Monthly Archives: March 2011

GOP Legislature Poised to Overturn Citizen Initiatives for First Time in State History

GOP Claimed to Support Will of Voters Before They Opposed It

FLIP: Before the election, GOP leadership claimed they supported ballot initiatives as the will of the voters.

Senate GOP Leader Jeff Essmann, speaks about the sanctity of the ballot initiative in support of CI-105

“At some point the voters of the state of Montana have to say enough is enough,” says Montana Senator Jeff Essman (R-Billings).

Essmann even offered the view that ballot initiatives should supercede the legislature.

“None of these bills have progressed in the legislature, the goal of the supporters of the initiative is to make sure that it just never happens,” Essman commented.

FLOP: Republicans are forcing through bills to overturn citizens initiatives against cyanide heap leach miningtobacco prevention, medical marijuana, and more.

If these bills pass, it will be the first time the Montana Legislature has voted to overturn a citizen-approved initiative in the state’s history.

Montana Democrats Get Some Game

Rep. Betsy HandsRep. Dick BarrettIt’s a proud moment for Montanans.  Democrats in the Montana House of Representatives took the opportunity, during a debate of a prominent piece of the GOP agenda,  to masterfully expose the Republicans for who they really are.  The Montana Lowdown has the story and the video.

Ridicule and satire are powerful political tools, especially when applied so deftly as they were yesterday, because they allow the Dems to point out the deficiencies in the GOP’s agenda in such a way threat they become absurd–even hilarious, and therefore allow them to be entertaining, and reach a wider audience.

A few highlights: In a series of tactical moves during a session of the full House of Representatives,  Democrats blatantly mocked a GOP bill to require that business be transacted in gold and silver.

First master of debate Rep. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula) a professor of economics, got Rep. Bob Wagner to refuse to publicly acknowledge that “dollars” (rather than gold) even exist.

“I don’t know what other people to know as to be a dollar” said Wagner and would only call them “federal reserve notes.”

Then, Barrett proposed that money be transacted in other in-kind goods, such as chickens (a reference to Nevada Republican who, during the last election year, proposed allowing people to pay their medical bills with chickens) or coal.  Next,  Rep. Pat Noonan, spoke up for job creation in Butte America, by proposing Montana use a copper currency instead–a not so subtle jab at the lack of job creation on the GOP agenda, which has rather focused on extremist and downright kooky social engineering bills.

Ridicule is also effective because it’s hard for the Repubs to counter effectively –  if they try to respond logically, they acknowledge the absurdity of their agenda.   If they don’t respond at all, they look like their ideas are indefensible.  As we saw yesterday, the tactic caused the Republican sponsor of the bill, Rep. Bob Wagner, to lose his cool, making the R’s look like hotheads, and forcing a Republican to stand up and try to defend the caucus more rationally, which can’t really be done.

If the pointed satire wasn’t enough, Rep. Betsy Hands (D-Missoula) put the final nail in the coffin when she pointed out that the new currency and the militia bill are the first steps proposed by those who advocate seceding from the union, or, as Rep. James Knox calls it “succeeding.”

Jamee Greer RT of James Knox Hilarity

Kudos to Minority Leader Jon Sesso and the leadership in the House for hitting on the perfect technique for a session such as this.  Your strategy is a winning one.

Montana Republican Says Drunkenness is “Way of Life”; Opposes DUI Laws

TEA party legislator Alan Hale yesterday made an impassioned speech on the floor of the Montana statehouse for the elimination of all DUI laws.  Intelligent Discontent has the story and the must watch video.

Alan Hale, a frosh legislator from Basin, MT, says that “taverns and bars connect people together” and are “the centers of our communities”.  To get to them, says Hale, “you must drive,” and thus DUI laws “are destroying a way of life” and should be eliminated.

Of course, Hale should know: he’s a bar owner, so I guess he’s doing a little self-dealing in his new job as legislator.

Generally, Republicans have had a long and difficult romance with alcohol in Montana– what with the heavy-drinking Congressman and his many drinking escapades, the Secretary of State who ran for office from rehab in 2010, the last governor’s chief-of-staff who drove drunk and killed the speaker of the House, and numerous GOP legislators who have recently been busted for drinking and driving and drinking and boating.

A few months back, Governor Schweitzer was harshly attacked by the GOP for having suggested publicly that the new GOP legislature legislature would have its share of “big boozers.” Schweitzer discovered data that showed a huge spike in liquor sales when the legislature convenes in Helena.

The GOP senate president saw an opportunity (and took the bait): he quickly penned an OpEd (entitled “Schweitzer Insults Sober, Hardworking Lawmakers“), decrying Schweitzer for having dared to suggest that alcohol has any meaningful presence during the legislative session.

