Monthly Archives: August 2011

New Rehberg Scandal: Public land is my ‘Privately owned land’

Here’s a new video making the rounds of yet another controversy involving TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg, who is worth millions and owns vast swaths of land, developments, and other investments.

For the past few weeks, hunters and public access advocates have been trading “can you believe it?” emails about Rehberg’s private property signs posted on state trust land (aka public land) he leases near his Billings ranch goat farm.  To bowhunters who can’t be restricted to trails and consider this public land prime hunting ground, these signs basically say: STAY OUT.

In fact, at least one of Rehberg’s signs is brazenly posted only a couple feet away from a “STATE LAND” sign!

I have a feeling the signs will be coming down soon.  At least someone had the sense to get some pictures first.

Of course, Rehberg is no stranger to securing sweet land deals for himself, then screwing everyone else.  Way back in 2004, the Lee State Bureau reported that a section of public land leased by Rehberg closest to his subdivision “is surrounded by private property and so far, no one has been able to get in.”  And:

“When the Rehbergs subdivided the development, they left a 10-foot strip of their own land between the state land and the lots in Rehberg Ranch Estates. Although they can see the state land from their backyard, they cannot cross the 10-foot strip for fear of trespassing.”

Yep, as with his political career, Dennis Rehberg’s land deals are all about serving himself–even when it ain’t his land.

Does the GOP Have the Right Idea?

Congressional candidate Steve Daines was given a clear field by the GOP powerbrokers. No challenge.  As a result, he’s been able to amass $600,000 in contributions.

The Democratic primary, by contrast, is a four-person race: Franke Wilmer, Kim Gillan, Rob Stutz and Dave Strohmaier.  They  they must split money four ways, and thus none of these candidates have amassed more than 10 percent of what Daines has raked in.  And all of them, in the final months before the primary, will be forced to deplete their funds in an effort to win the primary, while Daines will horde his chips in tall stacks and continue to take in more.

Partly this problem stems from the fact that there is no democrat in the race with any state-wide recognition, such as Steve Bullock who will likely enter the governor’s race some time in the next few months.

Also, there can be a downside to powerbrokers getting involved in primaries and hand-picking a horse.  Rumors have long held that the bigwigs in DC tried forcing Jon Tester out of the senate race in early 2006.  If that’s true, then such a heavy handed move by the DNC, had it succeeded, would have been an utter calamity because John Morrison, a  candidate with a history of adultery, would have ended up as the nominee. So primaries serve an important Darwinian purpose and should be taken seriously.

Of course Daines, for all his money, has tremendous personal problems that will eventually come to light. When that happens, we will hopefully have a strong and well financed horse in the race against him.

Anti-Gay Republicans Caught Polishing Their Moral Compasses

The shoe dropped this week for two Republican legislators who built their careers advancing anti-gay bigotry and depriving citizens of basic rights.

A married anti-gay Republican state legislator from Indiana was caught paying a male teen $80 to meet up via Craigslist but vehemently denies he is gay, saying:

‘I went to the edge, but I didn’t fall over the edge.’

The Indiana state Rep, Republican Phillip Hinkle, also says he doesn’t know why he set up the meeting, but in emails released from the exchange with the teen Hinkle writes:

‘I am an in shape married professional, 5’8″, fit 170 lbs, and love getting and staying naked.’

Hinkle was the sponsor of the state’s “In God We Trust” license plates, and has voted against marriage equality.

In an unrelated instance, photos of another married, anti-gay Republican legislator, this time from Puerto Rico, surfaced on the gay hook-up site Grindr this week.  The Republican says he can’t remember if he took the pictures of himself or not, but offered an excuse in case they turn out to be pictures of him:

‘You know I’ve been losing weight. As I shed that weight, I’ve been taking pictures.’

I ask those of you on a fitness program if this is the kind of picture you take to track your weight loss. Here’s the Gawker article reporting on the pic. Republican Roberto Arango has a history of supporting bigoted legislation and making bigoted remarks.

TEA Party Jobs Plan Bound to Succeed

Montana college students returned to school today.  It’s the first new school year since the TEA Party Republican takeover, and the  job creation strategies promoted by TEA Party Congressman Rehberg and enthusiastically carried out by the TEA Party Republican Legislature are now in effect.

