down. I asked them if they were about any thing else…and they refused to say. I confronted them with their misrepresentation of me..and a few have been embarrassed. I confronted the College Republicans with their own embarrassing but humorous recruitment video and called them Fox Mimics who needed different students in their ranks.

But we could have one tremendous bite right now with this election. We could change so much about Montana oplitics with the GOP primary turning out reasonable Republicans going forward to the general. It is states with open primaries like ours that will lead the nation back to having two equal and reasonable parties. Instead we have one in power at a time, which always leads to absolute power corrupting absolutely. Extremists on either side can not keep controlling our agendas. The issues facing us right now will change the way we live just 30 years from now. Knowing that, and seeing how the future could be devastating or fantastic, is why I decided to run.

Trust that whichever Democrat wins will be fine. The real choice is in the GOP primary. Here is the my TV Commercial:

ed. note: I like how she begins that “I’m not running against Denny Rehberg, I’m running for a balanced budget.”

by Pete Talbot

The federal deadline for the final campaign finance reports before the primary election was yesterday and there are some interesting numbers.

In the congressional contest, the far right and the far, far right did pretty well.

Of course, Republican incumbent Dennis Rehberg has an obscene amount of net receipts: $913,941.

Next up on the Republican side is Mark French at $58,068. That’s a nice chunk of change for a guy who makes Mussolini look progressive.

The moderate in this race, A.J. Otjen, raised $23,013.

On the Democratic side, Dennis McDonald has the highest net receipts but Tyler Gernant isn’t too far behind: McDonald, $167,716; Gernant, $124,565.

Sam Rankin of Billings made a showing at $8639.

Unfortunately, Melinda Gopher didn’t report, so she either didn’t raise the $5000 needed to require a report or she just didn’t report. Neither of these is a good sign for her campaign.

This is too bad. For a while there I was leaning toward Gopher but unfortunately a candidate needs more than passion and a progressive platform to take out the likes of Denny Rehberg.

Sam Rankin seems like a decent guy but like Gopher, his campaign lacks the organization it will take to give Rehberg a run.

Gernant seems to be gaining momentum while McDonald looks to be treading water. Add to that McDonald’s nebulous stand on coal development … well, unless something new breaks, I guess I’m leaning Gernant.

by jhwygirl

Flathead Beacon reports:

Well well well – fresh on the heels of Tuesday’s anti-incumbent fueled primary elections elsewhere in the U.S., Flathead County Republic Chair Ava Walters gave Mark French an endorsement that would of had 10-year congressional alumni Representative Dennis Rehberg bragging:

“I find Denny Rehberg makes a great politician and certainly knows his way around Washington DC. After all, he has been there for 10 years. Denny Rehberg has served Montana fairly well, but I think it is time for a change. Since we have a great candidate in Mark French, I am supporting him as a private citizen and encourage all of you to join me in your support of Mark as well.”

Instead, it’s Mark French that’s bragging.

Who else has endorsed French? Brent Matson, Chairman of the Lake County Republican Party….and militia hero, former Sheriff Richard Mack.

I see French signs – more than I’ve seen Rehberg signs. I see ’em in Missoula County, in Ravalli County, in Mineral County…in Powell, Lewis & Clark, Deer Lodge.

Rehberg’s never seemed to do much campaigning. I think it’s his modus operandi to do as least as possible when it comes to campaigning, lest risk having to become engaged. It’s much like, frankly, his work in congress for the last 10 years.

