Archive for the ‘Montana politics’ Category

by jhwygirl

Had a coworker say to me this morning as work begun “What’s with Jon Krakauer? Why does he hate UM?” Tone and history told me where they were on the University of Montana – City of Missoula – Mayor John Engen – President Engstrom rape “thing”: The “It’s over!” “Why bring this up again?” “Jordan Johnson was innocent!” “No one ever proved anything!” crowd.

Whatever. I’ll continue to call bs on the matter if anyone discusses to any great degree – and it’s likely they do so just to get a rise out of me. I’m OK with it. I have a decent memory, and I deal with facts. Google is easily accessible. The #truth was revealed in the Department of Justice report; the statutes of limitations haven’t expired; Montana’s current Attorney General Tim Fox has stated he feels the matter has been resolved; both the previous Governor Brian Schweitzer and the current Governor Steve Bullock have done nothing, either, to press for justice; and – the real kicker here that everyone seems to forget – the rapists walk free. Those are facts, but apparently there are many here that feel comfortable to ignore the reality.

It’s not like this isn’t free and open information – the Missoulian did fine reporting on the matter, and I still thank Gwen Florio for her fearless journalism, along with the editor and publisher that stood behind reporting on the matter while there was some huge advertising and Griz Nation backlash.

I wonder how the vicitims feel? I think of them. Do you think Freddie Van Valkenburg does? Or the ever-so-efficient, John Engen-endorsed Missoula County Attorney Kirsten B. Pabst? I doubt it.

Does Montana Attorney General Tim Fox – who was hot on the campaign pulpit on the issue of sexual predators – think about the gang rape that happened? That President Engstrom’s own “independent” investigator – a former Montana Supreme Court Justice – also found and placed in her report?

Does Fox think about the other sexual assaults? The 5 year old victim? I do.

Krakauer may be facing an unfriendly welcome here in Missoula when (and if) he comes to sign books. Or speak. But it sure isn’t going to be from me. I’m glad he took the rape issue on. I’m glad it’s the rape issue here. I hope he continues to push for the University papers. I hope he finds the alleged connections that are there between the former Governor’s office and his cronies and friends that came to the Board of Regents, and the weave of politics behind the whole sordid mess.

But getting back to my cowoker…..

I said that I wouldn’t be so sure that he hates the University of Montana – that maybe Krakauer loves Montana and just looks for any excuse to come here to write. (I was in a jolly mood this morning – and as I mentioned above, all parties know where I stand on the rape matter. Plus I added my own little sprinkle of sarcasm.)

The reply was that “Well, he hates the Two Cups of Tea guy too.”

And I love pink ponies and rainbows.

Addendum: One of my favorite posts from the University of Montana rape scandal is this from Patrick Duganz, as it epitomizes the head-in-the-sand Good-Ole-Boy’s Club and seemingly socially acceptable rape and sexual assault is (or was, depending on who you ask) here in Missoula: Rape is not “knuckleheaded,” Rape is a felony.

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by Pete Talbot

[What’s an emptive?  Lizard says he’s posted a preemptive strike (below this post) to a piece I’ve been working on.  Well, here’s my postemptive.  I’m finishing something I’ve started; not my strong suit.  Damn you, lizard.]

No one really needs me to defend this site.  The contributors do a fine job of responding to comments and criticism, and they even show a little introspection from time-to-time.

But I found this in my inbox a few days ago from someone I respect. For my own reasons, I’ll keep it anonymous but here’s the gist:

I hope you’re following what is going on at 4 and 20 these days.

It seems that there isn’t a Democrat they “like” anymore. Literally, not one.

I’ve been a lurking b’birder from the beginning but I think I finally may let it go.

I mean they’re even going after Pat Williams. I think we’ve got Senator Essman and the Montana Republican party doing enough of that, don’t we?

He/she has a point. This site has made many twists and turns over the years.  It started Democratically-centric, particularly in Jon Tester’s successful bid to unseat Sen. Conrad Burns in 2006. 4&20 has had many contributors since then from all stripes left of center, but it belongs to no one. The opinions are those of the writers and I appreciate them all. There are sites that espouse party line — left, right and center — and I’m grateful for those, too.

Now, the 4&20 reins are in lizard’s hands.  It’s great to see jhwy.girl in the mix again and a post now-and-then from JC.  But this not the site to visit if you’re looking for party talking points. After our founding father, Jay Stevens, I’m the closest to a Democratic apologist and I seldom post anymore.

I enjoy the unbridled ideology this site brings to the ‘sphere.  I can’t always embrace it because of life’s realities.  Example: I’m against coal trains, tar sands, the rape of the Bakken and the Keystone XL Pipeline.  If this was my platform for an upcoming bid for statewide office, how would I fare?  Piss poor, and having just returned from the Magic City, Montana’s largest berg,  where I did some unscientific polling, I say this with conviction.

So, I’ll continue to straddle that line between idealism and pragmatism while  absorbing the musings from the blogs, and hoping we lean to the left as far as feasible in this great state of ours.

by Pete Talbot

I’m convinced that the only reason I haven’t been appointed to a cabinet post is my wife’s unseemly past.

Take the case of Tracy Stone-Manning.  She’s been nominated by Gov. Bullock to head Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality.  Her husband, Dick Manning, wrote a book nearly a decade ago that apparently criticized certain modern agricultural practices.

Forget her qualifications for the job, her husband wrote something that offended some legislators (although I doubt they actually read the book).

I love this new litmus test being a part of the Bullock administration: let’s hold folks accountable for their spouses’ actions.  Debbie Barrett (R-Dillon) certainly thinks it’s a good idea.

Maybe the husband/wife has a little problem with booze or pills: boot the nominee. Or maybe said spouse opened their kisser at the wrong time or penned a nasty letter to the editor.  That’s certainly grounds for not getting appointed.  I think we should do background checks on the spouses of everyone who holds public office.

For a Republican Senator, a resume isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.  Again, take Pat Williams’ nomination to the board of regents as a case in point.  No, it’s all political now.  Or in some cases, the politics of a spouse.

