Monthly Archives: November 2011

Shockley Shockers

A couple of items from Republican Attorney General candidate Jim Shockley this week demonstrate a shocking lack of skills and indicate the state senator from Ravalli county is probably not ready for statewide office.

First,  a unique fundraising piece put out by the campaign seems to explain why Shockley isn’t raising money.

Second, the genius brain trust that seems to be advising the would-be AG might want to rethink their strategy. Or maybe they’re deliberately advising him on the best way to lose. If that’s the case I say: carry on.

Shockley is positioning himself as the big brother, big government conservative who readily takes a position against the will of Montanans. Recall his odd rant in July against the judge’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the GOP’s medical marijuana law had him actually taking the side of the federal government over Montana citizens.

And now his piece in November’s issue of Montana Lawyer has Shockley trying to refight the lost battle over legal aid in dying: (starting on page 7)

This one is already over.  The bill to make aid in dying illegal in Montana failed. Badly.  The practice is legal (as Sen. Anders Blewett so articulately explains in the same periodical on page 6).  63% of Montanans agree with the court decision that affirmed the legality of the practice, too.

According to Shockley, Montanans are just not quite up to the challenge of making their own medical decisions.  What’s next? They’re just not up to having guns in their homes?

2011 Montana Legislators Who Receive Full Health Care Paid for By the Government

The following lawmakers chose to be covered by the state health plan, with the state paying them $733 a month to cover the cost (asterik indicates lawmaker is a state employee):


  • Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip
  • Liz Bangerter, R-Helena
  • Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder
  • Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula
  • Gerald Bennett, R-Libby
  • Tom Berry, R-Roundup
  • Mark Blasdel, R-Somers
  • Carlie Boland, D-Great Falls
  • Randy Brodehl, R-Kalispell
  • Christy Clark, R-Choteau
  • Patrick Connell, R-Corvallis
  • Rob Cook, R-Conrad
  • Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton
  • John Esp, R-Big Timber
  • Lila Evans, R-Browning
  • Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls
  • Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend
  • Timothy Furey, D-Missoula
  • Steve Gibson, R-East Helena
  • Alan Hale, R-Basin
  • Betsy Hands, D-Missoula
  • Kristin Hansen, R-Havre
  • Bill Harris, R-Mosby
  • * Cynthia Hiner, D-Deer Lodge
  • Roy Hollandsworth, R-Brady
  • * Galen Hollenbaugh, D-Helena
  • David Howard, R-Park City
  • Chuck Hunter, D-Helena
  • Pat Ingraham, R-Thompson Falls
  • Douglas Kary, R-Billings
  • Dan Kennedy, R-Laurel
  • Harry Klock, R-Harlowton
  • James Knox, R-Billings
  • Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson
  • * Steve Lavin, R-Kalispell
  • Cleve Loney, R-Great Falls
  • Bill McChesney, D-Miles City
  • Walter McNutt, R-Sidney
  • Mike Miller, R-Helmville
  • Michael More, R-Gallatin Gateway
  • Jerry O’Neil, R-Columbia Falls
  • Ryan Osmundson, R-Buffalo
  • Carolyn Pease-Lopez, D-Billings
  • Lee Randall, R-Broadus
  • Joe Read, R-Ronan
  • Scott Reichner, R-Bigfork
  • Michele Reinhart, D-Missoula
  • Matthew Rosendale, R-Glendive
  • Diane Sands, D-Missoula
  • Trudi Schmidt, D-Great Falls
  • * Dan Skattum, R-Livingston
  • Derek Skees, R-Whitefish
  • Sterling Small, R-Busby
  • Cary Smith, R-Billings
  • Carolyn Squires, D-Missoula
  • Wayne Stahl, R-Saco
  • Janna Taylor, R-Dayton
  • Bob Wagner, R-Harrison
  • Wendy Warburton, R-Havre
  • Jeffrey Welborn, R-Dillon