Of course, it is obvious to any thinking individual that substantially increasing the cost of tuition and demonizing those seeking to better themselves with higher education will, always, magically increase good-paying jobs.

So it makes perfect sense that TEA Party Republican legislators forced a 10% tuition increase on Montana students, and that TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg publicly derided Pell Grants, calling them ‘welfare’ in an interview during the same legislative session.

You see, TEA Partiers are so smart that they know students don’t need to waste  time getting an education to land good jobs.  The TEA Party Republicans just needed to create the financial disincentives and public deprecation to make the rest of us realize how ridiculous college is too.   Just look at all the great opportunities out there that don’t require an education at all.  For example, the Sip and Dip is hiring mermaids. This is a great opportunity to interact with important people, like Republican Congressmen for example, and perhaps open up all kinds of future doors.  Anyway, even if this opportunity isn’t right for your daughter or son, it is at least worth checking to see if your kid can still drop out.

Some Exciting Facts about Montana Cowgirl Blog

There’s been discussion here and elsewhere, lately, about blog traffic in Montana.

My loyal readers (except Skees and Deschamps, perhaps) will be happy to know that Montana Cowgirl is the most widely read blog in Montana, with almost half a million visitors in its first year alone.  The blog often get over a thousand unique visits to the blog in a day. During busy months, as when the was in legislature is in session, we’ve been getting over 50,000 page views per month.  On one day alone, we got 13,000 hits, when Daily Kos carried one of my posts.

And its mostly because of the great work of the tipsters who often contribute important comments, and also tips, news and leads.  You folks are the glue that holds this enterprise together. Keep it up. Here’s to all of you, for helping keep the blog a fun and informative web destination, and for helping the donkey hand the elephant its ass on a platter.

Better Informed

A Whitefish man is making news in the Flathead this week for standing up to tell it like it is, using social media to expose the underside of local and legislative politics.  Whitefish businessman Ed McGrew, founder of Informed Whitefish, is featured in on KPAX this week for his work to provide a forum for sharing information and community discussion–and for taking on TEA Party state legislator Derek Skees.  The page, as KPAX reports, is designed:

“to give people factual information and let them make up their own minds. When there are political issues, people take notice,” said McGrew.

UPDATE: Watch the video here.

The Flathead area has other such leaders, such as Steve Braun, who started a political action committee to expose right-wing activity in the Flathead; James Conner, the political analyst who writes The Flathead Memo; and Mike Jopek, a former state legislator turned columnist.

This is exactly the kind of action and leadership Montana needs more of in other communities, and the Democratic Party should be cultivating people like this. We need more people who understand that there are better ways to get information out than sending out a press release–people taking it upon themselves to better their communities by informing citizens about important policy and electoral decisions, and encouraging participation in those decisions.

GOP Unpopularity Reaches Naked Judy Martz Levels

Just 22% approve of the job performance of Republican congressional leaders according to a new Pew Research Center poll, down from 33% two weeks ago.  Those are some low numbers.  Low enough to be comparable to the extremely unpopular Judy Martz, Montana’s most recent Republican Governor. Martz nose-dived to an approval rating of 20% and decided not to run for re-election.

Even though Judy Martz was the most unpopular Governor in Montana history, Republicans seem drawn to the Judy Martz model of candidate.  After all, TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg has already publicly voiced his support for Michele Bachmann at a Republican dinner earlier this year.

Here’s the video:

Not sure why his handlers were quick to try to spin him back from that statement.  Perhaps they’re Ron Paul supporters.

We do know that Bachmann and Martz share many traits beyond just stupidity and nut-job politics.  Like Judy Martz, who often refused to talk to reporters and demanded they submit questions in writing in advance, Bachmann has begun avoiding reporters who she believes will ask hard questions.  Both Republicans are known for their outrageous public gaffes, their belief in forcing their fundamentalist religious views on others, and their insistence on wearing nude pantyhose with sandals.

This kind of thing must appeal to GOP men.  Bachmann has been compared to Sarah Palin, while Martz is rumored to be featured on the wall Great Northern Town Center in Helena, as a nude bordello dancer, below, in what is known in political circles as “the Naked Judy Martz Mural.” The full mural can be viewed here.