Save for his engagement, for the last 10 years, in earmarks and deficit spending. Rehberg’s been great at that.

~~~~~~
Is Dennis Rehberg vulnerable? A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll done last August shows Rehberg’s numbers aren’t that great – and that was before anti-incumbent Tuesday.

46 favorable, 45 unfavorable with a +/- of 4%. Yikes.

 
“Rehberg has shown to be diligent at one thing–avoiding accountability. “
–Melinda Gopher, candidate for the Democratic House nomination

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time until Melinda Gopher unleashed part of her strategy to unseat incumbent Denny Rehberg for Montana’s lone House seat: attack Rehberg’s vulnerability created by his drinking and poor decision-making abilities during last year’s near fatal boat crash:

“Montanans want answers. Since August 27th, there has been a veil of secrecy around Rep. Rehberg regarding the boat crash in which all occupants of the boat were injured, one very seriously. Were it not for rescuers delivering life-saving aid; Dustin Frost, a then-Rehberg staffer–would be dead…

I challenge all of my Democratic opponents to state their position on this; they want to seek offices requiring judgment and leadership–their opinons must be known because Montanans have a right to know where they stand on this issue.”

Invoking a House ethics investigation would be a great way to drag Denny out of the shadows over his abuse of power that night on Flathead Lake. I’m not going to get into the details of the accident and aftermath, it’s been chronicled to a great degree here at 4&20, and elsewhere outside of the mainstream media.

What I will say is that I admire a political candidate who is willing to speak truth to power, and raise the issues that neither any of the other candidates or the media is willing to tackle: Rehberg’s fitness to hold public office. Here’s the meat of her argument:

“Rehberg has shown to be diligent at one thing–avoiding accountability. It is time to call him on this. I am asking for four things:

1. State Democratic party leaders call for his resignation from office and an ethics investigation into Rehberg’s role in this criminal matter.
2. Join my demand that Rep. Rehberg give full disclosure of the night surrounding the incident; including his time spent those very sequestered two hours at the Kalispell hospital.
3. It took two full hours to obtain BAC samples from all involved, given the seriousness of the accident. What sort of atmosphere was created in the hospital, was there an attempt to conceal, destroy, or tamper with evidence–or otherwise mislead authorities? Unidentified sources claim the hospital went out of its way, far beyond normal procedure–to lock down the facility. There was a great deal of secrecy the night the crash victims were brought in–this is unusual given these are public servants. It would be prudent to review the entire manner the hospital handled this event.
4. Because of the nature of Rep. Rehberg and Sen. Barkus’s public offices; it is crucial the U.S. House look into the misleading public statements made by Rehberg. His statements had the effect of misleading an official investigation where multiple crimes were committed, people’s lives were greatly imperiled, and state laws were broken. This rises to the level of the need for an ethics investigation.

As a candidate for this office, I want Montanans to have the benefit of full and complete information of the night of the incident–to make their choices on June 8, and in the general election. We are not running a government of secrecy–it is our right to know. With the latest delay to postpone the trial until after the general election; not only Rehberg but Republicans are attempting to circumvent the fallout that full public disclosure will bring to Montana voters. To continue a pattern of secrecy and denial suggests there is something to hide.”

I like what I hear coming out of the Gopher campaign: a well written and cogent attack on Rehberg, and an understanding of the big issues before us today. If you haven’t yet, hop on over to her new campaign website. It is very appealing, full of lots of information, and regularly updated! I like her approach, taking on Rehberg and the issues at a time when other candidates are trying to build name recognition or define their campaigns before the Rehberg attack machine does it for them.

I’d love to see a contest between Rehberg and Gopher. Denny has two basic approaches to that matchup: ignore her, or attack her. He isn’t capable of running a campaign on the issues. He is a long term incumbent running during an election when incumbency is a huge detriment. And what is he going to do? Attack a native american woman with a wonderful biography, and a history of working hard for the people? Go negative on a person who the average Montanan can see has risen up out of abject poverty to succeed and take on a silver-spoon politician in an era of ideological purity in the teabagger-dominated republican party?

If I were Gopher, I’d say bring on the attack machine, and we’ll turn it right around on Rehberg, and let the people see him for who he truly is: a drunken rich-boy bully. And if Rehberg chooses to ignore her, that would be a big mistake when the public mood is 2 to 1 against incumbents this year.

We need a candidate who is willing to run hard against an ethically challenged, incompetent, and do-nothing incumbent. The more I see what Gopher is doing, the more that I see she is that candidate.

by jhwygirl

It sure works out that way for Representative Dennis Rehberg, who’d likely be (if he hasn’t already) depositioned in the case – if not subpoenaed for trial testimony.

Flathead Beacon is reporting that a tentative trial date has been scheduled for state Senator Greg Barkus, of Kallispell, in the matter of his tragic drunken boat ride (which included another drunk, Representative Dennis Rehberg) on Flathead Lake last summer.

Barkus has been charged with 3 felonies.

Rehberg has not been charged – he’s allowed to be drunk, there is no law against that – and that has been his defense all along. Rehberg, in fact, as recently reported by papers throughout the state, has not even changed his office’s policies concerning alcohol and work policies in the aftermath of the crash.

Dennis “I. Was. Not. Drunk. At. The. Time. Of. The. Crash.” Rehberg – sound familiar?

Only he was.

Rehberg’s a notorious drunk – he fell off his horse while drunk on a government-paid boondoggle in Kazakhstan a few years back….and many of you likely recall the expense report he submitted about 3 years ago in which he looked for compensation on bar tab from downtown Washington DC, claiming it to be for lodging (which was actually a couch in the basement, where he slept off his evening of over-indulgent alcohol consumption.)

Dennis Rehberg is an embarrassment. Looks like he’ll be saved the spectacle of the Barkus trial for this election cycle, though – with a trial date set at November 29th, he’ll escape public scrutiny of his role in the Flathead boat crash incident for both is primary and the general (if he makes it that far).

by jhwygirl

Cowgirl took a hoof to my congressional candidate Tyler Gernant today, with a title that misguidedly uses the word “analysis” and a proof-positive that is pretty much pot-kettle-black. {Sigh}

So let’s do some analysis. Not like I hadn’t looked at the numbers – I made mention of that in a comment to a previous post. So I could of written this post up a week ago, but I didn’t really want to go there. But since MtC did, well as any lawyer would say, the door’s been opened.

So let’s look at the last quarter –
Dennis McDonald claims total contributions of $24,262 (link)