  • Ron Arthun, R-Wilsall
  • Shannon Augare, D-Browning
  • Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman
  • Anders Blewett, D-Great Falls
  • John Brenden, R-Scobey
  • Taylor Brown, R-Huntley
  • Edward Buttrey, R-Great Falls
  • Mary Caferro, D-Helena
  • Jeff Essmann, R-Billings
  • Steve Gallus, D-Butte
  • Kim Gillan, D-Helena
  • Bradley Hamlett, D-Cascade
  • Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls
  • Larry Jent, D-Bozeman
  • Llew Jones, R-Conrad
  • Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena
  • Jim Keane, D-Butte
  • Bob Lake, R-Hamilton
  • Cliff Larsen, D-Missoula
  • Dave Lewis, R-Helena
  • Lynda Moss, D-Billings
  • Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell
  • Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency
  • Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo
  • Jason Priest, R-Red Lodge
  • Jon Sonju, R-Kalispell
  • Don Steinbeisser, R-Sidney
  • Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell
  • Kendall Van Dyk, D-Billings
  • Gene Vuckovich, D-Anaconda
  • Edward Walker, R-Billings
  • Dave Wanzenried, D-Missoula
  • Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder
  • Art Wittich, R-Bozeman


The following lawmakers chose to accept up to $733 a month from the state to cover out-of-pocket expenses for their own private health coverage:


  • Elsie Arntzen, R-Billings
  • Dick Barrett, D-Missoula
  • Bill Beck, R-Whitefish
  • Joanne Blyton, R-Red Lodge
  • Virginia Court, D-Billings
  • Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka
  • Champ Edmunds, R-Missoula
  • Edward Greef, R-Florence
  • Gordon Hendrick, R-Superior
  • Ellie Hill, D-Missoula
  • Brian Hoven, R-Great Falls
  • Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel
  • Margaret MacDonald, D-Billings
  • Gary MacLaren, R-Victor
  • Sue Malek, D-Missoula
  • Edith McClafferty, D-Butte
  • Tom McGillvray, R-Billings
  • Mary McNally, D-Billings
  • Jonathan McNiven, R-Billings
  • Robert Mehlhoff, D-Great Falls
  • Mike Menahan, D-Helena
  • Mike Milburn, R-Cascade
  • Pat Noonan, D-Butte
  • Jesse O’Hara, R-Great Falls
  • Ken Peterson, R-Billings
  • Jean Price, D-Great Falls
  • Keith Regier, R-Kalispell
  • Don Roberts, R-Billings
  • Dan Salomon, R-Ronan
  • Jon Sesso, D-Butte
  • Frank Smith, D-Poplar
  • Kathy Swanson, D-Anaconda
  • Gordon Vance, R-Bozeman
  • Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman
  • Franke Wilmer, D-Bozeman
  • Max Yates, R-Butte


  • Debby Barrett, R-Dillon
  • Gary Branae, D-Billings
  • Ron Erickson, D-Missoula
  • Tom Facey, D-Missoula
  • Bob Hawks, D-Bozeman
  • Rowlie Hutton, R-Havre
  • Verdell Jackson, R-Kalispell
  • Frederick Moore, R-Miles City
  • Alan Olson, R-Roundup
  • Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek
  • Jim Shockley, R-Victor
  • Mitch Tropila, D-Great Falls
  • Carol Williams, D-Missoula


The following lawmakers chose to accept no health coverage benefit from the state:


  • Tom Burnett, R-Bozeman
  • Robyn Driscoll, D-Billings
  • Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman
  • Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman


  • Carmine Mowbray, R-Polson
  • Chas Vincent, R-Libby
  • Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish

Keeping Up with the GOP Gov Kandidates

There’s a whole lot of crazy tumbling out of the GOP Kandidate Klown Kar this week.  The latest?  TEA Party blogger Ed Berry writes on the Oathkeeper’s website that the Reverend Dr. Chuck Baldwin, the 2008 Constitution Party’s presidential candidate, has jumped onto the ticket of far-right candidate Robert Fanning to be the Republican Party nominees for the Governor’s office.

Now, governor candidate Robert Fanning, an expert in economics, finance, wildlife and resources, has been joined by 2008 presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin as his lt. governor running mate. Fanning made this historic announcement last night at a Gubernatorial Forum in Billings.

