Archive for the ‘Jon Tester’ Category

by Jay Stevens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was egregiously wrong.

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

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

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

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by jhwygirl

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

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

Like this, perhaps?

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

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

And then again in February, March and May.

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

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

Wow. Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

By JC

Sheesh, not exactly what I wanted to do on a fine saturday afternoon, but after a couple of days of snarkism over at Pogie’s place, I’m feeling a bit vindictive. Seems that the Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director, Mike Garrity, has set off a firestorm, with all of the liberals in Helena getting their panties in a twist over some obscure reference to Vichy France and MWA.

I don’t see any real reason to relive the debate over Mike’s choice of words, they’ve been beaten to death in a near 100 comment marathon session that ripped the scabs off some old battle-worn scars. Mike’s words were contained in a Missoulian editorial written in response to an attack ad taken out by several of the “collaborators” working with the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) on Senator Tester’s Logging Bill, of which I’ve had much to say, so I’m not going to go there again.

What I really want to get at is the mangling of the analogy that the learned folks at Intelligent Discontent were capable of, in order to set up another round of radical “extremist” enviro bashing. Of course, I had to wade in and lay some testimony to the good Senator’s “Sista Souljah” moment when he dissected himself from part of his 2006 winning coalition of lefty enviros and mainstream dems.

While Mike Garrity is fully capable of choosing his words carefully, and building an analogy that likens Foundation funding of MWA with Nazi (I know, I said the awful “N” word) subversion of France during WWII, I like to think of a different analogy for what it is that foundations like the Pew Trusts, and other denizens of the Environmental Grantmakers Association remind me of: Trojan Horses.

You see, Pew and a few other big foundations started the EGA in order to whip radical obstructionists into order, by drying up their funding, and only fund nonprofits that followed their methods and pursued their policies. And those policies and strategies are not to be so effective that things like real wilderness protection actually happens, but that just enough scraps get thrown out to their memberships and the general public that they think something substantial is being done.

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By JC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Pete Talbot

Baucus pulls a Rehberg

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

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

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

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

On the other hand

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

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

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

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

By JC

———–
Update #2 (this is an update from the original Kos post linked to below):
This is from a statement from Stewart Rhodes of Oathkeepers regarding Republican Denny Rehberg as a target of recall, who also voted for NDAA.

Here in Montana, while we will go after all three violators of the Bill of Rights, I will place special emphasis and “focus of effort” on Denny Rehberg, since he is so fond of wrapping himself in the flag and claiming to be defending the Constitution while his votes do the exact opposite. In that sense, Rehberg is much like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two Republicans who, right along with Carl Levin and Joseph Lieberman, are leading a sustained and relentless assault on our Bill of Rights.
———–

Do people really believe it is appropriate for our Senators (or Rep) in Montana to cast votes that take away constitutional rights?

Well, many in Montana and across the country don’t believe so. Jonathan Turley, at the TurleyBlog — the foremost legal blog commenting on civil rights in the country — makes a fine example of what many Montanans are doing in response to Max and Jon’s (and should be doing to Denny, too) ill-advised votes for indefinite detention of american citizens:

…Now Montana citizens have decided to try another approach given the non-responsive attitude of our leaders — they are moving to remove their two Senators from office over their votes in favor of indefinite detention powers.

Montana is one of nine states with recall laws. The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Eighteen states have recall laws, but most do not apply to federal officers.

Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses. [sic]

Presumably, they are arguing that voting for an unconstitutional measure that allows for indefinite detention of citizens constitutes both a violation of the oath of office and incompetence. Usually official misconduct does not include policy differences, though voting for potentially authoritarian powers would not be viewed as good conduct in a free nation.

The move by the Montana votes shows something that I found in doing speeches around the country: there is no difference in red and blue states in citizens (1) fed up with our current two-party monopoly and dysfunctional politics and (2) opposed to the loss of civil liberties in this country.

It seems that occasional 4&20 commenter William Crane and others are behind this effort:

Montana law requires grounds for recall to be stated which show conformity to the allowed grounds for recall. The draft language of the Montana petitions, “reason for recall” reads:

“The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S citizens:
“a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA 2011) permanently abolishes the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, “for the duration of hostilities” in the War on Terror, which was defined by President George W. Bush as “task which does not end” to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

Those who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have attempted to grant powers which cannot be granted, which violate both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Montana Recall Act stipulates that officials including US senators can only be recalled for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense. We the undersigned call for a recall election to be held for Senator Max S. Baucus [and Senator Jonathan Tester] and charge that he has violated his oath of office, to protect and defend the United States Constitution.”