It can’t get much more petty than that.

(By the way, my wife has a pretty impeccable background.  I, on the other hand … )

by Pete Talbot

There are lots of ways to interpret the news and write the story.

One version would say the Democrats “took a big gamble” when they tried to block a pair of bills.

Another might read:

Old, straight, paranoid white guys try to cling to power by suppressing the vote.

Guess which way Lee Newspapers’ Mike Dennison took?

Now I have a lot of respect for Dennison.  He’s covered the Capitol and other statewide issues quite well for many years.  He’d probably get into trouble with corporate (and Lord knows there aren’t a lot of jobs in journalism out there these days) if he wrote the lede that needs writing.

Because let’s face it, the Republicans in the Montana Legislature are, for the most part, a bunch of scared, intransigent, backward-thinking white guys (and a few women) who see the way the rest of the country is trending.  And it’s not in their direction.

The Montana GOP could try to moderate its policy, be more inclusive and play the long game.  Or it could attempt to keep young people, immigrants and the disenfranchised from voting.

It’s doing the latter.

So while I appreciate the mainstream media’s legislative coverage, I’ll look to the blogs for the ledes that cut to the chase.

by jhwygirl

SB196 was heard on second reading today on the floor of the senate, having passed state senate judiciary on a 9-3 vote.

In a nutshell, the bill prohibits the use of drones by the government unless a warrant is issued or some other judicial process takes place. It also prohibits the use of information illegally obtained through the use of drones.

The bill, proposed by Glendive’s Sen. Matthew Rosendale, a Republican, received bipartisan support, passing second reading 29-19.

All of Missoula’s senators supported the bill – – except for Sue Malek – See her NO vote?

Who knew the Rattlesnake, East Missoula, Bonner and Clinton people were fine with warrantless government drones?

Crazy, huh?

by jhwygirl

What could get me wanting to try and throw out a few words? A bill seeking to repeal last session’s eminent domain debacle, HB198.

I won’t go into the past gory details on the 2011 eminent domain bill – you can click that link above for that – what I will do is offer a heartfelt THANKS to Sen. Debby Barrett, a Republican out Dillon.

Sen. Barrett has proposed SB180 which is a straight all-out repeal of HB198, which handed eminent domain powers straight to the utility corporations, and eliminating any role of assuring that the taking of private property was for public gain, yet alone fair compensation.

In other words, big business who’s priority is only bigger profits, and not necessarily Montana’s best interests, could crisscross this Montana with whatever form of transmission infrastructure they choose, to deliver their energy from..say…Canada to Colorado…and little old property owner in Dillon Montana is left to deal with the barrage of lawyers from big business.

Thank you? You have to wonder what the hell the people who voted for HB198 were thinking and you can’t really paint the Democrats with the lack of respect for private property rights – plenty of Republicans voted for this crappy bill, including Republicans Sen. Dave Lewis and Reps. Janna Taylor, Wendy Warburton and Duane Ankney.

For the Missoula people that care about private property rights, know that only Sen. Dave Wanzenried and Rep. Ellie Hill voted NO to that bill. Occasional commentor (from way-back) Rep. Mike Miller – a self-described Libertarian, I believe – also voted NO to this bill.

Last week, Sens. Wanzenried, Augare, and Windy Boy signed on as co-sponsors to Sen. Barrett’s bill. I’ll be watching this one closely.

Let’s see who respects private property rights, and who wants to let private corporations do what they will, with only the promise of “fair compensation” from their army of lawyers knocking on our Montana neighbor’s doors.

by Pete Talbot

Pogie, over at Intelligent Discontent, has a post up on Sen. Max Baucus’ re-election bid.  To date, it has generated over 150 comments, so it must be an issue that many people are following, closely.

(The only post of Pogie’s that has received a higher volume of comments was on gun violence, but that subject is guaranteed to bring out more nuts than a Tea Party convention.)

Pogie says that despite Max’s flaws, unless there is a viable challenger in the primary who can go on to beat the Republican in the general election, he’s supporting Max.

Now I have great respect Pogie (Don Pogreba) and his site – I often go to Intelligent Discontent first when I open my laptop – but I’m not ready to concede his point.  And I planned to comment at his site but since my comment was going to run longer than his post, I thought I’d try something here at good ol’ 4&20.

I appreciate Pogie’s concern, having just read an article in the Washington Post about how Republicans are eating their own — the subject being how far-right candidates win in the primaries only to lose in the general elections.  Could this happen to the Democrats in Montana if a more progressive candidate won in our primary?

It’s possible.  But maybe, just maybe, voters are fed up with candidates who take a stand only after they’ve taken a poll, and who receive more in special interest campaign contributions than the GDP of most African nations.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

In case you missed it, supermontanareporter John S. Adams busted out in his blog this morning with a preview of tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s Frontline on PBS, titled Big Sky, Big Money.

It’s a political “BOOM” if I’ve ever seen one – pulling together a strange connection of a stolen car, a meth dealer, the Montana GOP and American Traditions Partnership, ProPublica paired up with Frontline, releasing their report this morning.

I’m still reading through it all, but all I can say right now is that I’m really disgusted. What the ProPublica/Frontline report lays out is NOT a group of one or two bad individuals, but really an institutionalized and flagrant disregard for Montana law.

For a party that attempts to Lord some sort of moral superiority over Democrats. Or liberals. Or progressives – it’s a pretty sickening case of hypocrisy. They like the salutation “Patriot”? More like “Traitor.”

What’s clear is this: The Montana GOP are running candidates that are flagrantly violating established Montana law. This isn’t some sort of Ed Butcher bloc of crazies. The ProPublica/Frontline reports on 23 Montana legislators? How many more are there that we don’t know?

These guys swear to uphold the Montana and the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, it means nothing – they’ve got their own interpretation of it, and that’s how they fly.

It’s disgraceful.