Tyler Gernant claims total contributions of $23,566 (link).

BUT, when you take out “In-kind: Campaign Services” donations from Dennis McDonald’s staffers (maximum $2,400 from three of them, and $2,300 from the other) – a total of $9.500 – well, that brings McDonald down to $14,762 in total contributions.

Gernant has some “In-kind” donations himself – $110 in office supplies from his dad, $120 in promotional pencils from someone in Billings, and $163 from Tyler (himself). That’s a total of $393, bringing Gernant down to $23,173.

Gernant $23,173 to McDonald’s $14,762?

Cowgirl’s making hay over the fact that Gernant got $362 more in out-of-state contributions than McDonald? And Gernant has family that now live out-of-state? While McDonald is from San Francisco? That’s the “nearly pot-kettle-black” part I mentioned above.

Let’s look at loans the candidates make to themselves: Gernant has loaned himself a total of $1,800 bucks the whole campaign. McDonald’s loaned himself a total of $10,835, with $9,835 coming just this last quarter.

Wouldn’t you think McDonald would be doing better at raising funds as we drill down to the primary?

Sure seems to me like Gernant has some momentum going….and maybe that’s why she’s going after Gernant instead of going after the other Dennis’ PAC money…something our own b’birder Pete points out in his comment to Cowgirl’s post.

Of course, Dennis Rehberg’s pulled in over $153,000 this quarter, with $53,000 of it coming from PAC’s (Gernant has $0 PAC, McDonald with $100).

Some of Rehberg’s PAC and industry money?

$1,000 from the Sugar Cane League PAC in Louisiana (and another $500 from the American Sugarbeet Grower’s Association in Washington DC).
$1,000 from the BP North America Employee PAC in Illinois.
ConocoPhillips Spirit PAC out of Oklahoma gave $1,000.
Another one out of Oaklahoma – Devon Energy Corporation PAC – gave $1,000.
Employees of Northrop Grumman Corp PAC of California gave $1,000 ($6,000 to date).
Chevron Employees PAC (of California, too) gave $1,000 ($2,000 to date).
EnergySolutions Inc Fund/Effective Govt (tea baggy sounding, no?) out of Washington DC gave $1,000 ($2,000 to date)
Florida Sugar Cane League PAC (of Washington DC) $1,000
Halliburton/Brown & Root PAC (Washington DC, of course) $1,000

The list goes one.

I didn’t know Montana grew sugar cane.

by Pete Talbot

(Before I get into the meat of this post, I must say this to all Democratic congressional candidates: Spend your campaign dollars in Montana. A quick look at Denny Rehberg’s campaign expenditures shows the majority of his money going to consultants in Virginia and Tennessee, a researcher in Philadelphia, a phone bank in Arizona, direct mail in Utah, etc. Granted, a chunk of Denny’s change goes to Missoula’s own Erik Iverson for political consulting and to Huntley, Montana’s Tyler Matthews, Rehberg’s campaign manager, but the bulk of his money is being spent out-of-state. And I don’t care what party you’re in, few things disappoint me more than Montana campaigns spending their dollars out-of-state when there are businesses right here that can do the same job.)

OK. One would hope that the 2010 race for Montana’s lone congressional seat would remain civil. Fat chance; this is, after all, politics.

I remember a political operative telling me, years ago: “if you’re trailing in the polls, go negative.” It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Now, Denny Rehberg is hardly trailing in the polls but he’s already gone negative. His “mafia ties” campaign against Democratic candidate Dennis McDonald is in high gear. That’s unfortunate, but I suppose it’s easier than mounting a campaign based on substance. Seriously, Denny, how about a discussion on how Wall Street should be regulated, or how to fix the health care crisis, or how climate change should be mitigated, or how to grow sustainable jobs and the Montana economy? Although, again, it’s easier to just follow the party line and vote “no” on any legislation offered up by Democrats than to work toward solutions.

There’s also A.J. Otjen, a moderate, and Mark French (who should have filed as a Constitutionalist), running in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, well, this is a tough one for me. I want the candidate who has the best chances of unseating Rehberg. Period. I’m not sure who that is yet.

Jhwygirl has a post up on Melinda Gopher that has generated a plethora of comments — a couple from one of Rehberg’s primary challengers, A.J. Otjen. I really like Ms. Gopher. Her straightforward campaign is quite refreshing and her enthusiasm for progressive issues is contagious. A few things bother me, though: her late entry into the campaign leaves her way behind in fundraising and organizational staff, her ability to do outreach to constituencies outside of the human rights’ sphere is questionable, and the fact that she’s using Republican talking points against primary opponent Dennis McDonald. Please, Melinda, stick with the issues and leave the negative, policy-avoiding rhetoric to Rep. Rehberg.

Then there’s Tyler Gernant. This sharp, young fellow has mounted a quality campaign and is only slightly behind McDonald in the fundraising category. As opposed to Gopher, though, and even McDonald, his campaign lacks the inspiration that would fire up an activist like me. He’s being tentative and I don’t think that serves a candidate well in the primary. Here’s a quote from Helena progressive Frank Kromkowski to Mr. Gernant in a recent email blast:

From what I can tell, your campaign platform has very little substance and nothing bold and progressive that will help Montana get beyond the superficial conservative Rehberg line … Say something significant, for example, about the illegal and disastrous US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan — such as “Bring the troops home” and “no more money for war” — and use the dollars wasted on military adventures that have no real value to US security for jobs, housing, health care, protection and improvement of the aging water and wastewater systems in Montana’s cities and town. We need a progressive Democrat to replace Rehberg (not just another Baucus).
On the other hand, Tyler has been hitting the road and working the counties and the media. And underneath his rather soft message, I believe beats the heart of a progressive.
The third Democratic candidate, Melville rancher Dennis McDonald, is the one the party has been grooming for this race. That’s both good and bad. Having support of party leadership gets one lists and funding and organization. But it also proffers the title of “insider” or part of “the machine.” I’m not so sure that’s a good title to have these days. I’ll give McDonald credit, though, for bucking our Montana Senators and coming out early for single-payer, universal health care. It should also be noted that a frequent Republican commenter at 4&20, Pogo Possum, and other conservatives I’ve talked to believe that McDonald is the strongest Democratic candidate in the field. McDonald also has the Montana AFL-CIO endorsement.
There’s a fourth candidate, Sam Rankin, out of Billings. I like what I saw on his website but otherwise know nothing about this fellow. Better get your butt up to Missoula, the county with the most Democratic voters in the state, and get your message out if you expect to be a player at all. And feel free to get a hold of us at 4&20, we’d be glad to post your talking points.