…Montana would be the first recall drive to be launched as a result of the vote for the NDAA military detentions provisions.

Ah, it’s a fine day when the “principled left” believes that a dialog about the electeds stripping Constitutional rights from citizens needs to take center stage! As to Turley’s point above about the “two-party monopoly”, Denny should be taking his licks for his vote, also.

Update with thought exercise: What will the election for Senator look like if both candidates have active petition recalls against them? And what might happen if the petitions actually lead to a vote before the general election next year? And who might the fill in candidates be if both recalls succeeded? Who might replace Max?

By JC

Well, I guess Senator Tester and his “centrist” coalition finally may have gotten on to something:

“In other words, there is a bipartisan majority — of opposition to the president. Certainly a President Romney or a President Bachmann could put together a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats to get quite a lot done. And that is ultimately the problem with Obama’s strategy. You can only run against “obstructionists” if your own agenda is widely popular and credible. Obama doesn’t have that. His own party knows it. The voters know it. And the GOP presidential candidates know it.”

So, a few senators are more than willing to sacrifice having a democrat re-elected to the white house in ’12 so they can hold on to their seats. Then again, as Rubin says, maybe those senators are more interested in bipartisanship that aligns themselves with republican legislators and with a republican president, than with democracts and a democrat president.

Jes sayin’…

By JC

So Jon Tester has moved to the right of Max Baucus. Now just why is he running unopposed as a “Democrat?” Primary, anyone?

From the Billings Gazette

…Tester has been saying in recent interviews that he doesn’t like the president’s approach to jump-starting the economy.
He called the tax breaks “gimmicks” that “do little to create jobs and fail to address a much bigger, underlying problem: The need for a big, broad and bipartisan plan to cut the deficit and to make sure we can pay our bills and rebuild our economy.”

Well, I guess someone had to take over the bipartisan fantasy in Montana ever since Baucus had his bipartisan balloon punctured during the health insurance squabble a few years ago. Good luck to the Senator from Big Sandy coming up with a “big, broad, and bipartisan plan.” Ain’t gonna happen. You’ve just bought the unemployment numbers for the state, and the nation. Hope you’ve got a bunch of spring seed on order for early 2013. You’re going to have some free time on your hands.

By JC

(Note: starting after this article’s note, I will no longer be linking to Lee Enterprises online newspaper articles, as they have instituted a paywall that prevents readers here from accessing those articles unless they have paid the subscription fee. Beings as I have not, and will not pay the fee, I will be linking to information from alternative sources).

“… A tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”

“… A talisman that ipso facto sweeps aside Separation of Powers concerns.”

“Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders…”
— Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy

In a stunning decision with a scathing commentary, Federal District Court Judge Don Molloy declared that Senator Jon Tester’s wolf rider supporting delisting of wolves in Montana and Idaho, in his opinion, is unconstitutional. He also found that a 9th Circuit Court precedent prevented him from ruling against the rider, and was forced to let Tester’s controversial rider stand.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups that challenged the rider, was quoted in the Lewiston Tribune article:

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “He is not only intimating the wolf rider is unconstitutional and the 9th Circuit is wrong but he is laying out a road map on how to appeal his own ruling and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. He does everything but buy us a bus ticket to Washington, D.C.”

Judge Molloy expounds on the role that the doctrine of Separation of Powers played in his decisions, and is must reading for any who would critique the power of Congress. And his analysis sets the framework for the inevitable appeal to the 9th Circuit.

I’ve had much to say here and elsewhere about Senator Tester’s use of riders to pass policy and this court case, so I needn’t go there again. You can read the Judge’s Final Order for yourself to get a sense of how upset he was that he was constrained from upholding the plaintiff’s case against the constitutionality of Tester’s rider process.

Here are some pertinent statements from the Judge about Senator Tester’s wolf rider:

“This case presents difficult questions for me. The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law. The principle behind the rule of law is to provide a mechanism and process to guide and constrain the government’s exercise of power. Political decisions derive their legitimacy from the proper function of the political process within the constraints of limited government, guided by a constitutional structure that acknowledges the importance of the doctrine of Separation of Powers. That legitimacy is enhanced by a meaningful, predictable, and transparent process.