Set your DVR’s for 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. Go read What everyone’s talking about: Big Sky, Big Money” over at The Lowdown – he’s got tons of links.

by jhwygirl

Jim Brown, a Dillon attorney, chief legal council for the Montana Republican Party and executive board member, and legal representative for American Tradition Partnership is pretty proud of his defeat of Montana’s 100 year old ban on corporate funding of elections here in Montana – here he is boasting on Bozeman’s once-and-future state representative JP Pomnichowski’s facebook page:

Brown’s a hypocrite. Just like a lot of stuff we saw from the big government GOP this last session in the Montana state capitol, Brown is proud of his role undermining Montana’s constitution, yet back in May he whined about a commissioner of political practices ruling which allows parties to spend an unlimited amount of cash on staff and other similar services towards a candidates campaign.

Sounds to me like Brown takes all this election law stuff as some sort of game to be won (or lost), regardless of the consequences. Bad for him to lose at the commission of political practices when it involves unlimited money, but somehow great for everyone when it involves the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money.

It’s good to see how clearly the Montana Republic Party positioned itself with regards to undermining Montana’s constitutional ban on corporate funding of elections. It’s chief legal counsel representing the party which sued the state on election law?

Republicans around these parts want to preach and lecture and champion the constitution, yet they’ve no respect for Montana’s. History means nothing, and our forefathers tonight are spinning in their graves.

While the Copper King zombies start plotting their return to state and national politics.

Government is FUBAR, people. FUBAR.

The Montana GOP? Disgraceful.

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 jhwygirl

This all I got, and it’s minutes old.

It’s that big.

From D. Gregory Smith’s twitter feed:

@Dgsma: MT Democratic Party approves platform amendment supporting full marriage equality for gays and lesbians #MTPol #Equality #guts

UPDATE

It’s a beautiful thing, and I poached it from D. Gregory Smith’s From Here to Eternity. I really hope he doesn’t mind. He’s got it printed out over there, too – so go read it.

Missoula’s CBS KPAX news led the 10 o’clock with the story. They even interviewed Jamee Greer, spokesperson and lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network.

The Missoulian, too, got this piece up from Charles S. Johnson shortly after the news broke. It’s got some good background.

This will certainly make this year’s Montana Pride 2012 event even more celebratory next weekend in Bozeman.

by jhwygirl

Quite a dust storm kicking up over the gay marriage position articulated by Montana’s Democratic candidate for governor and current Attorney General Steve Bullock in a recent interview with Charles S. Johnson, Billings Gazette’s State Bureau Chief.

Bullock joined all seven GOP candidates in an anti-gay marriage stance, taking what he surely felt was the safest bet, siding with civil unions instead. From the Billings Gazette:

Bullock said, “I do not favor changing the constitution but would support legislative measures giving committed same-sex couples the opportunity to be together, free from discrimination.” This would include allowing a person to visit his or her partner in the hospital, he said.

The first response I saw was a post from Roberta Zenker of Transmontana, titled Just Say No to the Bullock. Read the entire post, please…and I’ll leave you with how Roberta summed up her feelings on Bullock’s position:

Please forgive my passion on this, but I am hurting. I have been wounded too many times by the results of colloquial thinking. My view is that the LGBT community needs to see itself as a voting block – one that has been denied far too long. I can no longer accept the default position of voting for Dems not because they support our interests, but because they are the lesser of evils. I am getting to the point that I prefer the poison that I know – one whose ideals and actions are susceptible to court challenge, rather than the one that lurks in the conference rooms and minds of hypocrites who accept my donations and volunteer work, but would throw me under the bus for the sake of political expediency.

Forgive that opinion? Hell no – I stand with her.

Today I see D. Gregory Smith with a post titled Steve Bullock Just Lost My Vote. What does DGS have to say?:

I have to say I’m very disappointed in Steve Bullock. Ironically, he apparently is unaware of the pain and suffering of LGBT persons in his state because of legislative discrimination (including a sodomy law still on the books)- or he’s unwilling to acknowledge us in the face of staying safe and winning votes. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has done some amazing things, like already (2 years ago) extending LGBT partner visitation rights in most hospitals. What has Steve Bullock done for us lately ever? Not much. I’m taking the Bullock sticker off of my car.

Bullock is running in a Democratic primary taking a GOP position on gay marriage. Taking a position that will likely be a variation of Mitt Romney’s when-he’s-backed-into-a-corner position on LGBTQ marriage equality.

And to be clear to those of you who think that civil unions and gay marriage are two in the same? They are not.

Are gays a voting block – you betcha. I understand a little how both D. Gregory and Roberta feel – as an environmentalist I feel like every cycle where we near an election, I am supposed to STHU about any criticism of the Democratic candidate because there are other issues more important. Does that compare to being denied rights that my friends and neighbors have? Not at all – but I make that comparison noting that for some reason, my concerns – just like D. Gregory Smith and Roberta Zenker’s – are somehow less important than other issues. Which I’ve come to realize over many years of voting is solely the issue of getting re-elected. We are not supposed to criticize the Democratic candidate because any criticism can harm that candidate in the general. Because the alternative is (most absolutely) far worse.

Because. Because. Because.

Because if you don’t vote for (the Democrat) it’ll all be your fault.

I don’t know how far this is going to take Steve Bullock this time. Democrats across the state have been given a fake candidate and a real candidate – the real candidate taking a position on what many consider to be what should very much be a civil rights issue. Does it harm him in the general?

Its a disgrace for the Democratic Party – and and absolute disaster for the Montana Democrats.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for electeds and officers of the above to express any dissatisfaction with Steve Bullock’s comments. It is, of course, election season – when those electeds and officers abide by the democrat’s version of Ronald Reagan’s Golden Rule: Speak no evil of fellow Democrats. At least during election season. Something I spoke about that a little here in this previous post.

Bullock’s lost my vote. His anti-gay marriage position has sealed it (I had issues with his Otter Creek vote also) for me. And as it stands now, not just for the primary but for the general. I decided some time back that I’m not voting the lesser of two evils.

I will only vote for progressives that are progressives. DINOs, especially, are out of the running for my vote.

