Monthly Archives: April 2011

Rick Hill’s Campaign Banned from Editing Wikipedia Page

Wikipedia has temporarily blocked edits to its Rick Hill article after someone inside the campaign tried to erase references to some particularly-controversial Rick Hill scandals.

Early last week, the user cdenowh, who presumably is Rick Hill’s campaign operative Chuck Denowh, was banned from editing Rick Hill’s article on the “free encyclopedia anyone can edit” after a series of biased postings–and relentless whitewashes.

The shutdown warning cited a problem with bias, saying that:

A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia’s content policies, particularly neutral point of view.

Hill’s campaign had attempted to remove the portion of the page that currently reads:

When he was running for re-election in 2000 shortly before Hill dropped out of the race citing eye-sight problems, it was reported in the New York Times that Hill had attacked his opponent, Chief State Schools Officer Nancy Keenan, for “lacking an understanding of family values” because “she has no children of her own.” Keenan responded she had a hysterectomy after cancer as a young woman. [2]

The campaign was also frantic to remove information about the details surrounding Hill’s extramarital affair with a cocktail waitress, which have recently resurfaced in a series of emails from religious conservatives. Before the Rick Hill campaign’s edits, the page contained this information, (screenshot) which Hill’s campaign repeatedly removed.

The sources were listed here, but Hill’s campaign repeatedly removed both the language and the source material.

Millionaire Macaca Moment

Talking Points Memo is reporting on Rehberg’s latest:  Montana’s millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg is trying to convince Montanans that he’s “cash poor,” but his millions of dollars say otherwise.

Congressman Rehberg is so completely out of touch that he believes that inheriting millions amounts to ‘struggling.’

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rehberg is worth between $6.5 million and $56 million. That makes him the 14th richest member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here is a link to the video of Rehberg’s comments.

Rehberg’s attempt to convince Montanans that he’s “struggling like everyone else” follows remarks last year, when he told a crowd that the he owns the prominent sandstone rims that surround the city of Billings, Mont.  “I actually own the rims all over the city,” said Rehberg, who is also suing Billings firefighters.

The entire transcript of Congressman Rehberg’s comments Thursday is below:

Questioner: What I want to know is where exactly is your priority?

Congressman Rehberg: Well, I’m glad as a group you park your politics at the door.

[Audience disapproves]

Congressman Rehberg: Because gratuitous comments like, “the rich like myself” … I’m a small businessman. My wife is a small businessman. You know she hasn’t taken a salary in ten years. She has not because of a result of the business. We’re struggling like everyone else with the economy…

Questioner: What’s your net worth?

Congressman Rehberg: I am land rich and cash poor. Like ranchers and farmers and small businesses throughout Montana. I have the same struggle [audible laughter in crowd], I have no employees, and we have the same struggle because we have the ability to borrow the money, but the problem is, in our particular case, if you don’t have the ability to pay back the loan what’s the reason go to the bank and borrow the money.

h/t Montana Dems

Sine Die

The legislature adjourned Sine Die last night, which in Latin means “without day” (and in Helena-speak means “we’re outta here”).

Dramatic reversal of fortune for Democrats, who came to the session as heavy underdogs facing the real possibility of becoming road kill. The GOP, upon sweeping the elections and achieving record majorities in both houses, came to town ready to make Montana Right Wing History.

Instead, Dems ran circles around the GOP for the better part of the session.

Jon Sesso and Carol Williams, the House and Senate Leaders for the Ds, thoroughly outclassed Jim Peterson and Mike Milburn, who spent most of the session looking dazed and confused, as the radicals in the GOP caucus dictated the terms and humiliated the Republican Party, an effect felt so far and wide that even Denny Rehberg’s numbers sank as a result.  Often the leaders could not even get commitments on votes from their own caucus, even when the GOP leaders had made commitments to Dem leaders that they would deliver votes.  From day one, Dems were disciplined and had a plan.  The GOP never recovered from their early advocacy of crazy and kooky bills that made their way onto national network news shows, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC and FOXNews.  Strangely, the GOP seems not to ever have felt at all remorseful about the bad publicity this gave Montana.

