Monthly Archives: March 2012

Rick Hill Dumps on Montana

Congressman Rick Hill is dumping on Montana’s economy again because he think it will help him politically.    If Hill and his insurance industry pals were serious about bringing jobs to Montana, they’d be promoting the state, not trashing it.  The Helena IR recently criticized the Republican candidates for making false economic claims.

That didn’t stop Hill from writing on his blog:

“While the pundits like to point to the occasional economic bright spot as an indication that the economy is strengthening, most people on Main Street aren’t so optimistic.”

In the real world, however, the Bozeman Chronicle reports that:

“Montana’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in February, extending a decline that begin in August, when the rate hit a high of 7 percent, according to state labor figures. The Montana Research & Analysis Bureau reported that the state’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.3 percentage points in February. The state has the 13th lowest unemployment rate in the country.”


GUEST POST: It Takes Courage

The following is a guest post by Holly Kaleczyc.

In my years serving women in crisis in Helena, I learned that it takes courage to be an advocate for women—to stand up for our reproductive rights in the face of aggressive and sometimes ugly, violent opposition. I’m thrilled to support such an advocate for Attorney General—Pam Bucy. Pam has served on the board of Planned Parenthood, she has done countless hours of pro bono legal work on behalf of women, and she authored the Attorney General opinion that ended gender discrimination in insurance purchasing and mandated that health insurance cover birth control like any other prescription. Pam has fought, with courage, for women.

Women’s organizations are lining up behind Pam. EMILY’s List and the Women’s Campaign Fund endorsed Pam very early on. Just a few weeks ago, Planned Parenthood Montana gave their sole primary endorsement to Pam Bucy. Her primary opponent, Jesse Laslovich, received a recommendation, indicating that his record has not been 100%– and demonstrating that he is not the best advocate for women running in this race.

Mr. Laslovich has not always been on our side. In 2003, Mr. Laslovich had a 66% score with NARAL for his vote for a fetal pain bill—a bill mandating questionable medical procedures for women and opposed by the medical profession. In 2009 he had a 90% record because he voted for a bill that defined life at conception, creating a crime of fetal homicide. Overall, Jesse’s record on choice has been ok most of the time. Pam Bucy has stood with women all of the time.

With the attacks on our basic rights to contraception, funding for victims’ services at risk, and continuous anti-woman rhetoric, we need to elect leaders who we can count on all the time. 

Cowgirl Exclusive: Inside the GOP Hornet Nest

Lincoln Day Dinners: a snooze fest of olds, fake plants and ranting.

Today we have an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the political phenomenon known as the Lincoln-Reagan dinner.   Lincoln-Reagan dinners, for those who do not know, are the county GOP banquets where candidates show up to mingle with local party activists, make speeches and look for primary votes.  Well, several contributors to this blog have been in attendance at a few of these affairs this season.  They took notes, and have debriefed me on these dismal gatherings.

To begin with,  the overwhelming majority of attendees are senior citizens, many pushing 70.  There are few young people except for the staff of some of the candidates.  Mostly it is older couples, who arrive, two by two, dressed as if they were coming to a square-dance-slash-funeral.  Also, I asked one of my moles whether there was a lot of big, boofed-up hair, something I’ve noticed before at GOP gatherings. The answer is yes.

Before the dinner starts, there is some sober mingling and discussion. Lately the hot topic of conversation is Judge Cebull.  Cebull is the judge who forwarded a racist “joke” about the President’s mother having sex with animals.  The talk goes something like this: “Yes, Cebull shouldn’t have sent the email. But you gotta admit, that joke was damn funny! Hardy HAW har har.”

The GOP Chairman Will Deschamps kicks off the dinner with his personal greatest concern: that Missoula Republicans are losing legislative seats not because of ideas or ideology, but because of a gerrymadering conpsiracy perpetrated by the Democrats.  He insists that the Democrats believe in political redistricting, whereas the Republican Party approaches redistricting with a totally unbiased, non-partisan mind frame. Hence the lopsided advantage for Democrats in Missoula.

Then Congressman Dennis Rehberg is introduced and makes a speech in which he pines for the days of Conrad Burns. He tells Burns’ jokes, and then launches into jokes about President Obama.  These get loud guffaws and the biggest cheers of the evening.

Subsequent speakers, including Steve Daines and the Gubernatorial candidates, also trash Obama.  It’s all the rage.

Predictably, the speakers rant against Schweitzer, Tester, and Bullock.  They are angry that Bullock didn’t join the “Obamacare lawsuit”, as they call it, and they all believe that this will have grave repercussions for Montana.  They all praise Rehberg as their savior who will vanquish Tester who voted for health reform.  How dare the government get involved in healthcare, the speakers all say, as the crowd (90 percent of which is on Medicare) responds excitedly.

But even though they despise Tester, the majority of anger is reserved for Schweitzer.   I am told that they despise Schweitzer with a special type of invective, and that most speeches start with “We will finally be rid of Schweitzer,” which gets thundering applause.

