Archive for the ‘Regressives’ Category

by jhwygirl

It ended up the do-nothing U.S. House of Representatives passed three kumbaya bills and two not-jobs-creation bills last week. One of those not-jobs-creation bills is the Full Faith and Credit Act that we wrote briefly about the other day – HR807. This bill actually hurts employment by telling the Treasury what order in which to pay bills.

HR807 passed with only Republican votes – while 8 Republicans joined with Dems in NAY to passage. Which tells you what kind of bill this is.

Where was Montana Rep. Steve Daines? He voted yes.

The second non-kumbaya bill and the other real work damage the GOP-led House did last week was the Working Families Flexibility Act – HR1406.

That name sure sounds nice, doesn’t it

The Working Families Flexibility Act repeals a portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 – the portion that requires employers of hourly wage earners to pay time-and-a-half for work hours over 40. Instead of pay, an employer (e.g., not the employee) can opt to pay out those overtime hours as “comp time” – a bank of hours, like vacation or sick time.

And guess what? The employer doesn’t have to pay it out to you when you and your employer part ways. Not only that – imagine the impacts to an employee (i.e., a father or a mother) who turns down overtime?

Where was Montana Rep. Steve Daines on this bill that both destroys job creation and exposes hourly wage earning families to risky and unfair labor practices? Rep. Daines voted yes.

75 years of standing labor law – built on events that brought about its need – and Daines votes to do away with overtime pay.

Now – this bill ties in nicely with the GOP’s never ending quest to damage and roadblock the Affordable Care Act. If employers can’t cut employees back enough to avoid having to provide healthcare, at least then they could force everyone to work 50 hour work weeks, with compensation that only increases what might be nonexistent sick and vacation leave! See how fascism works?

And before you think they’ve given up on this quest to gut-punch the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s bill to repeal said bill – HR45 is schedule for the floor this week.

Used to be “jobs jobs jobs” we heard from the GOP, but that has been quite a while. It’s one thing to myopically focus on other issues (like Benghazigate?) but it’s an entirely different thing when you start taking pot shots at jobs and American hourly wage earners, both already spread thin.

Pay attention here, Montana. Steve Daines is going to be running for something in 2014. Don’t let these votes fade from memory.

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by jhwygirl

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take an upteenth attempt at damaging U.S. economic stability and growth tomorrow with a number of bills coming to floor vote, six of which would once again embrace derivatives as a legitimate stable investment for our financial institutions.

Taxpayers beware. There is nothing prohibiting bailouts.

Passing out of House financial services on Tuesday and coming to a vote tomorrow is the Full Faith and Credit Act coming to a vote will prioritize U.S. debt and interest over the priority of running the government. Things like keeping the lights on, paying soldiers, social security & disability payments. You can see how willing to negotiate the House GOP Republicans are going to be for the upcoming debt ceiling discussion, estimated to come to Washington DC sometimes during that oh-so-pleasant month of August.

Six other bills which also passed out of financial services yesterday will weaken derivatives regulations within Dodd-Frank.

Addendum: Democracy Now reports that only six members of the House financial services committee voted NO to weakening the already
weak Dodd-Frank derivative regulations.

This’ll infuriate people who thought Dodd-Frank was weak to begin with. Pretty sure that both Lizard and JC fall into that category. I know I’m there.

HR992, the Swaps (meaning derivatives) Regulatory Improvement Act, will allow FDIC insured and uninsured foreign banking entities supervised by the Federal Reserve to utilize derivatives.

That’s right – one of the base elementary causes of the 2007 economic crash is being welcomed back for taxpayer insured FDIC banks.

As a bonus, the bill continues the bailout prohibition exemption for these banks. Which means in plainer language that FDIC insured banks can continue to be bailed out. Ahhh, the pleasures of Dodd-Frank.

I’ve seen or heard plenty saying that the Full Faith and Credit act isn’t likely to pass filibuster – but I’ve yet to see or hear the same for the nasty derivative porn. I say it’s amazing but it really isn’t anymore – the crap these electeds get away with. Because truth be told, it rests on us who keep elected these fools. But here we are, an already weak bill being weakened again. Embracing derivatives? Geezus.

What will Daines do? I’ll be calling his D.C. office first thing tomorrow morning (202-225-3211) to let his staff know where I stand – and that I’ll be watching.

By JC

A) Global warming is a hoax;
B) Evolution and creationism are equal theories;
C) The stimulus failed;
D) It’s Obama’s fault;
E) All of the above

Ah yes, another open thread for those who want to explore the finer details of republican inanity as they try to out-crazy each other and win the acclaim of the Gipper’s faithful.

In related news, the Reagan Library will be closed to the public today. Ah, a precursor of things to come…

And finally, wherefore art thou, Sarah Palin? Are you running???

For those who don’t want to watch the debate, here is a short preview (after the jump): Continue Reading »

By JC

In a dark opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Senators Max Baucus, Patty Murray and John Kerry invoked the specter of a failing America in their opening salvo as the next chapter of right wing hostage taking shapes up:

“…No one has ever gone into a debate pledging that China and India should own this economic century because we can’t make our democracy work here at home.”