Schweitzer supplied some theatrics to put the nail in the coffin, with his wildly successful cattle branding veto party, one of the funniest stunts in Montana political history, one that left the GOP looking stupid, weak and deflated, and “bat-crap”crazy unable to respond in any meaningful way.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room the whole session was a several-hundred-million-dollar surplus created by Schweitzer and the Dems during previous sessions and over the last interim, which was bad news for the GOP because they showed up with a hammer but found no nails.   In the end, the GOP will do doubt try to brag about a minimal cut of government spending, hoping that nobody reads the fine print: the Schweitzer administration had already reduced spending–submitting a budget with a myriad of thoughtful cuts before the session even began. So it was a semantic reduction for the GOP’s talking points that was ultimately agreed upon.

On big ticket items, the GOP talked tough, like Tea Party types; but fortunately they got stared down, and blinked, in the end.  Like their effort, wildly popular among the Tea Party, to refuse all federal funds.  The funds were restored in the final agreement.

Also problematic for the GOP, and good for the state, is an overhaul of the work comp system.  Working hard in the backrooms throughout the session was Rick Hill and his wife Betti.  Evidently Hill believed that having his paws and prints all over a legislative fix of Montana’s very expensive worker compensation program (premiums were the highest in the nation as of the start of the session) would be beneficial to his upcoming campaign. That dream came crashing down when Schweitzer got Milburn and Peterson, in front of all the cameras at a press event, to admit that whoever the architects of the current work comp system were, they sure as hell screwed things up. Who was the architect of the current system? Rick Hill.  At the signing ceremony, I’m told that Schweitzer commended the legislators who produced the work comp fix, commended them for “their courage in being willing to admit that Rick Hill and Marc Racicot created one of the worst and most expensive work comp systems in the country.”

On the lighter side, good news that none of the famous “nut-job” bills–like the spear-hunting, the birther bill, the legalize discrimination bill, the militia bill and the nullification bill, etc.–became law. They were all either vetoed with a branding iron or died in the legislature at the hand of a coalition of D’s and a few moderate Rs. Whether these Rs can survive the Tea Party wrath in the next GOP primary is an interesting question.  I am sure Roger Koopman will weigh in on it.  Unfortunately, so much time was spent on nut-job bills–and an 18th century social agenda–that there wasn’t time to put together anything meaningful on jobs.

Plenty is left to be ironed out, and the Governor will do doubt be busy vetoing or signing bills for a while, including the medical marijuana revision that is very controversial. It also looks like some crap referenda will be on the ballot next fall.  But overall, in the 2011 legislature, it is safe to say that the donkey handed the elephant its ass, in a very unlikely upset.

Montana Legislature Moves to Add Semen to Marijuana Prohibition Bill

[This hilarious spoof article has been making the email rounds -author unknown. I have posted the spoof in it’s entirety below for your reading pleasure.]

Sen. Essman adds last minute semen ban to marijuana legislation

By CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau | Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011 12:00 am | (0) Comments

The last hours of the Montana Legislature were met with harried anticipation in the adjudicative body’s Republican Caucus today in Helena. Legislators rushed to finalize many pieces of legislation including the much debated repeal and review of Montana’s 2004 citizen passed initiative 148 allowing the legalization of Medical Marijuana. Senator Jeff Essman, R-Billings, rushed to add an important Amendment to his SB 428 which would all but end the medical marijuana industry in Montana.

Following a year of contentious and highly public moves by the medical marijuana community to bring the drug into the mainstream, the Republican dominated legislature had vowed to “remove the scourge of Marijuana and its many ills from the state.” The final touches to the legislation to do just that were only finalized today after tearful testimony on the Senate floor by Republican Senator Jeff Essman of Billings where he stated his desire add an outlaw of semen to his bill.

