Archive for the ‘Jim Messina’ Category

by Pete Talbot

And here I thought Sen. Max Baucus was retiring from the U.S. Senate so he could spend more time in Montana with his lovely, young wife.  He’s even building a home in the Bozeman area.

It looks like I was wrong.  The blogs are awash with the news that Max will most likely be the next U.S. Ambassador to China.  I won’t link to them all — they range from kudos to criticism — and you’ve probably already read them.  Here’s the NY Times story, though.

Now China will be his legacy since tax reform is off the table and the Affordable Care Act isn’t exactly being warmly embraced.

The big question: who will be appointed by Gov. Bullock as Baucus’ place holder until the 2014 election?

Ahh, to be a fly on the wall in those smoke-filled back rooms (although not as smokey as they used to be thanks to anti-tobacco trends).  Who to pick: Lt. Gov. John Walsh, Brian Schweitzer, Pat or Carol Williams, one of our Tier-B women (Juneau, McCulloch, Lindeen)?

Now former Baucus/Obama staffer Jim Messina is being mentioned.  How the hell did he get in the mix?

And if Bullock appoints Walsh, who will he then appoint as lieutenant governor?  (Bohlinger?  That would be ironic, n’est pas?)

I’m sure all these questions were hashed out and answered many months ago by the powers that be.  The rest of us are just along for the ride.

UPDATE: It’s official.  Obama nominates Baucus for Ambassador to China position.  Max’s appointment should sail through Senate hearings.

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by JC

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

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

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

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

“America has no functioning democracy at this moment”

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading »

By JC

Who didn’t see this coming? Obama campaign guru is going to work for the conservatives in the U.K to help elect Tory David Cameron beat the Labour party. I’m sure that’ll really help him if he decides to work on the ’16 dem presidency campaign.

Of course, who better than Obama’s right hand man to help the Tories learn about “big data:”

“The video [below] – in which Mr Messina talks about the role of Big Data in the 2012 election campaign – would support that. He says that data is “the best avenue to the truth” and that he used it “to inform almost every major decision we did in the campaign”.

Voters should expect a “personalised” campaign in the run-up to 2015 – i.e. one that is, based on data about them, personally tailored to encourage a vote for David Cameron.”

“Data became the most important thing I did… it’s how I spent a billion dollars.”

I wonder just what else Messina is going to counsel the conservatives on? Data mining, National Stasi Intelligence style, for when legal public data sets aren’t quite good enough to get the job done?

As there is no hiding from the NSA and it’s tentacles of data mining techniques, politics will no longer be about old fashioned glad-handing. It will be just another extension of the surveillance state.

And here’s what a Daily Kos writer had to say about Messina:

“Personally, I view Jim Messina as a traitor for joining ranks with British Conservatives… Jim Messina is the closest thing that our generation will ever have to a Benedict Arnold-like figure.”

Ah, sweet politics. Just like watching a black widow eat her mate on a rainy day…

And nice to know that Jimmy boy checked in with his old boss before taking the big money new job:

“Messina checked with the White House before accepting the contract, according to a White House official who asked not to be identified because of diplomatic sensitivities. The office emphasized that Messina’s decision to work for Cameron does not represent “any kind of a signal from the president” regarding Britain’s future election.”

Right…

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By JC

“A New Foundation”
er, “Winning the Future”
er, “Put Country Before Party”
er…

I don’t know about you guys, but I see some problems in the Prez’s messaging:

President Obama told a crowd at a battery plant in Holland, Michigan, this afternoon that Republicans must “find a way to put country ahead of party…”

Underlining the takeaway of Obama’s speech today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “Key element from today’s remarks — Put Country before Party.

Obama’s new slogan, “Put Country before Party,” is awfully close to Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ari., failed 2008 presidential slogan “Country First.”

After telling Congress to “Put Country before Party” Obama is scheduled to fly to New York City where he will raise money for the Democratic Party at the Ritz Carlton.”