But here we are with exactly that scenario. America is in decline as the international economic juggernaut after having ruled most of the last century. Yet there are three emerging economies–China, India and Brazil–that are ascendant, and together will outcompete America for strategic resources like oil, minerals and intellectual competence.

Yet three democrat senators invoke rhetoric intended to harken back to the good ole Clinton days that “allow us to continue shining bright in the world.” This is all so eerily similar to Baucus’ irrelevant call for bipartisanship in the health care fights two years ago, where he irrationally thought he could get 80 votes for his health care plan. Today’s political landscape is even more polarized, yet Max and his two dem cohorts think that they will succeed this time around? It’s delusional thinking.

Continue Reading »

By JC

Max Baucus, after  his recently appointed role to the super committee saddled with finding 1.2 to 1.5 trillion dollars in deficit reduction, conducted an interview with the Helena IR (Google cache) editorial board and revealed some thoughts about how he’s likely to proceed:

[Baucus] noted that the Bush tax cuts also are set to expire at the end of 2012, and if Congress wants to prevent that from happening, it would need to reach some sort of bargain – hopefully one that reforms the tax code to make it simpler, better for the economy, and able to generate the revenue needed to put the country’s fiscal house in order.

“Part of the solution here is reforming the tax code,” he said.

So Baucus is willing to “prevent” the Bush/Obama tax cuts from expiring if the tax code is reformed. Ok, so he’s waffling on his talk last year about letting the tax cuts for the rich expire. Well, what do you expect from a gumby? Here’s what Max had to say then about an amendment he was offering to extend middle income tax breaks:

Our amendment says:  Let’s make the middle-class tax cuts permanent.

And our amendment says:  Let’s not allow tax cuts for middle-class Americans to be held hostage to tax cuts for those who make the very most.

Anybody on the left here think that reforming the tax code during another economic hostage “crisis” (like the debt ceiling hike) is a good thing? Yes the tax code needs to be reformed, but it should be done in the light of day in the regular order, and not done behind closed doors by a 12 member “super committee,” a committee that now presents itself as a large target to lobbyists and campaign dollars from the oligarchs.
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Republicans got no one running the show up there and Democrats are just sitting around waiting for anyone to take the lead. Harry? Put what you got onto the Senate floor. Lead the debate. Lead a debate. Debate. Something. Anything.

At least make us think you all are actually earning that free pizza dinner it appears Boehner & crew enjoyed tonight on the taxpayer dime.

One of the things I’m wondering about is this: Didn’t Republcans, Rep. Denny Rehberg and the rest of the burgeoning pre-2010 tea party complain about voting on bills without 72-hours posting? Didn’t Rehberg refuse to vote on some sort of money/finance/budget bill because it was ‘4 inches thick and who can read this thing overnight?’??

I don’t know what the last Boehner bill scored, yet alone the content of it. Frankly – I don’t know what is in the Reid bill either.

Rehberg’s word isn’t worth crap and too bad Congress doesn’t have a public noticing requirement.

by jhwygirl

First a brief recap: Boehner submitted a budget proposal after he walked away – very publicly – Monday night after President Obama’s speech. His said his bill would save $1.2 trillion, but yesterday, CBO came back with it scored as saving only about $850 billion. So Boehner – who had scheduled the thing for a floor vote Wednesday night – had to pull it due to the disappointing results.

Dems, for their part, had submitted a plan that they said would save “almost $3 trillion.” CBO scored it and – just like the Republican plan – it came back shy of its touted amount: only $2.2 trillion.

For all the tough-talking Boehner and Cantor and Paul have done on the budget, and for the dismissive review they’ve given of anything coming from the other side of the aisle, I’da thought those Einstein’s would have been a little closer. I mean – they didn’t even hit the the $1 trillion point.

Beyond that, Boehner’s bill relied largely on caps on discretionary spending and the interests savings that would have resulted. Boehner tells the nation Monday night that he’ll save the budget crisis – that government is too big – and by Wednesday he’s handed over some sophmoric bill that doesn’t (a) meet the numbers he put out and (b) – more importantly so given all his caucus’ tough talk – doesn’t do any shrinking of government. Doesn’t offer any real reform. Liar. Hypocrite.

But getting back to the topic at hand…

The GOP had a little coaching session last night due to the disappointing review the CBO gave to Boehner’s budget bill. The highlight of the session was a clip from the movie The Town when one thug (played by Ben Affleck) says to another “we’re gonna hurt some people,” and then they proceed to bludgeon two men and then shoot one. In hockey masks.

This link will take you to the full clip – it can not be embedded.

After viewing the clip, Florida Republican and outspoken freshman Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. stood up and said, “I’m ready to drive the car,” surprising even many Republicans.

Ben Affleck was asked what he though – here it is, directly from Huffington Post:

(I)n a statement his spokesperson provided to The Huffington Post, he suggested that Republicans use a different one of his movies next time they need to whip votes.

“I don’t know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation,” said the actor, who is currently in Turkey directing and starring in “Argo,” an adaptation of the Tehran hostage crisis. “But if they’re going to be watching movies, I think “The Company Men” is more appropriate.”