“Gentlemen, we have done a great thing corralling in these dopers and their evil weed, but only today was I made aware of a substance whose danger matches, yes even succeeds that of the scourge of Mary Jane, gentlemen I speak of semen. Yes semen, that most disgusting of fluids… that most common enemy of mankind itself. Now many of my brothers here in this body may be asking why semen, why now?

I’ll tell you why, because just recently scientists have discovered the true properties of semen are harmful beyond what we previously thought. The evils of lust, violence and odd behavior in young men, pollution, high school dropout and human overpopulation are all caused by semen we know for sure. Semen stands right up there with marijuana as one of nature’s great mistakes! But now many of the same properties we can point to in marijuana are being discovered in semen while we do nothing to stop its proliferation. Scientists recently discovered that semen may cause euphoria, alleviate depression and decrease the risks of some cancers. Sounds just like marijuana to me.”

Marijuana advocates and constitutional scholars, who were already critical of Essman’s legislation citing medical privacy concerns and a moralistic tone struck during debate of the bill were dumbfounded by Essman’s move to add semen to the list of substances banned under the new legislation. “I mean, wow, this guy is freakin crazy. I told you these bastards were crazy. Essman’s gone off the deep end now. I mean, how the hell does he expect to enforce this?” asked Marijuana advocate Jim Gingery of the Montana Medical Growers Association.

Constitutional scholars who had already criticized Essman’s marijuana repeal bill citing the privacy concerns with handing over medical records of all marijuana patients in Montana to law enforcement were much more diplomatic in their criticism of Senator Essman’s new Amendments banning semen. “We told the Governor this bill was unconstitutional on its face. Handing over medical records is illegal for anyone to do, but banning a body fluid. That’s ludicrous, this doesn’t have a legal foot to stand on,” said constitutional lawyer and former Montana Supreme court Justice Terry Trieweiler.

Senator Essman and his Republican caucus disagree with the contention that their legislation to ban semen with marijuana is unconstitutional. “First off, everyone has disagreements about constitutionality. It’s just how you interpret it. The Governor’s office, these dopers and the constitutional scholars all have it wrong. We’ve found we can ban any damn thing we want in our state, natural or not. Scientists tell us marijuana chemicals naturally occur in the body and we can ban that, so why not semen? Scientists now know for certain the dangers of semen, especially to women. I mean science don’t lie.”

The scientist Senator Essman speaks of and has used to justify his new amendments linking semen and it’s marijuana like effects is Lazar Greenfield, M.D. Dr. Lazar is a world renowned surgeon and until recently, he served as president-elect of the American College of Surgeons. He’s a professor and a titan in medical science. In an article titled “Gut Feelings” in February’s issue of Surgery News he extolled the therapeutic benefits of semen to women’s health and cited peer reviewed evidence that semen, like marijuana, was known to cause euphoria in those who were exposed to it. He cited evidence from a recent study of semen and its effects on humans. Dr. Lazar was forced to resign after publicly coming out as a semen advocate.

The study Lazar cited was authored in part by Dr. Steven M. Platek, Ph.D, the editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience and a co-editor of Evolutionary Psychology whose evidence Essman cites as critical in his link of Semen to marijuana. “They say only 5 percent of the ejaculate is sperm”. Essman says.

Scientists say what’s left is seminal plasma, which is a rich concoction of chemicals, including many that have the potential to produce mood-altering effects derived from hormones, neurotransmitters, and endorphins.

“What is the rest of semen made up of,” Essman asks. “We need to know before we go off half-cocked allowing this stuff into our communities. This sounds just like the evidence we heard on marijuana. It’s got all these unknown chemicals, like a gazillion of them that do all sorts of crazy stuff. If this substance is so therapeutic, then why can’t we take it to a lab, isolate its beneficial properties and prescribe it like any other drug. If semen is so good, let’s let doctors put it in a pill and prescribe it. Until we can do that I want to see it gone from our communities.”

