Archive for the ‘Roger Koopman’ Category

by JC

It was a slow afternoon at work. So I had to revise the litmus test that has been making the rounds. I’m sure that if you fill this one out and send it in, it will make much more sense to Koopman, et al.


MCA Litmus Test

by Rebecca Schmitz

Imagine being Rep. Roger Koopman for a moment. No, really. Go drink a quadruple shot of espresso, yell at your kids, kick a fawn–whatever it takes to get that angry and aggressive. Imagine yourself wanting to purge your political party of people you feel are “socialists”. Imagine finding like minded individuals to help you achieve this goal. Surely, like you, these people would be so proud of their activities and opinions they would openly reveal themselves to the voters and the media, right? Right?

Not these guys.

Whether or how these groups coordinated their efforts is unclear. Officials from most of the groups did not return telephone messages, ignored e-mails or declined to say much about what they are doing. What is unusual about most of this latest collection of groups…is their formation just before the election and their relative obscurity and secrecy, says state Political Practices Commissioner Dennis Unsworth.

Apparently Koopman’s (and John Sinrud’s–he has ties to some of the groups, and Ed Butcher’s–but we’re all used to Ed and his family being less than forthcoming about their political associates) pals don’t answer the telephone, provide their phone number, let alone provide the correct digits, or even stay on the phone once they’ve said “Hello?”

Speaking of Ed Butcher, since these groups have become his BFFs let’s remember what District Judge Dirk Sandefur said two years ago, when he declared that Butcher’s son’s efforts to influence Montana politics were marked by a “pervasive and general pattern of fraud”:

At least 43 of the signature-gatherers, who vouched for thousands of signatures, listed “false or fictitious” addresses on their sworn affidavits turned in with the signatures, Sandefur noted. That violation alone casts doubt on the petitioners’ credibility, and that oath is critical to guarding the integrity of the initiative process, he said.

Credibility. Integrity. Qualities that start with simply putting the correct e-mail address down on a form. Or just picking up the phone.

by Jay Stevens

It looks like the legislative break is coming just in time: tempers flared in the Montana House Tuesday, as Ed Butcher dismissed Democratic remarks as “nonsense,” and House Democrats asked the body to censure Butcher.

Butcher’s no sweetheart, that’s for sure. This wasn’t his first unthinking comment he’s made:

Earlier this session, Butcher apologized on the House floor for making what some called insensitive remarks about American Indians before a committee meeting. He also drew criticism in 2001 for calling American Indian reservations “ghettos,” and he publicly apologized in 2004 after referring to severely developmentally disabled students as “vegetables” at an education meeting.

Parker said Butcher has also made “derogatory comments” toward other lawmakers on the House floor within the past week.

“(Butcher’s) antics have become so time-consuming that they have distracted the House of Representatives from its rightful business, becoming a real waste of taxpayer expense,” Parker said.

The dispute arose over Koopman’s utterly meaningless “Liberty Day” bill, which would be a day “to celebrate the inalienable rights and cherished liberties that we all enjoy as Americans.” The flap arose when an amendment was proposed to replace “inalienable” with “God-given.”

[The] amendment, which later failed…drew opposition from several Democrats, including Franklin, who warned against using language that suggests elected officials have a direct connection with God.

Butcher called the gist of Franklin’s comments “nonsense.” He later said he was sorry that Franklin had taken his remarks personally but insisted he had nothing to atone for.

“When somebody defames the foundations of our country by distorting history, I am sorry, but (criticizing) that is not something to apologize for,” Butcher said. “It was not a personal comment on the individual. It was the general gist of that pattern of thought.”

Amen, Butcher. Which is why repeated attempts to inject Christianity into the government irks me so.

All in all, a silly little squabble. Butcher is a boor, and Democrats should not take his blathering personally.

Also, I think “Liberty Day” is a joke, and Senate Dems should quash it. If you need to proclaim a day of liberty in America, it means we’re in big trouble. I think every damn day is “Liberty Day,” and we should all exercise our liberties as often as possible – which is why I blog, after all. (Even if folks like Corey Stapleton try to intimidate me into silence.)