That latter Affleck flick focuses on the plight of middle age men who have been laid off during the recession. (One of them, depressed about being unemployed, later kills himself.)

I wrote yesterday about corporate America thumbing their nose at us unwashed masses?

Last night, the GOP did the exact same thing. Then they beat the crap out of us with baseball bats.

And cheered.

by jhwygirl

Progressives delivered another take-down movement in Wisconsin yesterday with the first elections geared towards gaining a Democratic control of the Wisconsin legislature. The Democratic primary held yesterday saw 6 “fake” Democrats defeated in 6 senate primary recall elections.

An important factoid there is that Wisconsin has open primaries. Koch Industries funded Wisconsin Republicans didn’t even try to hide the fact they ran fake Democrats. The 6 REAL Democrats won – 5 of them quite decisively – which has to have 6 Republican state senators getting the boxes ready for moving day. Or should.

For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. Those crazy tea party people! Look what doo-doo they got themselves into over there.

Thank Goddess for those crazy radical storm-the-capital union-loving progressives! It sure as hell wasn’t a bunch of milquetoast leftys out there camping in the capital, or marching the streets or gathering signatures up within weeks of their legislative session’s sine die to recall the Republicans and regain control of their state.

Congratulations Wisconsin. Congratulations.

Democrats? Progressives? – pay attention, take notes and learn something. Raising Hell (and Hope) is how it’s done.

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 jhwygirl

Montana Rep. Kristen Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill, HB516 was pulled from second reading today and referred back to committee with a 44-4 vote on the Senate floor.

Interesting.

by jhwygirl

In a post titled “Profiting from Hypocrisy“, blogger montanafesto exposes the troubled hypocrisy of Rep. James Knox and his pro-repeal medical marijuana stance. First the video:

Read montanafesto’s post. Rep. James Knox offered his services to a medical marijuana business, at a greatly discounted price because his business “was slow.”

There’s more – montanafesto takes Knox on in Facebook…and now, apparently, an email has been removed from the website because Knox was threatening his lawyers.

Neither here nor there, now…the Billings Gazette has picked up the story.

