Archive for the ‘Denny Rehberg’ Category

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

The City of Billings is now publishing its city council’s emails.

Was the housing market stabilized or is it being propped up? That’s the gist of this NYTimes article:

“The choice we appear to be making is trying to modify our way out of this, which has the effect of lengthening the crisis,” said Kevin Katari, managing member of Watershed Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund. “We have simply slowed the foreclosure pipeline, with people staying in houses they are ultimately not going to be able to afford anyway.”

Mr. Katari contends that banks have been using temporary loan modifications under the Obama plan as justification to avoid an honest accounting of the mortgage losses still on their books. Only after banks are forced to acknowledge losses and the real estate market absorbs a now pent-up surge of foreclosed properties will housing prices drop to levels at which enough Americans can afford to buy, he argues.

The Missoulian’s Native people and news blog, The Buffalo Post puts out an amazing amount of information on issues that never make mainstream news. Recent snowstorms have caused tremendous strains on the poorest region in the United States – the Pine Ridge Reservation. People there live in abject poverty (I’ve been there). Housing conditions are horrible. With blown-in roads, there is great concern over meeting the basic necessities of heat and food. If you want to help, there are a variety of posts there with links to organizations coordinating relief efforts.

At some point this past week I got interested in just, exactly, what the penalties were in Montana for DUI. This site explained the difference in potential penalties for first offense, second, third…and so on. Repeat offenses really aren’t that harsh – factor in ysuspended sentences, pleas that allow work release, allowances during license suspensions for work – I mean, for many it’s probably not much more than a major inconvenience for a chunk of time. And that’s if they stick to the conditions.

There are currently 15 people in the Missoula County Detention Center on felony charges of 4th time DUI offense.

Your dog’s carbon footprint is that of two Toyota Land Cruisers. The cat? A small Volkswagen. Even a goldfish has one – equivalent to that of two cell phones.

On the other hand…

Button Valley directs us to this story in truthout, that expounds on the green sustainable hypocrisy that is Governor Schweitzer along with AG Steve Bullock, SoS Linda McCulloch and Auditor Monica Lindeen.

2.6 billions tons of CO2 in the Otter Creek coal, and, come to think of it, the Gov’s got two dogs, doesn’t he? Boy – that’s gonna take a lot of carbon credits.

And speaking of carbon footprints….

Rehberg kicked off the 2010 election season with a nice booklet mailing recently telling Montanans that he doesn’t work for big oil – that he works for us. Whatever. Just because he says it doesn’t make it true – between his top 20 industries that donated to his 2008 re-election, along with the PAC $$ he got, Montanans are keenly aware of just who Denny’s working for.

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by jhwygirl

In the form of $549,349 in campaign contributions from big oil.

From Montana Conservation Voters.

by Pete Talbot

High Country News has a chart in its October 26 issue highlighting the wealthiest Western Congressfolk. There’s only one Montanan on the list of the 50 richest: Rep. Denny Rehberg.

Out of 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, Rehberg ranks 27th. And as the News reports, these are lowball figures because members of Congress report in ranges ($1 million to $5 million, for example).

Now, I don’t particularly have a problem with Denny’s wealth; heck, we should all be so lucky. But Denny has the best health care your and my money can buy. He obviously doesn’t need a public option. So, when he holds an “emergency” town hall meeting to spout right-wing misinformation like a “new board of federal bureaucrats to dictate the health plans that all individuals must buy” … well, how disingenuous.

It isn’t just Denny’s wealth that separates him from your average Montanan, however. It’s his health insurance. You see, Denny gets his insurance from the same pool as all federal employees — about eight million of them — making it one of the most flexible, affordable and transportable plans in the nation. Sort of like what a public option would offer the rest of us not on the public payroll.

I’m sure Denny likes his plan. He just doesn’t want you to have one like it.

And check out more of Denny’s misrepresentations covered by Pogie in two recent posts over at Intelligent Discontent.

(Sorry I couldn’t link to the High Country News chart. Couldn’t find it on their site. Here‘s the Roll Call report where the News got its information.)

by jhwygirl

Following up on Monday’s news that ABC/Time polling showed 57% support a public option in health insurance reform changes being hammered out in congress, today brings us news that affirms that trend.