A few days later, the GOP senate judiciary committee chairman was pulled over when a cop spied him drinking a homemade “red beer” (a special, yummy mixture of beer and tomato juice) while driving home from the statehouse.

Even Fox News Mocks Montana Republican for Kooky Bill

Remember way back a long time ago earlier this session when the GOP tried to portray themselves as the party of the Constitution, even hosting a “seminar” about the Constitution from the conservative National Center for Constitutional Studies. Even now, you’ll still see one of these legislators occasionally whip one out, although it is usually only to try to brush some snack cake crumbs off of their other papers or to misapply it to justify their own kooky ideas.

No, the hypocrites in GOP can’t hide utter disdain for the actual document. Take Rep. Greg Hinkle (R-Spearhunter) who, when confronted in his anti-constitutional stance by Fox News of all things in a segment titled with the double entendre “Taking Liberties,” immediately dismisses the document.

Other GOP lawmakers have endorsed a seemingly endless list of proposals to rewrite the Constitution into something barely recognizable. These range from a bizarre proposal to create a new, incredibly cumbersome method to repeal federal laws, to more distressing proposals to strip people of their citizenship, enshrine discrimination into the Constitution, eliminate all federal education programs, and even repeal the right to privacy and the right to a clean and healthful environment.

FACT CHECK: Republican Misquotes Party’s Founder

In today’s Twitter frenzy of enlightening and intelligent statements by Representative Derek Skees (R Whitefish Kalispell), this statement appeared:

If Republicans can't even get quotes from their own founder right, what else are they getting wrong?

However, according to the book They Never Said it: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions, these words are not from Lincoln. The quotes were published in 1942 by William J. H. Boetcker, a Presbyterian minister.  He released a pamphlet titled Lincoln On Limitations, which did include a Lincoln quote, but also added 10 statements written by Boetcker himself.

This is not the first time that legislative Republicans have been caught misinforming the public about the words of President Lincoln.

On January 5, 2009, MT House Minority Leader Scott Sales (R-Bozeman) read a series of quotes that were attributed to former President Abraham Lincoln. A newspaper reporter looked into those quotes and found that they have been mis-attributed to Lincoln.  Sales was forced to apologize on the House Floor on Jan 8, 2009, to address the issue, saying he’d been “duped” because he got his information from the internet.

We’re not sure where Skees gets his information, but if his source was the internet, he must have missed this article about the gaffe and Sales’ apology and retraction here.

The Worst Kind of Hypocrites

Republicans are keeping up their track record of doing absolutely nothing on job creation, ostensibly what they were sent to Helena to work on, but they are doubling down on looking out for numero uno: Gutting health care benefits for their neediest constituents, while making sure their own families are taken care of.

Despite running campaigns largely focused on repealing government funded health care, and introducing dozens of bills designed to prevent the implementation of the program in Montana, the Missoulian is reporting that 95% of Republicans in the legislature take government health care benefits themselves:  even as they voted to cut health care for seniors, Montanans with disabilities, and children.

This explains why Republicans opposed a simple measure to make transparent whether members of the legislature accepted government funded health care. Polling shows most Americans oppose health care hypocrisy.  Most Republicans think those who campaigned against the health care bill should put their money where their mouth is and decline government provided health care now that they’re in office. [Public Policy Polling, 11/23/10]

A list of legislators taking the benefit can be found here.

Bloom is Coming Off the Tea Party’s Rose

They were a national sensation, but they are fading away one by one. The crazy bills that the Montana GOP introduced upon taking office–encouraging global warming, funding militias, giving sheriffs autonomy over the federal government, and many more–in the Montana legislature have slowly and quietly been killed by the GOP leadership, which had to face the stark reality that if they didn’t do something to extinguish the craziness, they would do additional damage, additional to the already permanent damage that the Tea nuts have done to the Montana GOP.

If you think it’s not permanent, check Denny Rehberg’s numbers. He’s tanked. He shot his mouth off last fall, about how he’s a Tea Partier. He joined the Tea Party Caucus. Then in February, stupidly thinking that Tea was something more than an idiotic fad of the moment, he showed up at a joint session of the legislature to deliver one of the angriest, fringe speeches ever recorded in the chamber. Now, with the help of the Tea Party’s notorious craziness in the legislature which has left a bad taste in Montana’s mouth, Rehberg’s association with this movement has brought his job approval down to the 40s, for the first time in many years. Months ago, polling had Rehbherg with a strong lead against Tester. Now they are dead even.

Tea, anyone?

Rick Hill Fundraiser: 90% Lobbyists

Hope Rick Hill Isn't Laughing at one of Conrad Burns racist jokes.Former lobbyist, insurance-executive and gubernatorial wanna-be Rick Hill got some of his closest friends together to raise some dough – and 90% of the listed guests were registered lobbyists.