Wonder if Knox has threatened to sue them, too?

~~~~~~~
So all this insane personal intrusion schizophrenic state-rights/anti-state rights Montana Republican party-led legislating has me now more than just barely pondering: What is it these guys and gals are doing up there? Rep. Warburton is obsessed with making my vagina a crime scene….Rep. Kristin Hansen wants to treat LGBTQ human beings as something less than such, and now we have Knox falling all over himself to provide discounted services to the medical marijuana community.

What is it they say? People in glass houses should not be throwing rocks?

What else is there to explain this regressive hate-filled legislation? There’s a ton of it out there.

Kuddos to you, montanafesto!

by jhwygirl

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on HB161, the bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Milburn, that would repeal Montana’s Citizen Initiative 148, which passed in 2004

Sen. Milburn is a resident of Cascade, a member of the Grand Old Party and a man working on his 4th term in the House.

We can go on and on about the evils of repealing a citizen’s initiative that passed (I hear) by an pretty significant majority…and we can go on about the evils of the refusal of legislators to actually actively regulate marijuana since it having come into law (that would be 3 sessions, folks)…and we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of so called conservatives creating more nanny state government…AND we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of tea party anti-government types who embrace laws that tell the federal government that they can’t regulate Montana-made firearms yet don’t want to let sick people take proven medicine that has fewer side effects than Tylenol.

I’ll just link you to this article in the New York Times which quotes Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss on the job and investment-killing side effects of repealing medical marijuana in Montana:

Bozeman’s mayor, Jeff Krauss, a Republican, said he thought there was an element of economic fairness to be considered in the debate about medical marijuana’s future. “I don’t think anybody passed it thinking we were creating an industry,” he said, referring to the 2004 voter referendum. But like it or not, he said, it has become one, and legal investments in the millions of dollars have been made.

“Somewhere around 25 people have made anywhere from a $60,000 to a $100,000 bet on this industry,” Mr. Krauss said, referring to the local startups and their capital costs.

“Now the Legislature has got us saying, ‘Ha, too bad, you lose,’ ” Mr. Krauss added. “Boy is that a bad message to send when we’re in the doldrums.”

I could of worked “Even MORE National Media Attention for MTGOP” into the title!

HB161 stalled 6-6 in committee. I don’t know if they officially declared it dead, but Senate Judiciary committee chair Terry Murphy immediately named a three-member committee to come up with “a regulatory alternative” to a repeal bill.

That’s a large order on a short notice (how many days left in the session?) but a whole hell of a lot common sense. And frankly, the Senate Judiciary might just be one of the only places where common sense even has a fighting chance.

I always did think the GOP in the Senate were going to try and bring a little bit of common sense back to this session.

Murphy’s hearings have been far less inflammatory than the House Judiciary (chaired by Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings). Sen. Murphy even got a thank-you from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (Missoula’s Senate Goddess) for his well-run hearing on HB516 just yesterday.

That being said, let’s get to the other part….

What’s with Senator Larry Jent, a Democrat representing Bozeman for quite a number of years – 3 terms in the House and he’s currently working on his 3rd term in the Senate.

Jent was the lone Democrat to vote for repeal of medical marijuana. What to say about that?

By CFS

First they came for the unions,

and I didn’t speak out because I was not a union member.

Then they came for Medicare and Medicaid,

and I didn’t speak out because I was not poor nor elderly.

Then they came for Social Security,

and I didn’t speak out because I was not retired.

Then they came for progressives,

and there was no one left to speak out

by jhwygirl

We’ve written a number of times about Havre Montana Representative Kristen Hansen’s pro-hate bill HB516.

In brief summary, the bill would nullify Bozeman and Missoula’s equality ordinances – Bozeman’s of which extended equal protections to all its employees and Missoula’s, a more extensive ordinance which extended equal protection to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals in the City of Missoula. It survived at least 3 attempts at recall petitions, and received overwhelming support from Missoula’s community when the hearing was held.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the Senate. More specifically, I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen in the Senate. The facts are that this is a hate bill and there is no overwhelming state interest at hand that requires the legislature to attack local government rule and authority.

It is also hate.

If the real issue were some conflict with the Montana Human Rights Act, then Hansen and the rest of the hate mongers out there that voted in approval of this thing in the house would be proposing a bill that added GBLT individuals to the protections under the Title 49.

That hypocrisy is exhibited by the fact that the same committee that approved HB516 also killed HB514 which would have extended equal protections under the Montana Human Rights Act.

In ridiculously transparent hypocrisy, House Judiciary members argued in favor for HB516 saying that GLBT individuals were already protected under Title 49’s Montana Human Rights Act while the very same people listed to testimony and voted against HB514.

HB514 also failed a blast motion on the floor.

Hypocrites.

Republican Representatives Steve Fitzpatrick (Great Falls),Steve Gibson (E. Helena), Brian Hoven (Great Falls), and Max Yates (Butte) split from their party – all voting against HB516 and in support of equality and local government control.

Fitzpatrick and Gibson stuck with their no votes on the blast motion for HB514.

The hearing for HB516 is Monday, March 14th at 3 p.m. in Room 405, Senate Local Government committee.

by jhwygirl

And I know a whole lot of them were inside working…so just to make sure they don’t miss the bigger picture out there:

KGVO AM 1290 – conservative talk radio down here in Missoula – reported today that “less than a dozen protesters” were at the rally.

Reuters has even joined in, reporting that protesters were Outnumbered by the media and politicians in attendance”.

It was a gun-toting rally that had to have special permission to carry the guns on the Capital grounds.

Bring Your Gun to The Capitol Day? What is this? Show and yell? Or just a redo of Sen. Joe Balyeat riding a donkey into the rotunda during the 2009 session?

I’m going to suggest puppies and kittens next time. I’m thinking they’d draw more attention.

Which, speaking of, Reuters has a nice little slideshow (4 or 5 pics) of the freak show, including this nice pic of Tim Ravndal, Executive Director of Lewis & Clark County’s Conservative Tea Party:

Even former state representative Scott Sales, Montana director for Americans for Prosperity got into the mix.

Honestly? Maybe we should be giving the MTGOP credit for creating jobs – its practically bank now that out-of-state journalists are here to watch the show…which means they’re getting a hotel room, eating in restaurants and I’m sure enjoying some of Montana’s fine 8.75 microbrew in the 4000 foot elevation of the state capitol.

The “freak show” statement might sound harsh, but do put that in the context of the fact that there had been a rally in support of workers and middle class America held in conjunction with the freak show, yet there’s nary a mention of that protest, which drew hundreds.

And seriously – if Sarah Elliot isn’t inviting Stephen Colbert for a visit with the Governor and his buddy Jag, she isn’t thinking outside the box.

by jhwygirl

We first wrote about Montana’s HD Rep. Joe Read a few weeks ago. Read, as you may recall, has proposed a bill – HB549 – that says that global warming is good for Montana.

The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert picked up on Read’s bill, and did a really nice segment the other night.

Who doesn’t love Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger?

Since I wouldn’t know how to embed this, please enjoy this segment that begins with the words “Opinions are like assholes, in that I have more than most people.”

Love this, from Stephen: “OK, it’s law now. A reasonable amount of CO2 – which means any amount produced in Montana – has no verifiable effect on global warming. Just as a reasonable amount of science has no verifiable effect on Joe Read.”

~~~~~
Fortunately, the House Natural Resources has the good sense to table the thing. Wish I knew the vote.

By Duganz

Back in 2001 I read an article about some people trying to get “Intelligent Design” taught in classes alongside science. I laughed it off because any five year old can disprove the Biblical story of creation. Here’s a script you’ve surely heard:

Mother: What’s your favorite dinosaur Billy?

Billy: By answering that question, Mother, I will be disproving the Biblical creation story because it of course makes no mention of dinosaurs, but instead begins with the creation of man, which we know didn’t happen because we’ve found dinosaurs much older than man. It’s called carbon dating, it’s a complex analysis of bones or tissue at the atomic level, counting… well, honestly, it’s a bit complex, Mother, so I will conclude that my dinosaur preference is meaningless, but I do enjoy our talks.

