Monthly Archives: November 2011

Daines Fumbles on Transparency

Steve Daines, the Republican millionaire who makes his money shipping American jobs overseas, recently tried to pull a fast one on Montana voters when he said that we need more transparency in Congress. If Daines really wants more transparency in Congress, he should probably remove himself from the Montana house race.

Here’s what happened.  Responding to Kim Gillan’s call for Montana’s next Member of Congress to pledge that they will place their assets in Blind Trust (smart move), a Daines spokesperson said in the Billings Gazette that Congress need to focus on “the real issues of increasing transparency.”

But even the briefest glance at Daines’ background reveals that Steve Daines is not really a big transparency fan.  In fact, back in 2007, Daines started a shadow 501(c)4 organization that attacked the Governor Schweitzer for being fiscally conservative.  When asked in the Billings Gazette to disclose who was funding his front group, Daines declined:

“Daines has declined to reveal who’s funding the group or how much it has spent, and he said will disclose whatever is required under the law.”

But that’s not all that this TEA-Party darling is hiding from the voters.  Recently, Daines’employer sold his Bozeman-based business to Oracle for $1.5 billion.  When asked by a reporter about his profits from the sale and about how many Montana-based jobs would be lost because of it, Daines apparently saw no need for transparency and quickly declined to comment. As the Bozeman Chronicle reports:

“He was unable to comment on anything regarding the company’s proposed sale to Oracle.”

Deficit Supercommittee Secret Transcripts Uncovered

Lee State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison reported this weekend on the workings of the supercommittee tasked with finding ways to fix the federal budget. Or rather he tried to:

I’d like to tell you, with some degree of certainty, which side is more to blame for the failure this week of the deficit-cutting “supercommittee,” which included Montana Sen. Max Baucus.

But I can’t, because the panel inexplicably conducted most of its business in secret.

There is a compelling and fundamental right on behalf of all citizens to have access to vital information relating to the deliberations of publicly elected officials to cuts $1.2 trillion from the federal budget.

That’s why the Montana Cowgirl Blog uncovered the secret transcripts of the debt panel proceedings, which are presented here for your edification.  As you can see, the transcripts reveal just how heavily the U.S. Senate relies on ancient tradition, logic and most importantly, precedent. Many of its current rules, procedures, and traditions even draw inspiration from the dealings of ancient Rome.  I hope you draw as much inspiration and confidence from these passages as I have.


Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas (Republican and committee co-chair): I call this meeting to order.  Twelve buzzards appeared around lunchtime last Tuesday, and, as provided for in Senate Rule 2837B-2, a surprise visit by more than eight buzzards signifies that it is time to commence our work.

Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan (Republican): Thank you gentleman for the opportunity to address the body.

Aide: Reminds Upton that there is also a woman present.

Upton: (Waves hand dismissively, continues.) When I was last home in Michegan in 1994, I witnessed two eagles dueling over a dead goat. This portends ill for the continuation of the Bush tax cuts.

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana (Democrat). Aside, to an Aide: How many goats do we have in Montana?

Aide: leaves to fetch graphing calculator, returns with a printout.

Baucus:  I vote no.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona (Republican): We must increase military spending by at least double the amount of any revenue increases we make. This is partially to fight terrorists who want to harm our freedom, but mostly because I saw three meteors strike the moon at dawn.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts (Democrat): I disagree.  When meteors strike the moon that signifies an unhappy parent, meaning we must not cut Medicare and Social Security.

Kyl: No it doesn’t.

Kerry: Yes it does.

Kyl: LIAR!

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (Republican): We must consult the Oracle to clarify this matter before proceeding further.  Lets adjourn for three weeks.  This work is very tiring.

Meeting Adjourns.

Brad Johnson Letter Compares Johnson’s DUI with Burns’ Stroke

Former Montana Senator Conrad Burns says he and Secretary of State candidate Brad Johnson are a lot alike.

Burns writes, in an endorsement letter to Republicans recently:

Brad and I have faced some challenges in our recent lives and I am pleased and proud to say we are both doing well. Anyone who has been thrown off a horse knows you got to get up, dust yourself off, and get back on.

The letter can be viewed here and here.  What is he talking about? Did Conrad Burns get a DUI and spend a stint in rehab? Did Brad Johnson have a stroke? No, the letter is an attempt to conflate the two as basically the same thing–hard times.

Problem with that is, getting DUI means you chose to make yourself a danger to others. No one decides to have a stroke. Burns was the victim of the stroke, Johnson, the perpetrator.

Recall that Brad Johnson’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit as he drove down the wrong side of the highway from Bozeman to Helena. The voters declined to give him a second term.

Would Burns have written the same letter if Johnson had killed or maimed someone? It’s a fair question for the self-proclaimed “party of life.”

Baucus Bumps

With the failure of the super-committee, it looks like Max Baucus’s bumpy ride is not smoothing out any time soon. He has his work cut out for him to regain some credibility with voters. He appointed himself onto the committee, a questionable decision since most observers at the time felt that there was little chance of the committee agreeing to anything.  And they were right.

Not surprisingly, Brian Schweitzer joined in the super-committee bashing-fest this morning while guest hosting an Air America radio program on AM760 out of Denver (listen online here to Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3).  He even conducted an on-air contest in which callers got a chance to rename the super-committee, with Schweitzer’s belt buckle as the first prize.

Baucus was at least nominally in the right place ideologically, trying to get a deal including tax increases and spending cuts. However, Baucus is one of the authors of the Bush tax cuts, a fact which he heralded often in earlier times. Thus is he sleeping in a bed he made.

No Love

In an email to supporters on September 9th, in which he talked about “starting to feel the chill of fall in the air” and questioned “Where did summer go?,” former Congressman Rick Hill said “In the coming weeks you’ll see my campaign name a running mate.” The entire email is posted below the fold.

That was over ten weeks ago.

Where’s the Lt. Gov?  What’s the problem?

Cowgirl tipsters say that Hill’s having trouble getting someone to agree to be his #2.  Word on the street is that Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund met with former Congressman Hill and rumor has it turned him down.  The gossip also says Hill supposedly had similar conversations with many state legislators, including: Sens. Jon Sonju and Bruce Tutvedt, Speaker Mike Milburn and Rep. Scott Reichner.

There could be several reasons why he’s running into problems.   It’s possible that Congressman Rehberg and his team, who are lined up behind another candidate, stopping potential candidates from signing on.  It could also be that no one wants to jump on with a candidate with a sordid history of political scandals and high unfavorability ratings.  The lack of an LG could mean that the party establishment and state legislators beginning to agree that this guy is unelectable, or that they know of another scandal about to drop that the rest of us don’t know about.

Regardless, it’s clear Hill wishes he had someone–anyone by now.

Continue reading