Monthly Archives: June 2012

REALLY?! TEA Party Lawmaker: Returning Bison to Tribes Part of Communist Plot to Drive Gas to $25/gallon

TEA Partiers huddle at a GOP event, perhaps to discuss how glad they are that women aren’t present. Pictured are Eric Olsen (left), Rep. Krayton Kerns (center) and Congressman Dennis Rehberg (right)

A new conspiracy is afoot in the Big Sky, according to a TEA Party Republican state legislator.

TEA Party Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) has written on his website that returning bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation is part of a communist plot to “crush the Republic” and drive gas prices to $25/gallon. In case you’re one of the few people who doesn’t immediately grasp the obvious connection between bison and $25 gas, Kerns kindly explains how the plot will go down.

First, Walt Disney’s cartoon “Bambi” brainwashed the masses to the extent that “state sponsored worship of the earth and creation surpassed worship of our Creator.”

Returning wild bison to the Fort Peck reservation:

“is the second of a four step process to crush the republic and bring our populace into perfect dependence on big government—just as Karl Marx dreamed”

The third step in the Marxist plot, says Kerns, is that “bison will overpopulate” and soon “thousands” will be “ravaging” the area.

Finally, Kerns rationally concludes,

“The world’s economy will grind to a halt due to instability in the Middle East driving the price of gasoline over $25 per gallon.”

Read more about the conspiracy on Kern’s website. I’ve also got screenshots here, here, and here.

Rep. Kerns is outraged that wild, genetically pure bison have returned to tribal lands on the Great Plains. The move reunites American Indians with the iconic species that has been a fundamental part of their culture and the prairie ecosystem. I’m not sure how Kerns would explain the fact that gas prices have actually gone down since the bison were returned to Fort Peck.  

Sounding the alarm about this conspiracy will no doubt be a key component of the TEA Party’s message this fall.  How anyone could believe this stuff is a puzzle, but what the TEA Party lacks in intelligence, they more than make up in rage.    When a TEA Party candidate arrives at your door this fall to share their anger over this latest conspiracy, do not panic.  Simply hold up a book, which should make any tea baggers desirous of leaving your immediate vicinity. (It works like a crucifix on vampires.)

Rep. Kerns is the same TEA Party Republican that compared Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to a rutting bulldog.  Sandra Fluke is the woman Rush Limbaugh called a slut for asking that since Viagra is covered by insurance, so should birth control.

In the Money Game, It’s Bullock, 7 to 1

Lost amid the hoopla over the Citizens United news yesterday was a small item about the kind of fundraising that does, and should, matter:  Steve Bullock is sitting on a nest egg of campaign cash that is almost seven times greater than that of his opponent.   Bullock has $776,000 in the bank, while his feeble Republican challenger, Rick Hill, has only $118,000

It’s not surprising given that Hill has just emerged from a bruising primary, in which he was assailed by his opponents has having “too much baggage.” He was accused, specifically, of:

- having dodged the Vietnam draft

- having enriched himself with state contracts, from his stint as a congressman

- having cashed in on his wife’s influence when she worked in the Governor’s office

- having screwed up the state work comp system

- having been the victim of a ponzi scheme,

- having been an insurance executive, and

- having porked a cocktail waitress while he was married

That’s quite a resume.  Hill had to spend down his war chest to combat these attacks, while Bullock had no meaningful primary challenge at all.  This has left Hill at a massive disadvantage as we enter the upcoming general election season.  Mind you, this is not corporate money; these are the hard-earned, smaller contributions that candidate’s raise by themselves, in increments from $5 to $600.

Some big, unregulated, out-of-state money will no doubt make its way into this race, more easily now that our sacred campaign corruption laws have been struck down by the five ignoramuses who call themselves “conservative justices.”

But one wonders whether the national GOP, and other national groups with fat corporate wallets, might not simply walk away from the Montana governor’s race, viewing it as an impossible project to rehabilitate a weak and battered candidate who is nearly broke.  Outside groups with large war chests have fifty states in which to spend money.  They rarely waste their time on candidates who do not do a good job raising money of their own.  It’s usually a bad bet.