Okay, maybe it’s different and the kid actual names a dinosaur and doesn’t give a monologue like he’s in an Ayn Rand novel. But the point is that I didn’t think these people were a threat. No one, I thought, was stupid enough to elect people who thought things like that.

I felt the same way when I would see Fred Phelps on TV. No one is that stupid to believe him. God hates fags? Who actually reads Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13 and thinks, “Sure. Of course”?

Well… I’ve underestimated the stupidity, cruelty, and ignorance of the average person.

HB516, which has been talked about plenty, will legitimize the discrimination of LGBT individuals for religious zealots who enjoy the Bible when they can use it for gain (hatin’ those gays!), but never mention the parts that give credence to the unpopular beliefs (Lot’s daughters rape him? Noah was a drunk? Genesis chapter one is completely different than Genesis chapter two and yet tells the same story? Jesus kills a fig tree?)

But what’s more important and more terrifying is that these people are winning.

And before anyone gets out the “We’re not all liberals!” flag, just remember this: Neither was Goldwater when he got on TV and said that he loved his gay grandson.

So, yeah, I’m a pretty socially liberal guy who has kissed at least five other dudes (that’s off the top of my head, maybe more… I drank a lot in college). But when it comes down to it we all know that the government has no right to tell us who or how to love. They should stay out of our bedrooms, our homes, and our lives as much as possible.

I’m starting to ramble and get angry just thinking about how the Session has gone so far with these “small government” people in power. I hope Brian has a lot of pens handy. He’s got some vetoing to do if he has a modicum of respect for personal rights.

Let’s hear it folks… what’s everyone thinking?

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar! at Left in the West gets the hat tip on this one.

From Friday’s hearings, detailed in several posts below. Watch Superstar State Representative Ellie Hill (HD-94) take on the Montana’s Christian Taliban’s Reverend Harris Himes.

Rep. Hill? THANK YOU.

This is a civilized society. It seems that some of the GOP running these committees forgets these things. Every statement does not fall under “free speech” and inciting violence is not anything that should be tolerated.

And Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings? 10 minutes is not a public hearing.

You represent ALL, not just those than elected you. You are a disgrace to the state bar (if you hold it); a disgrace to the House Judiciary; and a disgrace to the Montana Legislature.

And pulling for seventeen executive actions in House Judicary on Monday morning, in less than 4 hours? That leaves no time for meaningful discussion between legislators – but that’s exactly what you want now, isn’t it?

You are a disgrace to democracy.

by jhwygirl

In this episode we refer you to Rep. Kristin Hansen (R-Havre) who introduced her pro-discrimination bill HB516 to the House with a first reading on Saturday.

A woman. How refreshing.

Hansen’s bill is designed to prohibit local government ordinances geared at promoting equality. It applies retroactively.

How’s that for conservative small-government? Jobs Jobs Jobs?

Rep. Hansen’s bill would violate the Montana Constitution along with the federal government’s based on current multiple Supreme Court precedents.

Will the GOP speak out to this hateful legislation? Isn’t there anything in this legislation that some true small-government privacy loving conservative doesn’t find offensive?

I do honestly make an effort to try and not lump all GOP together. It is becoming increasingly hard for me to do that. This is one bill where I certainly have an expectation for someone anyone in the GOP to come forward and speak out against this kind of hateful horrible legislation.

Certainly there are a few of you Republicans that think this sort of thing is wrong?

Failing that, it makes it hard not to lump ’em all together. There are dangerous ideas here that need confronted. This is one of them.

As for Rep. Kristen Hansen? You can bet she’s no lawyer (but she’ll be able to play one here in the State of Montana if she wishes after this session, if the GOP get’s their wishes.)

Both Missoula and Bozeman have passed local ordinances geared at protecting and promoting equality in their respective communities. This bill is a direct slap at these communities…and it is also a slap at any other community that may want to embrace a message of acceptance for their citizens.

by jhwygirl

They’re coming – and we’re all dying. You can’t avoid dying. You might want to hold on clinging to life from a drip tube, rotting in your own flesh as cancer rots you inside….but the future is coming and includes you dying. One way or the other.

Eventually folks – and I’m speaking to the faux conservatives up there in Helena that professed that this legislative session would be all about jobs jobs jobs but all they’ve been doing is meddling between me and my doctor’s office and my own private body and concerning themselves with who I marry and what happens in bedrooms across the state between consenting adults – you xenophobes up there will be outnumbered.

Them’s simply the facts.

Frankly, from what I see in testimony up there in Helena, you really are outnumbered. Now, that doesn’t mean the mob of citizens up there testifying is right, but it should be cause for some self-reflection.

Anyone hear what Jenna Bush had to say lately?

This is our future. Zach Wahls is a 19 year old, testifying in front of an Iowa legislative hearing on January 31, 2011:

On the other end of the age spectrum is one of my favorite bloggers, a senior chic who uses the name Helen Pilpot over at Margaret’s and Helen’s (link on right). She’s wise enough and has been around long enough that she really does legitimately get to just spit it out to the Tea Party people of the world: Grow up – Shit Happens.