So who gets the nod? The inspirational, refreshing and candid Ojibwe woman — who’s underfunded and not well-connected (outside of tribal politics) and is a party outsider? The other new face — the policy-smart, well-organized and politically savvy candidate with a potentially great future in Montana Democratic politics (but has a less than passionate campaign thus far)? Or the established, out front, Montana rancher who is the best known and may have the best demographic appeal but, is also considered a party insider (and has received the most press, both positive and negative)?
Consider this an open thread. What are your insights into this race, gentle reader? I haven’t made up my mind, yet, and there are only seven weeks left until the June 8 primary election.


by jhwygirl

Continuing on the fine subject of earmarks and deficit spending and health reform, a simple internet search led me to EarmarkWatch.org, and a summary of Representative Dennis Rehberg’s earmark requests just from FY2008 House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education bills and the 2008 House Defense Bill.

How much did our very own drunken sailor/deficit peacock ask for? $2,000,000.

What was the $2,000,000 for? Exclusively, the money was for health care-oriented grants.

It’s another glaring example of the hypocrisy that is Dennis Rehberg – he saddles up to tea baggers by shouting down wheelchair-bound health reform supporters – the same tea baggers that are formed out of new found hatred for deficit spending.

Did they know as they hero-worshiped deficit peacock Rehberg down there in Hamilton Montana that surely sunny day that he had already earmarked $2,000,000 for health care throughout Montana?

Rehberg is what he is. Conservatives and their tea partying offsprings should not be fooled to think that he’s fiscally conservative by any means.

Something to mull over – check this chart out and consider that Rehberg took office January 1, 2001:

Rehberg might be Republican, but fiscally conservative he is not.

by jhywgirl

Well, this is rich, coming from our very own lone congressional Representative Dennis Rehberg – He’s swearing off earmarks for a year, “in a symbolic stance against federal spending.”

Where was he his other 9 years in congress?

Dennis, you see, loves to (first) put earmarks in bills, (next) vote against said bills in a sudden fit of fiscal conservatism, and (finally) take credit for earmark that he placed in the bill he voted against.

Pogie – who has an affection for Rehberg that I certainly admire – is quick on Matt Gouras’ latest Rehberg blurb, pointing out that Rehberg has been a drunken sailor for the last 9 years, and his latest stance is yet another example of his ongoing inconsistency regarding his claims of fiscal conservatism.

I mean – Pogie had Dennis Rehberg pegged a drunken sailor back in April of last year.

Voters shouldn’t be fooled by Rehberg’s election year antics. He goes through this every two years, occasionally pulling out some vote that reaches for the moderate voters of this state – two years ago it was his switch in voting for CHIP funding, this year apparently he’s trying to bill himself as a deficit hawk.

A deficit hawk who touts deficit spending to reduce the deficit.

That’s right folks – after 10 years in congress, Dennis Rehberg has yet to comprehend basic budgetary principles. Let’s not forget the schooling the Kaimin did of Rehberg earlier this year.

What a joke.

Head through Pogie’s archives for your reality check on our hypocritical Rep. Dennis Rehberg…and once your done there, feel free to peruse our own archives here.

by jhwygirl

These guys and gals are really digging themselves a hole, aren’t they?

Finance reform is a another big important honey-do for Obama…but frankly, it shouldn’t matter who is president and what party you are a member.  The need for finance reform should not be lost on anyone.

Apparently it is lost on Republicans. Over the weekend, Republicans withdrew over 300 amendments to proposed reform. Finance reform has been kicking around for as long as health reform. Republicans have used every tactic to delay moving it forward.

Sound familiar?

Just about 10 days ago, as a whole bunch of us were getting sick and tired of inaction, Dodd set the stage to move reform forward with or without Republican support.

Today, in a party-line vote of 13-10 in Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Dodd moved his finance reform bill forward.

I find it unbelievable that Republicans won’t participate in the forward movement of anything with regards to domestic policy. Withdraw proposed amendments? How are they going to spin that one? Bill Clinton made ’em do it?

What possible justification do they have in objecting to finance reform that prohibits future bank bailouts?

Our own Senator Jon Tester seems to have had his own gut-fill of the situation, speaking out in a guest opinion in today’s Missoulian of the tactics employed by Wall Street to halt reform.

I’m glad Senator Tester is continuing his strong support of finance reform.

If this nation can regulate pork and wheat futures, we can darn well regulate banking futures. Frankly, the whole idea that banks can bank on futures and consider that solid investment seems obscene to me. It makes banking little more than a crap shoot.

Which is damned near what it was starting 2 years ago, remember?

Take time to contact Sen. Tester and thank him for standing strong in support of meaningful finance reform.

While you’re at it, contact Sen. Baucus and ask him to support finance reform.

Another one who should be getting a call is Rep. Dennis Rehberg.  It’s an election year…maybe he should be asked to commit to reform.

Does he support the current bill? If not, what does he support?

Rehberg should not get a free pass on this one. I do not want to hear him criticize that which he offered nothing meaningful or constructive.  Which is all he did on health insurance reform.

Let’s hope Montana’s media hold Rehberg to some sort of constructive position on finance reform. He should not be allowed to get away with just criticizing something without offering real solutions.

by jhwygirl

That, from Democratic congressional candidate Tyler Gernant in today’s Helena Independent op-ed section.

Dennis Rehberg has been twittering the-sky-is-falling for weeks – no, make that months – now of the impending doom of healthcare.

Rehberg’s done nothing to contribute to meaningful discussion on reform – Rehberg has, in fact, been part of the teaparty movement of heckling some of the people who need health reform the most.

That’s right – Rehberg heckled a wheelchair-bound Hamilton woman to illustrate his meaningful input on health insurance reform.

Ugh.

As health reform legislation works its way to President Obama’s desk tonight (or what may be tomorrow, eastern time), many of us recognize that this reform is not perfect…but it is an important first step that will save lives. Gernant notes that in his editorial:

That is not to say that this legislation is perfect; it is not. Montanans still need a meaningful alternative to private insurance through a deficit-neutral public option. We still need a system that pays doctors for the value of their services instead of the volume. Although we may not get everything this year, there are a lot of positive changes that this legislation would bring to our health care system. We have waited nearly 40 years to attempt reform that would merely get us out of the starting gate. We cannot wait another 40 years for Dennis Rehberg to decide that true health care reform means more than to join a gym and stop smoking.

No battle is easy – and none is without loss to all who attempt the task. This bill includes over 200 Republican amendments, yet Republicans can not find even one vote in support. It does not provide the public option or single payer that so many progressives wanted to see.