Democrats out-raised Republicans in all the statewide races. Pam Bucy has raised $162,000 and has $27k in the bank.  Fox has raised $109, 000 and has $22k in the bank.   In the state auditor’s race, Monica Lindeen has $64,000 in bank while TEA Party Republican Derek Skees had about $6,500. For Superintendent of Public Instruction, Juneau has $92,000 in the bank.  Republican Sandy Welch has $20,000. In the Secretary of State race Linda McCulloch has $49,000 on hand while Brad Johnson has $3k.
Democrat Ed Smith has $4,300 left in the bank in his re-election campaign for Clerk of the Supreme Court. He has no opponent, since GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood failed in his write-in campaign attempt to garner enough votes to appear on the ballot this fall.

Pro-Ignorance Views Spell Trouble for Hill, GOP

Rick Hill’s pro-ignorance positions and votes on education spell trouble not just for his own chances but for other Republicans.  The problem hasn’t gone unnoticed by GOP supporters.

When the GOP candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction shared her stump speech on Facebook (pictured), a commenter immediately expressed concern that Hill’s views on education were so backward they would not only tank his own election but could harm the GOP’s other candidates as well.

One look at Hill’s record makes it clear why Hill’s views are a liability.   In Congress, Hill backed abolishing the Department of Education altogether.  Hill’s position was later taken up by renowned intellect Rick Perry, to the delight of Saturday Night Live fans across the U.S.:

The third agency of government I would do away with — the Education, the Commerce. And let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Oops.

Hill opposed making college more affordable.  He voted in Congress to support drastic cuts in education funding. [ Roll Call 210. June 5, 1998. Roll Call 273. June 14, 2000.]

In his campaign for Governor, Hill’s launched what can only be described as a war on teachers. He’s on the record in support of letting teachers be fired without cause and “deregulatingeducation–eliminating the accountability and the standards that make sure kids get safe, quality public school classrooms.

He even supports using your tax dollars on subsidies for the wealthy and fundamentalists who send their kids to private and religious schools.  Our tax dollars shouldn’t go to schools that aren’t required to abide by state standards for quality.  Nor should public funds be used on schools that discriminate in which students they accept or teach religious and right-wing political doctrine as if it were scientific fact.  With public dollars flowing away from public schools and into this nonsense, the kids of many hardworking Montanans would be left behind in underfunded schools.  The rich would enjoy spending their subsidies on Hawaiian vacations, and the right-wingers could be sure their kids were being taught how to bring dead people back to life.

To be sure, the GOP’s own candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction doesn’t seem to be coming up with compelling reasons to vote for her.  She was caught on video at the GOP convention admitting that students in MT are doing well under Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer. In the very speech I mentioned above,  Sandy Welch, the GOP’s candidate for OPI, even supports continuing Supt. Juneau’s work on the popular Graduation Matters Montana initiative.  She also expressed support for Juneau’s Montana Digital Academy, which allows students to take additional or advance placement classes online and remotely via live video.

Here’s a clip of the speech:

 

After being forced to admit that things are going well under Juneau’s watch, it seems the only thing Welch has to add is a defense of the Montana Republican Party’s lack of women candidates.  Sandy Welch insisted the MT GOP has nothing to be ashamed of because…wait for it…Jeanette Rankin and Judy Martz were Republicans.  Never mind the fact that the GOP was so different back then that Rankin’s views would make her a Democrat today.  Or that Judy Martz, who had no college degree herself, poo-pooed education and became the most unpopular Governor in Montana history.  As Welch invoked the sacred name of Judy Martz, loud cheers erupted from the crowd of GOP faithful.

To build a stronger economy and attract more good-paying jobs in Montana, we need to make sure all of our children have the education and skills to compete.  By this standard, neither Hill nor Welch make the cut.  

The Montana GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award Goes to…

Congressman Dennis Rehberg.  Rehberg, for proclaiming that campaign spending must be disclosed, while failing to disclose your own campaign spending, you’re this week’s obvious hypocrite.

While defending Citizens United in the Lee papers, Rehberg said that rather than overturning the ruling, “the correct response is strong laws requiring those who spend money on elections to report their spending.”

“I believe that every single dime ought to be accounted for,” Rehberg said during a June 16 debate in Big Sky, Mont. “It ought to be disclosed from dollar one, within 24 hours on the Internet.”

I guess when Rehberg says “disclosed,” he’s talking about his own ability as someone who matters to make sure he gets information about who is donating to his opponents.  When the Congressman wants to hide his backers, disclosure doesn’t apply.  Just last month, after Rehberg failed to file his last fundraising report on time, the Federal Elections Commisssion sent him this warning.

Earlier this year, Rehberg was caught hiding some $25,000 he took from lobbyists in 2011. As the Associated Press reported, “It turns out Rehberg has been taking donations from some lobbyists without disclosing their place of employment.”  Probably his dog ate the list of corporate lobbyists so they could not be reported.

Rehberg was endorsed by the organization Citizens United last fall.  He’s benefitted from millions of dollars in secretive special interest money thanks to the controversial ruling.

The Fight’s Not Over

In a memo thick with bravado but lacking in coherence, the American Tracition parthership today declared victory over Montana voters.

The ATP makes the ridiculous claim that Steve Bullock’s defense of Montana’s anti-corruption law amounts to an “indefensible attacks on Montanan’s God-given right of free political speech.” One can only assume the celebratory drinks were a little too copiously sipped.

In reality, history has shown that big money in politics buys more and corrupts faster at the state and local levels.  And so, the Supreme Court’s assertion that money is the same thing as speech makes the words “free speech” bitterly ironic.

ATP goes on to insist that they have “always adhered to every letter of applicable law.” If that’s true, one wonders what they view as inapplicable.

“The fight’s not over,” Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer said the Youtube clip for StandwithMontanans.org. “We’re going to overrule the Supreme Court with a constitutional amendment, to make it clear that we the people are in charge of America, not we the corporations. Here in the Montana we’re putting it on the ballot.”

“Corporations are people?  I’ll believe that when Texas executes one,” said the Governor.  Click here to get involved in the campaign to overturn the ruling.

As the Billings Gazette reports, ATP has also sued to strike down two other Montana laws.  Montana courts will decide whether ATP must disclose its donors.  They’ll also rule on ATP’s lawsuit to increase individual contribution limits–a change favored by the failed legislative leader and GOP Gov race dropout Jeff Essmann.  Probably Essmann hopes to give wealthy individuals more say in Montana elections. The Sanders County Republican Party has also sued the state.  The Sanders County GOPers think Republicans should have the right to endorse candidates in non-partisan judicial races.

Gay and Chic, Savvy and Dirty, and now Exposed

David Sirota, a national radio host and pundit who used to work on Governor Schweitzer’s campaigns, has written a deliciously intriguing column about a new development in an otherwise dormant Montana controversy–the Mike Taylor ad.

In 2002, the Mike Taylor ad was all the rage in Montana politics.  Max Baucus was up for re-election, and the Montana Democratic Party ran an effective and nasty ad against Baucus’s opponent, Mike Taylor, that pretty much finished him off.  They’d unearthed video of Taylor from his days as a 1970s Denver hairdresser. It was from an infomercial in which Taylor had a male client in the salon chair, and was talking to the camera about the value of face cream. He rubbed the cream into the guy’s temples while he was discussing the importance of moisturizing.

Taylor was also dressed like a slightly less masculine version of Jon Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  At one point on the video, he reaches his hand down into the pubic vicinity of the guy sitting in the chair, and this action is accentuated (in the campaign ad) with a slow zoom and a tricky cropping of the video.