Anti gay marriage candidates like Steve Bullock? Not a chance.

by jhwygirl

Because my idea of democracy is a system where the unwashed masses actually have a voice.

Democrats hate primaries. Ask a democrat active in the party who they support and the more active they are the more likely they are to waffle and squirm their way out of saying who they’re going to vote for. Openly endorse one and really watch the daggers fly – something I experienced from 50 iterations of the two bovine bloggers who together call themselves the Montana bovine something-or-other blog when I endorsed a candidate during the 2010 congressional primary.

It’s a funny thing I’ve observed over the years – the pre-selection of candidates by the elite few. Here at the local level, most city council candidates have been pre-selected for a number of years. I wonder how many of the unwashed masses – the commoners – realize that? Hell, this last go around, at least one sitting councilperson actively recruited a candidate to run against a sitting (same progressive camp) councilperson even before said councilperson had decided whether they would run again!

So we’re not talking about the party recruitment of candidates for a seat that looks like it won’t have someone from the Democratic party running – there may be an incumbent, or there may be candidates lined up for running……….the truth is the elites of the state Montana Democratic Party (or, locally, the select few of the Missoula County Democrats) have pre-selected who they want to run.

From the pre-selection process, regardless of whether there’s a primary, the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) messaging goes out regarding who’s “going to win” or “who’s the best candidate.” Plan to disrupt that serendipity and you better have a flak jacket.

What it comes down to is that if anyone thinks you can run for office in this state and have an even playing field in terms of treatment from the Montana Democratic Party, they are – sorry to be blunt here – delusional. Or naive. Or ignorant. Or all of the above.

For example – I wonder how many people are aware that the Montana Democratic Party changed its rules in 2009 to allow it to endorse a “proven incumbent” by a 2/3 vote of the executive board. That’s a 2/3 vote of a bunch of people that would include – get this – the “proven incumbent.” Rule X of the Pre-primary policy is where you can find this.

This was done with purpose and intent to protect one particular candidate from having to face one particular rumored challenger sometime in the future. With everyone happy and still giddy from their 2006 victories.

Party of inclusion? Party of “the people”? Sure doesn’t seem like they trust the citizens of the state pulling a Democratic ballot in the primary to make that decision.

They have elections in China, too. You get one candidate to choose from. We decry that…but really, if you consider yourself a Democrat, how is the party elites of the Montana Democrats choosing the Democrat for the ticket (whether by that formal 2/3 or the informal overt and covert bullying that goes on pre-primary) much different?

What, precisely, is the purpose of a primary? Isn’t it so the public that cares picks a candidate for the party to get behind?

Yesterday, Montana Democratic Party’s executive director Ted Dick sent out a nice email to all its subscribers, under the Montana Democratic Party’s letterhead, endorsing Attorney General Steve Bullock for Governor.

Friend —

It’s hard to believe, but Steve Bullock is already under attack from right-wing organizations, who are running TV ads against him as we speak.

Powerful special interests are putting Steve in their crosshairs because they know he’s standing up to unlimited corporate money in politics.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen dishonest attacks like these on the air, and it won’t be the last. That’s because Steve won’t give up the fight against Citizens United — the law that lets big corporations spend as much as they want to buy elections.

In Montana, we have a different tradition — for 100 years we’ve made sure Montana’s elections are fair and transparent, because we’ve put responsible standards in place.

While some want Montana to go back to a time when the ‘Copper Kings’ bought the politcians they wanted, Steve Bullock is fighting for a fairer vision for Montana.

That’s why we’re standing with Steve.

-Ted

It was followed, on the bottom as all political media is tagged, with a “Paid for by the Montana Democratic Party” message.

Now – let’s dissect this just a little to say that the “attack from right-wing organizations” is directed at Bullock not because as AG he filed suit against Citizens United, but because he’s a candidate. A candidate for Governor. And they are running ads against him because they prefer that someone like Rick Hill or Neil Livingstone win that gubernatorial office.

While it doesn’t mention Bullock’s run for governor, it also doesn’t mention that he is “standing up to unlimited corporate money in politics” because he is the state’s attorney general, either. (That court case having yet to be rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, though they have put an injunction on any enforcement of prohibitions to corporate money here in Montana.)

The Montana Democrats are unequivocally “standing with Steve.”

Could Bullock, as a currently elected state official, request television or air time or newspaper print to discuss the impacts of Citizen’s United? Now that he has filed, it is most likely that if he did so any of his opponents would probably be entitled to equal time. He couldn’t do a PSA about it without facing an ethics charge from our oh-so-effecitive Office of Political Practices, that’s for sure.

And, as a reminder, Steve Bullock does have two opponents in the Democratic primary. Heather Margolis and Steve Nelsen of Helena are still in the race.

And – as another reminder – a 2/3 vote of the executive board is necessary for the Montana Democrats to endorse a “proven incumbent” – Bullock is not an incumbent for the office of Governor and a 2/3 vote has not occurred.

Does this matter? In my opinion, if there are going to be rules they really should be followed. And enforced. Or don’t have the rules at all.

And geez – really – shouldn’t that apply to all sorts of rules and laws? Not just those of the Montana Democrats?

Look – Bullock is a nice enough guy, I suppose. I have some issues with him over his vote against Otter Creek (I may, eventually, explain that) – but to have the party endorsing a candidate that is currently being primaried is wrong. When he doesn’t even meet the criteria of being able to be endorsed is another.

Not only that, it just feeds into the rumble from the right that Margolis and Nelsen where somehow “fake” candidates who ran for office to ensure Bullock had access to more money because he is able to accept contributions in both the primary and the general.

If the Democrats are going to have rules, they should damned well follow them.

Otherwise, where does it stop? Or where does it begin?

by jhwygirl

For you non-Rapture types, Montana Women Vote is co-sponsoring a Congressional Candidate Forum in Missoula tomorrow night, April 12th. (And while I am loath to utilize facebook, MWV do update their page a lot – so here’s that link.)