With Rehberg, Montanan’s get even less – we get a man who heckles Montanans who need health insurance reform the most…a representative who would chose to leave 564,000 Montanans on the loosing end of completely unregulated health insurance industry.

by Pete Talbot

Many comments on the blogs I read say the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans: health care, war, the environment, the economy — Congress and the President have not done the job and there’s no salvaging the system. Sometimes, it’s hard not to agree.

There needs to be monumental change, the comments say. Maybe a third or fourth party, maybe revolution, maybe anarchy — but I haven’t seen consensus on the best solution or, really, any viable alternative.

One reason I’m still a Democrat is Denny Rehberg. He defines the distinction between the two parties. Any of the three candidates running in the Democratic primary for Montana’s lone U.S. Representative would be so much better. Here are just a few, recent Rehberg antics:

Pogie writes about Rehberg’s earmark grandstanding.

Montana Cowgirl posts on Denny’s posse.

And then I get an email (I’m a subscriber) from Rehberg’s e-newsletter. He’s outraged about the U.S. House vote on the health care bill, and writes:

Tomorrow, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plans to force a vote on her government-takeover of health care.

Ah, if only it were true. The Republicans should be jumping up-and-down at the lack of a public option, serious regulation and oversight — really, the lack of teeth that this bill has.

And it’s not like the Republicans didn’t employ some of the same voting procedures Pelosi might try when they controlled Congress, but I guess that’s different.

Denny, reading off a teleprompter, even posted a YouTube video that was so riddled with misinformation, and fear and loathing, that it boggles the mind.

So, seeing as there’s no strong third-party candidate in almost every race on almost every ballot, I will remain a Democrat, knowing that doing nothing will continue to get folks like Denny Rehberg elected, and re-elected.

by jhwygirl

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams is reporting that Rep. Denny Rehberg’s state director Randy Vogel has been cited for alleged numerous big game violations and obstructing a peace officer.

If convicted, Vogel could also face up to six months in jail and loss of hunting privileges for 24 months for the three hunting violations.

Obstructing a peace officer? Was he drunk, or dumb? Or both?

That’s a complete lack of respect. Bad, bad, bad.

Who’s hiring these people? Didn’t one of his staffers start a fight down here in a bar in Missoula?

Who’s hiring the person that’s hiring these people?

Yikes. Bad judgment all the way around.

by jhwygirl

I missed this one, but came across it over the weekend. It is an editorial written by Laura Lundquist, a non-traditional student working on her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Montana. It’s not just an opinion piece – she did a bit of research going back to Rep. Denny Rehberg’s voting record and points out:

Rehberg was first elected in 2000, entering Washington politics at the same time as that other financial wiz, George W. They inherited a federal budget that had been running surpluses and wound up adding more than $4 trillion to the national debt. Then they left us with the economic mess we have now.

Where was Rehberg’s crusading call then?

It might have been stifled by all the shouts of “yea” he made when voting for appropriations. Rehberg’s “yea” votes far out-numbered his “nay” votes from 2001 through 2006 on budget issues. For example, in 2005, one of his more negative years, three of his 37 votes were “nay.” He barely questioned a single dollar being spent or a single tax cut.

She notes a reversing trend in 2007 when Democrats took control of congress, where he switches to only supporting appropriations bills that also include tax cuts:

Then, suddenly the trend reversed in 2007. Did this coincide with Rehberg having a sudden economic epiphany? A more likely explanation is that the Democrats gained control of the House in 2007. Since that point, at least half of his votes have been against. Now in his contrarian mode, he supports budget bills dealing only with tax cuts, including the $152 billion 2008 Stimulus Plan, and agriculture appropriations, so as not to anger his primary supporters, Montana’s farmers and ranchers. But if he is re-elected and if, at some point, the Republicans regain control, my guess is that suddenly “yea” will be his catch phrase again, even if it means greater deficits.

And how are those tax cuts working out for ya’, Denny? The funny thing is that by his black-and-white thinking, we should just eliminate all taxes all together and this country would run itself. There’s never any rhyme or reason to the conservative call for tax cuts, it’s just tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts.

Lundquist explains the lack of logic behind Rep. Denny Rehberg’s recent call for more tax cuts:

Here, let me explain: Cutting taxes may help the economy but doesn’t reduce the deficit. Taxes are income for the government. Reducing taxes reduces the government’s income. How is the government supposed to control the deficit with less money when it can’t even do it with the money it has? If you couldn’t pay your rent with your current income, you’d be crazy to request fewer hours.

Ms. Lunquist has all kinds of goodies tucked into her well-researched op-ed. Be sure to check out and read the whole thing.

Our illustrious Representative Denny Rehberg? He might do best to take a little Economics 101. I’m thinking the Billings campus of UM might have one available for him.

Or maybe at least a Billings staffer that can screen Rehberg’s emails before they go out and make him look foolish.

by jhwygirl

I wrote here just the other day of what many view as the galling move by WellPoint to increase health insurance rates of 34 million people across 8 states.

That increase will help increase profits by an estimated 7% for this year. This, from a company that made $4.7 billion in profit off of $60 billion in sales.

Stop, take a breath and read that again.

Not gonna happen here? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana controls 75% of Montana’s health insurance market share. And now here comes The Missoula Independent reporting that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana has recently sent out notices of rate increases, as high as 43%.

Apparently this is an anomaly that perhaps we shouldn’t be worried about:

Tim Warner, the company’s senior director of external affairs, says most rate hikes this year fall between 10 and 20 percent, on par with recent years.

Make sure you read that last paragraph with a heavy dose of sarcasm, folks.

Make sure to read that Indy link – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana put out a notice on February 10th telling its customers that their health insurance rates (not their cable costs, or their internet costs – all things that people can really do without) would be going up by as much as 43% on April 1st.

State auditor’s office spokesperson Jackie Boyle said that while they lack any authority to crack down on the rate increases, “anybody who has bought into a health insurance product from our company and there’s a premium increase that high, they really should…contact us so we can work with them to see if there’s a better solution.”

The Indy’s Matthew Frank is looking for Montanans that have gotten these rate increase letters. If you can help him out with that, check out that post and give him a holla. This story deserves thorough investigative coverage.