In this case Defendants argue—unpersuasively—that Congress balanced the conflicting public interests and policies to resolve a difficult issue. I do not see what Congress did in the same light. Inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient, but it transgresses the process envisioned by the Constitution by avoiding the very debate on issues of political importance said to provide legitimacy. Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders to legislation that must be passed.

You can read more excerpts from the Judge’s Order below the fold:
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By JC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ha.

By JC

The PCCC released a poll that was conducted in several swing states in the last few months. I thought the results were pretty stark and clear, so I thought I’d give folks a chance to take a look at them.

I couldn’t find any graphs of this data, so I went ahead and abstracted out the Montana numbers and graphed them up. Not the best graph in the world, but good enough for discussion purposes. Raw numbers are at the link above.

Poll was taken April 27-30, 1,435 likely voters, 2.6% margin of error unless otherwise noted (for notes look at the raw numbers).

Consider this an open thread to discuss these numbers. If you click on the graph, you’ll get a larger version.

By CFS

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Senate:

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

Congress:

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

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

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

Kim Gillan (D): Campaign site

Governor:

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

Ken Miller (R): Campaign site, Facebook

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

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

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

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

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

So yeah…more national attention on Montana.

Has anyone read Sarah Palin’s InBox yet?

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

Thought I’d update a post I did last week, given that the Senate took another vote on ending ethanol subsidies – this one an amendment from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

A 73 – 27 bipartisan vote moved forward a repeal of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, to be included in the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011.