Head on down to the University Center Theater, 6 p.m. I’m told Pat Williams (Montana’s former U.S. Representative) and Jen Gursky (President of ASUM) will be moderating.

Here’s a piece from Olivia Riutta:

Montana has just one Congressional seat in the US House of Representatives and you have to opportunity to hear directly from candidates where they stand on issues that affect Montana women and families. From education to reproductive health care to funding for programs and services that help Montana women and families, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet the candidates before the June 6th primary election. There will also be time at the end when we will take questions from the audience.

Republicans, it looks like, are once again passing up a non-partisan candidate forum. Is that 5 now? Or 6? Convenient for them, I guess, though I see their party spokespeople online lobbing attacks at the candidates. All this while 3 Republicans and one Libertarian get to hide from the main stream public unbiased forums which seek to get at issue positions.

Why, exactly, are they avoiding public non-partisan debates?

Montana Women Vote will also be at the event registering voters. It’s fine organization doing excellent work in the community educating people on meaningful participation in the democratic process through education and other information-based strategies. I have always been impressed by their presentations.

If you have questions, contact Montana Women Vote at 543-3550 x213

by Pete Talbot

Will the tea party candidate take out the moderate Republican? Will the progressive beat the mainstream Democrat?

Lots of races will be decided in a little over two months.

In about 40 days, you will receive your primary election ballot in the mail (if you filed for an absentee ballot).

And if you’re in a heavily Democratic district and there’s a legislative primary, the state senate or house winner takes all. Same with the strong Republican districts.

There’s a Democratic attorney general primary; a Republican secretary of state primary; lots of PSC primaries; and nonpartisan supreme court and district court races that will winnow down some candidates.  There are county commissioner races.

Of course, there’s a congressional race: seven Democratic candidates and three Republicans.

The U.S. Senate race has a Republican primary (Vote Teske!).

And the governor’s race, with seven Republican candidates (and their running mates) and two Democratic teams competing.

Who knows, if the Republican Party hasn’t settled on a presidential candidate by Tuesday, July 5, Montana might get to play a role there.

Campaign folks in the know tell me that 50 percent of all voters in the 2012 election will be using absentee ballots — and 40-50 percent of all absentee ballots are filled out within the first week of voters receiving them.

You should also know that by voting early absentee, you’ll be getting fewer annoying campaign phone calls, emails, etc.  Any campaign worth its salt will scrub you from its get-out-the-vote list once it knows you’ve already voted.

No endorsements here (except Dennis Teske for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary — a man among men!).  Just a heads up that the primary election will be happening before you know it, so it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the candidates.

Here’s the Montana Secretary of State’s website.  It can answer a lot of questions and also direct you to your county elections office. Sample ballots should be available for viewing soon (right Linda?). Don’t forget to vote!

by Pete Talbot

Consider this an open thread because I’d like others’ insights into this race.

Here’s my rather rambling take on Montana’s U.S. House race.  The candidates are Kim Gillan, a state senator out of Billings; Diane Smith, a newcomer from Whitefish; Dave Strohmaier, a Missoula City Councilor; Helena lawyer Rob Stutz; and Franke Wilmer, a state representative from Bozeman. Jason Ward of Hardin has also filed but doesn’t seem to be actively campaigning.  Melinda Gopher is also rumored to be a candidate but she hasn’t filed yet. The FEC has John Abarr filed as a Democrat but since the former Ku Klux Klan organizer has dropped out, I won’t go there.

First, the money side of the equation as of Dec. 31, date of the last filing report:

Name Total Contributions (from time announced running until Dec. 31, 2011) Fourth Quarter contributions (October – Dec. 31, 2011)
Steve Daines, R $953,505 $173,315.68
Kim Gillan, D $175,159 $52,014.76
Franke Wilmer, D $154,877 $55,260.93
Diane Smith, D $100,033 $100,033
Dave Strohmaier, D 72,151 $23,080.24
Robert Stutz, D $13,315 $3,265

Republican Steve Daines, the basically unopposed millionaire, has more campaign money than all the Democrats put together but that’s not the focus of this piece.

Democrat Diane Smith wasn’t at the ‘Pasty Party’ held in Missoula Sunday night and sponsored by the Missoula County Democrats. Gillan, Strohmaier, Stutz and Wilmer were, and they all spoke.

So I don’t have any personal experience with Smith but there’s this: she has about $75 grand in the bank (I like round numbers, so let’s say $100K raised and $25K spent).  She’s only been in the race since November so that’s a pretty good chunk of change she’s raised.  Smith touts her support of gay and choice issues but stresses her fiscally conservative business roots.  She received a few contributions from Whitefish and Bigfork but the majority of her money comes from the D.C. area, where she was in the telecommunications business.  The Flathead Memo has an interesting piece on the lack of transparency from Smith’s contributors.

The Memo also has stories on Smith’s past contributions to Republican candidates here and here.  It may not be a big problem in the general election but she has to get through the primary where the committed Democratic voters take a dimmer view of this.

Next up in the fundraising department is Kim Gillan with about $100 grand left in the bank.  She’s on top of the Democratic contribution heap with $176K raised.  She spoke at the ‘Pasty Party’ about her experience in the Montana Legislature and struck a moderate tone.  Lots of current and former legislators greeted her warmly.

Will Gillan split the moderate vote with Smith?  Maybe, somewhat. There are a lot more Democrats in Billings than there are in the Flathead, though, and name recognition will play a role.

The other aspect is that progressives tend to turn out for the primaries so maybe a moderate doesn’t have the leg up that they’d have in the general.

And there’s the Missoula factor: more registered Democratic voters in this county than any other Montana County.  Will Missoula Democrats turn out?  Will they vote for the hometown boy?

Which brings me to Dave Strohmaier, who has $15 grand in the bank.  He’s raised $72K.  The most passionate speaker at the ‘Pasty Party,’ he trotted out his local government credentials, his advocacy for a southern-tier passenger rail line and his strong support of GLBT issues.  Strohmeier was well received by the audience, the enthusiasm palpable, but it was his hometown crowd.