~~~~~~~~
I haven’t given up on expecting some real reform. After last week’s WellPoint showdown in the Senate, with the rate increases meeting press release on the eve of this past week’s bi-partisan health reform summit, patience is wearing pretty thin with those that know something has to be done.

Think me crazy if you will, but these reckless increases by health insurance corporations only serve to make me renew my calls for a public option. Here in Montana, there is no competition, and competition is key to affordability.

Think about this, readers: If Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana just put out notices raising rates as high as 45% – and it is (fact) the state’s largest insurer – it makes sense that other minor insurers will be following.

Think about what that means – because every single taxpayer in this state – whether you have health insurance or not, whether you obtain it from your employer or whether you obtain it on the free market – all of you should be expecting another larger bill here sometimes in the future. That’s because as a taxpayer, you not only have your very own health insurance that you either pay for or you don’t, you are paying for all sorts of local, state and federal employee’s health insurance.

And they are pulling out of the same market (or lack thereof, as is the case here in Montana) as everyone else.

Expect that bill in the mail sometime before the next legislative session. At some point, the insurers start negotiation with the state. Probably Department of Administration. Will the state negotiate any impending 45% rate increase? Rates that have – by their own admittance as linked to above – normally increased between 10 and 20% annually over the last decade?

Seriously – imagine your heating costs or your mortgage or rent going up by 10 to 20% annually. Those kind of increases – let’s take gasoline as an example – strap this nation and bring it to its knees. Yet Montana Blue Cross Blue Shield puts that out there very matter-of-factually. That that’s OK…and here we are standing around debating the need for health reform.

The status quo is not acceptable when it comes to healthcare in this nation.

~~~~~~~
I hope I’ve sufficiently fired you up. Remember some main points: WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and 45%. Now fire off an email, ever how brief, telling Sen. Tester, Sen. Baucus, and Rep. Denny Rehberg that you want real meaningful reform…and remind them (by mentioning WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana and that 45% figure) that you are watching.

Silence, in this case, is not golden.

by jhwygirl

You simply couldn’t even write this into a movie, unless it was some sort of sick comedy. No one would believe it.

Against the backdrop of a renewed call for health reform WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross, based in Indiana, and a provider of health insurance in 14 states with 34 million customers – 8 million of them in California alone – has announced significant rate increases across 8 states.

WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross earned $4.7 billion on $60 billion in sales last year.

The announced planned rate hikes as high as 39 percent in California and 34 percent in Indiana. Internal memos project an addition 7% profit in 2010 as a result of this newest rate increase.

What else do they show?:

WellPoint Inc.’s internal documents show the health insurer sought to raise rates in California to boost company profits and cover costs ballooned by executive salaries and corporate retreats, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman said.

Gutsy, huh?

Congress wasn’t too happy.

How much has WellPoint spend on lobbying?:

The largest spender among the insurance companies though was Wellpoint. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., the company spent about 4.7 million in 2009 on lobbying, 21 percent more than its K Street expenditures in 2008.

They also acquired a larger share of the California market (translate: decreased competition) by purchase of Blue Cross of California – by having its very own consumers pay for it in the form of higher premiums – and have continued, now, to increase profits at the cost of cutting services and raising rates. Not only that, they continue to siphon billions off of Blue Cross CA to other Anthem subsidiaries for “unspecified services.”

A White House report on Feb. 18 highlighted additional health premium increases last year in other places like Michigan, Connecticut and Maine that it said were five to 10 times higher than the growth rate in national health spending. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp. and Humana Inc., the top U.S. health plans, were trying to preserve executive pay and profits “way over anybody’s estimates.”

~~~~~
There’s a group out there working on 1,000,000 calls to congress between today and tomorrow. If you aren’t incline to do that, maybe take a couple of links in this article and send it Baucus’, Tester’s and Rehberg’s way. Let ’em know your watching.

I will say – sometimes it can be fun to get a staffer up on the phone. Especially Rehberg’s, because you know they love taking calls on health reform.

Do remember – Always be nice.

by jhwygirl

Yeah, I been wearing my Tyler Gernant sticker…and I love telling people who he is: ‘Tyler is our next representative for the Great State of Montana who’s going to take out Denny Rehberg who hasn’t done a thing in 10 years,’ is how I start off.