After bashing Democrats and making moronic Obama jokes, the speeches all veer toward the same basic harangue:  that Montana is “not developing natural resources like North Dakota and Wyoming because of excessive taxes and regulations.”

(In fact, as the Montana newspapers have pointed out in their own investigation of this claim, North Dakota has an entirely different oil formation–easier to access.)  And, North Dakota Republicans spend their county dinners making the same complaints about their own taxes in relation to Montana’s taxes, which they view as more favorable to development.  Indeed, Montana’s taxes related to oil and gas production are 40-50% lower than in North Dakota, and we have a faster permitting process than both North Dakota and Wyoming. Montana permits are out in 60 days on average.  In Wyoming a permit takes ten months.  It takes a year in  North Dakota.

Notably absent from these revival meetings is any mention of the infamous 2011 legislature.  It’s as if it never took place at all, which is strange when you consider that 2010′s Lincoln-Reagan dinners were rife with claims that the retaking of the legislature was of utmost importance for the state.  Yet they are now unable to point to a single accomplishment, which is another way of admitting that the whole enterprise was a giant disaster and embarrassment for the party.

I was interested in one other item that was reported to me from these dinners.  Apparently, Rick Hill loves to blame Schweitzer for the fact that the work comp premiums in Montana have, in the last two decades, been among the highest in the nation.  What is hilarious about this is:  1) the system that existed up until last year was created by Rick Hill, when he was Chair of the Montana State Fund in the 1990s, 2) Neil Livingstone, Hill’s opponent, has publicly blamed Hill for the cost of work comp (audio here), 3) Jim Peterson and Mike Milburn (the GOP legislative leaders) have also publicly acknowledged that Hill is to blame, and 4), the legislature just revamped work comp and reduced premiums by 20%.

Fortunately, I’m told that on at least one occasion at a Lincoln-Reagan event, Zinke made some of these points after Hill had tried to divert the blame.  This makes sense given that Zinke was one of the authors of the work comp overhaul that undid, after 18 years, the damage that Hill caused.

Media Quick Hits

A Blow to Good Journalism

On the same day it was announced Mary Junck, Lee CEO, received a $500,000 bonus for taking her company into bankruptcy, Lee Newspapers laid off people in Helena and Butte, KXLH is reporting.

Montana Nutjobs Back in the National Spotlight

Mother Jones today reports on the latest wacky details about GOP gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone.  There’s even a great quote from Pogie at Intelligent Discontent.   UPDATE: I don’t want to give too much away, but here’s a taste of what can be found in the article:

In 2005, Roll Call dubbed Livingstone “Deep Mouth,” after it was alleged that he had dined at Dupont Circle’s Palm steakhouse 88 times in a 57-day period. (Livingstone denied the charge, telling the paper that he eats there only about 15 times a month.)

Go read the hilarious piece. Suffice it to say, Livingstone’s candidacy is not doing Montana’s image any favors.

Women are Like Dogs

Livingstone isn’t the only GOP-er hard at work making Montana a national laughingstock this week.  TEA Party Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns is in the news for “comparing Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to a studding English bulldog named “John-Boy.” Yes, really.”  Here’s the story.   Readers may recall that this isn’t the first TEA Party Republican to compare women to animals.  Keith Regier said we’re more like cattle.  Democrat Cole Olsen is campaigning to replace Kerns in the Montana Legislature.

A Look at Who is Opposing the Helena Non-Discrimination Ordinance

An article in today’s Helena IR reported on who is opposing Helena’s non-discrimination ordinance. Here are a couple of additional pieces of information.

Leading the charge are Mike Dellwo and Tim Ravndal.  Dellwo is the principal of Helena Christian School, which is not accredited by the Board of Public Education, the entity which assures all schools in Montana meet minimum standards.  There are other private Christian schools in Montana that are accredited.  Dellwo’s is just not one of them.

TEA Party leader Tim Ravndal was forced out of one TEA Party sect after comments implying support for lynching gay people like Matthew Shepard was lynched were reported on blogs and in the state and national media.  He formed a new TEA Party group in the Helena area.

The third opponent, a Mark Seitz, is a pastor at a fundamentalist church.

Montana state law does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This means that LGBT people can be fired from their job, denied housing, or be kicked out of a restaurant simply because they’re LGBT. The non-discrimination seeks to change that in Helena.

Political Quick Hits

Another One Bites the Dust

Another myth perpetrated by Republicans seeking to deceive the public has been shattered. Last week, Governor Brian Schweitzer shot down the GOP’s claims that  “taxes and regulations,” are to blame differing oil development levels in Montana and North Dakota, the AP reported.   This week, the Great Falls Tribune is reporting that more domestic oil drilling does not drive the price of oil down.  In fact, as domestic drilling has increased, oil prices have shot up.


The Weird Just Get Weirder

If one Googles the name of the Republican running against Rep. Bryce Bennett in Missoula’s House District 92, this comes up:

If this is the same guy, it’s looking like GOP candidates this cycle are veering further into strange territory.