Both Montana Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus voted in support of repeal.

~~~
Found this spreadsheet which shows that of all U.S. corn production, 28.7% ends up in our gas tanks.

by jhwygirl

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

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

Until now.

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

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

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

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

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

Whining about losing rewards? Wow. Talk about priorities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By JC

You know, Democrats really hate people who put policy before politics. Principles before compromises. Issues before elections. Especially when you’re talking about wilderness.

Seems that criticizing policy that seeks to release lands protected by the late Senator Lee Metcalf’s Montana Wilderness Study Act and other roadless and protected areas, in exchange for the official “designation” of a few hundred thousand acres of said protected land garners folks the “ilk” moniker from Dems.

Well, I happen to like the “ilk” that i have been associated with. So thanks to the thought police for pointing that out and reminding me who my friends are, here. I’d so rather work with folks who’d rather take a principled stand on the value of wilderness, instead of trading wilderness for votes.

Fighting for, and about wilderness has become a time-honored tradition in Montana between the body politic, and those who would protect or would destroy it. Sometimes, Dem gossip columnists get the facts mixed up a bit, and come off sounding a bit down-right hostile to enviros.
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By JC

The blowback from Senator Jon Tester’s Wolf Rider has begun in earnest. Three environmental groups filed lawsuit in federal district court today challenging the constitutionality of his wolf rider.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians charge in their complaint that the delisting rider violates the U.S. Constitution, as it specifically repeals a judicial decision. While Congress has the right to make and amend laws, the wolf delisting rider (Section 1713 of the budget law, HR 1473, PL 112-10) does not amend the Endangered Species Act. Rather, it orders the reinstatement of the 2009 wolf delisting rule.

“The rider goes against a bedrock principle of our democracy: checks and balances between branches of government,” stated Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Legislators can’t pick off specific court decisions they don’t like. That’s not fair for the wolf, and it’s certainly not good for our democracy.”

This debate over the wolf rider is no longer about the issue of wolf reintroduction or science or politics. It is about the role of the three branches of the federal government–checks and balances–and the right of the public to participate in that process, no matter how out of the mainstream those actions may be portrayed in an attempt to intimidate dissenters.

Jon Tester’s wolf rider was merely an attempt by him and his most ardent and vocal supporters to repress dissent among those who would use the processes guaranteed to them by the Constitution and codified in important federal legislation like NEPA and the Endangered Species Act to act on behalf of their constituencies, the mission of the nonprofits they work for, and the principles they advance.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in an April 18, 2011 letter to President Obama weighed in on the issue:

“I write to express serious concern over the inclusion of policy language unrelated to the budget. Specifically, using policy “riders” within the budget to de-list gray wolves in the Northern Rockies region from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA)… sets a highly undesirable precedent for making decisions on important social and natural resource issues that deserve open and informed debate.

A six-month budget resolution negotiated through backroom discussions is clearly the wrong vehicle to make permanent changes to significant public policy. For nearly 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has assured decisions about our nation’s natural heritage are driven by science, fish and wildlife professionals, and public input. Removing protection for an endangered species by congressional mandate, much less through a budget bill, stands in unprecedented contrast to this history. This action erodes the integrity of the ESA, excludes important public involvement, and usurps the agency structure, established based on a balancing of executive and legislative branch power, that exists to undertake important decisions affecting America’s wildlife.”

Of course, Senator Tester developed his political chops in the Montana State Legislature, a hotbed of extra-constitutional legislating (which has been abundantly documented here at 4&20). One would have hoped that the futility of unconstitutional legislating would have been left behind in Montana when the Senator went to Washington, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case.

This issue will continue to be attacked by those who merely see this as a battle over wolf numbers, or when/how they were delisted (legally or not). But Senator Tester’s having elevated this to a constitutional battle raises the issue to one of majority tyranny: the repression of dissent, as expressed in the right of a vocal and active minority who are willing to challenge the status quo and the forces that maintain them. Those who have been fighting for the wolf have been doing so in a time-honored fashion, and doing it the old fashioned way: through legal public process, which to the chagrin of the majority, includes the judiciary.

Senator Tester’s action to legislate a judicial decision raises a far greater question than one of how to properly delist a species from the Endangered Species Act. And that question is: how far is Congress and mainstream America willing to go to repress the democratic bedrock upon which citizens are allowed to redress their grievances?

“We’re back in court for two reasons,” concluded Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “First and foremost, it’s to continue to protect wolves from indiscriminate slaughter. Second, someone has to stand up when the basic tenets of our government are under attack by unscrupulous politicians.”

Let the armchair lawyering begin…

————-
Update: As Matthew Koehler noted in the comments, The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit in federal court today, also:

Today’s lawsuit is based on Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the principle of “separation of powers.” This principle dictates that the judicial power of the United States lies in the federal courts and not in Congress. In this case, Congress violated the principle by inserting itself into an ongoing legal case brought by conservation groups over the fate of wolves in the northern Rockies.

By JC

“If you want to be a malleable politician, you campaign from the center. But if you want to be a leader, you define the center. You don’t rely on polls to tell you where to go. At best, polls tell you where people are, and it’s pointless to lead people where they already are. The essence of political leadership is focusing the public’s attention on the hard issues that most would rather avoid or dismiss.” — Robert Reich, Reason

With those words firmly planted in mind, I’m going to relate a story of how Jon Tester’s candidacy for the Senate was given a huge boost by a contingent of Montanans throwing their weight behind his candidacy in the 2006 primary against John Morrison and others.

And we start the story with a poll: John Morrison +1%.

That was the number that was staring at Democrats a few weeks before the June 6th, 2006 Democrat primary for Senate in Montana. Coupled with that number were other polls that showed Morrison at a serious disadvantage compared to Jon Tester in a one-to-one matchup against 3-time incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns.

Sitting back in the pack of Democrats running in the primary was Paul Richards, polling at about 2%. While 2% isn’t much, during the general election, almost 200,000 votes were cast Democrat. So around 4,000 people could have been said to support Paul. Not a large number, and not a particularly big political base from which to attempt to influence the statewide race. Or so it seems.

But let’s consider for a moment whom those 4,000 people may have been.
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by Pete Talbot

You get who you vote for

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

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

The jury is still out on Travis Kavulla.

* Attributed to PSC Commissioner Gail Gutsche.

Denny’s going down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By JC

Jhwygirl asks the correct question over at Left in the West:

“Congress should be the decision maker? Not science?”

in response to Rob Kailey’s statement in his diary “Donald Molloy Maintains Judicial Integrity” yesterday:

“For the record, this judgment goes beyond a simple defense of wolves in the Northern Rockies. This was a defense of the federal separation of powers and the integrity of the judicial branch. So, the legislative efforts move forward, precisely as Molloy said they should or shouldn’t. That’s up to Congress, as it should be. “

For those who may not be following the story closely, on Saturday, Federal District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled in a case involving an attempted Settlement Agreement between a coalition of organizations attempting to head off Congressional action over wolf delisting in Montana and Idaho.

That coalition included 10 out of 14 plaintiffs in a lawsuit that had been filed to challenge the way the federal government was going about delisting wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The other 4 organizations refused to settle, believing that they had won important legal issues already, and were set to prevail on their Complaint challenging the way the government was proceeding with wolf delisting.

When those 10 organizations discovered that Senator Tester was going to do an end-around the court case by introducing a rider to delist the wolf in Congress, they decided to settle their case with the government as a way to obviate the need for the rider. And on Friday, they were relieved to find that most of the policy riders had been struck from the Continuing Resolution that had been agreed upon that would fund the government for another week.

But on Saturday, Senator Tester indicated that he had reattached his wolf delisting rider to the compromise 2011 budget agreement that is supposed to get worked out this week:
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By JC

This is a tough opinion to write. My goal here is not continually to bash Montana’s junior senator, but the buildup to the looming battle over the budget, complete with threat of government shutdowns and refusal to raise the debt ceiling, leaves me with no choice but to lay the political argument out on the table: what is the role of the U.S. government?

It is with this question in mind this morning when I awoke to Senator Tester’s new op-ed piece in my inbox. And of course, I was hoping that he would address the big question: what is it that we need from our government today? Particularly when Congress is so polarized between the conservative/teabagger alliance hellbent on tearing government down to an inefficient and meaningless puddle of tail-between-the-legs government employees propped up by the world’s greatest military, and a democrat rump party unable to craft a message about the appropriate role of government and a message to defend it and inspire people to value their government and rise up in opposition to this insanity.

I so wanted Senator Tester to live up to the promise that the Weekly Standard posed, in its front page cover and headline article asking the question of is Jon “The New Face of the Democratic Party?” Because the democratic party is in sore need of leadership able to craft a message and fight for the needs of Americans struggling to survive the Great Recession.

Turning to Tester’s op-ed, what are greeted with?

“Congress has an important decision to make this week: Either work together to responsibly cut spending and keep our government working, or refuse and let our government shut down.”

And with that statement, the battle was lost–them’s some real fighting words. Democrats, if Jon Tester is any indication, have already abdicated their responsibility, if this is how they choose to define the battle. And Denny Rehberg’s election committee must be laughing their asses off right about now. They won that round.

At a time when the GOP budget, as outlined by Rep. Ryan, has as its goal the abolishment of Medicare and Medicaid in 10 years what we need is a battle for the heart and soul of the democratic party, liberal policies, and progressive ideals. Instead democrats let the right define the terms of the battle, and the end goal: budget cutting at any cost.

There is nary a word in Tester’s words cutting to the right’s vulnerabilities in their quest, and they are multitude. Where the right gets away with labeling the Affordable Care Act as “Death Panels” democrats must be fine with the GOP proposing true death panels: turning the health care needs of the elderly, the disabled and the poor over to the private sector–which seeks only to profit off of their misery. Social Security privatization is right around the corner.