Speculation that Baldwin would run for Montana statewide office began earlier this year, when in a speech to a packed room at the Outlaw Inn in Kalispell last January Baldwin warned the audience that “There’s a fight coming.” In his speech, which some thought seemed to call for a civil war, Baldwin described “waking in the middle of the night and imagining himself as governor of Montana.”

he all but declared his candidacy, describing the prospect as, “so thrilling I just get goose bumps.”

To win a Republican nomination, a candidate has to move right, recant absolutely any past position that violates the current conservative dogma and never, ever dare to speak the truth that the Democratic Schweitzer administration has managed the state budget better than any time in state history.

Fanning and Baldwin are already so far right they won’t have to do much moving.  Consider the anti-Semitic sermon written by Baldwin, in which he lashes out at the Jewish Banking Conspiracy and refers to Jews as the modern day “moneychangers” which Jesus banished from the temple. He also says these same moneychangers control the media and thus will never report on their own banking conspiracy, and so of course it is he, Chuck Baldwin, who must bring us the truth about them.

“They are destroying America,”  Baldwin says, “but Christians don’t see it,” and so he implores Christians to wake up to the reality of what Jewish leaders are up to.

Baldwin was heavily involved in the modern-day incarnation of the White Citizens’ Council that supported segregation and opposed the Civil Rights Movement.

Baldwin said he was drawn to the Flathead and the Rocky Mountain West by what he described as a “freedom-minded spirit in that area that is superior to most places in the country.” He spoke in May at the “Liberty Convention” in Missoula, and at a conservative gathering in Hamilton last year.

The Liberty Convention was the event that included headliners several white-supremacist speakers including Red Beckman, Baldwin and a small handful of  others.  Red Beckman is guy whose name you have probably heard before.  In addition to refusing to pay his taxes, Beckman believes that Jewish people are the literal children of Satan, and people of color are sub-human “mud people.”

In a recent Flathead Beacon article, it was reported that Baldwin has written a column in which he expressed this view:

“The South was right in the War Between the States, and I am not a racist,” he wrote. “Neither do I believe that the leaders of the Old Confederacy were racists.”

Fanning and Baldwin must know at some level that not all of their ideas are fit for prime time. Or maybe it’s just that there are some conspiracies that are too sensitive to discuss publicly.  That’s because on their website, their position on Agenda 21, the insidious UN Black Helicopter agenda in favor of food for hungry people and bike paths, is for certain eyes only, and is password protected. Here’s a screenshot: Agenda 21

They should keep all of their ideas far from public eyes, because the more Montanans learn about this pair, the less there is to like.

Return of the Jedi

In 2010, the Empire struck back, hard. The Dark Side destroyed the Democrats, the first piece of sizable revenge exacted by the GOP ever since their Death Star (which had dominated the galaxy for two decades) was destroyed in the span of four years by Schweitzer, Tester, Bullock, McCulloch, Lindeen and Juneau.

The 2010 elections were bought, not won. There were millions of dollars brought in illegally by the GOP’s wealthy friends. Much of it was funnelled in by shell groups from undisclosed sources, and mostly by one particular front group called Western Tradition Partnership. This group is currently being prosecuted civilly in the Montana courts for their dirty 2010 campaign activity. Of the estimated million they brought in, none of it was reported nor the sources disclosed. In other words, we still don’t know who, exactly, owns the GOP-controlled Montana Legislature.

I’m told that the same shady GOP Darth Vaders who operated in 2010 were back at work this cycle, trying to buy themselves victories in city races around the state. They came up empty-handed, humiliated. Like John Sinrud, backed by the Montana Realtors, who wants to build high-rise condos and strip malls on farm land in and around Whitefish. Or Chuck Denowh, who is Rick Hill’s chief advisor but apparently took a hiatus to try to work some of the city races in the Flathead and elsewhere.

They were working hard behind the scenes trying to get victories. It hasn’t been calculated yet how many hundreds of thousands of dollars these losers spent on city commission races around Montana, but not a single Tea party candidate won election in Bozeman, Whitefish, Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, Billings or Missoula last week.

Best Announces for Supreme Court

News outlets across the state reported this week that Great Falls attorney Beth Best has officially announced her candidacy for the Montana Supreme Court Justice.  Best is running for the seat that will be open when Justice Jim Nelson retires. Beth stated she

“is running for the Montana Supreme Court because I believe in public service, and access to justice for every person as guaranteed by our Constitution.”