So join me in celebrating our liberty by calling Butcher a boor, and letting the world know Koopman is wasting taxpayer money and valuable legislative time with his empty bills.

by Jay Stevens 

Another of Roger Koopman’s “brilliant” ideas is HB 525, a bill that would “encourage intellectual diversity in the university system.” In other words, Koopman wants to legislate political instruction into the classroom. And one presumes the instruction Koopman wants to promulgate is his own.

First things off, this bill is not at all popular with Montana students:

Opponents to the bill outnumbered supporters several times over Friday, and the hearing lasted three-and-a-half hours.

Under questioning by Rep. Doug Cordier, D-Columbia Falls, Martin said that about 60 percent of the students on the three campuses he represents identify themselves as Republican and conservative.

Additionally no grievance involving political discrimination has been filed at UM for at least two years. That’s quite a record for a conservative student body being taught by – as conservative demagogues would have you believe – liberal firebrands.

(Then again, we are talking about a legislator who thinks the Earth is 4,000 years old. Anyone who can recite the elements of the periodic table is probably a dangerous radical in his eyes.)

As someone with strong political views who taught at the university – and who expressed his views often – I can assure that, at least in my class and in every other class I’ve attended, nobody was punished or discouraged from speaking their own opinions, even if – or especially — their views conflicted with the teacher’s. Quite the opposite. I’d actually reward my students for challenging me in class and in their papers. I’d even give them assignments to come up with arguments that countered my views. And if they wouldn’t or couldn’t, I would do it for them, expressing different sides of each issue.

Of course, if Koopman is looking for “intellectual diversity,” and by that we should assume he wants to inject more of his brand of conservatism into the university system, he should be wary of what he might get. For every “faith-based” professor who believes that dinosaurs were a hoax or that the Earth stands still or is only 4,000 years old, the university would probably have find some equally ridiculous radical from around the political spectrum to preserve “diversity.” Maoist professors, say, or 9/11 conspiracy experts. And what about fascist professors or John Yoo acolytes? We’d need some anarchists and Stalinists and a few Scientologists, at a minimum.

No, this bill is a disaster. Let intellectual freedom prevail at universities. After all, a bill that creates government control over the ideology of university faculty is quite simply a form of totalitarianism.

But wait! What’s wrong with totalitarianism? Shouldn’t we teach that at schools to promote “intellectual” diversity?

by Jay Stevens

Republican Roger Koopman — who believes the Earth is 4,000 years old — disagrees with the state administration on how to deal with the state budget surplus. Instead of giving a one-time $400 tax rebate to Montana-based homeowners, he wants to institute propety-tax relief to all property owners in the state.

Koopman’s proposal favors rich, out-of-state corporate interests over those of his constituents, the people of Montana. Why? Because Koopman’s proposal would give more money to the out-of-state interests than it would in-state homeowners. If the budget surplus were a pie, the governor’s plan gives an equal slice to everybody, while Koopman’s gives half the pie to the fat man and a little sliver to everyone else.

Koopman dismissed the Democrats concerns as philosophical differences.

“I don’t look at people in terms of classes,” Koopman said. “And I don’t look at companies somehow as some kind of villain that should not receive tax breaks or taxes back like anyone else.”

This talk of class reminds me of Paul Krugman’s column this week on the partisanship so prevalent in today’s politics. In it, he argues that partisanship is only natural in today’s climate of the growing gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

You see, the nastiness of modern American politics isn’t the result of a random outbreak of bad manners. It’s a symptom of deeper factors — mainly the growing polarization of our economy. And history says that we’ll see a return to bipartisanship only if and when that economic polarization is reversed.

Whether Koopman likes it or not, there is a growing divide between the classes. Under Republican rule, the wealthiest in our country got all the breaks, and the economy has rebounded — for them. Meanwhile the middle class labors under rising housing and health costs, stagnant wages, and an uncertain future.