CNN polling tells us 61% favor a public option for inclusion in any health insurance reform bill. That number is up 5% since late August.

~~~~~
A few short weeks ago – just before the Senate Finance Committee’s bill was freed – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered a CBO markup of the cost of including a public option. She wanted an analysis of 3 different versions. Guess what? The CBO found that including a Medicare-for-all option, along with a 5% increase in doctor payments, would actually lower the deficit. The cost? $871 billion over 10 years – and it would insure everyone.

The Senate Finance Committee’s bill leaves 25,000,000 American uninsured.

House Democratic leaders wisely quick to jump on this – and even Harry up there in the Senate is is hinting that he’s got the 60 votes necessary to pass a bill that includes a public option.

Keep the calls and email folks. I’m told I put up Tester’s fax number for the Missoula office last time – and Pete was kind enough to fix it…this time, I’m a cuttin’ and pastin’ out of that post, that way I know the numbers are correct. With apologies to all….

Keep calling. Keep emailing.

Sen. Max Baucus – 329-3123 in Missoula – others here
Sen. Jon Tester – 728-3003 here in Missoula – 1-866-554-4403 statewide.

Don’t forget Denny:
Rep. Denny Rehberg – 543-0663 here in Missoula, or 1-888-232-2626 statewide.

by jhwygirl

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released today shows that 57% of Americans support a public option.

Limit it to only those that can’t afford market insurance? Support soars to 76%.

And what if the GOP refuses to participate? Still a majority of Americans want reform.

What should those concerned about electing and re-electing either Democrats or Republicans think of those numbers? Well, howz about these numbers for those watching the election factor of health insurance reform.

Keep on keeping on, people

Sen. Max Baucus – 329-3123 in Missoula – others here
Sen. Jon Tester – 728-3003 here in Missoula – 1-866-554-4403 statewide.

Don’t forget Denny:
Rep. Denny Rehberg – 543-0663 here in Missoula, or 1-888-232-2626 statewide.

by Pete Talbot

Missoula physician Meg Sarnecki is one of 50 doctors from around the country who are meeting with the President to discuss health care reform.

(You won’t find this news in our local print media. Don’t ask me why. KPAX ran a short piece. I found out about it in the Billings Gazette. Here’s the story by Mike Dennison.)

Doc Sarnecki is in an excellent position to comment on the kind of health care available to uninsured and low-income Montanans. She works at the Partnership Health Center in Missoula. The center is partly government funded and also receives payments from patients on a sliding scale, according their ability to pay. From what I hear vicariously through some folks who work there is that the place can barely keep up with the demand for its services.

I’ve gleaned some quotes from the story:

She’s “pretty happy” with the U.S. House’s bill, which has passed out of committee and awaits action on the floor, but is “much less happy with what (Max) Baucus has put forward.”

Sarnecki said she doesn’t like the Baucus bill because it does not include a public, government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

“I don’t like the idea of mandated, private health insurance without a public option,” she said. “To make that affordable, we need a public option to give people some competition and choice in that matter.”

Baucus’ bill, among other things, would require all Americans without health insurance to buy it starting in 2013, or face tax penalties. The measure also includes federal subsidies to help people with low or moderate income afford private insurance.

Another person, and this one more qualified than most, to join the legions of Montanans who are disappointed with Max’s health care proposal. Come to think of it, one of the few folks who has commented positively about the plan is Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, our only U.S. Representative from Montana. Good company, Max.

(UPDATE — The Missoulian did have this story in Monday’s paper; page one, above the fold. The Gazette beat the Missoulian by at least 24 hours, though.)

by Pete Talbot

As much as U.S. Rep. Rehberg and state Sen. Greg Barkus wish they could take back the night of August 27, it ain’t going away.

Lee Newspaper’s Jennifer McKee has a pretty decent analysis of the politics of late surrounding the boat wreck. I have a few comments on her story, of course:

First, McKee states that, ” … Rehberg is heading into a good time to run for re-election as a Republican in Montana and he’s got a lot of money.” I agree with “a lot of money” but why is this a good time to run for re-election as a Republican in Montana? Denny’s the only Republican in the state to hold any sort of high office, which doesn’t trend well. He’s really nothing more than an obstructionist when it comes to health care reform, our economic crisis, climate change … well. the list goes on-and-on. I truly believe that Denny is as vulnerable as he’s ever been. Just look at these polling numbers from August of this year.

The there’s Montana Cowgirl’s withering critique of Rehberg over at Left in the West. She lauds Democratic challenger Dennis McDonald’s charges that Rehberg used “bad judgment” for taking staffers on a boat ride, after drinking, with Barkus at the wheel.

Here’s the story on McDonald’s written attack on Rehberg. I’m not sure how savvy this is and kind of prefer McDonald’s primary opponent, Tyler Gernant’s, take on the accident (which was to bring up health care reform, noting that Rehberg has great, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance whereas, if it were you or me, we’d probably be paying off the medical bills for the rest of our lives). I prefer those who take the high road when it comes personal politics but that isn’t what’s taught in Campaign 101 and I suppose McDonald wants to strike while the iron is hot.

Speaking of Campaign 101, and back to Ms. McKee’s analysis, there are some quotes from political science professor at Eastern Montana College’s (yeah, yeah, I know it’s MSU-Billings now, whatever) Craig Wilson:

“I was a bit surprised by the timing of it,” Wilson said of McDonald’s attack. “It seemed a bit early.”

So when should McDonald attack, if he’s going to at all? A year after the fact? When everyone has forgotten about the incident? I don’t know why Montana journalists always go to Wilson for comments. The guy bugs me (more on Wilson here and here).

Then McKee quotes Will Deschamps, Montana Republican Party Chairman, who castigates McDonald for attacking Rehberg’s “bad judgment.” Deschamps compares Rehberg’s judgement call to McDonald’s support for a health care public option. Huh?

Finally, McKee quotes former Montana Republican Party Executive Director Jake Eaton. Remember Jake? He was behind the voter suppression campaign last fall, and this past summer he’s helping the teabaggers. What a source!

Anyway, it looks like boat driver Barkus’ political career is over. It’s still a question as to how much Rehberg will be hurt by the incident. I sincerely hope that Denny doesn’t lose the race because of this particular case of bad judgment. Unless one is being a total hypocrite, I prefer seeing personal issues kept out of the political debate. Rather, Rehberg should lose because of his lack of judgment on so many legislative matters, and his inability to advance any meaningful legislation in his five terms as our representative in congress.

by Pete Talbot

I was relieved when I heard that Dustin Frost had come out of his coma. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll know that Dustin was the most seriously injured in a boating accident earlier this month. Also injured in the crash were Rep. Denny Rehberg, another of Rehberg’s staff (besides Dustin), the boat’s driver (State Senator Greg Barkus) and Barkus’ wife.

Recovery from a head injury can be a long and arduous process. How does a family cover the costs? This, from the Montana Kaimin story:

… the creation of “Team Ginger” attire to raise money for the “Family and Friends of Dustin Frost Fund,” which will assist with medical expenses …

I’m not sure what the “Team Ginger” alludes to. Maybe someone can explain this in the comments. The “Team Ginger” refers to Dustin’s red hair. Apparently its usage comes from South Park television episodes. A “Team Ginger” logo is on merchandise available to the public at this website.

Here’s the irony — at least for me. Rehberg is fighting any meaningful health care reform tooth-and-nail. He likes things the way they are. And this status quo? It means you have to sell t-shirts, baseball caps and other paraphernalia to pay your medical bills.

Now I’m sure Rehberg’s most excellent, taxpayer-subsidized health care will cover the majority of the costs related to his injury. Regular folks, however, face financial ruin when suffering a serious injury or other health problems. Or I guess they can sell t-shirts to help make ends meet.

by jhwygirl

Rehberg’s hypocrisy never ends. We lefties in the blogosphere have been making sure for years that ya’all stay painfully awash in Denny Rehberg’s hypocrisy. Left in the West has pulled out scores of examples over the years. Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, too, has scores of posts on Rehberg, including this one on his drunken sailor spending.

Drunken sailor. LOL. Damned Pogie – you’re good.

And of course, we here at 4&20 love ol’ Denny Rehberg too – most recently pointing out how he loves the free market until he doesn’t love it.

But today? Lord. What a friggin’ hypocrite.

How soon is November 2, 2010?

Just over a year ago, in the beginning of August, Rep. Denny Rehberg headed back to Washington D.C., along with a bunch of fellow Joe Wilsons, demanding that Nancy Pelosis call back congress and allow votes to open the U.S. coastlines to drilling.

Drill baby Drill! Remember that?

Well – Rehberg took the train back to D.C. this time and has apparently decided that in order to get something done about health insurance reform what needs to be done is for congress to go into another 30-day recess.

Yep. In August 2008 it was Drill baby, drill. NOW.

Health Care Now? That can wait until October 2009.