To make matters worse for Taylor, he had spent the campaign season dressed up as Teddy Roosevelt, with a lumberjack shirt and boots, and wire-rimmed spectacles to go with his toothy grin and push-broom mustache, talking about the all of his big game trophies and other tough-guy accomplishments.  This effort to market himself as a Montana Archetype was quickly deflated by the hairdresser ad.

And when the ad hit the airwaves, rather than just laughing it off by saying that everybody (or at least lots of people) dressed and looked funny in the 1970s, stupid Taylor instead gave a press conference at which he broke into tears and accused Baucus of suggesting that he was gay. That was the end of the campaign, but not the controversy.

Some leading Democrats actually complained about the anti-gay overtone of the ad, which was effectuated with a camera trick that turned what was probably an innocent motion of Taylor’s hand into what looked like a crotch-grab. The ad also did a zoom and slomo of Taylor’s hands rubbing the moisturizer into the guy’s temples.  There was little doubt as to what the creators of the ad were implying.

Baucus, as you might guess, was shocked, shocked to discover that such and ad had been made by the Democratic Party and he immediately made it clear he’d had nothing to do with the commercial.  And his statements implied that he did not condone the obvious “gay baiting” employed in it.

Putting aside the gay-baiting, it would actually have been illegal for Baucus to have been involved in the making of the spot in any way, because it would have been an “illegal coordination” between his campaign and the Democratic Party.  These entities may not collaborate on TV ads.  It would be a violation of federal law.

And yet in Businessweek magazine last week, Baucus slipped up in an interview, admitting that his campaign had had a hand in the making and airing of the commercial, and that he himself had received advanced notice of it and even got an opportunity to sign off on it.  His admission was made in the context of describing the talents of his former Chief of Staff, Jim Messina, who is now Obama’s campaign manager and was the subject of the Businessweek article.  Baucus used the Mike Taylor ad as evidence of Messina’s prowess as a political operative, since Messina was his campaign manager when the Taylor ad ran.

Baucus says:

Jim is tough. I’ll never forget when he showed me that ad. We were in Bozeman in a motel. The curtains were drawn. He said, ‘Max, what do you think?’ They were afraid I wasn’t going to like it. I loved it!

Perhaps Baucus had a momentary mental lapse, and forgot that his participation in the enterprise was supposed to be on the hush hush.  Or maybe he just decided that it no longer matters because it was so long ago.  If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for us all to revisit a very famous, if inappropriate,campaign ad.  And as for Mike Taylor, he was a right-wing buffoon who pretty much deserved everything he got, regardless of who was involved or how inappropriate it might have been.

And, as a post-script, I will add that Mike Taylor, and his wife Janna who is a right-wing GOP state senator, recently topped the list of federal farm subsidy recipients in Montana–they’ve pocketed $1,000,000 worth of checks from the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, much of it for simply sitting on their asses.  So Baucus had it partially correct: Mike Taylor is a queen–a welfare queen.

Black Helicopters in the Big Sky

The Conspiracy Congressman

This week, TEA Party Congressman Dennis Rehberg R-MT, demanded that the U.S. Government halt a plot to spy on farmers with drone planes–the same kind of drones used to kill terrorists overseas.

The Washington Post immediately reported that no such plot exists, but the incident has helped shed light on one of Rehberg’s favorite tactics of deception.  This isn’t the first time that Rehberg has tried to act upon or helped spread conspiracy theories. He’s deployed an array of conspiratorial claims to deceive his base voters in hopes they won’t remember that Rehberg is responsible for having the most pork spending earmarks in the entire U.S. House of Representatives. (Either that or he really believes this stuff. Either way, it shows he’s not fit for duty in the U.S. Senate.)

The Canadian Hippy Conspiracy:

Rehberg has introduced legislation, H.R. 1505, based on the conspiracy theory that we need to give the Department of  Homeland Security control of all Montana’s public lands within 100 miles of the Canadian border to stop drug trafficking, illegal immigration and hippies from coming in from Canada.