Go get ’em tiger! What can be more ‘merican than raising campaign funds at the Ritz? Right after you admonished republicans to be patriots and adopted their sloganeering tactics for your own. Is that what you mean by “putting country before party”?. Wow!

Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

Every so often, our daily newspaper gives us competing versions of an important story. Today was such a day.

There’s this guest column and this news interview. Both are on the subject of health care. The guest column was penned by Greg Roberts, a former health care executive.  The interview of President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Jim Messina, was conducted by Charles Johnson.

Guess which person was advocating a single-payer system, or at the very least, a strong public option? Hint: it isn’t the guy who used to be Sen. Baucus’ Chief of Staff before moving up the ladder.

I saw Messina this past Homecoming Weekend in the Missoula Club, schmoozing with our mayor and other Democratic Party notables. I didn’t get the chance, as jhwygirl suggested, to button hole Messina on the public option but I wouldn’t have done nearly as good a job as Roberts did in his column. For starters:

Sen. Max Baucus, representative government is a cornerstone of our democracy. We elect individuals to serve society’s best interests. Yet “government of, by and for the people” seems a concept as foreign to you as you to it.

For 12 months, our Senate Finance Committee has engaged in what has amounted to a charade on this matter. From the start, advocates for true reform were excluded from your hearings, a prologue to what followed.

Compare that with Messina’s take on Baucus health care efforts:

“The fact is Max wrote a very good bill that can bring people together, and you’re seeing that,” Messina said. “And on Tuesday, he’s going to pass it (in committee).”

Asked about the lack of a public option in the Baucus bill, Messina said it has one in the form of co-ops.

“Look, the president supports public option, but has said over and over again there are different ways to do it,” Messina said. “He’d be open to those ways. We’re in consultations with the House and Senate about that.”

Asked about the criticism Baucus is facing over the lack of a public option in his bill, Messina said: “This is probably the most important piece of legislation that he will work on, and people feel strongly about what should or should not be in it. Typical of Max, he’s spent a whole bunch of time doing his homework and is working hard to produce the best bill that he can produce.”

I’ve got to go with Roberts over Messina on this, ” … a very good bill that can bring people together … ” Yeah, right. People are lining up to sing the praises of the Baucus bill. As to the lack of a public option, ” … it has one in the form of co-ops.” A co-op is not a public option and even the CBO is skeptical.

From an Alex Koppleman piece in Salon:

(The co-ops) didn’t impress CBO. “The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments,” the analysis said. Translated out of wonk-speak, that’s pretty harsh; it basically says they won’t work.

Then there’s ” … he’s spent a whole bunch of time doing his homework and is working hard to produce the best bill that he can produce.” If that’s the best bill he can produce, maybe somebody else should take a crack at it.

Let’s face it, the private insurers are already squawking about the minor reforms being proposed by Congress and threatening even more rate increases. Max has given the insurance industry just about everything it could have wished for and it’s still whining. This from Digby, via Jay, over at Left in the West:

There has never been a better argument for the public plan than the one the insurance company just handed the Democrats in congress. They have produced a shoddy, self-serving report as a blatant threat to raise premiums higher than they already plan to raise them. If there has ever been a more obvious case of bad faith than this, I haven’t seen it. The only thing that will keep these corporate criminals in line is either price controls or stiff competition and if they can’t keep their companies solvent without giving their executives outrageous pay packages, charging ridiculous prices while denying care to sick people, then maybe their financial model just doesn’t work.

Finally, there’s this from Roberts:

The health insurance industry contributes upwards of 25 percent to the annual cost of U.S. health care and medical value. Viewed in the light of other nations who provide (based on factual data) higher quality, less expensive, universal coverage to their citizens, it is not difficult to understand the economics of the matter. In you (Baucus), Chuck Grassley and others, the U.S. health insurance industry has the best representation money can buy – and our society has a government of, by and for corporate interest.

