Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Do-Nothing Congressman No More

Rehberg unveils major jobs program

Plan addresses stalled economy; for once, Rehberg delivers

I know I’ve often criticized Denny Rehberg as a total loafer who spends his days drinking and doing little else.

But now he’s delivered, and delivered big.  With unemployment in America at record levels, Rehberg, long criticized for being a passive Congressman with little record of action or accomplishment, today announced a sweeping, major initiative for job creation and economic development.

The program is being widely hailed by liberal and conservative economists alike as a bold economic plan that will have an instant and forceful impact on the Montana economy, and will create more jobs than any plan currently being considered in Congress.

More to the point, Rehberg is finally working on what matters to Montanans. He seems to finally have realized that as a Congressman, you need to be immersed in whatever is the most pressing situation facing your constituents. This is a marked departure from where he has been before.  Jon Tester will now be in the fight of his life and will really have to come up big with a economic proposal in order to compete with Rehberg’s. No more may we say that Dennis Rehberg is a do nothing Congressman.

The Missoulian profiled the plan here.


Herd of Male Elephants

There are four or five real GOP contenders for governor. But did you know that these fine gentlemen have yielded nine or ten potential first ladies?

Many wives, mistresses and/or girlfriends. Rick Hill? Two wives and at least one mistress. Neil Livingstone? Recently divorced and dating a younger gal. Ryan Zinke, Livingstone’s number two? At least two wives. Jeff Essmann? At least two wives. Ken Miller and Corey Stapleton are the only guys not to have been married more than once, apparently. (And this hasn’t been lost on the the family values wing.  The Montana Right to Life passed over others to endorse Ken Miller recently, according to a recent Miller campaign email, which is pasted  below the fold.)

What we have here, certainly, is a bevy of ladies men.

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The Montana TEA Party Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes To…

Cyndi Baker (left) and Rep. Cleve Loney R-Great Falls (right) at a TEA Party Rally in Great FallsGreat Falls City Commission candidate Cyndi Baker, who campaigned against school district spending, then turned around and sought a district paycheck.

But it’s worse then that, as the Great Falls Tribune reports, Baker tried to threaten the local government for taxpayer funded payola in the form of a position as “ombudsman” to the local TEA Party anti-government activists. Here’s how the threat worked.   Baker  had been complaining for some time that it was “illegal” for district employees to criticize her opposition to district funding.  Baker said if she were hired, she’d keep the “illegal” activity quiet.  She did not explain how the proposed ombudsman position would work with people who are divorced from reality.

As the Tribune reports, while the district’s criticism may not have been flattering to Baker, there was nothing illegal about it.  What the Tribune didn’t report is that Baker is the leader and spokesperson for the Great Falls TEA Party. Apparently Ms. Statue of Liberty (Baker’s preferred costume when at TEA Party rallies) is engaged to TEA Party Republican legislator Cleve Loney (who prefers to dress as George Washington, among other things, as you can see from this KRTV video).

So there you have it folks.  Another city commission candidate seeking your vote as a platform to spew right wing nonsense in public meetings, in the newspapers and on our airwaves.


New Analysis: GOP Ginned Up Fake Budget Crisis to Undercut Jobs, Schools

Republican legislators conspired to gin up a fake budget crisis to undercut jobs, public school classrooms, and seniors.   A new analysis by Tax Analyst [pdf], out this week, spells out the whole debacle in detail.   Here’s what went down.

Exactly one month before the 2010 election, the GOP legislature’s economic forecaster predicted a $400 million dollar budget deficit.

Even though Governor Schweitzer and his budget director explained why the prediction was inaccurate, the GOP refrain “$400 million dollar budget deficit” was parroted by the media.  Recall that the Billings Gazette sent out a questionnaire to every candidate asking what cuts they will propose to the budget to make up for the supposed $400 dollar deficit?

Legislative fiscal analysts predict that by June 30, 2013, there will be a $366 million state budget deficit with no money in reserve. How specifically would you balance the budget? What specific government services are you prepared to cut, by millions of dollars if necessary, and which government services would you preserve?

Then, by repeatedly feeding the “we’re bankrupt” lie to the electorate, TEA Party republicans rode the wave of fear and paranoia into state legislative office, claiming they were needed to help combat the supposed budget crisis.

The Governor again called it a fantasy, but the fraud continued. The legislature claimed that the drastic cuts they made to those hardest hit by the recession (seniors, veterans, school children and the disabled) were made necessary by a $400 million dollar deficit that wasn’t real.