Essman and his Republican counterparts do not expect stiff opposition to their semen ban. “We know this stuff is bad,” added House Speaker Mike Millburn, the most ardent supporter of Essman’s SB 423. “My aunt’s cousin’s daughter’s babysitter told me she’d heard that more and more middle schoolers were experimenting with semen and that in high school semen could be found in almost half of all the kids there. That’s just too much, you expect college kids to have this stuff, but now kids as young as 12. Dangerous stuff, we gotta get rid of it, and the old sock approach aint gonna cut it,” Millburn added emphatically.

The bill heads to the Governor’s desk again today. Stay tuned for updates.

POST SESSION PREVIEW: GOP Primed With Unique Leadership Pool for 2012

The GOP has realized it is out of bad ideas and is preparing to abandon ship.  So with the end of the session near, it is time for gubernatorial candidates to start campaigning in earnest.

The primary candidates will need to work hard to separate themselves from the pack –I believe there are at least six R’s thought to be running– by winning over key constituencies that are parts of the GOP base. One way to do that is by the strategic recruitment of future political appointees.

Here is a list of potential cabinet level possibilities selected from the GOP’s top leadership –bold minds that a Republican may need to get to get through a full primary field.

Director of the Department of Revenue, Bob Wagner (R-Harrison) was the most outspoken member of the GOP legislature on monetary policy, especially the gold standard.

Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) has positioned herself well as the GOP expert on military affairs, or at least militias, making her a great choice for GOP pick for Director of Military Affairs.

A Lt. Governor pick is key for helping to turn out the vote among key constituencies, and Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula) certainly was the Republican poster boy for voter policy this session (leading their campaign to suppress the vote in Montana) .

For Fish Wildlife and Parks director, the GOP need look no further than spear hunting spokesmodel, Greg Hinkle.

For the right pick for Department of Environmental Quality look no further than GOP visionary,  Derek Skees, (R-Whitefish Kalispell)  who was advocating for nuclear power before Japan, oh..wait…

The Montana GOP already has a man whose making national waves in the climate change discussion, making intelligent science expert Joe Read (R-Ronan)  a perfect pick to lead the DNRC.

Alan Hale, expert on driving (especially where drinking is concerned) exemplifies the views of many GOP-ers on transportation issues, making him a leading pick for Director of Transportation.

And for the Department of Health and Human Services – Tom McGillvray (R-Billings) who understands that the best way to help people is to attack and insult women and to keep them down!  Sums up the GOP philosophy of keeping government out of everything — except your most personal and private business– perfectly.

Montana’s Kooky Legislators Make National Television Again

Here’s the video of Steven Colbert lampooning Montana Republican Representative Bob Wagner’s appearance on CNN ranting about the “long-form birth certificate” that Obama released yesterday.

Like Colbert says, these people won’t rest.

In fact, across the state they are launching campaigns to take over local governments: TEA Partiers are campaigning to take over the Helena school board, the board of trustees of the Flathead Valley Community College, and the Billings City Council (see the TEA Party action alert below the fold.)

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
America Needs to See Obama’s Report Cards
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Continue reading

Christine O’Donnell Tries to Explain Campaign Finance Alleged Irregularities, Will Rick Hill Be Next?

She’s Back: Christine O’Donnell is back in the news trying to explain the alleged irregularities in her campaign finance reports.

O’Donnell’s 2010 campaign finances are under investigation by the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice, following complaints filed last September by a group called the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The group accused O’Donnell of using campaign funds for personal living expenses, a claim she denied.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports filed by embattled gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill, every month the campaign pays $329 to the American Honda Finance Corporation. The campaign finance report is online in pdf form here, and here is a screenshot of some of the payments:

Rick Hill Campaign Payments to Honda Finance

In 2004, the press wrote about Schweitzer’s American truck that he purchased in Idaho, with his own money, but I guess they see no problem with the fact that Rick Hill is spending campaign donations to allow him to criss-cross Montana in the finest of Japanese automotive luxury.

