Monthly Archives: December 2011

Best MT Political Posts of 2011 from Other Blogs

It’s time to honor the top political posts of 2011 from other Montana political blogs.  Here are the 2011 award winners.

Flathead Memo

Sometimes a picture says it all.   James Conner of the Flathead Memo is not just a great political writer.  He’s a top notch photographer too.   His photo of Dennis Rehberg boldly marching in the Kalispell 4th of July Parade between two fire trucks is priceless.   In spite of Rehberg’s phony attempt to appear supportive of firefighters, Rehberg’s lawyers were busy working on his frivolous lawsuit against Billings firefighters.   Rehberg sought a bailout from Billings taxpayers after his scrub brush was burned in a forest fire.



It’s great that Montana is seeing more women bloggers.  Especially women with backbone like Montanafesto.  First, she broke the Rick Hill mermaid scandal: Republican Rick Hill’s Mermaid Mistress: A Sordid Tail.

She also provided the best ever description of a campaign event.  In a comment here on the Montana Cowgirl Blog, she described Jeff Essmann’s campaign announcement for governor as “an exciting world class event.”  So funny.


From Eternity to Here

D. Gregory Smith at From Eternity to Here held the Montana Republican Party’s feet to the fire for their official platform position claiming it should be illegal to be gay in Montana.  Read Montana Republicans: Officially Homophobes And Bigots?


Left in the West

Rob Kailey at Left in the West has connections to the national online community.  He represented Montana at Netroots Nation in 2011.  His posts are a often good source of information on how the rest of the world views right wing activity in Montana. High Country Extremism is but one great example of this.


Intelligent Discontent

Pogie has posted a list of the most popular 2011 blog posts from Intelligent Discontent.  There are several great posts on the list, especially: How Eager Are Progressives to Elect Senator Rehberg?



Button Valley Bugle 

The Button Valley Bugle expressed outrage on behalf of all Montanans when it was uncovered that we were all contributing to TEA Party Republican Dennis Rehberg’s campaign for U.S. Senate–without our knowledge.  Franking my dear, you should give a damn is a great post.


Worst Political Christmas Card of the Season

There are still a few hours to go until we reach the 2012 horizon, so there is still plenty of time for some GOP candidate antics.  They would have to register high on the wackjob scale, however, to top this.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a pretty embarrassing year for Neil Livingstone and Ryan Zinke.  However, they have managed to squeeze this last humiliation in before the New Year.

This is certainly the weirdest holiday card I’ve ever seen from…well…anyone.  What says “Merry Christmas” less than Livingstone and Zinke in a sleigh with Zinke brandishing a scope sighted M-16, a dead wolf on the front of the sleigh, drone wings, hidden pistols, and an unintentional homage to Obama–a crossed out face of Osama bin Laden. And don’t forget the bag of extractive-industry-only jobs and the PhD certificates.

This is one oddball message to wrap up into a Christmas card and send to the electorate.  Presumably, the “strategy” behind this is to show that these guys ARE TOO! nutty enough to compete with Drew Turiano and Chuck Baldwin. A larger version can be seen here.


The Fundamental Difference


Jon Tester on his farm near Big Sandy, MT

Rancher–dirt farmer and butcher from one of the most rural areas in America; lost part of his hand in a meat grinder; grows organic wheat, barley, lentils, peas, millet, buckwheat, and alfalfa; works the land, fixes fence; is the only member of the US Senate who is not wealthy.


Ranchette for sale in Rehberg Subdivision

Actual Ranchette for sale now in Rehberg Subdivision

Dennis Rehberg does not being called out for who he really is.

Ranchette–inherited $50 million worth of land from parents; built condos, houses and ranchettes for people who move here from California and wear cowboy hats; gets drunk to kill time.

Gap Widens Between Congress, Constituents

The wealth of members of Congress has increased dramatically since Congressman Dennis Rehberg been in Congress, while the wealth of the average family has declined.   This puts them more out-of-touch than ever with what the average American is going through, the Washington Post reports.  Congressman Rehberg has consistently been rated one of the wealthiest members of Congress.  Jon Tester is a farmer and former music teacher.  As any Montanan can tell you, neither of those professions is high-paying.

The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.

Over the last 15 years, the average net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, the Washington Post reports, while the wealth of the average American family has declined.  The average Congressional wealth increased from $280,000 to $725,000. But Congressman Rehberg’s wealth blows these numbers out of the water.  He averaged $30 million a year until he started campaigning for the U.S. Senate, when he appeared to be attempting to write down much of his wealth. Meanwhile, the the average American’s wealth declined slightly from $20,600 to $20,500.