Throughout state history only four women have ever been elected to the Montana Supreme Court.  If elected, Best would be the fifth. You can read more about Best from her press release, a portion of which is pasted below the fold.  Or, visit the campaign website:

Continue reading

It’s Peggy Miller Time

Meet a possible new first lady.

It’s Peggy Miller, wife of gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller.  Peggy has often been active holding religious seminars for legislators.

On Friday, she took the reins of her husband’s campaign and sent out a blast email saluting veterans, letting people know that among the many reasons they should be supporting the Miller ticket is that the Millers fly a giant American flag above their furniture store, and that Ken once constructed a 20-foot eagle on his front lawn, made out of American flags.

It’s an often rambling and redundancy-filled email, full of gushing praise for her husband. And the sort of suggests that Miller’s running for Governor is akin to a call to service in the military.   Like veterans, Peggy implies, Ken

“felt called to run for Governor and use his experience to serve our state, working to preserve the freedoms that we have been given — freedoms that our military fights for. This drive to preserve freedom, among many of his principles, will enable Ken to restore our Treasure State.”

But there is one juicy part, which seems deliberate to me, almost a veiled warning shot across the bow of Rick and Betti Hill.

“The way we are working on this campaign is also how we have always done things in our marriage. I am fortunate to be working side-by-side with Ken in this endeavor, just as I have with him on the dairy farm near Joliet, Montana, and with our construction and other businesses.”

“We are very thankful we have had the grace to be together for 31 years and blessed with two children, Max and Kyndall, who both attend Montana State University (go, Bobcats!).  I can honestly give a firm answer of yes whenever I’m asked if I would marry Ken again.  In fact, I did so in 2010 when we renewed our vows to each other. I admire my husband so much for the team approach we have had with our marriage and in raising our children.”

What she is really saying, in not so many words, is that she’s never brought the kids to the Sip N’ Dip bar and lounge.


Livingstone Hits Rock Bottom

The wheels of the strange campaign of Neil Livingstone for Governor are no longer turning and might soon come off the bus.

According to local Whitefish sources, Livingstone’s campaign bus, which has a giant photo of himself on the side of it, has been sitting still at Ryan Zinke’s house (Livingstone’s number two man) for several months.

Livingstone’s Facebook page and website have also been parked idle for a long while. As of this morning, the campaign hadn’t posted anything on Facebook since July 28th and as for Livingstone’s website, the last posting was from April 19th.  The posting was a “weekly recipe” (Livingstone was once fond of regularly posting his delicious cooking ideas) and was “chile con carne“, presumably the Peruvian variety.

And the campaign was broke as of the last fundraising report (which is probably why the bus has been idle–no gas money).

It had once been assumed that Livingstone would put personal money into this race, given his supposed high net worth. But it now seems like either Livingstone’s assets are fewer than previously thought, or he has simply lost interest in the whole enterprise.

Nonetheless, there is one important piece of activity coming from Livingstone’s running mate Zinke.

Zinke, on his own personal Facebook page, has just today called for a rally to “Occupy Whitefish”. But not as an objection to big bailed out banks and fat Wall Street bonuses. Nor in response to a seven percent unemployment rate or the fact that middle class wages have been stagnant for a decade. No. It’s an “Occupy Whitefish In Support of the Jesus Statue” rally, scheduled for Friday, at the local Chevrolet dealership.

Unfortunately, I hear that Jesus is supporting Ken Miller.

UPDATED Analysis: TEA Party Republicans Lose Big in Montana Local Elections

Montanans saw sweeping victories for progressives from across the state today. And while it is yet to be seen whether this will translate into a wave of momentum for the Dems next year, one thing is known. The TEA Party legislature proved itself guilty of a major overreach during the last session. In turn, TEA Party Republicans were soundly rejected by voters.

Nowhere did the phenomena manifest itself more dramatically than in the Flathead, where the TEA Party candidates backed by Chuck Denowh, John Sinrud and the Realtors, Ricky Lynn Blake and a slate of developers and self-funded shadow PACs spent big bucks on attacking their opponents–and were all defeated.