I hate to even call ’em conservatives – I’d like to think that there really are a few true conservatives or Libertarians up there in Helena – but that group up there is approving and looking at some utterly ridiculous stuff. Today I saw a hearing where law enforcement officers and social service agencies and attorneys got up in opposition to a law that would effectively eliminate the need to obtain a a concealed weapons permit. During the Q&A, wanna know who all the tea partyiers asked for clarification? Gary Marbut. Not legal staff or law enforcement, but radical anti-government activist lobbyist Gary Marbut.

Marbut is so bad that I was told by someone in the NRA that even they don’t really like him.

And Marbut apparently doesn’t work with law enforcement much anymore when it comes to developing better laws and rules – heard that today in testimony, too.

Closing out that testimony was Krayton Kerns – HB271 is his bill – said something to this effect:

We’re not eliminating the concealed weapons permit. People can still go get one if they want – they just won’t have to.

So that is our legislature right now – a group of them are dragging knuckles back to pre-Tombstone days and flying in the face of their tea party pro-sheriff-is-the-ultimate-law-of-the-land mantra they all so seem to love.

In other words – more proof that they don’t make sense. There’s a lack of logic there that just plain is.

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

…and make no mistake, Montana State Republican Party Chair has yet to master it.

Talk about representing.

by lizard

When I hear Republicans talking about Government spending, my eyes glaze over and my brain recoils. As far as messaging goes, the persistent depiction of Democrats as the main offenders in Government largesse has been wildly successful. As far as reality goes, our national GDP is over 14 trillion dollars, and our national deficit, according to the US National Debt Clock is $13,732,848,917,316.31. If current trends continue, our deficit will be 100% of our GDP by 2025.

We didn’t get to this point because Democrats are the evil socialist spenders the right portrays them to be. We got here because the insane philosophy of unregulated free market capitalism has bought a bipartisan consensus in Washington D.C., and has spent the last several decades spreading across the globe, searching for new markets to exploit. This metastasized form of capitalism has killed and corrupted virtually all the regulatory power of the government, and has incrementally rolled back the advances hard working Americans fought and died for at the beginning of the last century, putting the robber barons in their place.

The result is we no longer have a government or media independent of corporate control. The New Deal is dying before our eyes as Republicans gnash their teeth about spending. And their solution? Destroy the social safety net for millions of Americans who scrape by in the wage-slave service sector economy that has taken the place of the manufacturing base they helped move to China and Mexico.

The corporate stranglehold is sickeningly obvious when it comes to war. Through the most significant bipartisan consensus, “defense” spending will stay “off the table” as the spending crisis heats up, and other top national priorities fill the corporate airwaves, like repealing health care and taking out Obama (politically of course).

So, while Republicans go big with their scorched earth policies of total negation, remember, we will still have enough money to spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world COMBINED. That means billions of taxpayer dollars to support the apartheid state of Israel, and billions of dollars to provide payoff “military aid” to countries like Egypt and Pakistan. And hundreds of millions of dollars to blow on corrupt multinational corporations. And there is absolutely no political will to address this insanity in either party.

*

And now, a personal anecdote.

The only surprise this election produced for me was an e-mail I received from my Father a few days ago. To put this in context, my Father has never been very open with me about his political views. I suspect he voted for Bush in 2000, and since then the only political conversations we have tend to be one-sided diatribes that I unload with such frequency it’s become something like a schtick he quietly suffers through.

The reason I think my Father’s little e-mail rant merits inclusion here is because it comes from a man who dedicated a good portion of his life to working for corporate America, specifically Sprint. What that dedication meant was traveling at least two weeks every month as he climbed the corporate ladder. When my Father learned the hard lesson that loyalty and hard work doesn’t exclude you from down sizing when the company starts going down hill, it’s entirely possible my diatribes began sounding less like relatively youthful defiance and more like legitimate criticism of a broken system.

So I asked my Pops if I could pass on his political disgust, and he said why not. Here it is:

I thought the main goal of elected officials was supposed to be governing well and finding solutions to problems facing the people and the nation. I thought that the political parties were supposed to put our interests first, not their interests (i.e., getting money from special interests and getting re-elected). When I hear that the main goal of the Republican party is to deny Obama re-election, it makes me sick. Pharisees, that’s what they are. They holler in the temple and the streets about their virtue and their godliness, all the while seeking only to enrich themselves. They have no compassion. They have no sense of compromise. They are anxious to do harm to the good of the People if it will benefit them. Anyone who voted for a Republican should be ashamed of their vote to put these scoundrels and Pharisees back into office where they can do harm to the People and our nation. We are in for a very bad two years. If the Republicans disdain any attempt to build a consensus and find compromise solutions, I hope Obama vetoes every bill they put forward and it becomes very, very clear that the Republican party is only seeking to benefit themselves, even at the expense of the nation. Shame on the Republican party and anyone who voted for them.

by jhwygirl

The latest meme from our bloviating Governor Brian Schweitzer is that the Canadian tar sands – slated for expansion – are (get this) “conflict free”:

“I would say this is conflict-free oil and I don’t want to send one more son or daughter from Montana to defend an oil supply from one of these dictators and become dependent on that energy supply,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his office in Helena.

Really?

There are Canadiansordinary citizens, doctors and Fort Chipewyan tribal members – that would disagree with you.