The result: most members of Congress are more out of touch with what average people are going through. The Washington Post also reports that the income disparity gap is correlated with increased polarization of Congress, leading to gridlock, infighting, etc.  This certainly holds true in Rehberg’s case.  He’s been at the center of the deadlock since the budget debates intensified last year.

The NY Times also reported on the income divide between Congress and the rest of us–it’s even greater for TEA Party members of Congress:

“rarely has the divide appeared so wide, or the public contrast so stark, between lawmakers and those they represent.

The freshman class of 106 members elected last year, including many Tea Party-backed Republicans, had a median net worth of $864,000 — an inflation-adjusted increase of 26 percent from the 2004 freshmen.”

Top Ten Cowgirl Blog Stories Part II

Hard to believe 2011 is almost over. As a way to celebrate the past year, the Cowgirl Blog is counting down the Top Ten Cowgirl Stories of 2011. Pasted below are #8 through #4.  Coming up next will be top posts from other blogs and as well as the top three stories.   Consider this an open thread.

# 8  Montana Republican Says Drunkenness is “Way of Life”; Opposes DUI Laws

# 7 Montana GOP Hopeful Might Have Mermaid Fetish

# 6 Schweitzer Burns GOP with Red-Hot Cattle Iron

# 5 The Bridges of Madison County (and a Tea Party Imbecile)

# 4 Analysis: GOP’s “Get Your Women’s Health Care at Walgreens” Strategy Backfires


GOP Game Change?

Montana Republican Neil Livingstone say he and his running mate are now prepared to being “pouring more of their own funds” money to win the Governor’s seat, the Flathead Beacon reports.   Livingstone is clearly hoping that his personal wealth and his background as a businessman will set him apart in a crowded field at a time when voters are concerned primarily about the economy.

Breaking out of the Republican pack will require two things. First, money.  Second, a willingness to compare yourself with other candidates, not just tout your own virtues. In the Beacon article, Livingstone shows he isn’t afraid to do the latter:

“Rick Hill has had two years to put it away and he hasn’t done it,” Livingstone said. “That’s why there are 10 candidates running.”


“I’m the only candidate who has actually run a large organization,” he said.

Cowgirl Countdown 2011! The Top Ten Blog Stories of the Year

As 2011 draws to a close, in the next week, we will be counting down the Top Ten Cowgirl Stories of 2011. Each day will feature one of the top ten most popular blog posts of the year, based on total viewership.  Also in the mix will be a few of my (and readers’) favorite stories from other Montana blog sites.

Today we begin with #10 and #9.  The tenth most viewed Cowgirl blog of the year was Montana’s New Welfare Queens: Guess Who?  Below is the reprint of that post (and the update to it (Republican Who Took $495,000 in Federal Subsidies Wants to Cut Education, Food Assistance)

Janna Taylor, one of Montana’s loudest and proudest Tea Partiers, and also the Montana House whip, has collected $1,000,000 over the last 10 years in federal cash farm subsidies, according to newly released figures.

State senator Bruce Tutvedt, another proud ultra-conservative who runs around Montana railing against excessive spending and the evils of “too much government”, has collected $643,063.

In fact, of the top 33 legislators in Montana who are recipients of federal farm assistance payments (which are cash payments that the government gives farmers for NOT growing crops), 30 are Republicans. They all claim some affiliation or solidarity with the Tea Party. All of them rail constantly against the federal government and excessive spending. Most of them just voted, last week, for the now infamous Montana Nullification Act, which would have allowed the state to selectively ignore federal law.

Taylor was the gal, mind you, who said that Governor Schweitzer had “grown government” so much that “the governor’s residence needs to befumigated when he leaves office.” And here is a peach of a response from Rep. Taylor, when confronted with the fact that she’s been on the dole to the tune of a 100 grand annually for the last decade: “I don’t control federal dollars. Talk to Senators Baucus or Tester.”

Speaking of Senator Baucus, and speaking of queens, Taylor’s husband ran for US Senate against Baucus in 2002, but dropped out when theDemocratic party ran an attack ad against him, using TV footage which tried to suggest, in a not so subtle way, that Mr. Taylor was once an “effeminate” hairdresser in a previous life. The TV ad also raised a more substantive issue: that Mr. Taylor had taken massive amounts of federal loans to start a beauty salon, which he had never repaid.

Amusingly, Mr. Taylor, in that pathetic 2002 effort to beat Baucus, had been giving speeches dressed up as Teddy Roosevelt, with wire-rimmed spectacles, a TR-style mustache and even donning a turn-of-the-century wardrobe.

I don’t know what TR thought of hairdressers, but he probably didn’t believe in anti-government, free-market-obsessed conservatives taking loans and not repaying them, or taking a hundred thousand dollars a year for not farming.