As soon as the legislative session was over, the legislative staff admitted that their numbers were (badly) off.  They claimed to be “surprised” by how wrong they had been, the Tax Analyst analysis explains.  State Senator Ron Erickson (D) gave a scathing response, saying he and other Dems weren’t surprised, as the Governor had been saying that the deficit prediction was wrong from the beginning.

Montana has $300-400 million dollars left in the bank that could have been used to create jobs, to help the needy and to make sure school kids have a bright future.   Now, GOP gubernatorial candidates are trying to continue the deception to bring about their own elections.  They, too, will claim a spending crisis and the need for immediate budget cuts.  This time, however, the GOP’s record of deceiving the public for political gain will stand in their way.

Opposition to Rehberg’s Land Takeover Bill Continues to Grow

TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg is taking some serious incoming for his bill to give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to seize control of any federal lands within 100 miles of the border.  It was calledridiculousyesterday by the New York Timesand worse things by hunters and anglers who have unleashed a full scale campaign to stop Rehberg’s bill from becoming law. 

This week, they’ve put an ad up statewide. Here’s the ad:

Now, Montana’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Steve Bullock, is pressuring pressuring Congress to shelve the bill. In a letter (PDF here) to Speaker John Boehner and Senator Harry Reid, Bullock writes: 

“The language of this proposed bill rightfully reminds many Montanans of the REAL ID Act. That legislation–which would have mandated federal ID cards to board airplanes and enter courthouses–was unanimously opposed by the Montana Legislature, and as a state we’ve refused to implement it.  Twenty-four other states have followed in our footsteps and opted out of the program.

Our opposition to REAL ID–not unlike the opposition of many Montanans to HR 1505–is not a statement that we do not take the security of our country seriously, rather the opposite.  (Montana has a higher rate of military service than nearly any other state in the country.)  What our opposition to these federal measures does represent is a reverence for the rights protected in our Constitution and a recognition that federal authorities working with, rather than around, local law enforcement and land owners have a better chance for success.”

Congressman Rehberg: Taking the Christ Out of Christianity

TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s supporters may be disappointed to learn that Rehberg is going on national news with the message that Jesus is not a religious figure.

If the namesake of one of the world’s largest religions isn’t a religious figure, I’m having a hard time figuring out what is.

But to be fair to Rehberg, perhaps to him a Jesus statue is more of a secular expression of the glorious power of Rome and a reminder of the inquisition that awaits any critics and ungrateful subjects.  Who knows. It could just be that his comment was “not intended to be a factual statement.”

Here’s the video:



Asian Massage: Conservative GOP Councilman Might Get Unhappy Ending

A hard-core, conservative, Republican religious politician, getting caught doing business with an erotic massage parlor? Yawn. That’s become such a routine event in our society, it’s barely even newsworthy.

But somebody must report this mundane stuff, so it falls to Cowgirl Blog.

It appears that Billings city councilman Denis Pitman makes a tidy living as a commercial landlord, by renting space to the Fuji Spa.

On its website, Fuji Spa describes itself as a massage parlor, spa and “escort business,” which offers “table showers” and “beautiful asian massage girls”, is open 24 hours, and accepts cash only. The website also instructs patrons who visit the premises to please enter through the rear entrance of the establishment, and notes that there is an ATM on site.

There are, in fact, many such establishments in Billings, as you can see from the Billings Gazette’s special advertising section devoted to them. Such massage parlors are legally okay.  It’s not like these places are brothels, after all.

And this must be Pitman’s line of reasoning, because Pitman, by all appearances, is your basic religious conservative piece of work. He brags about his conservative street cred (says he is “the most conservative member of the city council,”), is a big-time Tea Partier, went to seminaries for his schooling, and is actually a man of the cloth. He is a minister. He advertises his services as a theologist and “non-denominational Christian minister” who, according to his own website, will perform religious ceremonies and rites for a small fee.

Pitman runs a tropical fish shop, too, and also made an unsuccessful run for legislature a few years ago.

So this guy is quite a renaissance man, and has a diversified portfolio.

And he is all family values, all the time. Check out his website. He’s a family man for sure. In fact his website’s traffic counter records not how many unique visitors have viewed his site, but how many “families” have viewed it. On his Facebook page he posts  family-oriented advice to his public, messages such as “Little Fockers is not appropriate viewing for anyone in my family except me and my wife.”