~~~~~~~
Maybe Rehberg saw the numbers after Obama’s speech last night. In this focus group support for reform jumped by 50%. The number of those that support Obama’s initiative to reform health care? 53% before the speech – 67% after. That’s a 26% increase.

Of those that did NOT support reform before Obama’s “game-changing” speech? That number dropped from 36% before the speech to 29% after the speech. That’s a 20% loss in teabaggers.

Those numbers from the fabulous Keith Olbermann

Amazing what a little truth and sunshine can do in such a short amount of time, isn’t it?

by jhwygirl

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, state capitol bureau chief for the Great Falls Tribune brings the news that state Senator Greg Barkus was drinking at the time of the crash. While that isn’t news to anyone but the greatest of skeptics, the fact that the Flathead County Attorney’s office is putting that information out there is.

It is worthy to note that Title 23 of Montana Code Annotated – which regulates the use of watercraft in Montana – does not require a specific level of alcohol (unlike motorized vehicles, which are defined by code as wheeled vehicles). Barkus merely had to be “under the influence of alcohol,” of which Title 23 lacks no specific definition.

We had some discussion here with regards to Title 23 in this thread.

Now – certainly the Flathead prosecutor would be far better off to have that BAC test back from the state crime lab before filing charges, and beyond that, Barkus is in Seattle at the Harborview Medical Center for surgery on his broken pelvis. He spent 5 days in ICU in Kalispell Medical Center, taking several blood transfusions, and was flown to Seattle today.

Before anyone goes getting all teary-eyed over Barkus (clearly, I’m not…), remember Dustin Frost, Rep. Denny Rehberg’s staffer who was seriously injured. Frost’s condition is still being described as “serious,” by his neurosurgeon. It will be that way for quite a while.

Dustin Frost has suffered a severe closed head injury and is requiring aggressive monitoring and treatment,” Hollis said in the statement. “He is showing slow improvements in his status but still requires intensive nursing care. Further recovery is anticipated.”

“Further recovery”? Yeah – don’t look for any sympathy for Barkus from me. I’m not wishing him ill….but he will reap what he’s sown.

We’ll wait now to hear what Barkus’ BAC actually was. When it comes out that he was falling down drunk, questions will come back to Rehberg (who’s BAC, according to Erik Iverson, was “well below the legal level,” at .05 BAC, 3 hours after the crash) and his utter lack of judgment in not only getting himself and his friends and staff into that boat, but in allowing someone he’d been drinking with for several hours get behind the wheel of a boat.

Again – keeping in mind that in Montana, there is no defined level of ‘under the influence’ for operation of a watercraft.

The utter disregard for the laws of this state and the utter disregard for not only personal safety but public safety to anyone that could have encountered this death rocket – piloted by state Sen. Greg Barkus – on the water will be, in the end, the real story here.