What I know about Messina is this: he’s extremely loyal. One would assume he’s working in the President’s best interests, not his old boss’. But right now, to be honest, I’d prefer that Greg Roberts, not Jim Messina, has the President’s ear.

by jhwygirl

…because “he’s funny as hell and the bomb.com,” according to his Wikipedia page.

Getting to the point…Jim Messina, Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama is in town to enjoy this weekends festivities, I’m sure. Jim Messina who used to live here in Missoula. Jim Messina who graduated University of Montana. He will be out and about, and you just might run into him.
jim messina

See what a great nice looking guy he looks like. Very approachable…extremely pleasant. Look – I don’t want anyone to miss the possibility of, say, passing a note to Mr. Messina and telling him that you support a public option and a single payer system. You can add some of the other stuff that’s been written around here too, but really, you can keep it short and sweet and I’m sure he’d probably appreciate a certain economy to your words. I do believe he deserves some time off from the pressures of D.C., and in that respect, I’ll personally pledge to ignore his next two stops here after health insurance reform is passed.

But for now? Pass him a note if you get the chance.

by Pete Talbot

Happy Thanksgiving

Indeed, we have so much to be thankful for — living in Montana, and hanging with family and friends — it’s a blessing. Problembear got it right but I have this Utopian dream that some day there won’t be any vets we have to thank. Peace.

On a lighter note, the first Grizzly playoff game is Saturday, and because it’s a holiday weekend and most of the students and many others are out of town, it’s a great opportunity to score tickets. Go Griz and beat those other Bobcats.

More Messina

I finally got around to reading last week’s New Yorker and there was an interesting piece on Barack Obama’s campaign strategy. Montana boy Jim Messina (Idaho and Colorado as well, but he came of age in Big Sky Country) was quoted often in the story. He was Montana Sen. Baucus’ chief of staff before being tapped as the Obama campaign’s chief of staff. Now he’s the deputy chief of staff at the White House (think Josh from West Wing).

On being in charge of Obama’s campaign budget Messina said, “I spend the money, so everything here’s gotta go through me to get spent, which is the best job ever. It’s like getting the keys to a fucking Ferrari.”

And there’s much more campaign analysis in the issue.

Yellowstone Club

Lots in the news lately about the the private ski area for the uber-rich that recently filed for Chapter 11. Here’s the latest from Bob Struckman over at NewWest.

Anyway, my ski buddies are all over this. One of them has an old, burned-out trailer he wants to haul up there. He figures since the club is having a hard time making payroll, security must be lax — just plop that trailer down in an empty lot and maybe get squatting rights.

I’m sure Yellowstone Club residents Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Dan Quayle, et al., won’t mind.

A new low

It’s a sad story for the Iowa-based newspaper corporation that owns daily papers in Missoula, Billings, Helena, Butte and Hamilton, and also a number of weeklies. Lee Enterprises stock fell to $1 on Wednesday (down 91 percent from a year ago). That puts it in the penny stock realm and this can’t be good for those of us who depend on the newspaper for our morning fix. A weak press serves no one. Newspapers are part of the ‘fourth estate’ which keeps an eye on government and reports on daily happenings. This does not bode well for the public.

I also feel sorry for those employees, retirees and other Montanans who banked on Lee stock as a nest egg. It’s almost as bad as those folks who depended on Montana Power stock as a safe haven for the future.


by Pete Talbot

Literally

Keep Montana Beautiful. It’s one week past the election and time to take those signs down: small yard signs, big signs and really big signs (billboards). I realize that you buy billboards by the month, so Elaine Sollie Herman and the rest of Montana are stuck with those pink-and-black billboards that dot the Montana landscape until Dec. 1. But the rest of you can pull your signs — just save those wickets and that rebar for the next election.

Figuratively

I saw a couple of blogs, one left and one right, calling for a house cleaning of the Montana Republican Party. One comment said that state party chairman Erik Iverson should resign after the party took a drubbing in most of the big-ticket races.

Ain’t gonna happen.