Whether Koopman actually looks in terms of classes, he’s legislating in terms of classes. He can deny it, but with this bill, he’s thumbed his nose at all the working Montanans who struggle with escalating living costs.

We need strong partisan leaders rignt now to implement the legislation to return the country to its egalitarian ethos. That is, we’ll need someone strong enough to stand up to the insurance industry and their cronies in order to implement universal health care. A good health care plan that works for everyone will be bitterly and loudly opposed by folks like Koopman, who represent the money against the people.

The Missoulian article ends with this little exchange:

When asked by Rep. Norma Bixby, D-Lame Deer, how his bill would help the “poorest of the poor,” Koopman said it would help wean poor people from their dependency on the government by giving them their money back.

“Freedom works and big government doesn’t,” Koopman said.

After the hearing, committee member Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred, called the debate over Koopman’s bill a debate between socialism and capitalism.

But Jim Farrell, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, dismissed Butcher and Koopman as “free-market zealots and fanatics.”

Man, Koopman is an idiot, isn’t he? “Freedom works and big government doesn’t,” is hilariously irrelevant. It boggles the mind just seeing the quote alongside the issue. And it’s always nice to see the Republicans trot out the “S” word whenever they’re — rightly — accused of allying themselves with big business.

Maybe sometime these guys should change up every now and then and consider the needs of their constituents first. A guy can dream…

by Jay Stevens 

It looks like Mike Jopek’s (D-Whitefish) proposed reform of constituency accounts is meeting resistance – the Billings Gazette suspects it has to do with lobbying efforts:

The first attempt this legislative session to shed light on secretive “constituency accounts” got little support Wednesday, as lobbying groups lined up to oppose an ethics measure that would also overhaul their reporting requirements.

Pogie has already written eloquently about why constituency accounts need reform — basically they’re unreported accounts candidates can use for whatever they like – and Jopek’s bill, HB202, would put an end to the accounts’ loopholes:

Jopek wants to set a cap on the amount of money put into constituency accounts, ban corporations from donating to the accounts and require annual disclosure reports on expenditures and donations.

But Jopek’s bill goes further than just reforming the constituency accounts. It would also “amend the ban on government officials becoming lobbyists to ban lobbyists from taking jobs as directors of state agencies or departments” and requires “those who hire lobbyists to report the source of the money for their activities.”

The last amendment is where the bill appears to be generating a buzz from lobbyists. Apparently the PACs and other interest groups that hire lobbyists want the right to keep their member lists confidential. And, you know, I can understand that. At the very least it deserves discussion.

In the end, I think Jopek’s bill tries to do too much. Reform of the constituency funds is sorely need and almost universally desired. One bill should be used to address that reform. The other issues deserve their own bills and separate discussions. Jopek’s desire to institute lobbying reform is commendable, and I might be inclined to support all of the provisions of this bill, but reform of the constituency funds should not depend on support of all the proposals.

(On a side note, Roger Koopman’s [R-Bozeman] reform bills get a little play in the same Billings Gazette article. To be honest, I’m left scratching my head. Here are the reforms Koopman wants:

LC 0792: allows private citizens to take civil action if their written complaints aren’t acted on by the commissioner of political practices within 30 days

HB 163: prohibits the use of public funds or employees in lobbying efforts

Weird, huh? They both seem to have been born out of personal experience, or something. Like he made a gazillion complaints that were duly ignored.

LC 0792 seems, well, impractical and expensive. What does it mean to “take action”? Can’t we agree some complaints are more valid than others? And it seems clear that this bill would create frivolous litigation at taxpayer expense. [Still…I certainly would have liked to see some action taken against those c*cksuckers who implemented the Burns-backing automated robo-push-polls before the recent election…]

The second seems impractical. Does HB 163 apply to, say, the governor’s staffers attempting to promote, say, the governor’s budget among legislators? Does this mean the different state agencies won’t have a say in drafting or considering legislation? Let’s be honest: usually the most informed people on, say, forest management or public education are public employees. Shouldn’t they have a say or some influence in the legislature on what policy the government takes?