Does the fact that they don’t have bombs and guns make it conflict free? Because I don’t agree with that. I know I’m not the only one.

Hypocrisy and ignorance barely begins to describe the irony behind Schweitzer’s comments to the Canadian press this past week. Governor Schweitzer is a guy who doesn’t want to see the Flathead mined, yet approved a coal mine next to a Class 1 air shed (tromping on Crow tribal rights) and an alluvial floodplain right in Montana’s Tongue River valley.

Governor Schweitzer is a guy – born in Montana – who doesn’t seem to know his history, or even the higher cancer rates we saw right here in the upper Clark Fork basin because of the rape and pillage by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (think Atlas Shrugs by Ayn Rand) that polluted everything near it from Butte to Missoula and beyond.

Schweitzer’s comments were made all the more pornographic given they occurred 30 years from when corporate irresponsibility suffocated Anaconda Montana.

Maybe The Brian should read Anaconda native Patrick Duganz’s words?

If they aren’t enough to expose him to the conflict of corporate irresponsibility, perhaps he should try and learn the lessons so many others haven’t forgotten of the dirty filth that mining has layed upon our lands.

Schweitzer sure is oblivious to this stuff isn’t he – and consider he’s got 130 million or so dollars of Natural Resource Damage Protection Program funds to spend to try and buy back lands to mitigate that environmental disaster thrust upon our state 100 years ago.

Maybe he forgot where that money came from?

Schweitzer is spouting off his newest talking point of “conflict free” as pressure mounts, nationwide, to stop the transport of the Korean-built Kearl modules up and over the Montana-Idaho border, adjacent to the Clearwater and Lochsa River, adjacent to Lolo Creek…through Missoula and next to the Blackfoot A-River-Runs-Through-It River, then up and over another mountain pass and on to the tar sands in Alberta.

Movie director and producer James Cameron? This Montanan thanks you.

Our Governor feigns to respect tribal peoples – yet the Nez Pierce, over who’s native lands these modules will travel – have objected to the modules.

Scientific journals are confirming high levels of carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium being thrust upon the native peoples of Canada. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America has published a paper explaining the pornography of the situation.

Discover Magazine has a pedestrian-friendly article on the issue.

Governor Schweitzer? You call yourself a scientist, don’t you? If cancer was reigning down in your watershed, would you call that “conflict free”?

Did Montana call that conflict free when it happened here?

By Duganz

This AP story today about an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with President Barack Obama has left me with lots of questions, and a substantial need to dedicate time to introspection.

On President Obama’s end, he’s mad as hell about perceived apathy on the left. He is tired of progressives being down about what he sees as success––the left being comprised of glass-half-empty types.

“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

In President Obama’s view, the more time we spend complaining about  what we see as his failures (ones he does not see), the more time we’re not watching Republicans.

But we are watching, and it’s scary as hell when we see people clapping for Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin. The Right is gaining power and enthusiasm and will probably take out a good deal of Democrats in the upcoming elections. It’s defeating, and scary, but it’s reality.

So yeah, we are mad  because we all worked hard, gave money, and voted in 2008 to change America for the better. And to see that these people are gaining power instead of being left in the dust of their flat Earth ways, it’s desheartening.

However, do not doubt how serious we are about changing America.

We are serious when we say we want equal rights for our gay friends and family members.

We are serious when we say we want an end to perpetual war.

We are serious when we say we want affordable healthcare for all.

We are serious when we say we want change.

It’s been two years, and these wants are not yet met. Our hopes are as of yet unfulfilled.

In the interview Obama says that change is hard, and I cannot agree more. Change is difficult, and hard, and we’re not a society that likes to wait. Of course some are mad, and anger breeds apathy. But those apathetic people don’t need to be admonished publicly for their malaise, they need to be brought back into the fold with actions and not just promises. It would be nice to see President Obama come clean and say that things aren’t moving as steadily as they should with Democratic control, or condemn regressives within the Democratic establishment who are just as damaging as Republicans.

We cannot live on insistence of success, we need to feel the results by seeing our friends married, our families back from war, our sick well, and our world a better place.

I believe I was right to vote for Barack Obama, and maybe this is his attempt at recreating Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (but in a more successful way).

The thing to remember is: I am not your enemy, Mr. President. CarFreeStpdty is not your enemy (seriously… so don’t clandestinely assassinate him). The Left got you into office because we saw you as our chance. Those “HOPE” stickers weren’t passed out with apathy, but with honest hope and desire for change. And we saw it embodied within you.

Don’t blame us for being upset that you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

by jhwygirl

I am beyond disgusted with this kind of stuff. If I’ve never written to the fact that the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, I’ve written nothing.

Today I find that the MT GOP, at its most recent convention, re-affirmed its 2008 platform calling for making homosexual acts criminal.

And lest you think I’m making this up – mainly because the page link I provided has been removed today by the MT GOP – here is a cached version, courtesy of the google.

Now – these Einsteins of the MT GOP apparently have no respect for the Montana Constitution, nor the United State’s Constitution. See, both the Montana Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States of America have struck down “anti-sodomy” laws.