I’ve had two skeptics right off the bat of my beginning statement say “Really? Rehberg’s done nothing?” (as if “nothing” couldn’t possibly be true), and I confidently tell them yep – nothing. Dennis Rehberg’s proposed two bills – one was a congratulation to Carroll College, the other one was to wish the City of Billings happy birthday – it died in committee.

“Of course he’s good at earmarks, though,” I continue.

I point to Rehberg’s hypocritical stance of railing against earmarks and stimulus money while traveling the state to get his picture take with the big photo-op checks as they’re handed out. Then there’s Rehberg’s calls to decrease spending while calling for tax cuts and how Denny doesn’t – even after 10 years I emphasize – understand basic budgetary principles…which is why (I further emphasize) we’re now in this mess.

Anyways…to get back on topic, because this post is about Tyler Gernant…I’ve had the opportunity to meet and speak with Tyler on more than a few occasions. Gernant is one hard working candidate (I’m betting he’s crisscrossed this entire state nearly twice already). He’ll meet with anyone, and I’m thoroughly impressed with his dedication.

Tyler’s smart, he’s knowledgeable about tax law and tax code and I believe he will go to Washington seeking forward-moving change.

So when Tyler Gernant was making his official announcement at the beginning of this month down at The Wilma here in Missoula, I made sure to leave work early in order to support him. A lovely sized crowd turned out, and while there was buzz in the room because a staffer for Dennis MacDonald’s campaign was in attendance, my only words of advice on that was to embrace the guy – clearly, MacDonald sees Gernant as a worthy opponent, otherwise he wouldn’t have sent anyone.

Gernant gave a substantive speech. That alone was impressive. I didn’t see him use even notes. That’s not to say he did it on the fly – clearly he was prepared. But he didn’t give a speech like this, in substance and in length (and perfectly) without a clear vision of both his own capabilities and of what he wants to accomplish.

If I questioned who I would support in the Democratic primary for Montana’s lone congressional representative that morning, I didn’t after I heard Tyler Gernant announce that evening,to Montana. that he would seek to be Montana’s next representative in the U.S. Congress.

Here are Tyler Gernant’s words announcing his candidacy:

Good afternoon, and welcome to the historic Wilma Theatre on what promises to be a historic groundhog day.  You see, much like Bill Murray in that classic film Groundhog Day, Dennis Rehberg has been reliving the same day over and over and over again since 2001.  He’s been stuck in yesterday, thinking there will be no tomorrow and no long-term consequences for his actions.  Yet, each day we wake up to see bigger budget deficits, fewer jobs, and folks in Washington who think that responsibility means blame.  But today’s different.  Today we can stop fearing Dennis Rehberg’s shadow.  Because today, Congressman Rehberg finally woke up to a new day.  And every day from here on out, he’ll wake up to find that responsibility isn’t about finding a scapegoat, it’s about finding a solution.  And so today, I stand before you prepared to take on that responsibility and declare myself a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

As you all know, we’re facing some pretty difficult times.  But I wouldn’t be running if I thought this would be easy.  If this were 2000 and we had a 200 billion dollar budget surplus, when we were creating jobs and growing our economy, I wouldn’t be interested in this race.  No, I’m running because I’ve seen too many of my friends lose their jobs in the last year and a half and have to leave Montana.  I’m running because we have to balance our checkbook if we want to protect the progressive programs that we all hold dear.  Programs like social security and medicare.  Because if we don’t balance our checkbook, we’ll never be able to implement the kinds of progressive programs that our country needs.  But most importantly, I’m running because we need to restore responsibility back to Washington.  And by responsibility, I don’t mean assigning blame.  What I mean is the responsibility to tackle our problems head on and work to find solutions. 

For me that sense of responsibility has been handed down through four generations of Montanans.  My great-grandfather homesteaded up near Whitetail, which, for those that don’t know where that is, it’s a small town in the Northeast corner of the state.  Up in between Plentywood and Scobey.  And as any descendant of a homesteader is aware, it was not an easy life.  From there, my family really fanned out across the state.  I had a grandpa who worked in the smelter in Anaconda and my other grandpa was a truck driver in Great Falls.  Through their hard work, my folks were able to attend Carroll College, where they first met.  After college, my folks found their way here to Missoula, where my dad became a high school math teacher and football coach over at Hellgate and my mom worked at what was then the Appletree restaurant. 

And although I never realized it when I was young, that sense of responsibility had been born into me.  In fact, I can remember back when I was about ten years old; I had set my sights on this little black and white television set.  And since our family only had one TV at the time, this little black and white set meant a lot more to me than just a new toy.  It meant freedom, so that I could finally watch whatever I wanted to watch.  Unfortunately, it also meant sixty bucks. Sixty bucks that I didn’t have.  And since, at that time, my only steady source of income was a dollar a week allowance, it was a pretty lengthy proposition.  Coincidentally, though, the 1992 Presidential election was occurring about the same time.  And since I didn’t have any other TV to watch, I ended up watching those Ross Perot infomercials with my parents.  And I specifically remember him saying that if we have to balance our check books, then why doesn’t the government.  And I thought to myself, “if I have to scrimp and save to buy this little TV, why doesn’t the government have to save to buy what it wants.”  Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot more about economics since then, but that basic sense of responsibility is something that Dennis Rehberg never learned.