One will pay with at least a felony arrest charge, while for others – specifically Rep. Denny Rehberg – will live with the disrespect for the law and the lack of judgment regarding the personal safety of himself and everyone else, including the public on the public’s waterway.

~~~~~~~~~~
I’ll call again for positive thoughts, prayers and concerns for Dustin Frost. He has a long way to go to just get himself out of the hospital. Life has changed for Dustin and his family, and positive energy and excellent care will go a long way.

by jhwygirl

…and Skylar Browning has it on The Indy’s blog. The Indy dug a little and found that Barkus’ 2004 conviction for wreckless driving was a reduced charge from DUI.

Who knows what else they’re going to find….

I find myself wonder whether Barkus is cooperating with the investigation? Why did the Flathead Co. Sheriff’s Dept. have to subpoena his BAC? Why’d they have to obtain a search warrant for the boat?

Iverson requested Rep. Denny Rehberg’s BAC and had that information out there within 24 hours. No subpoena required.

Sounds to me like Barkus is being uncooperative.

~~~~~~
Look – Let’s be upfront: I’m not the first one that’d be celebrating if Barkus felt compelled to resign. There’s a long line for that way in front of me. He wasn’t a favorite of mine last session, and I have trouble convincing myself that anyone else could be worse.

So this aspect of the story is going to be real interesting for me.

by JC

They’re “Stonewalling” says Trib Reporter

Update 2:30pm: John Adams, reporter for the Great Falls Tribune, tweeted this a bit ago:

“the stonewalling on this is highly unusual–will be part of my story tomorrow. No one is returning calls.”

Update 9:30pm: MTLowdown has posted Rehberg’s blood alcohol report for us. It shows him at .054 at 12:58am–2 1/2 hours after the accident. Do the retrograde extrapolation below, and it shows that Denny most likely was legally drunk when the crash occurred.

Nobody here is trying to say anything other than the facts about this. Others can argue the law, or debate whether or not it is politically important. The prattle from Iverson about him being only .05 was only an attempt to sugar coat his condition and misdirect criticism.

—–
by JC

The AP’s Matt Gouras, reporting after today’s press conference, stated that Rehberg’s blood alcohol content was measured in the ER sometime after 1am, three hours after the accident, and more than that from the time he left the party at the Docks.

BAC decreases at approximately .015% per hour after your last drink (update: YellowShark points out in the comments that this is called “retrograde extrapolation“). So if you take Rehberg’s .05, and add in the .045% that his BAC decreased after the accident, you’ll get him potentially having a BAC of .095%, which is over the legal limit at the time of crash.

So when you hear the .05% figure trotted out as a defense of his moderation, remember that was hours after the accident. Whether or not there are measurements taken on the scene or not remains to be revealed by the ongoing investigations.

In related news, Gouras reports that the FWP has turned over its investigation file to the Flathead County Attorney, Ed Corrigan, whom I may add, is a Republican who endorsed Barkus for his State Senate bid in ’06.

How long does it take for the Sheriff, FWP or the County Attorney to let us know what Barkus’ BAC was? They can and should release that information as soon as possible. You see that kind of information released immediately for most DUI’s and accidents. Why not in this case? Letting the defense build a case first?

by JC

Update 8/31, 10:30am:

Seems that Barkus found a need to hire an attorney. He is directing all questions to Todd Glazier.

And John Adams is tweeting that a press conference is currently underway. He reports: “Not much new to report from today’s [8/31] press conference. Rehberg, Smith to be released today. Frost “stable.” No update on the Barkuses.”

–JC

——-
Ok, It’s been 3 days since Barkus slammed his boat into the rocks at Wayfarers State Park injuring everybody aboard, and we still don’t know anything about the accident, except that he was at the helm.

Well, actually, we know a lot more than that. In the Missoulian today, we’re treated to this little tidbit:

The Flathead County sheriff’s office is investigating the incident. A dispatcher at the sheriff’s office says there have been no developments in the case Sunday.

Ok, that sounds innocuous enough. But what do we know about the Sheriff, Mike Meehan? Well, it turns out that he and Barkus are buddies. Good enough buddies that Meehan endorsed Barkus for his Senate run in ’06. Here, check out the endorsement in the Daily InterLake:
endorsement.

Maybe now we know why there were no developments in the investigation.

James Conner at the Flathead Memo gives us some perspective on this:

[Barkus] asserts that he’s tough on crime, while carefully avoiding explaining what he means or what he wants to do as a legislator to be the tough guy he says he is. Look at the endorsements… Two stand out in a way that reflects poorly on Barkus:

First, the endorsement from Mike Meehan, the Republican candidate for Flathead County Sheriff identifies Meehan as “sheriff elect.” Meehan is running unopposed, but he hasn’t been elected yet.

Barkus also touts endorsements from three other elected officials: Jim Dupont (Sheriff), Ted Lympus (District Judge), and Ed Corrigan (County Attorney). You can decide for yourself whether you think that’s appropriate. Elected officials have the right to endorse legislative candidates, but when judges and county attorneys do it, it raises the troubling specter of partisan behavior in what should be non-partisan offices.

Second, there’s an endorsement from one Scott Warnell, identified as a “police detective.” Presumably Warnell works for the police department in Kalispell, but given the ad’s insouciant approach to getting the facts straight, Warnell might be a sheriff’s deputy. What’s wrong with this? Nothing, as long as Warnell speaks as a citizen. But when he identifies himself as a law enforcement officer, and his name in the ad is placed next to four of the county’s major elected officials in the justice system, it appears as though Barkus has the blessing of the police department in Kalispell.

Equal justice for all requires that law enforcement personnel steer clear of partisan political activity. To do otherwise is unprofessional and dangerous. Warnell, and I think the others, crossed that line. And Greg Barkus appears blind to the problem.

