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.


TEA Party Legislator: Birth Control is “Death Nail in Coffin of our Republic”

TEA Partiers huddle at a GOP event, perhaps to discuss how glad they are that few women are present. Pictured are Eric Olsen, Krayton Kerns (center) and Dennis Rehberg

The folks at the Western Ag Reporter understand that what goes on inside the mind of TEA Party Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns is important.   So important,  in fact, that his words merited front page real estate in the last edition of the paper.  This way, we can all get a peek at how a mind of this caliber thinks.  (Hint, it barely does.)

More than anything,  Krayton Kerns is angry.

He’s angry that Sandra Fluke dared to say that birth control was $1000 per year, a great expense for many.

Krayton’s idea of illustrating how angry we should be about Fluke’s statement is to wax nostalgic about his own life experiences. He tells us of a dog he knew in vet school that earned that amount each month in stud fees.

Krayton Kerns is angry because he believes that birth control is the “death nail in the coffin of our Republic.”  And, he’s angry because he believes that it was Mitt Romney who made birth control the focus of the 2012 elections.  Now, because of this, Krayton Kerns says the conservatives are “screwed.”

A PDF of the entire piece can be read here. WARNING: Reading his column means losing four minutes of your life you can never get back.

Montana Republicans to Seek Toothpaste Ban in 2013

[This spoof article has been making the email rounds -author unknown. I have posted it here in its entirety for your reading pleasure.]

Montana Republicans to Seek Toothpaste Ban in 2013

By MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau | Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:00 am | (0) Comments

Republican legislative candidates are preparing to announce that they believe states should have the right to outlaw toothpaste and other oral hygiene products without the interference of the Supreme Court. However, the candidates are divided over the reasons for pressing for the ban.

“The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that,” said Rep. Derek Skees (R-TEA Whitefish). “Oral hygiene is not a constitutional right. The state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have.  That’s the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court–they are creating rights, and it should be left up to the people to decide.”

States’ rights isn’t the only argument Republicans are making against oral hygiene.

“Toothpaste destroys marriages by rendering make-out sessions an act of pleasure rather than a task to be endured as a lead up to the sacred act of procreation,” said Rep. Tom Burnett (R-Bozeman).

Rep. Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) agreed.  But she said she saw it in broader terms, as “a violation of conscience, a fundamental assault on First Amendment rights.”

“When toothpaste is distributed to youth, their breath is fresher and they are more likely to engage in the immoral activity,” said Warburton. And that’s why, she said, they’re at risk for everything from AIDS to unintended pregnancy. Besides, “In the real world, everyone knows that toothpaste use is never 100 percent effective,” she said matter-of-factly.”We shouldn’t be luring our youth into unnatural acts with a false sense of safety.”

While no one is suggesting that activists like Warburton and Burnett will ever succeed in outlawing toothpaste completely, they are making incremental progress in discouraging its use in other ways.

“Parents are taking a greater responsibility in teaching their children the great truths of the Bible, a book in which toothpaste does not once appear,” said Rep. Liz Bangerter (R-Helena). “Many youngsters today — especially older ones —  laugh at the idea of Biblical health care traditions. The Bible has taken a back seat to other priorities. In its absence, oral hygiene has crept in.”

When asked for an example of what she meant by “Biblical health care,” Bangerter pointed to the biblical cure for disgestive ailments, which appears in Judges 3:21.

“And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.”

Another front in the campaign against toothpaste has centered on science. At the behest of his own quest for knowledge, the Montana Legislature’s leading expert on research convened a scientific study in his own district, which he conducted himself.  Rep. Bob Wagner (R-Madison County), who has appeared as an expert on CNN,  sought to evaluate whether anyone would notice if he stopped using toothpaste. The answer, reported Wagner, was “no.”


Columbia Falls TEA Party Fails to Hide Racism

If you thought the offensive, racist antics from the U.S. presidential race were behind us, you haven’t been to Columbia Falls lately.  A racist slogan beloved by TEA Partiers was posted on a pawn shop sign, KTVQ reported, advertising one of the TEA Party’s favorite bumper stickers, which could be obtained within.  You can see a picture of the sign on the KTVQ website.

The sign and the sticker say “Don’t Re-Nigg in 2012″.   The word Re-nigg, which the dim bulbs that created the message seemed to think was a clever play on the word renege mixed with the racial epithet n*word, takes anti-Obama sentiment to a disgusting new level.

To be fair, the TEA party claims there are no racists in its ranks, so these are surely garden variety Republicans.

Of course, others have already pointed out that the bumper sticker being sold isn’t just offensive, but also really stupid.  That’s because if you ‘Don’t Renege in 2012′ it actually means you re-elect President Obama.  Perhaps the TEA Party figured this out, as the site selling the bumper stickers has been taken down and the Pawn Plus shop has changed its sign.