Rob Stutz spoke next.  His campaign isn’t taking any PAC money, which is admirable, and he advanced that.  Tough call, though, not taking the PAC money one might need to tell supporters he’s not taking PAC money.

Stutz has raised $13 grand and has about $6K left in the bank.

He also says his unique campaign has the best chance of beating Daines in November, although I’m sure the other candidates feel the same way.

Franke Wilmer spoke last, about international policy — which is refreshing because most congressional candidates gloss over this — but I’m not sure how this plays to the masses.  She also offered her blue-collar roots and experience in the Montana Legislature as references.  She’s the only candidate to come out publicly against the Keystone XL Pipeline (as opposed to our governor and congressional delegation) and that shows some chutzpah.  Wilmer received the second-most enthusiastic response from the crowd.

She’s raised a good amount of cash, $155 grand, and has $55K in the bank.

So it’s in play: a Missoula progressive, with less money but in a heavy Democratic county against a Bozeman progressive with more money but in a county with fewer Democratic voters.  The conventional wisdom is that being tagged ‘Missoula’ is harder to overcome in the rest of the state than being tagged ‘Bozeman.’

Then there are the moderates, Gillan and Smith, although Gillan has paid her dues in the legislature and with the party.  Both say that a moderate — someone who can work across the aisle — has the best chance of beating Daines in the general.

And then there’s Rob Stutz, who could peel away enough votes to be a spoiler in all four of the above-mentioned races.

In a primary like this, the most organized campaign with the best media and strongest ground game should come out on top. Moderation, money, passion and principles — and the candidates’ message — are important, too, but with this many in the field, it will be hard to get a message to resonate with anyone other than those who follow politics closely.

Any one of these candidates would be a vast improvement over either Rehberg or Daines, but you know that.

No primary endorsements from me here, just some info.  I await your comments with bated breath.  With your help, I’ll do more and better handicapping soon.

by jhwygirl

But shhhh…no one’s supposed to know. He has a plan.

Out on the far right of the state (can’t get any further west Senate District 7) Greg Hinkle – a favorite around these parts for years – has decided that he’s not going to run for a second term.

Even though Hinkle won by about 1000 votes over Democrat Paul Clark in 2008 (5555 to 4581), incumbents have an advantage and Hinkle knows that. So no one’s supposed to know that Greg doesn’t plan to file.

Why? The Tea Party (of which Hinkle is part of) has two good reasons for this: One is that Mark French is planning a run for that seat, and Hinkle wants to see him run unopposed.

French, if you recall, made a run for the chair of the Montana GOP last year after losing his congressional run (25K to Denny’s 96K) in the GOP primary in 2010. After that miserable loss, he then a run for the GOP chairmanship in 2011.

He failed there, too, to Missoula’s most refined and civilized Will Deschamps.

The second reason no one’s supposed to know that Hinkle isn’t going to file for SD7? Back in 2010, the Sanders County GOP had a bit of a split in their ranks, things having gone haywire after the Tea Party tried to take over. The details are foggy to me right now (why oh why didn’t I write about it then???) but the county group split, then later regrouped with the Tea Party triumphant.

In between, Judy Stang, a Republican and former county commissioner in Mineral County then began a write-in campaign for SD7, but eventually withdrew due to Montana GOP harassment, throwing her support to Democrat Paul Clark.

Yeah – things got a little crazy. There are still a lot of pissed of Republicans up there, and the incidents of 2010 have yet to dissolve from the memory for many.

Republicans, though – older ones, especially – still abide by that ‘speak no evil’ rule – which is where Hinkle’s incumbency shines. He knows no one is going to challenge him and that means something.

And so will his endorsement.

So when Hinkle doesn’t file, but Mark French does just a few days before the filing deadline, Hinkle is planning on endorsing Mark French.

Delightful plan, huh?

Incidentally – Hinkle made nationwide news last year with his spears-for-hunting bill, which died in standing committee.