Congratulations to John Muhlfeld, John Anderson, Richard Hildner and Frank Sweeney and the large numbers of voters who turned out to defeat a well-funded crew of special interest nutjobs. The victories weren’t limited to Whitefish either.  The only openly self proclaimed Tea Party candidate in the Flathead County elections, Erik Jerde, garnered a soul-crushing 34 votes out of 1275 cast in Kalispell. Those whom supported Tea Party poster boy Derek Skees in 2010 also all lost…Askew, Vail and Wise.  Tea Party candidates lost in the Flathead Valley Community College Trustees election as well as the municipal elections.

In Great Falls, a woman who refused all donations beat the leader of the Cascade County TEA Party, Cyndi Baker.  As the Great Falls Tribune reports, the TEA Partier had the most campaign signs of any candidate and the second largest campaign war chest.  Baker blamed her defeat on teachers, despite losing by a margin of 84-16.

In Helena, the conservative candidate was defeated by Matt Elsaesser, who was re-elected by a wide margin, and newcomer Katherine Haque-Hausrath. Progressives also had major victories in Missoula including Caitlin Copple, Cynthia Wolken, Alex Taft, and others, as D. Gregory Smith at From Eternity to Here writes.

Billings also had a big win against the TEA Party, where the Billings “Montana Shrugged” TEA Party leader Jennifer Olsen was easily routed by Ken Crouch.  Progressives Brent Cromley and Becky Bird also won handily.   Denis Pitman, the conservative minister of Fuji Spa fame, is still in (proving the power of incumbency).  However, Pitman’s opponent probably succeeded in halting his higher political ambitions now that voters know he checks his family man-of-God morality at the door once profits are on the table, and for that, we can be thankful.

UPDATE: In Bozeman, progressive Cyndy Andrus defeated Bill Fiedler by a whopping 4,289 votes to 2,209 votes. Fiedler was a member of the developers’ crew–he’s a member of the board of directors of the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association.

So, even though TEA Party Republicans won a legislative majority in 2010, they made a mistake in interpreting their one-time wins as a go-ahead to let voters know their true beliefs and goals. So it appears that focusing on nutjob bills over jobs was indeed a bad idea.  They paid for it in the off-year elections.   The progressives also won because they fielded some terrific candidates–people who actually cared about their community and its people more than getting a platform on which to scream TEA Party platitudes and shut down government.  They worked very, very hard on the doors, raised money to get their message out, and voters responded well.

Congratulations to the winners!  Here’s to a repeat of this in 2012.

Fighting Back

Republicans have launched a war on voting to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year, Rolling Stone reports. Here in Montana, voter suppression has been at the forefront of the GOP’s attempt to regain power for years.  Remember former GOP Executive Director and current GOP political consultant Jake Eaton, who was forced to resign over the scandal to make it more difficult for 6,000 Montanans to vote? Even after this, the GOP boldly introduced voter suppression bills–only to have them strategically blocked by minority democrats and vetoed by the Governor.

While some young people across America are squatting in public parks in favor of…something, the College Democrats at Montana State University and the University of Montana aren’t going to stand by reading poetry and choreographing interpretive dances.  Instead, College Dems chapters at each of these schools will be competing in a voter registration drive during the week leading up to the big Cat/Griz game, Nov 14-18.

“Even though we’re on opposing sides on the football field, we stand together committed to electing responsible leadership like Jon Tester in 2012. College Democrats were crucial in the recent elections, and we’re just as excited and ready for the 2012 elections” said Blair Ward, president of the MSU College Democrats.

“The first step to getting involved is registering. Over the next year we’ll be registering voters and getting them involved to elect leaders like Sen. Tester who have fought for students.” said Stephen Carnes, president of the University of Montana College Democrats.

The winner of the registration drive will be announced at the tailgate hosted by the MSU College Democrats before the Cat/Griz game. Here’s the info:

Winner of the Cat/Griz voter registration drive announced
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Bobcat Stadium Student Tailgate Area

To get involved or for more information, contact: Blair Ward, Chair, Montana State University College Democrats, 406-599-1818 or Stephen Carnes, Chair, University of Montana College Democrats, 406-544-0953

UPDATE: You can get more info and RSVP for this tailgate on Facebook at: