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 IRrecently criticized the Republican candidates for making false economic claims.
“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.”
Everyone’s talking about health care-so consider this post an opportunity to continue the discussion here. What do you think should be done about health care in America? Do you think the ACA should be repealed or modified? Discuss.Tweet
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. Tweet
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%.
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.Tweet
An article in today’sHelena IRreported 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.
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.Tweet
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.