You know, when Dennis Rehberg took office, we had over a $100 billion budget surplus.  We haven’t balanced the budget since.  Now we have a $12 trillion national debt, and if you add in the unfunded obligations of social security and medicare, that national debt approaches $56 trillion.  Which means that every American man, woman and child would owe $175,000.  All this from a guy who claims that fiscal responsibility is at the very core of his being.  Yet he voted for a massive tax cut for the wealthy that completely eliminates our budget surplus and returned us to deficits.  He votes to put two wars on our credit card, and then he votes for a prescription drug plan that lets big pharmaceutical companies charge our government whatever they want for prescription drugs, creating one of the single largest deficit increases in our nations history.  Worse yet, he’s pledging to vote against a health care reform bill that has been rated as the single largest deficit reduction bill in the history of our country.

So while Rehberg’s whispering these sweet nothings about financial restraint into our ears, he’s stealing our credit cards and spending money like a drunken sailor.

But you know what, today isn’t about blame, today is about solutions.  Today is about what we can do together to ensure that we have a future.  To do that, we need to address our massive budget deficit.  Unfortunately, there’s no single solution that’s going to wipe the red slate clean and return us to the black.  But there are some things that we can do to stem the tide without threatening our economic recovery.

 First of all, we need to reinstitute the pay go system.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, pay go was a system that was in place throughout the 90’s that said that every item of new spending had to be accompanied by a way to pay for it.  Coincidentally, that system expired in 2002 and we all saw what happened.  Our budget deficit returned and began growing at it’s fastest pace ever.

We also need to end the use it or lose it system that pervades the budgeting process for our federal agencies.  Essentially, this system encourages government bureaucrats to spend every penny that is given to them in their budget, because they’re told that if they don’t spend it all they’ll get less next year.  Federal employees are literally forced to take unnecessary trips at the end of the budget year so that there won’t be any money left in the coffers.  It’s a perverse incentive that needs to be replaced with one to encourage our federal agencies to save money.

And considering the dramatic advances in technology, it truly is sad that we don’t have any meaningful and accessible system for the public to see where our tax dollars are spent.  We need to increase transparency in the budgeting process so that we can hold our elected officials accountable when they throw away our money.  To that end, we need to make a comprehensive budget available to the public over the internet.

But you know, the truth is, that all of these things can’t hold a candle to the most effective way to reduce our budget deficit, and that is to grow our economy and create jobs.  As we saw in the 90’s the most effective way to close the budget gap is to ensure that everyone’s working and contributing to our economy.  Only then will we see our economy gain the strength it needs to take us out of these deficits.

And for Montana, the best way for us to create jobs and grow our economy is to invest ourselves in the new energy industry.  And by that, I mean one that is based on clean, renewable and sustainable sources of energy.  Montana has such huge potential in terms of wind, solar, bio-mass, bio-fuels and even some geothermal across the state.  But in order to realize our potential, it’s going to take an investment in a smarter and expanded power grid to ensure that we can transport that energy in an efficient manner.  It’s also going to take an investment in our education system to ensure that we can perform the research and development necessary to fully harness these new sources of energy.

But if we want to make these changes we have to change who we send to Washington.

Since Dennis Rehberg took office in 2001, he’s managed to enact only three of his sponsored bills, and all three of them were to name federal buildings.  Which, when you think about it, means that we pay this guy $170,000 a year, and what do we get for it.  Well, on average, he’ll name one federal building for us every three years.

But you know what, you don’t have to take my word for it, just ask his Chief of Staff.  In fact they did just that.  Last cycle, they asked him what Rehberg’s greatest legislative accomplishments had been in his, by then, eight years in office.  And he listed off a resolution congratulating the Carroll College football team on a football championship and, this is no joke, a resolution wishing the city of Billings a happy birthday, which we later found out died in committee.

We have a right to expect more from our Congressman.  We have a right to expect a Congressman who will work towards the next generation instead of the next election.  So that is why today I am here to ask for your support in this campaign.  Because together, we can kick a lazy Congressman off his couch and create opportunities for Montana’s families and small businesses.  Thank You!

 

by jhwygirl

Former GOP legislator (2 in the state house, 23 in the senate), Secretary of State and 2004 gubernatorial nominee Bob Brown recently wrote an editorial slamming the recent SCOTUS decision regarding election finance law.

The comments on that piece mystify me. There are people actually defending The Company (as in the Anaconda Copper Mining Company)….it’s almost 1984-esqe (and believe it or not, I’ve heard the same kind of defense of ACM in conversations I had that concerned Smurfit, of all things. That the union there killed Smurfit, as opposed to The Company, which took care of everyone.)

That being said, state Attorney General Steve Bullock testified in the U.S. Senate on the dangers this decision presented to Montana and other states that had laws designed to quash corporate influence on our elections. Check the video:

After the hearing, Senator Jon Tester spoke on Bullock’s testimony:

“I’m proud my colleagues got to hear Steve’s smart, common sense insight today.

“As Steve told the Senate, this Supreme Court decision will affect political races in Montana and across the country-at all levels. Special interests have too much influence already, and this decision only gives them more power.

“Our elections need to be about people, not corporations. Corporations don’t vote. People do.”

I point all this out because of two things. One being to point out that it isn’t just Democrats that see the potential for serious concerns with our elections because of that court ruling – we’ve got a prominent state Republican who’s dedicated damned near his whole life to public service here in Montana speaking out to not only the potential for devastating effects on the election process but to the example of such that can be found in our very own history.

Secondly, absent the obvious, we have an election coming up, and I’ve yet to hear our sole-and-only congressional Representative Dennis Rehberg say a gosh darn thing about the ruling. You’d think he’d have something to say – considering the clear example presented in Montana history, yet alone our very own state laws and constitution – but I guess that big oil money is more important to him than the sanctity of our election process.




  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,673,273 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,736 other followers

  • December 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Oct    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Categories