So, not only is Barkus in bed with the sheriff, he’s also pocketed the Police Dept., the County attorney, and the Judge. Not to mention the FWP investigators: he chairs the State Senate’s FWP committee, and he is a former FWP commissioner.

Anybody think we’re going to get a straight story out of Flathead County or FWP? Didn’t think so. Cover up is underway, it seems. There is conflict of interest and cronyism galore at work here. Then again, maybe Barkus’ “Tough on Crime” campaign, and those who supported it might just up and do the right thing. Get Tough!

by jhwygirl

We all know drinking is practically a hobby here in Montana, although that culture is slowly slinking away as education outreach works its way through generations. One would, in these days and ages, expect that our elected officials have absorbed that educational outreach…or at least set an honorable example.

Erik Iverson, who still does crisis management for Montana’s congressional representative Denny Rehberg – Washington Post’s words, not mine – scrambled to clear quick rampant judgments (based on Denny’s well-honed reputation) that Rehberg was drunk at this weekend’s Flathead Lake boating accident where Kalispell’s state Senator Greg Barkus launched a 22-foot fiberglass speedboat up on the rocks.

Check out the comment thread in this article in Denny’s hometown paper, the Billings Gazette .

Iverson – who was also Rehberg’s former chief of staff and former head of Montana’s GOP – stressed a few things: Rehberg wasn’t driving the boat…and that Rehberg’s blood alcohol level (BAC) was only .05, “well below the legal limit.”

So Denny had only had a drink or two and his judgment was fine?

Not exactly the case, it seems. How impaired is .05 BAC? Read a full description for yourself, but to sum up:

At the .05 BAC level, people begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior, experience loss of small-muscle control — such as being able to focus their eyes quickly — have impaired judgment, lowered alertness and a release of inhibition.

.05 BAC has been pushed by MADD as a more reasonable BAC to determine the legal level of impairment…enough so that it is a concern for the Montana gaming industry.

Rehberg wasn’t driving – Senator Barkus was, and we’ve yet to get his BAC – but clearly Rehberg’s judgment was impaired enough to get in a motorized vehicle with someone who (anyone want to take bets?) will to be found to have alcohol in his system.

This is bad judgment, and when it comes to getting into a motorized vehicle with 4 others – and using the thing to transport yourself across a lake that also has other innocent people transporting themselves in their own motorized and non-motorized boats – wouldn’t you want to think that your lone congressional representative in Congress had enough judgment to know that not only should he not be getting in that boat with someone who’s been drinking – but that the drunk driver shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel of any vehicle and filling that vehicle with passengers?

That poor judgment resulted in some pretty serious injuries to 4 of the 5 people involved. It’s a shame that our Representative Rehberg didn’t have the good old common sense to say “Hey – wait a minute here,” and stop what has turned out to be a pretty tragic thing for one family.

Pretty basic stuff, no? Beyond that, where in the hell is Rehberg’s own self-preservation?

Now – I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Iverson’s other backhanded defense he threw in with an on-camera interview I caught on Missoula’s NBC KECI station last night (sorry, can’t find any video), which was a description of the travel: The boat trip was for the purpose of delivering Denny to some bay/docks for some gathering he was trying to get to in Bigfork, and that they were “very close.”

Read: They had a safe trip almost all the way there….they almost made it.

So, again – Close but not touching doesn’t lessen the lack of judgment.

by JC

rehberg crash

Yes, this is the Rehberg crash scene. Click on the photo for a larger version.


Update: Doug points us to an update at the Flathead Beacon. It appears that some of the injuries are more serious than initially reported. I took an early “stable” report to mean that everybody was doing ok and out of danger, poking fun at the inanity of the picture.

But it appears that Dustin Frost, Rehberg’s state director suffered a head injury. Had I known that, I would not have made fun of the accident at his expense, and for that I apologize to him and his family, and to the others that may have been seriously injured. And I’ve toned down the entry, accordingly.

I am all too aware of brain injuries, being a survivor myself, and volunteering to work with people and children with TBI and acquired learning disabilities.

by Pete Talbot

Montana’s lone U.S. Representative was hospitalized in Kalispell after a boating accident on Flathead Lake near Big Fork, the AP reports.

Details are sketchy but apparently state Senator Greg Barkus was also involved in the accident.

And while I vehemently oppose both Barkus’ and Rehberg’s political philosophy, I hope their injuries aren’t serious and they have a speedy recovery.

(Hat tip to Doug.)

by jhwygirl

Honestly, I am so busy lately that I barely have time for the news. That’s why I’m grateful for Twitter – at the least, I can grab headlines from sources I choose. KPAX reports that Sen. Jon Tester was in town this morning to meet with St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center. There’s a nifty raw video of an interview with Tester, who talks about the real need for reform, the need for setting timelines and how he looks forward to having a bill hit the floor. He exudes confidence.

Thank you, Jon.

Meanwhile, Representative Denny Rehberg – who’s poll numbers are slipping, BTW – will be meeting with officials of Community Medical Center, St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center, and the Watson Children’s Center on Wednesday.

It’d be nice if he’d meet with us regular ole’ Missoulians…..

Rehberg’s been having his meetings around the state (he’s held 14), most recently in Hamilton last Friday.

None in Missoula on health care….

Rehberg’s meeting in Hamilton – like most health care insurance reform meetings anywhere – are ripe with people with strong opinions. That’s fine. People need to be civil.