IMHO Iverson did a decent job. Sure, he would have liked a couple of the “Tier B’s” and maybe another PSC seat. Considering the political climate and a fractured Montana Republican Party (Ron Paul, Roger Koopman, et al.) he did well to, basically, hold the Montana House and make significant gains in the Montana Senate.

There was a lot of head scratching over Montana’s mostly Democratic wins in the up-ticket races while handing the Montana Senate a Republican victory. In an interview with the Lee state Bureau, Iverson said Republicans spent $750,000 in targeting 21 legislative races they thought they could win, and “it paid off.”

There were a couple blemishes. One has to wonder just how involved Iverson was in the failed voter suppression ruse. He was also one of the main contributors to the sleazy “Obama will take your guns away” campaign. But that campaign worked and was partially responsible for the 12,000 vote deficit that cost Obama our three electoral votes.

If Iverson wants to stay around Montana, I’ll think we’ll continue to see his hand in state Republican politics.

Speaking of Iverson

It’s rude and juvenile to poke fun at candidates and their supporters when they lose. I’ll make an exception. One big mistake of Iverson’s was his claim that Obama would lose Montana by eight-to-ten points. Try 2.5 points, Erik. I even challenged him to a wager right here at 4&20 but the big scaredy-cat didn’t respond.

Messina on the move

It should be noted that former Missoula resident Jim Messina has an important role with the Obama transition team. Messina went to UM and actually worked on some local campaigns before moving on to the big leagues; first with Sen. Baucus and then with the Obama campaign as chief of staff.

According to Politico, ” … Messina, will serve in the influential role of personnel director … ”

Hey Jim, I’m probably a bit under-qualified for a cabinet post but would take an ambassadorship to, say, Fiji or Tahiti.

(UPDATE: Messina has received an even better job assignment: deputy chief of staff.  It’s the job that Josh had on the TV show West Wing.)

New to me

It’s been around a couple months but came to my attention last week. It’s a local, progressive political blog site called Bunk in the West. It’s main contributors are Binky Griptight (great name) and Megan. Binky has been a frequent commenter at this site. A belated welcome to the ‘spere.


by Pete Talbot

Jim Messina isn’t a native Missoulian but he spent many of his formative years in the Garden City. Messina, former chief of staff to Montana’s Sen. Max Baucus, has just accepted the chief of staff position for presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama.

I first met Jim back in 1990 93. He was running the Missoula mayoral campaign for Dan Kemmis and I was running the campaign for a candidate for city council. Kemmis won his race while my candidate lost. Enough said.

From these humble beginnings, Messina went on to work on U.S. Senate and House campaigns in Alaska, North Dakota and New York.

He also ran Baucus’ re-election bid in 2002. Baucus beat Mike Taylor 62.7% to 31.7%. This race was notable, however, for a couple of things. One was a Baucus TV spot that featured historic footage of Taylor in a hair-care video wearing a Nehru jacket and massaging a man’s head. The spot destroyed Taylor.

The race also featured two colorful (pun intended) third-party candidates: The blue-skinned Libertarian Stan Jones, who as a precaution against a supposed millennium Armageddon had ingested a homemade elixir containing silver; and Green Party candidate Bob Kelleher, who is this year’s Republican candidate against Sen. Baucus!

But back to Messina. Even though Taylor’s chances against Baucus were minuscule, Messina ran an aggressive campaign, took nothing to chance and acted as though the campaign was neck-and-neck up to election eve. That’s Jim Messina.

Messina is hard working, fiercely loyal and takes no quarter when it comes to running a campaign. He’s defended Max against the kind of criticism that’s emanated from places like this website (Max’s less than stellar opposition to the Iraq War, and his votes on prescription drugs, free trade, bankruptcy, tax cuts … ). But then I guess that’s part of the job description of a chief of staff — defending your boss against critics, no matter what.

Messina isn’t a policy guy, he’s an organizer, and damn good at it. He also understands Western politics and issues, and it will serve Montana well to have Jim Messina working closely with Barack Obama. Congratulations, Jim, and good luck to you and Sen. Obama.




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