To be clear, there is nothing at all to suggest that he has ever collected rent in the form of a table shower or massage. And also, it must be noted that he once rented space to a medical marijuana provider, and took heat for it, and defended himself by saying that as long as the activities on the premises are legal, he would rent it to the tenant.

Perhaps Pitman is truly a libertarian at heart and not a conservative, who believes drugs and sex, even if proferred as goods for sale, must be off limits to government regulation or religious judgment. Probably not.

Whether Fuji Spa is conducting moral or proper activities is of course something that only Fuji’s satisfied clients could attest to. But does Pitman, who is up for relection, actually believe, in his own mind, that his tenant is behaving properly and morally?  That’s a question that Pitman, a theologist who no doubt is aware that the Lord knows what is in our hearts and minds, should have to answer (And That Right Soon).

Political Quick Hits: Helena City Races

Commenters here have pointed out that write-ins will be accepted in the the Helena Citizens Council election.  The Helena Citizens Council is an advisory council to the Helena City Commission.  Matthieu Oppedahl, Jessica Peterson,  Kim Abbott and Michael Hand are running as write-in candidates.  The race attracted attention after it was revealed that Bobette Madonna, the leader of a group who was ousted from the Montana TEA Party over its comments advocating violence against gays, is seeking election for the Helena city board.

Next up, Campaign finance reports show that Lorabelle Behlmer, the right-wing candidate for Helena City Commission has been endorsed by the Montana Association of Realtors PAC, and they have donated the maximum contribution to her campaign. The Realtors are working across the state to elect hard right candidates in places like Billings and Whitefish.   In contrast, Katherine Haque-Hausrath and Commissioner Matt Elsaesser  have been endorsed by the Montana Conservation Voters.  You can read about MCV’s endorsements in other towns here.

Finally, it appears that Lorabelle Behlmer has self-financed the majority (over $1,500.00) of her campaign expenses.  She has been reporting “Debts and Loans not yet paid” to herself for yard signs and other expenses, as you can see from the attached pdf of her finance report here. However,  debts to yourself  are actually Candidate Personal Contributions or Loans.  This puts Lorabelle’s statements that she “sees support from throughout the community and from people outside of Helena” in a slightly different light.  Perhaps she didn’t mean financial support.

Daines Sells Out, Bozeman Jobs Uncertain

Montana news outlets reported this week that RightNow Technologies just sold Bozeman’s largest employer, Right Now Technologies, to Oracle for a cool $1.4 billion payout.   As NBC Montana reports,

“Oracle is a billion dollar company with a history of massive layoffs.”

And while the company offers the standard vague assurances that it “will remain in Bozeman” they don’t say to what degree this will be the case.  After all, Oracle’s nerve center is based in Boise, ID.  Even if they “remain,” there is no law to stop Oracle from continuing the increasingly common practice of bringing in lower cost out-of-state or foreign employees while letting go higher priced long-termers who are Montana citizens.

Nor do we know what the specifics are of the deal Daines signed–except that he’ll have a whole lot more cash to pour into his congressional campaign account.


Technology Produces a Frontrunner in the GOP Gubernatorial Primary

In a primary season with few conclusive results so far, the latest ground breaking news in the  Republican gubernatorial primary settled a couple things: Laurel furniture salesman Ken Miller appears to be the Republican front-runner, while the dry-cleaning guy, the insurance executive, the terrorism consultant, and the childhood addict lag behind.

While other candidates showed potential early on, they have failed to keep the attention of Montanans like Ken Miller, who has recently released the big news that he will be employing campaign technology that is only a decade old. This is exciting stuff.  Apparently it isn’t too hard to receive the text messages either, as it only takes a few paragraphs to explain how this is done.

Plus, as Miller explains in a press release, the technology is being brought to us by actual real life entrepreneurs.  (Not sure why these guys are different than other campaign consultants, but Miller thought it worth mentioning so it must be so.)

High tech advancements have been a major factor in GOP races this cycle from the beginning.  There was Jeff  Essmann’s announcement by conference call–where 13-or-14 planted Essmann supporters were able to ask questions without even being hung up on.  It is really a shame that no press were able to attend the call because it took place at like 9pm or something.

Then we had the slick 1990’s video effects that were featured in the Derek Skees campaign video, which for some reason has been removed from the internet.  And who could forget Rick Hill’s innovative use of Wikipedia to generate earned media statewide.  Livingstone’s campaign consultants are rumored to be trolling for bloggers to cover the primary from a Livingstone perspective, so we’ll surely see more excitement in the future. Ken Miller’s press release is pasted below the fold.

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