Apparently, though, Rehberg did little to promote civility, the pinnacle of his lack of promoting control coming when calling out a wheelchair bound woman who was holding a sign saying 83 percent of Americans favor a public option. “Not according to the polls I’ve seen,” he shouted out…prompting some to heckle the woman.

Really? Our Montana Congressman calls out in disagreement – in a public meeting – to a woman holding a sign opposing his viewpoint?

Rehberg then stood and allowed the crowd to heckle.

“Not according to the polls I’ve seen,” he says? Well, soon-not-to-be Congressman Rehberg, what polls do you read? I mean – are you reading Cato Institute polls, or is your answer Palinesque, as in the faux “I’ve read ’em all” sort of read? Because shouting out “Not according to the polls I’ve seen,” in a smart-ass kind of way – and then standing there watching the crowd descend – isn’t really an answer.

Not only that, Rehberg used – for the upteenth time that day – the crowd to answer opposing viewpoints (i.e., pro-reform).

Read that? Rehberg never answered pro-reform questions. He allowed hecklers to do it for him.

Amazing tactic if it works.

Hamilton resident Denelle Pappier details her experience and analysis of Rep. Rehberg’s visit in a guest editorial.

Her editorial mentions the experience of a woman – a Missoula woman, actually – who asked Rep. Rehberg what it was – specifically – that he could support in a health care bill. When that woman posed that question to Rehberg, again a shout came from the audience, calling the woman a ‘nazi sympathizer’, and it wasn’t until loud boos came from the crowd that Rehberg held his hands up quieting the crowd.

Rehberg never answered her question.

Two things strike me about the Ravalli Republic article and Ms. Pappier’s editorial – one being that it’s a bit of a surprise that Rehberg would be met with any opposition in Ravalli County. Ravalli County’s changing – and elected and neighbors alike down there are going to have to start to deal. Hostile public meetings where elected stand by and allow (and promote) uncivil behavior needs to stop.

Secondly, the other thing was the first-hand report of Rehberg’s uncensored departure from the event. It wasn’t the use of a swear word that draws my attention, it was his personal acknowledgment of an event not gone fabulously and his utter contempt for criticism.

Must be a lot of criticism you’re getting there, Representative Rehberg.

Seems Billings health care professionals weren’t too keen on Rehberg’s point of view when he visited with them yesterday.

Ouch!!

Call Rehberg and let him know what you think about health care reform. You can also email him too.

Maybe remind him, too, that here in Montana we expect our elected officials to not only promote civility, but to answer questions when asked.

by jhwygirl

Pogie’s got the story.

Ol’ Representative Rehberg – he’s against the stimulus, unless, of course, he’s out-and-about the state passing out checks.

Do I think it’s a raw deal handed down to the mine? Yep.

The point here is this: Rep. Dennis Rehberg is against government intervention in the market place. Think health care and health insurance reform, folks. But Rehberg’s all for government intervention when it comes to saving the Stillwater mine.

He didn’t want to save the auto industry and it’s millions of jobs (direct and indirect)…but let’s have the feds step in and save 1,300 jobs at the Stillwater mine.

Explain to me, someone, his logic?

As I see it, government intervention is good when he say it’s good and it’s politically advantageous.

And it’s bad when he say’s it’s bad and it’s politically advantageous.

It’s all about what sounds good, not what’s right. What’s the proper talking point? ‘Cause that’s where Denny’ll be.

At least he’s predictable. That’s our Rehberg.

by jhwygirl

Figure this as Part II of a previous post, titled Beware of Public Option Smokescreens.

A little over a week ago, Jane Hamsher, principle blogger behind firedoglake whipped out with what is being called The Whip Project. It is/was a call to action for progressives to contact any and all Blue Dog Democrats and gain commitments from them for meaningful health care reform that includes a strong public option. They’ve had some success, most recently gaining commitments from Senator Kay Hagan (North Carolina), Sen. Ben Nelson (Nebraska) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (New York) for strong public options or a no vote.

Many advocacy groups have taken up television ads in Washington DC and the home states of those electeds being targeted. This has obviously caused some consternation amongst those Blue Dogs and their protective staff. So much so that one primary Blue Dog – Montana’s very own Sen. Max Baucus – agreed to meet with one such group (Laborers’ International Union of North America) upon their promise to take down an ad it had been airing.

Other groups, too, have removed ads with promises of meetings. Big groups have conceded their ads (for now): AARP, the American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Federation of American Hospitals and AdvaMed. As Roll Call reports (sorry, subscription required):

Several major industry stakeholders, however, will be noticeably absent from the advertising airwaves over the July Fourth recess….AARP, the American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Federation of American Hospitals and AdvaMed all say they are sitting out this recess when it comes to advertising campaigns.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America will be running positive ads touting health care reform.

The groups have been holding their fire in response to threats from the staff of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and White House aides, who have warned that any groups that run ads attacking reform efforts before the bills have been crafted would lose their seats at the bargaining table.

Say what?! More threats? A month ago Baucus warned K Street to stay away from anti-health care reform electeds.

At least his staff are equal opportunity threateners (sic), right?

Not to be outdone, Obama has gotten into the fray, too: Washington Post reports that just yesterday, in a strategy call with half a dozen Senate and House Democrats, Obama complained that liberal advocacy groups ought to drop their attacks on Democratic lawmakers and devote their energy to promoting passage of comprehensive legislation:

We shouldn’t be focusing resources on each other,” Obama opined in the call, according to three sources who participated in or listened to the conversation. “We ought to be focused on winning this debate.