I have to say that these reform bills don’t seem to be well-thought-out or effective. Just about what you’d expect from a guy who once started a near-fistfight on the floor of the state house and who wanted death certificates for abortions. In other words, we’re not dealing with someone who’s necessarily rational.)

The Missoula Independent staff did a nice take on the recent Republican-generated “kerfluffle“:

Ohs was responding to the apparent flap that Gov. Brian Schweitzer caused in Bozeman Oct. 6, while discussing global warming, the governor asked a crowd of school children and their chaperones who among them thought the planet was millions of years old. Most of the crowd raised its hands. Then he asked who thought the planet was less than a million years old. A couple of people, including Rep. Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, raised their hands. Speaking to the Bozeman Chronicle later that day, Schweitzer was quoted as saying he didn’t need people in the Legislature “who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”

Here’s what Ohs had to say:

“I think the level of intolerance and contempt that some in the Democratic Party have for people of faith is shameful…Rather than lashing out against diversity, we should be encouraging religious debate so that we might all gain a better understanding of the world around us.”

Miss Right over at “What’s Right in Montana” (find your own link) works herself up in a tizzy to elaborate on Ohs’ statement:

First of all, Schweitzer is suggesting that a religious or philosophical belief in creationism or intelligent design somehow automatically disqualifies Koopman to be a state legislator. In the words of Representative Koopman, this is “incredibly bigoted.” Every legislator in Helena has personal beliefs with which Montanans may or may not agree. Voters know that they must elect the candidate who most closely represents their political interests in government, not the candidate who aligns exactly with every political, religious, or philosophical belief they hold. Adherence to any one of those beliefs, even if they are reprehensible (although Koopman’s is not) does not automatically disqualify the candidate to be a competent and compassionate representative of Montana’s people. Schweitzer’s overwhelmingly shortsighted and disingenuous remarks not only insult those who adhere to creationism or intelligent design, but also insult the right of Montanans to elect whomever they please.

There’s about two more pages of similar ranting, but you get the idea.

First, let’s take a moment and savor the irony of Republicans calling for tolerance in opinion and ideas. (Remember these folks belong to the same pack of goons who imply disagreeing with The Decider is treason.)

Next…um…I sure as h*ll don’t want any blockhead passing laws in my state who thinks the Earth is 4,000 years old. Let’s face it: the people who persist in believing the Earth is 4,000 years old have difficulty with dealing with objectivity, evidence, and reality. If your religion overwhelms any sense of reason you might have, then it sure as h*ll is going to cloud your judgment when it comes to crafting laws and budgets and forming policy.

And as the Independent piece notices,

And while Karl Ohs and his Republican minions are rushing to the defense of the principle of diversity, it’s impossible not to notice that the party isn’t going so far as to defend Koopman’s Stone-Age beliefs about the planet’s age, which is estimated by scientific zealots at some 4.5 billion years. It is admittedly easier to storm and stomp about nonexistent religious intolerance than to take on the vast sum of mankind’s geological evidence, never mind your own party’s Neanderthal fringe.


I also like the Indy’s conclusion:

However, Schweitzer’s claim that the Legislature doesn’t need people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old is obviously wrongheaded. It would make good sense to have at least a few on hand so that when legislators next take up education funding, they’ll have a real, live exhibit of why Montana desperately needs more.

But seriously, the GOP’s defense of Koopman is an embarrassment not only to the party faithful who value education and science, it’s also an embarrassment to Christians, many of whom are quite rational. After all, rushing to defend Koopman isn’t the fight the GOP wants to get into right now. Schweitzer’s jab at Koopman didn’t seem to be a remark carefully weighed for its political content and effect, but an off-the-cuff moment of honest disdain for Koopman’s obliviousness, and rightfully so.

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