The justification for such a campaign expense is questionable, unheard of in Montana state level politics, however, it is true that some sitting members of Congress have been known to lease themselves personal vehicles to travel around their home states in style.  I guess Rick Hill’s just been in Washington too long to realize that he should be driving the state in a used pickup like everybody else. Regardless, we hope someone will provide more information on the matter soon.

Will Rehberg Continue to Support Billions in Government Handouts to Big Oil While Montana Families Suffer at the Pump?

Rehberg isn't known for his views on women's equality.With gas prices rising and oil companies expected to report massive first quarter profits this week, incumbent Congressman Dennis Rehberg is finding himself in a tough spot defending his votes to maintain billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies [House Vote #153, 3/1/11]. Feeling the heat, even Speaker Boehner suggested Big Oil companies didn’t need these government handouts, stating oil companies are:

“gonna pay their fair share in taxes and they should,” Boehner told ABC News Monday night, adding that, “frankly, they’ve got some part of this to blame.”

Here’s video of Boehner saying it again:

Shocker: Rehberg has not been as clear.  And people are starting to pay attention.

When asked directly by a constituent in Columbus if he would consider ending subsidies for oil companies, Rehberg said only that “everything is on the table,” including “subsidies for the oil companies.”  Does this mean he’s willing to reconsider his recent support of over $40 billion in handouts to Big Oil?

Although the House leadership admits that the richest oil companies in the nation don’t need billions in government subsidies, they have voted to continue these obscene handouts as recently as earlier this year.

Rep. Rehberg received $5,000 from Exxon in the first quarter of 2011. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 74 percent of voters support eliminating tax breaks to oil companies. [NBC/WSJ Poll, February 2011]

Montana Women Launch Grassroots Campaign to Re-elect Tester

How cool is this? Big Sandy farmer Jon Tester is continuing to build more momentum in his bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate, thanks to this week’s launch of Women for Tester, another grassroots organization supporting his campaign.

Anyone is welcome to join Women for Tester online here . The organization is also on Facebook here.

The group was started by Stacy Rogge-Senterfeit, who works for the Clark Fork Coalition in Missoula, and Barb Skelton, a rancher and business consultant who was the first woman to be nominated for Lieutenant Governor in Montana.  Great idea ladies!

In a press release, Stacy said:

“One thing is clear about Dennis Rehberg: He can’t be trusted to stand up for Montana women and our families, Congressman Rehberg voted against equal pay protections for women, and enthusiastically supported the effort to take away access to preventive care — including breast cancer screenings — by defunding Planned Parenthood.”

I could not agree more.
Women for Tester is the second grassroots organization supporting Tester’s hard work and Montana values in the U.S. Senate. Students for Tester, which launched earlier this month, is on Facebook here.

Republicans Kick TEA Party Activist Out of Caucus Meeting

Yet another wave of disbelief has fallen upon Montana citizens who follow the bizarre behavior of Republicans at the Montana legislature – the Billings Gazette is reporting that leaders of the Montana House of Representatives kicked a TEA party activist out of a GOP caucus meeting.  Republicans admit they asked him to leave, even though party caucuses are required to be open to the public by Montana’s constitution.

A central issue inflaming this action: the non-existant role that members of the public appear to play in Republicans politics, especially after this session’s record instances of process and procedural moves critics say were designed to limit public comment, participation, and information.

What the Republicans wanted to discuss without TEA partier hearing is unknown, and was not included in the report.

The reaction of TEA party Republican legislators is also yet to be seen. Most if not all GOP legislators have claimed to be supportive of the TEA party in the past, yet the AP story did not include reports of any TEA Party Republican legislators standing up to object to the teabagger’s ousting.