Boy – what to say about that? Most doctors and nurses agree – hell, even the AMA recently came out saying the same – that a public option was necessary for meaningful health care reform.

What’s increasing clear is that getting that meaningful public option means whipping a whole bunch of Dems into committing to a strong public option.

So why Obama would be critical of progressive groups seeking to ensure, essentially, meaningful health care reform leaves me a little perplexed.

Half-assed reform-in-name only isn’t why I voted for Obama – and I’m pretty darn sure it isn’t why a whole bunch of others voted for him either. There are other reasons, certainly, why I cast that vote for Obama – but let me just say that breaking another (Gitmo, anyone?) “big one” would be a tremendous disappointment.

~~~~~~
On another note – that WaPo article mentioned that in that Friday-before-the-Saturday July-4th-holiday call, leaders of both chambers expressed optimism that they will hold floor votes on legislation to overhaul the $2.2 trillion health system before Congress breaks in early August.

So what do I take out of all of this? I take out of it that continual calls and emails to Baucus, Tester and Rehberg are having some effect. I take out of it that donations, however nominal that you can muster, to organizations like Democracy for America, Move On, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Progressive Change Campaign Committee – groups that are keeping the pressure up and have the infrastructure to
mount the massive effort needed – are helpful also.

Let them know politics have changed. That they were elected to represent, and that they represent you – not PhRMA – and that failing to recognize that will have dire consequences for their re-election.

by Pete Talbot

Following on the heels of a New Yorker article I read on global warming, I saw that Rep. Denny Rehberg joined just about every Republican in the U.S House to vote against the modest cap-and-trade, energy and environment bill.

I’m guessing Denny doesn’t read the New Yorker. He’d rather get his info from the Heritage Foundation … or somewhere. Too bad, because James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and other climate experts, paint a dismal picture.

In a Lee newspaper article, Rehberg called the bill “destructive.” He obviously doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “destructive.”

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has some insights into this congressional malfeasance (via Jay at LiTW).

The Congressional Budget Office says, that over a few years, the bill will likely cost the average American family $175 a year. About what I pay yearly for DVD rentals. So it’s $175 a year for awhile or trillions of dollars much later to mitigate environmental degradation we can’t even imagine.

Isn’t it funny how right-wingers bring up deficit spending as a burden to future generations but they ignore global warming?  Not really.

by Pete Talbot

I read the obit of a distant acquaintance in today’s Missoulian. She was six months younger than me.  Cancer took her way too early, at 54-years-old. 

I know Marcia Trotter’s sisters and brother better than I knew Marcia.  It’s a large, well-known Missoula Family.

It’s sad news but the final line in the obit really caught my eye:

To honor Marcia’s memory, her family requests that you support universal health care.

Got that Denny, Max and Jon?

by Pete Talbot

Rep. Rehberg lists funding for the Watson’s Children Shelter in Missoula as one of his accomplishments.  Problem is he voted against the appropriation.

Rehberg said “nay” on HB HR 2847, but the bill still passed.  The shelter should reap $500,000 to expand its much needed facilities.  Denny’s taking credit, though:

“The Watson’s Children Shelter fills a critical need in Western Montana, and I’m pleased I was able to secure this crucial funding to help make a real difference in the lives of Montana children.”

But then he voted against the shelter.  In Dennyland, no means yes, and yes means no.

by jhwygirl

Honestly, I don’t know why we aren’t pushing on Montana’s soon-to-be-former Representative Dennis Rehberg about health care reform. Why should he get a pass? He and his party have yet to put anything forward at all. They talk about it, though. Rehberg has been silent, save for a promising to talk about talking about reform. His party has attack ads out – plenty of time and money to do that – but a plan? A white paper? A report? Anything?

All I hear are crickets…..Of course, one never knows – maybe he’s sleeping on some couch somewhere.

Could be anywhere.

It is entirely possible that Rehberg needs information from some other source than Fox News, so before ya’all close out your week and shut off that computer and pack the pens in the top drawer, consider sending him an email and letting him know that Montanans want health care reform and that it has to be real reform that ensures everyone has access to adequate health care. Much like the access and coverage that he and his 434 cohorts in the House of Representatives have.

You’ve contacted Baucus. You’ve contacted Tester. Probably more than once…and if you haven’t, you better do that too while you are at it….but yes – we got another one out there in Washington D.C., even though we rarely hear from Rehberg unless he’s running around the state handing out stimulus checks resulting from legislation he didn’t vote for.

If you can’t email, give Rehberg a call at one of his four local offices around the state – Missoula, Billings, Helena, and Great Falls – or you can use his toll-free number 1-888-232-2626.

Keep it short – don’t want to overwhelm the guy…he’s going to have to warm up to the idea, trust me.

I suggest you start with these facts:

Sixty percent of all bankruptcies are from medical bills.
That figure is up more than 50% from 2001.
AND – this one is the kicker folks…
SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT OF THESE PEOPLE HAD HEALTH CARE INSURANCE

Go ahead. Seriously. I bet, all told, that phone call or email will take less than 180 seconds. 3 minutes. And then The Kettlehouse is calling you and you can go there and feel that much better about leaving work a little early.

Just think of how much he’d love to hear from you. I bet his staff would enjoy it too.

by jhwygirl

NationalJournal.com did up a nice piece, with interview, about congressional candidate Tyler Gernant’s use of the Kindle (an wireless electronic reading device) in his campaign.