The figure on the left is rumored to be Martz.

The women are not exact clones, however.  At least we have no knowledge of Bachmann covering up a homicide. And when a T-Paw aide called Bachmann “sexy,” she said she took it as a compliment.

Martz, not so much.  When the mural appeared, the Governor made her top aide drive her down to see it and declared it wasn’t her:

“I’m a very modest person, no one would ever see me like that. My husband doesn’t ever see me like that.”


Montana’s Biggest Phony

Please, Congressman Rehberg is the GOP Hypocrite of the decade.Montana TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg has been caught again pretending to care about projects in Montana that he votes against when he gets back to Washington.

Rehberg said this week in the Montana Standard that he visits community health centers because “It really attaches a human element to the decisions I have to make.”

Not that this “human element” matters to Rehberg.  The TEA Party Congressman has a record of voting against community health centers, just like his compadres in the Montana Legislature. This year alone, Rehberg voted to cut community health centers by $1.3 billion.  He also voted to eliminate 750 health center jobs in Montana.

Rehberg has been caught many times pretending to support programs he votes to cut. Earlier this year in Darby, Rehberg feigned support for Job Corps, despite previously calling the program ‘ineffective’ and supporting a plan to close more than 80 out of 125 Job Corps centers across the country, the Montana Standard reported.  He has also pretended to support breast cancer awareness by voting to end mammogram coverage.   Most recently, he tried to pretend to oppose Medicare and Social Security cuts while voting to slash funding for the programs.

Koch Brothers Might Want A Refund

Not a good week for right-wing attempts to grow corporate-backed astroturf in Montana.

Some unstable right-wing characters, including Henry Kriegel (a senior Church Universal Triumphant loon who recently became head of the Bozeman Tea Party), had a big Tea rally at the Montana State Capitol a few days ago.

By big, I mean about 13 people showed up. They had previously been in other cities, as part of what they are calling their “Running on Empty Tour.” In no city did they get more than two dozen attendees. And in every city they appeared in, the morons who took the podium were shouted down by a crowd of progressives who numbered twice the conservatives.

But the most pathetic part of the whole business was what was revealed on the radio early in the week, a fact which escaped the notice of the entire Montana press corp. When Kriegel, the rally organizer, was doing a radio interview the day of the big event, the host asked him “where are you raising the money for these rallies” and Kriegel’s response was this:

So the Koch Brothers have wiffed in their most recent at-bat. They came to big-sky country and tried grow astroturf on the Montana prairie, but you have to cultivate soil, not urinate on it, if you want something to grow.

Generally Montanans tend not to have much patience with phony activities backed by big city money.

And it’s worth mentioning that on the same day as the Tea rally at the Capitol, New York Times readers were reading an opinion piece by the Montana governor, Brian Schweitzer, talking about how Montana on his watch has been the only state in America to run a budget surplus six years in a row. Which is probably why only 13 people showed up at the Tea rally.  James Conner at the Flathead Memo attended one of the rallies.  You can read his post on the Running On Empty tour here.

Is Rick Hill A Muslim?

I’ve received several e-mails from people who were listening to the radio program Voices of Montana yesterday (Thurs, August 18)  about a comment made by GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill who was the featured guest.

When asked by a caller if his past marital indiscretions would affect his ability to promote a Christian Conservative agenda as governor, Hill declared “I’ve been a Christian for 30 years.”

Hill is 64 years old. This presumably means that for the the first 34 years of his life, Hill was something other than a Christian.

Might Montana have its first Muslim governor? You will recall that President Obama did not become a Christian until he was an adult. And this led people of Rick Hill’s ilk to conclude that he was a Muslim.

This would mean Montana would incorporate Sharia law. Lobbyists would no longer be allowed to eat those lovable pork hot dogs that are sold on the third floor cafe during the legislature. (And during Ramadan, there’d be no eating anything at all for a month. Restaurants would be shut down.) Construction of a local mosque would be required.

Now it might also be possible that Rick Hill is Jewish. Dietary restrictions would be roughly the same. Or he might have been born a Hindu or Buddhist, which could bring the state some good Zen.

Regardless of what Hill’s birth religion was, one thing is for sure: if he’s only been a Christian 30 years, he won’t be getting Chuck Baldwin’s endorsement.