The Spilled Milk Conspiracy:

As Mother Jones reported, then the Wall Street Journal published an editorial decrying a new EPA rule that the paper falsely claimed would require milk spills to be treated like oil slicks, conspiracy theorists began ranting about how the agency was “crying over spilled milk.”  No matter that EPA explicitly exempted milk tankers from the spill cleanup rules.

Rehberg immediately began spreading the conspiracy, playing up the milk-spill myth in a speech back home: “If anyone wants a ‘first responder’ for spilled milk, just adopt a cat!”

The Conspiracy to Regulate Cow Farts and Bad Breath:

When the EPA began modernizing greenhouse gas regulations, Mother Jones reported, tea partiers like Rehberg:

began dreaming up things the EPA will soon be cracking down on in the name of climate change—cow fartshedge trimmersnursing homes, and, yes, even human respiration.

“Every living person is now a source of pollution by exhaling CO2 and water vapor,” Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) said in a January 2010 speech on the House floor. “Every breath you take, every word you utter is now subject to EPA regulations,” Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) said in aspeech on the House floor. “The American people need room to breathe.”

In reality land, the EPA has issued a rule specifically limiting the emission regulations to the largest sources in the country—meaning a person would have to emit quite a bit of hot air to qualify. Not that we’re writing off that possibility in Rehberg’s case.

Rehberg’s actions are often so ridiculous that the only people he can find to come to his defense are other crackpots.   Last year, Rehberg’s credibility took a serious hit when the Billings Gazette pointed out that Rehberg obstructionism could downgrade America’s credit rating, throw Wall Street into turmoil, and another recession in a world economy that runs on the strength of the U.S. dollar.

The only people Rehberg could find to cite in his defense were the Moonies and their church-owned newspaper.  The Washington Times was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon Moonies and has been kept on a close leash by the Moonie staff.

 

When the Romney Campaign Knocks, What Will It Look Like?

I keep thinking of an incident in Whitefish in 2010, when a burly guy with long white hair, tattoos and a mullet showed up at a female voter’s house with a gun on his belt and holding a clipboard.  The woman called the police. The guy left.  It was later discovered that the guy meant no harm.  He was simply a canvasser, canvassing for the GOP.

Is this what the Romney campaign will look like when it knocks on your door? And can such a fighting force compete with the Obama legions of young and progressive volunteers?

Much is made of the Obama campaign’s famous use of technology and its massive, high tech organizing methods.  But it is all rooted in an abundance of young, enthusiastic volunteers.  They are the soldiers in the largest ground attack in the history of American politics in 2008, and though there’s plenty of talk of less enthusiasm in 2012, the fighting force, if smaller and slightly less enthusiastic, is still composed of certain basic types of people that the GOP does not have.   Sure, Obama’s troops are not exactly average Americans. They are pretty liberal, sometimes very much out there.  But they are closer to normal than Tea Party activists.  And they are numerous, energetic, easily summoned, in love with Obama, and tech savvy.

Who are the Romney soldiers?  Youths? Conservative young equivalents of Obama’s progressive soldiers?  No way.  Young voters are liberal nowadays.  No such Romney army exists.

Frighteningly, Romney’s ground game, his fighting force, will be Tea Partiers.  Older men, angry and on the fringe of society, conspiracy-theory minded, gun-wearing, Sasquatch hunters.  Can such an army win a war?

It’s a huge problem for Romney.  Even if he can find a way to motivate these citizens to walk neighborhoods for him (and it is unlikely that he can), will they be up to the task?  Will they be able to operate the handheld devices that are now required for instantaneous information upload to campaign headquarters (standard gear among progressive organizers).  Will they be able to behave appropriately at the door, and come across as at least marginally normal?  Will they provide energy? Can they transmit enthusiasm? Can they be cool?  And what such wing-nuts, who worship Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, will be able to knock on a door of a Latino voter and say, “Si, se puede!”?