It might sound crazy to some – and he tried to legitimize it as taking up a cause of the poor persecuted spear hunters of Montana thing – but it is symbolic of the Tea Party: Wanting to take Montana back to the day of the Cro-magnon man.

~~~~~
Have I dastardly foiled the Hinkle/French/Tea Party plans for Senate District 7? Who knows. But will Republicans and Democrats and Fake Republicans and Fake Democrats be considering a run for that seat now?

If they read this, they just may. Especially the ones that are calling themselves the “real Republicans” after this last eminent domain-enabling, more-government-intrusion legislative session.

by Pete Talbot

Abortion, birth control, women’s health care and religious freedom have all been in the news lately, often in the same story.

As a man, I’m not even sure I get to comment on this but since knotheaded dudes write letters to the editor all the time decrying a woman’s right to choose and a couple of Montana Catholic Bishops, neither whom are women, have made pronouncements, here goes.

Let’s start with Congressman Rehberg’s response to the Obama administration’s rule that birth control should be provided in insurance plans for Catholic schools and hospitals:

“This order is government intrusion into the private lives of Americans under the guise of health care reform and infringes on the religious liberty of women and men of faith in direct opposition to the religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” says Rehberg.

So, some non-Catholic woman working in St. Patrick Hospital’s cafeteria will not have access to affordable birth control because of some archaic religious belief.  Talk about infringing on the “religious liberty of women” as “enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” right Denny?

To the uber-Catholic women who happen to work at St. Pats and are opposed to birth control: just don’t use it (you can always use the rhythm method.  That works, sometimes).

Closer to home, the Ravalli County Commissioners, by a 3-2 vote, are accepting Title X family planning funding.  This would seem like a no-brainer — around $40K for birth control, annual exams, pregnancy and pap tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, nutrition education and counseling, on a sliding scale.

But of course these commissioners have issues that deal with a lack of parental notification for minors.  They’re willing to sacrifice low-cost women’s health programs for their narrow ideology.

Granted, I’d want my kids to talk to me about their sexual concerns.  I’d rather they have access to an STD or pregnancy test, birth control, or sexual education and counseling, if they choose not to confide in me .

Again, I’m always amazed by the less-government intrusion crowd dictating their moral imperatives to the rest of us, via government programs.  The overused but accurate “hypocrite” comes to mind.

All this news comes on the heels of the Susan G. Komen controversy.  If you believe that attacks by the right on women’s health care issues aren’t still in play, often under the misnomer of “religious freedom,” you’d be wrong.

by jhwygirl

If you aren’t reading James Conner’s Flathead Memo you are missing a whole lot of balanced political honest-to-goodness reporting and opinion on Montana politics.

James has been knocking it out this week (indications he has acquiesced to a caffeine addiction?), but most notably he’s pointed out – while Denny Rehberg is under reporting lobbyist cash – so is another candidate. A Democrat.

Diane Smith, a Kalispell resident seeking the Democratic nomination for Montana’s lone House of Representative seat – is also, too, under reporting lobbyist cash dollars.

Smith – ironically enough – is using the same tactic (failing to fill in the occupations on donors) – as our current House of Representative Denny Rehberg.

James point out that these things will happen, and social niceties and just plain old logistics often bring about situations where donations come in where that disclosure information isn’t always collected, “… but all campaigns have a legal and moral obligation to exercise due diligence. Cards should be followed by telephone calls.”

Conner, of course, is correct.

It’s excusable to miss one or two or even a few – but the extraordinary number of “information not provided” is not only a legal and moral obligation shirked, it’s laziness and failure to organize.

If Smith can’t run a primary campaign, why would any elector want her in Washington with those kinds of account skills and staff oversight?

(And that’s aside from Smith’s other issues, including the “Is she really a Democrat?” issue.)

by jhwygirl

A number of people falling over themselves – and I say this with gratitude – mea culpa’ing over my post GOP’s Ken Miller to Announce Billie Orr as his Lt. Governor Running Mate.

In the end, I put the fingers to the keys…and know what? I’m OK with that. Normally I put out a few calls – and would have had it included some sort of accusation. This clearly wasn’t that.

But I was wrong..and there are those that need to see me say that. It’s OK. I am human. It happens.

Should Miller be pissed? I don’t know – he did get a number of clicks on his pages that came from that post. He probably also got some name recognition too. If he was harmed in some way, that was not the intent and I apologize.

With I-don’t-know-how-many-candidates-the-GOP’s-got in the race, getting your name out there, if even in a dirty stinking hippy progressive blog like 4&20, can’t be all that bad.

But what do I know? I’m a dirty stinking hippy….and now I’m off to find out who he did pick.

by jhwygirl

Worthy sources are confirming GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Ken Miller – who’s hitting Rick Hill’s insurance big business connections pretty hard – will be announcing one of Bozeman’s newer residents Billie Orr as his Lieutenant Governor running mate soon.

Who is Billie Orr? From her Wikipedia page:

Billie J. Orr, Ed.D. is an advocate for education reform. She is the former president of the Education Leaders Council, and former deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Arizona . She was the principal of Kiva School in Scottsdale, Arizona from 1994 to 1997.

She lives in Bozeman, Montana, is active in the Tea Party movement and is a Republican candidate for the Montana House of Representatives.

As Arizona Superintendent of Education Ms. Orr implemented the most vigorous charter school program in the country.

Makes me want to look at how education is doing down there in Arizona, considering her 20+ years of influence there….

I will say I ran into a guy at Costco a while back with a Ken Miller t-shirt on. When I stopped to ask him about “Ken Miller” he actually knew a good bit about the candidate (usually I find the opposite). We had a short pleasant chat, and about 25 minutes later he “found” me and provide me with some literature.

Miller’s got some enthusiastic supporters – that one being from Mineral County, as I recall. Now it looks like he’s got a Tea Party favorite for his running mate. Both, I’m sure, will serve him well as he fights Hill’s cash – which (on hand) is 88 times more than what Miller’s got earmarked for the primary.

Seems everyone’s fighting big money these days. Even the good old GOP candidates – Gingrich included.

America – and Montana – is now for sale to those able to purchase the best government they can afford.

by jhwygirl

Dave Gallik’s resignation as Commissioner of Political Practices was quick and fast – Great Falls Tribune reporter John S. Adams continues the scandal story this morning with news of events at the Capitol yesterday, which include Gallik repeatedly stating that the staff had called the police on him, despite that apparently not being true.

I have to say, to me, it almost comes off as him making light of the situation as he walked off to the Governor’s Mansion to discuss his resignation.

What is disturbing in Adams’ story is not the soap-opera scene (which the public seems to need as blame is apparently cast on vengeful women), but the apparent lack of any oversight on the Commissioner of Political Practices. Or the lack of anyone willing to step up. Adams goes through the three offices that the office staff apparently reported their allegations to:

Two staff members from the commissioner’s office told the Tribune they raised detailed concerns about Gallik’s behavior with Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office and the Legislative Audit Division. They said they also reached out to Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office, but were told by an attorney who works on political practices complaints that the matter did not fall within the attorney general’s jurisdiction.

So they went to the three most logical choices and all three failed to address the situation? And right now the State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee is trying to determine who has the authority to oversee the office?

Don’t you think Montana should of had these things figured out? There’s so much to say about what is wrong with what Adams’ lays out in his article, I don’t know where to begin. Luckily, I’m tired as it’s been a long day and tomorrow’s another. I do love winter.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the soap opera scene of this situation. It’s also pretty childish to immediately start a defense by making accusations of political motivations against Adams. Given his history for accuracy, quite frankly, it be best for most of the parties involved that this die a quick death.

It’s a sad state of affairs when rather than address the issues of oversight of the chief political oversight office in this state, we’re more concerned with the motivations behind the whistleblowers who attempted to seek compliance with what is – afterall – state law.

When accusations are thrown against a reporter when none of the facts have been called into question.

And guess what? With some oversight of the office, Dave Gallik might have still been in office today. Had any one of the three offices that the office staff contacted with their allegations had then contacted Gallik and reminded him of state policies, he might have taken a different path.

One nagging question I have? Was Gallik told that he could do his private practice and rental property work from his state office? I’m guessing SAVA will eventually figure that out?