Gernant recently announced the release of his policy papers – which can also be obtained on his website at www.tylergernant.com – in electronic format for Kindle download at Amazon.com, for .99 cents each.

From Tyler Gernant’s blog:

While we understand that these are the same policy papers that are available on our website, there is something that’s a little different about our Kindle program. First of all, the Kindle content allows you to more easily share issue positions with your friends while you’re away from your computer. You won’t have to carry around a bunch of loose papers or squint to read text on your phone or blackberry. In fact, Kindle’s text-to-speech feature can read the issue positions to you. More importantly, though, 100% of the money that we make will go back into Montana . . . literally. For every Kindle download, we receive a portion of the proceeds, and all of those proceeds will be used to plant trees right here in Montana. This is a creative new way to help us spread our message of opportunity while ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy Montana’s natural wonders.

I bet that Kindle is great for the college crowd. I don’t own one, and I don’t think I’d use it for books – I tend to underline and highlight and write notes in the margins (I know, I know – the horror!) – but I’d sure love to have it to download magazines, newspapers, and individual articles….and it’d be especially great for camping, flying and long road trips.

by jhwygirl

From Rehberg’s Twitter:

Tea Parties all over Montana tomorrow – Watch my YouTube statement about why these efforts are so important: http://tinyurl.com/d2d4f6 #tcot

by jhwygirl

Bunches of good stuff I’ve been reading through for some time now – – –

The Center for the Rocky Mountain West has just released its Spring newsletter. There’s an interesting piece in there on population migration within the U.S.

When Wulfgar! writes that he was thinking of wearing “a flower print dress and my best tea-party bonnet,” you know you better be paying attention. I immediately began planning my trip to Bozeman. Good thing I read the rest of it, otherwise I’da been highly disappointed.

Then he goes after his favorite (Not!) local conservative blogger Andy Hammond with a piece titled “Asplode!

Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent took a jab at Rep. Dennis Rehberg and his hypocritical schizophrenic behavior concerning earmarks. It’s always good to get more clarification on Rehberg.

He also made two strikes with one blow on both the Chair of the Montana Republican Party and Rep. Dennis Rehberg in Is Liane Pronounced Lyin’ – A Pathetic Defense of Dennis Rehberg’s Record.

Ouch!!!

Both Button Valley Press and Will Fish For Work brought Walleye Welfare bill SB425 to my attention. Stop over and give ’em both a thanks for helping to save an important warm water fishery, along with a move that will ensure our fishing licenses won’t be increasing anytime in the near future.

Also celebrating the death of SB498…The Editor had put one one last scary post on the ills and unanswered questions behind carbon sequestration on Friday morning, and by late morning – early afternoon the bill was effectively killed in committee.

One ugly ugly bill that is sitting on the Governor’s desk, waiting for his signature is SB95 which concerns water quality standards for local municipalities. Politics, Peaks, and Valleys has a great piece over there, SB 95: Bucking Feds & Water Quality Standards. Anyone say “Mmmm, I love nutrient discharge in my water?” What’s shocking about this bill is how it is in direct conflict with federal EPA regulations. Look – legislative audits this past summer demonstrated how woefully inadequate Montana DEQ is acting as the agency responsible for the state’s water quality…why would we sign a law into effect that just continues to perpetrate that which is in violation of federal law?

Although, maybe Montana is better off with the feds taking over DEQ’s water quality division?

The Dead are apparently back out on tour The New York Times has two nice little nostalgic pieces – that one there and this one which is a collection of photographs, including reader submitted.

Matt Kohler has a piece up at Clean Green Sustainable about mountaintop coal removal. It’s a major issue out east – in king coal country West Virginia…which reminded me of something someone brought up the other day: “If all these coal advocates want to tout jobs-jobs-jobs when talking about coal, what about West Virginia? Isn’t that one of the poorest states in the U.S.? What about jobs and money down there?”

James Conner of Flathead Memo is not happy about the state of the CHIP initiative – and the state GOP’s role in the situation. When Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy facilitated that budgetary decision, well…let’s just say James got even more incensed.

No one is, really – and the hypocrisy surrounding that vote to reduce a citizen-backed program is mystifying. Singer points out the hypocrisy of it when transposed on the issue of redistricting, while in another post he points out how there simply isn’t any logic to the way they are coming to this decision.

Me? I see it pretty hypocritical of the Montana GOP to jump out on the Capitol steps and lambaste Democrats on the downfall of society for their pro-choice votes while failing to ensure that an additional 15,000 kids get healthcare and while voting in support of state-sanctioned killing in the death penalty? What kind of respect for life is that?

This one really ticked me off: Army Vet Billed $3,000 for War Wounds. My friend, who was Army, said that the Army should be sued for malpractice.

Bridger Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, of Bozeman, is climbing Mt. Everest and they’ve got a blog up with fabulous stories and photographs. I’ve been following it for weeks.

by jhwygirl

While the State of Montana ranks just 41 in political clout, its congressional representation fairs fares much better.

On a clout-per-member basis, Montana ranks 6.

Capitol Hill publication Roll Call just dished out its biennial rankings, which are based on a number of things including size of delegation, positions on committees and the importance of those committees, seniority, spread of members in the majority party, and per-capita federal dollars put into the state.

Funny. We’d probably gain to 40 in the state ranking if we ditched Denny and elected a Democrat. Notice how Minnesota will drop a slot if it ends up that Norm Coleman (somehow) comes out on top.




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