The invitation for the fundraiser, held at the offices of a lobbying firm and special-interest group, promises attendees the opportunity to rub-elbows with some of the biggest influence peddlers in the state – all you need to do is bring a check for anywhere between $100 and $1200.

Millionaire Hill, who oversaw the creation of Montana’s current (and deeply flawed) workers-comp system and serves as Chairman of Blue Cross Blue Shield, was a registered lobbyist for – amongst other things – a sales tax, which, as Pogie writes, is One Sure Way to Really Stick It to the Poor.

The invitation reads (PDF here):

Please join us at a fundraising reception for Rick Hill candidate for Governor.

Former Congressman Rick Hill is running to be Montana’s next governor, and he needs your support.  Rick has a solid pro-business, pro-resources record, and strengthening Montana’s economy is the cornerstone of his campaign.

Rick Hill for Governor Fundraising Reception
Thursday, March 24th
5:30 am -6:30 pm

Hosted by

Cary Hegreberg (LOBBYIST)
Bud Clinch (LOBBYIST)
Todd O’Hair (LOBBYIST)
Steve Yeakel (LOBBYIST)
Jason Thielman
Chuck Denowh (LOBBYIST)
Mark Baker (LOBBYIST)
Dustin Stewart (LOBBYIST)
Jon Metropoulos (LOBBYIST)
Peggy Trenk (LOBBYIST)

Suggested Contribution $100 Maxiumum Contribution $1200

The Conference Room of the Montana Realtors Association Office
1 South Montana Avenue, Helena, MT

For more information please contact Shelby at xxx-xxxx

Montana’s GOP Leader Melts Down

Montana's GOP Leader Melts DownTwice in the last two days, the Republican president of Montana’s Senate has broken down and sobbed during a session of the Montana Senate because he was unable to muster enough votes for his preferred bills. (March 22, 23, video not yet available)  Far right wing-nut Republicans are deserting him, weakening his grip on his own caucus and making it difficult for him to keep his ship floating.

This is not John Boehner-type crying, the kind where you start tearing up when someone shows you an American flag. This is crying from stress.

His double-meltdown comes immediately on the heels of a new Lee Newspapers poll showing that over 60 percent of Montanans disapprove of the job that the GOP-controlled legislature is doing. Such a poll result didn’t surprise too many observers, because Montanans have been reading lots of articles lately about all the kooky stuff the GOP has been doing in the statehouse. But when you seek to become the leader of a glorious revolution, and it all goes to pot under the weight of bills that authorize spear hunting, militias and secession, it must certainly create stress on the leader.

You could easily feel for him, the poor guy, until you remember what his grand plan was for the state when he took the job: cut everything in sight, even though the state has a $300 million dollar surplus. Cut meals on wheels, which brings food to elderly disabled people; eliminate all family planning services in Montana; eliminate most all subsidies for healthcare for the poor, and so on.

It’s the new playbook from Republicans nationwide. Cut services for the neediest, no matter what the services are and no matter what the financial shape of the state government is. But for some reason, the emotional Peterson’s soft side hasn’t ever been stirred up by any of these constituents who need a little help from society, from people who have a little more to give. He has been more than happy to say no.

Peterson was also happy to ride a wave of right-wing lunatics to an election victory and also to his new perch as Senate President, by telling teabaggers, that he was one of them, that he would slash and burn government, that liberals have destroyed the universe, that Obama sucks, and so on.

At first Peterson rode the horse happy and proud, but now the the animal has bucked him off and bolted, and Peterson is sitting in the dirt having himself a cry.

GOP Leading Man is a Bit Crusty

The Republican party’s leading man is a bit crusty, to the point that he’s all excited about the fact that he has sent out an email.  From that email:

When I last ran for public office over ten years ago, the Internet was still fairly new, and the social media revolution was in its infancy.  But I’m excited to get to try new things with this campaign, and I’ve made it my goal to be on the cutting edge of technology this election cycle.  It is my goal to be the candidate all others are trying to catch up to in our online presence.  I want the most Facebook friends, the most Twitter followers, the most subscribers to my blog, and most importantly, I want to raise the most money online.

Hill’s continual image makeover routine is already tired to the rest of us.  But Hill is ecstatic.   He wants us to spread the word he has even updated his new website,  where one can find super-cool information about how he, too, was a wrestler, no doubt a wise strategic move to compete with primary opponent, most inspirational wrestler Corey Stapelton.

Hill even tries to insert his twee new branding into his campaign disclaimer:

Paid for by A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill, Republican.

This reminds me of how AIG discovered that its name was associated with bad behavior and thought that the solution is to change the name. Will the Hill now be known as “The Cool Dude Full of Awesomeness?”

Hill’s giddy email about how he’s has discovered exciting technology that used to be new can be viewed below the fold.

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