~~~~~~~

A number of people around the Montana blogosphere have also written this story up. Don Pogreba has a couple of posts now (I actually missed his first post), and here is Don’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

James Conner – who, really, all of you should be reading – has two posts up, one on Improving Montana’s commission on political practices and another The Political Practices mess.

Jack the Blogger also kicks in with his analysis of the mess of the office, first having called on Gallik to resign, and today with his assessment of the ineffective mess that is the Office Of Political Practices.

ALSO, Gregg Smith over at Electric City Weblog had this analysis of the situation and how it correlates with past allegations by the GOP. He also has a quick take on the resignation that undoubtedly has some truth to it, even though he admits it to being entirely speculatory.

Finally, Montana Watchdog, a conservative newsource for state politics, has a few posts also. Here’s Phil Drake’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

by Pete Talbot

I know, I know, there are a few minor primary and general elections on tap for 2012.

Still, the other day Sen. Max Baucus’ name came up in conversation.  A couple of the folks present were shocked to hear he might re-up in 2014.

Since I received a fundraising letter from him a few weeks ago and then an invitation to his 70th birthday party just a couple of days ago (with a campaign remittance envelope attached) I guess he’s a-runnin’.

He could be just amassing funds to distribute to various Democratic campaigns across Montana and the nation but hey, I’d just as soon donate directly to those campaigns as have Max decide who should get my money.

Here are some recent Montana posts on Baucus — one favorable and one not so favorable.

I’m thinking that Max is about as vulnerable as he’s been in what will be close to 40 years in Congress. What think you, oh gentle reader?

 

 

by jhwygirl

Bringing it back. As always, consider this an open thread

If you watched only one The Daily Show this week, hopefully it was this one. He starts off with “Democracy” – brings in Saudia Arabia’s lack of it with regards, especially, to women. Slaps the U.S. for embracing Saudia Arabia and then whips it all together with #occupywallstreet and the NYPD attacks on peaceful protesters.

On that note, here’s The Nation’s FAQ on Occupy Wall Street. Just the basics, for those still wondering what it is.

For your visual pleasure and cultural and even perhaps political curiosity, some pics from an expat living in China, twitterer @lonniehodge – who’s also a TED speaker.

I was seriously asleep on this one – Supermontana reporter John S. Adams broke the story, then Don Pogreba took the Rep. Denny Rehberg Federal land-grab story and pulled it all together with a very thorough analysis.

More hypocrisy from Rehberg. Against National Monuments, but fine with handing over unilateral authority over Montana’s borders to the Department of Homeland Security. Kinda like a double-dip of hypocrisy there, isn’t it?

Speaking of hypocrites..the face of Montana’s reasonable conservatism Montanafesto absolutely rips on Reverend Harris Himes’ criminal activities in this post titled Hypocrite, Meet Karma – Another Righteous Right Winger Down.

Himes, if you haven’t heard, is Blaming the gays.

Jack over at The Western Word had a piece this week about a local drinking-and-driving tragedy there in Great Falls. He has written quite a bit on the topic of drinking and driving, and I had, in fact, had reason to come across this tough criticism on the legislature from this past session just today.

Are you reading James Conner? Because you need to be. James’ latest piece at the Flathead Memo is on the bullying incident at Glacier High School. The story is pretty sick, and I knew it was going to get ugly when the coach resigned as the story broke. For all that, read this earlier post from James, which really rings together the whole sordid thing, along with a local history of the issue, together.

Montana is one of only 5 states in the nation without anti-bullying laws. Congressional candidate and state senator Kim Gillan sponsored SB141 this past session in an effort to address bullying. While it passed the Senate, it was tabled in the House Education Committee. A blast attempt on the floor failed also, 63-34. That’s not a party-line vote, btw – looks like 2 Republicans might have voted with the Dems to try and get the thing a fair floor hearing.

Disgraceful.

2nd Grade Bike Rack got linked to in an Huffington Post piece on the Keystone XL pipeline this past week. Pretty sweet! Kudos to James for that. Wanna read it? Republicans Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline.

That’s all I got – what about you?

by jhwygirl

James at 2nd Grade Bike Rack has a fine piece up on the ‘Draft’ Long Range Restoration Priorities and Fund Allocation Guidance Plan out of the Montana Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program.

It’s a great write up, so I encourage you to go read all about it there – he’s plenty of links. James points out some pretty disheartening issues, if you ask me. When I read the draft final long-range plan, and there’s a list of projects – virtually all of which have been approved, I gotta ask what kind of draft long range whatever can it be when public opinion is being solicited for a long-range plan after-the-fact of allocating just about the whole kit-and-caboodle.

by jhwygirl

This is a repost in its entirety of my original post. Nothing new has changed, and what George said needs to be repeated again. George Ochenski spoke to the Flathead Democrats a year ago today.

This past Saturday, The Indy’s award-winning supermontanacolumnist George Ochenski gave the keynote speech at the Flathead Democrat’s Annual Harvest Dinner. Never one to hold back on the truth, the big GO delivered a barn-burner, closing to a standing ovation and inspiring all who attended.

It’s no secret that I absolutely worship George Ochenski. He says he isn’t a political strategist, and he says he isn’t a political leader, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Democrats would be a in a better place – the Montana Democrats would be in a better place – if he were.

Ochenski is an inspiration to me and many others. I say that without a doubt as to the truth of that statement.

I also doubt he’d been able to finish this speech if I were there – I’da been standing on my chair, fist raised, shouting as loud as I could “Hell yeah!” before he’da been half-way through. Jess Grennan knows what I’m talking about.

Want to know what it means to be a Democrat? Wonder, these days, what it should mean? His entire words are a must-read. I’m tempted to print out a few copies and send ’em to Washington. And Helena.

Below the fold, The Speech: Continue Reading »

By JC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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