I could go on and on dissecting Tester’s op-ed, but my ulcer is already killing me. Suffice it to say that I view his words as opportunity lost, nothing more than a rearrangement of the chairs of the Titanic, that once majestic Great Society that has taken nearly 80 years to build, yet with one weakly challenged budget battle, will begin to unravel at breakneck speed.

Update: Paul Krugman just weighed in on this theme in “The Threat Within:”

“The great danger now is that Obama — with the help of a fair number of Senate Democrats — will kill Medicare in the name of civility and outreach.”

By JC

Thought a little JibJab humor might cheer everybody up. Well, everybody but all those who’s dreams rested on DREAM.

by Pete Talbot

Nothing like a trip to the Magic City of Billings to put things in perspective: where an in-law tells me about his buddy who’s making $2000 a week welding on a pipeline in the Williston Basin, where I meet a man who runs a big (I mean really big) shovel at Colstrip, where my sister-in-law’s new boyfriend is working maintenance at the Stillwater palladium mine south of Columbus. All these guys are bucking the recession.

They don’t give a sh*t about DADT or DREAM. “It’s the economy, stupid.” (A quote attributed to James Carville during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.) Which is why, even though at some point in their lives, the workers mentioned above belonged to a union, they voted Republican in the 2010 midterm election.

Shortsighted? Without a doubt. These guys aren’t millionaires and the Republican Party doesn’t represent them. But they think it does.

So, when my progressive cohorts rail against Sen. Jon Tester on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, and DREAM, I have to do a little reality check. You see, I agree wholeheartedly with the progressives but after living in Montana for 45 years, I like to think I have some insight into the Montanan mind set. And Billings is about as Montanan as you can get.

At this point, these Billings workers aren’t going to vote for someone to the left of Jon Tester. Hell, Tester barely won his seat in 2006 against a corrupt incumbent who had insulted women, firefighters and most minorities. And you’d have been hard pressed to find a better candidate to go up against Republican Conrad Burns than that big Montana dry-land farmer with a flattop and missing fingers.

It isn’t about the lesser of two evils. It’s about pure evil versus a mainstream Democrat; like Denny Rehberg v. Jon Tester in the 2012 U.S. Senate election or any Democrat against Rick Hill/Cory Stapleton/Ken Miller for Montana Governor.

It isn’t easy for me to write this post. Having been called a Socialist, a Communist and a red scurvy dog, I figure I’ve earned my progressive credentials. But sometimes one has to step back and look at the world, the country and Montana the way it is.

I’m not going to quit pushing my elected Democratic officials to be as progressive as they can be. And I’ll continue to critique their bad votes as I’ve done in the past; particularly Sen. Max Baucus but also Sen. Tester and Gov. Schweitzer. And to quote Jim Hightower, “I’ll keep agitatin’.”

by jhwygirl

I’ve slept on this two nights, and I’ve failed to find a moral or a logical reason for Tester’s vote, other than pandering for votes.

I guess I’m one of those idealistic ones who expects the people I vote for to do the right thing. Even when it’s tough.

A number of progressives here in Montana have written about Jon’s vote – Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, Matt at Left in the West, Wulfgar! and Jamee Greer at Left in the West too….and Shahid Haque-Hausrath, a Helena-based attorney and human rights activist.

I see Tester’s vote as unreasonable. It was a step towards reform. We’ve been told to accept steps on health care. We’ve been told to accept steps on financial reform. Compromise.

I thought this was compromise. A baby step towards reasonably and morally solving one little slice of the immigration issue.

Beyond that, I’m pretty much in line with the laments of Pogie and the disappointment of Jamee Greer. We all were working very hard in 2006 for Tester.

DREAM would have made citizens out of people brought here as minors. Children that did not have a choice and children that did not knowingly come here breaking the law.

DREAM made citizens of these people who came here as children providing they had clean records and a good grade average and hadn’t broken the law.

DREAM had nothing to do with so-called ‘anchor babies’ because – like it or not – those ‘anchor babies’ are legal citizens of the United States of America.

Now, if you want to call that amnesty – and I point to the fact that these are kids we’re talking about who had no choice – call it that. But it sure seemed fair to me.

I mean, what – punish the child for the ills of the parent? Really?

Sen. Tester issued a statement at 5 p.m. Friday, the eve before Saturday’s vote, saying he couldn’t vote for amnesty.

So the other reason I see his vote as utterly without logic is this: If Senator Tester’s position is “no amnesty” how, pray tell, do we meet his position? What is the end-game to that position? Deportation of all undocumented immigrants? How are we going to do that? More importantly, how are we going to fund it?

And think about it – Exactly what kind of government does it require to round up all these illegal people? Are you going to go door to door? Am I going to have to carry citizenship papers with me at all times?

I mean, really? What is the end-game of a “no amnesty” position?

Tester’s vote is extremely disheartening for me…especially from what I read outside of the Montana blogosphere – “burn in hell”? “bigot”? Those words cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

As for my part, I’ve taken a number of criticisms just for posting kos’ response to Tester’s vote (a post, btw, which mentioned Baucus). As I started out above – I’ve slept on this two nights trying to see a reasonable side to this vote and I’ve yet to find it.

Do I make Jon an adversary by being so upset about this vote? I would certainly hope not – and I would hope he thought the same when he cast his NO vote knowing I and a whole bunch of others here in Montana and elsewhere would think it was a shitty thing to do.

If anything, the cynic is me says that there’s a part of him that’s giving me a tip o’ the hat for giving him some street cred with the voting xenophobes of Montana. I mean – consider the value kos got him over at Electric City Weblog.

by jhwygirl

Montana Senator Jon Tester voted against the DREAM act today. Kos is pissed

So am I.

(Looks like Baucus voted NO too.)




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