Tutvedt, too, has an interesting response when confronted with his own pile of checks that Clinton, Bush and Obama have written him for the last 14 years in federal assistance: he is preventing starvation. If there we’re a free market for crops, Tutvedt says, “people would starve or go hungry, and I’m not willing to go there.”

I never knew Tea Partiers were so worried about the neediest.

Oops, Republican Files for Wrong Seat

A Montana Republican is in the Lee Newspapers this week saying he’s running to be “a stabilizing influence” on the Public Service Commission.  If that’s true, he appears to be running in the wrong district.

Montana state legislator Bob Lake, R-Hamilton, announced he’s running for Public Service Commissioner against Democratic incumbent Gail Gutsche.  The position comes with a fat paycheck of $94,500 per year.

Lake said he believes he can bring “a stabilizing influence” on the five-member PSC, which has drawn negative headlines this past year because of some feuding and personal attacks among members.

Lake didn’t come out an mention any of the antics of embattled GOP Commissioners Brad Molnar and Bill Gallagher, but did add:

“I don’t want to accuse the current members of anything,”

If Lake really believes he can be such a stabilizer, he’s running in the wrong seat.  Gail Gutche has proven her ability to work across the aisle and is probably the best PSC Commissioner we have.   The way to oust the destabilizing forces would be to primary Molnar or Gallagher.

One also has to wonder why Bob Lake didn’t bring these stabilizing talents to the Montana legislature.   I mean, if he’s got such mad skillz they could have been employed to stop the TEA Party Caucus from seizing control from GOP leadership.  Instead, Lake and his colleagues allowed the TEA Party to shift the focus of the entire session to time-wasting garbage bills like the gold standard, the Code of the West, and the birther bill.

Short on Economic Sense

This is shaping up to be a banner week for GOP-ers revealing how clueless they really are when it comes to the economy.

Intelligent Discontent posts this week about the surprising Facebook ad put up by Republican Gubernatorial primary candidate Corey Stapleton.  In the ad, Stapleton comes out in favor of restricting the market for Montana’s natural resources   It’s a strange agreement for a candidate who wants to be taken seriously to make in an election cycle where economic policy is front and center.  Perhaps Stapleton should ask Washington Corp, which sells most of its copper in Asian markets, to explain it to him using small words.  He should contact the Stillwater Mine about where we would be in terms of jobs if the state tried to prohibit it from selling palladium in Asia. (Probably out of business…)

What Stapleton (and several other gubernatorial candidates) don’t understand is that Schweitzer is helping Montana businesses find markets for their products, so that they can get top price. Republican officials rarely bother with such active governance, because they view government as “bad” and less government as “good.”

“Knee-Walking Drunk” Endorses Open Container Guy

Bitterroot state senator Jim Shockley’s citation earlier this year for drinking canned red beer while driving inspired the Republican to step down from his position. (He chaired the legislative committee drafting tougher DUI laws.)  But, it didn’t stop him from accepting the endorsement of former Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), whose infamous “I’m ready to go get knee-walking drunk!” foot-in-mouth syndrome led to his Senate demise.

Shockley announced the endorsement on his campaign website.

Perhaps this will become a kind of theme,  a stream of endorsements by drinking advocates.   Maybe those involved in the infamous and tragic Shane Hedges DUI accident and death of the House Majority Leader (in which Judy Martz barely escaped a prosecution for evidence tampering) will chime in. Rs have kept a steady pace since then so there are lots of endorsement opportunities for the campaign.

A review:

Of course, there is Alan Hale, Shockley’s colleague in the state house who is campaigning in favor of drinking and driving.

Brad Johnson, the former Secretary of State, got pulled over for a DUI and went subsequently to treatment, though it didn’t seem to faze him: from a rehab center, he actively continued campaigning in his PSC race and is now running again for Secretary of State, a position voters ousted him from in 2008.

Greg Barkus got a few DUIs on the road over the last decade; Scott Boggio, a GOP legislator from Red Lodge, ran up on a curb while driving around with another repub, Elsie Arntzen, and got pulled over, and turned out to be massively drunk, though of course Arntzen, a DUI Task Force member, expressed the usual right-wing-passenger-shock, and said she “had no idea” driver Boggio was impaired.

And of course then Barkus went for the hat-trick, a third DUI, this time in style by running a boat up into the rocky shore of Flathead Lake, causing injuries all around, with passenger Rehberg, drunk himself, taking a page out of Arntzen’s script and saying he was shocked to hear that the driver was impaired.

Then there was recently Brad Molnar, who mowed his car into that of some hapless girl just last year, and fled the scene and was placed under a restraining order from any contact with the victim.

Drinking, Driving, Boating, Hit and Runs. What is most important is that Republicans will often fight publicly for stiffer sentencing for criminals, and against the evil smoking of marijuana, and in favor of “values”.