The Montana Supreme Court did so in Gryczan v. State, 942 P.2d 112 (1997). Not only that, Gryczan and the right of privacy it has conferred has been reaffirmed over and over again by both the Montana courts and other state and federal courts repeatedly since its rendering.

The United States Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence et. al. V. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003), finding a constitutional protection to sexuality. Only Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In other words – it’s no government’s business what anyone does in their bedroom.

Where does it stop, MT GOP? What is it you want? Are there not enough problems out there facing Montanan’s? Have you no respect for the ultimate law of our land? Of our nation?

By Goddess, something is really failing us here, Montana – I am gosh darn sick and tired of politicians on both sides of the aisle proposing voting for passing and signing bills into law that violate the constitution (be it the Montana Constitution or the Constitution of the United States).

It’s beyond disrespectful that politicians think they can push the boundaries of these precious documents as if saying to The People “Go ahead and sue me – you can’t afford the fight.”

It’s pretty friggin’ simple – policies must obey rules; rules must obey laws; laws must obey the Constitution. It’s not a “sometimes” thing. It’s not something that should only followed when it’s convenient or when the “other party” is in charge

It’s all the time.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the Mineral County Sheriff’s race which was turning strange – in my opinion – with a candidate promising to sue the county in which he was seeking a job. He also promised not to enforce federal laws.

This kind of talk is dangerous. Frankly, it’s a little crazy.

Mineral County is facing a financial crisis (as are many government entities here and around the U.S.) – and along with the sheriff’s race, the primary election also includes a 3-year temporary 25-mill levy to ensure adequate staffing for the sheriff’s department. One candidate is against the levy, yet – of course – this teabagger state’s right fiscal conservative Constitutionalist would sue the county (with what $, I don’t know) in order to get the staffing that the county sheriff’s department so desperately needs.

Mineral County, though is facing a larger crisis of ideology. They’ve been through this before, and John Q. Murray reminds Mineral County residents – and the rest of us – with an interview with outgoing Sheriff Hopwood of the dangers Constitutionalists like Rand Paul and (while he doesn’t mention him by name), primary sheriff’s candidate Ernie Ornelas.

And he’s right – they’re not crazy – they’re dangerous.

If anyone has been up Fish Creek recently, they know that there is one of these lunatic Constitutionalists established up there, staking claim to parts of the Lolo National Forest. These people are scary, make no mistake.

Murray gives readers a history lesson in not only Mineral County’s not-too-terribly-recent past, but the Civil War and the dangers of these political ideologues that wage a verbal and ideological war against the U.S. Constitution. The take that foundation of our very government and twist its words to try and deflate its importance in an attempt to make not only states (but in this case) local sheriff’s supreme.

And while it may sound like crazy talk, and something that should be ignored, the reality is that turning the other way is more dangerous as this talk fertilizes the community as a haven for others to plant themselves.

Right here in Mineral County, Sheriff Hugh Hopwood has encountered self-professed “Constitutionalists” and “free white males” who claim they are not subject to taxes and motor vehicle laws. Elsewhere they have filed bogus tax liens against elected officials, convened their own grand juries, and issued bogus warrants to arrest judges and sheriffs.

“We worked very hard, for years, starting under Sheriff O’Brien, to get the White Supremacists and the Constitutionalists under check. We were the laughingstock of the nation when the Church of the Creator held their meetings here, and when the Church of the True Israel held their meeting up Highway 135,” Sheriff Hopwood said. “I’m worried that Mineral County will be seen as a place favorable to those extreme points of view. Once you open that door, then it is hard as hell to get it closed again.”

The danger isn’t from the people currently in Mineral County. They know their local and state candidates and their characters. The danger is from people outside who will interpret these statements as establishing a safe haven for racism and anti-government agitation. A very real danger is that they will misconstrue these remarks as suggesting a nice big welcome mat for white supremacists.

Mineral County needs the door not only shut tight, but locked, deadbolted, barred, and wired with live current to keep out the white supremacists and their twisted brand of evil.

Murray, former sheriff O’Brien, current Sheriff Hugh Hopwood and sheriff’s candidate Mike Johnson (who has directly challenged the notion of a Constitutionalist sheriff who won’t enforce federal laws) are bravely doing the job of true patriots – standing up to hate and dangerous ideology much like those that spoke out against the South as the dangerously brought this country to civil war.

I laud these guys for doing this – and I hope that the residents of Mineral County understand the dangers they face and turn out in droves to shut Ornela down.

~~~~~~
Further confirming that Ornelas is dangerous is the fact that he was endorsed by the one-man show, Missoula’s Gary Marbut/Montana Shooting Sport’s Association. Please note in this video that he calls himself president of the MSSA, and refers to it as political action group and touts the number of laws he has pushed through the Montana legislature.

Marbut has failed to register as a lobbyist for his work in Helena – where, during legislative sessions, he lives Monday-Friday. He’s also known for his intimidation tactics to those who won’t vote for his gun bills (and was pretty darn successful at it last session). Rep. Margie Campbell stood up and pleaded with the even split house and urged her fellow Democrats to not cave to the intimidation tactics of the gun lobby. Unfortunately, they did not listen to this wise woman (who is not anti-gun), and passed several horrible gun bills including HB228 and HB246.

Both were signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer.




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