That small incident in Whitefish has also played out on a much bigger stage in Montana. The Koch brothers have repeatedly failed to find a normal person, an organizer, to lead the Montana chapter of their national group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP).  The current leader, just hired, looks like a confederate general, and wrote a book about how gays, the UN, and non-christians are leading America toward an armageddon. The previous leader of AFP, had been a senior member of a cult that built a $30 million underground bunker to prepare for the end of the world, which they believed would occur on April 23, 1990.  The state Tea Party hasn’t done much better than the Kochs.    One of the many leaders they’ve cycled through was showing up to legislative hearings dressed like a biker, with a bandanna on his head, jeans and a leather jacket, and posted violent rhetoric against gays on his Facebook page.  He actually got kicked out of a local Tea Party group for being too right-wing, if you can believe it.

Compare this crew to the young women and men who have volunteered and organized in Montana for Obama. They have had graduate degrees, have worked in national organizations around the country, and possess a worldly view.

Meanwhile, Obama is plucking Silicon Valley start-up types to run the technology center of his campaign.  Few such young, talented tech wizards have any desire to be a part of a Republican Presidential campaign, and so the pool of talent is very shallow for Romney.  Even with the enthusiasm deficit that Obama is in relative to 2008, I do not believe Romney will be able to mount a ground game to compete.  Romney’s deficit is greater, a deficit of youth, of soldiers, of tech talent.  A ground war is won with soldiers, not imbeciles.

Rick Hill’s Entire Campaign Doesn’t Amount to Anything–Except A Bullet Ridden Obama Outhouse

Rick Hill’s entire campaign consists of stomping about the state muttering about the supposed burdens being put on business and the economy.   All of this is pure fiction.

Here’s Hill’s basic stump speech: the economy is terrible in Montana because of too much regulation, to many taxes, spiraling work comp costs, and assorted other liberal evils.  There is simply too much government, in effect, and thus no jobs can be created any time soon, until these shackles are cast off, and business is out from under this terrible yolk.

Take a look at a recent Missoulian article on Hill’s visit to Victor, Montana.

“We’re going through one of the toughest patches, economically, in the history of Montana,” Hill said.

Hill also pointed to the national debt and tried to make the false claim that Montana is in the same boat – even though we have a $400 million dollar surplus.

“We tend to look at Washington and say we’ve got this pyramiding of debt that is going to smother this country if we don’t do something about it,” Hill said. “But we have similar problems in Montana.”

It’s a rather sad strategy: he denigrates, derides and degrades (trashes, in essence) the state of Montana, the Montana economy, and state government–even though we have one of the best economies and most efficient state governments in America.  He and his fellow GOP knuckle draggers tried to link Montana to the problems going on in Washington D.C.–and to a demonized version of the President (since he can find no local democrats to get his base foaming mad about.) Mike Dennison writes about this in his column today. 

Facts

1.  Under Democrats, Montana has developed more energy (wind, coal, oil, gas) than at any time in history.

2. For the last several years Montana has been ranked consistently among the top ten states in America for our tax climate and our business climate.  We are one of the best places in America to start a business, across the board–the 8th best in the nation.

3.  We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.  This month, Montana’s economy added 1,300 new jobs-8,600 for the year.  This is the greatest amount added in a month since before 2008.

4.  This has not gone unnoticed by Montana voters, for when asked, 55% of them recently said in a survey that the state economy is on the right track as opposed to the wrong track. In only three other states in America did voters respond so positively to that question.  In most states, voters think their state economy sucks.

5.  Finally, Montana was recently rated as the best fiscally managed state in America. Eighty-three percent of Montanans think that state government is managing taxpayer money wisely.  No other state came even close.

6.  And why shouldn’t they feel this way?  Montana has a $400 million surplus.  In fact, for the last five years Montana has had a record sized surplus.  And only a handful of states have surpluses right now. Most are in financial crisis. And Dems have cut more taxes than Republicans ever did.

7.  Don’t just take my (liberal) word for it.  Ask FoxNews or the Wall Street Journal, both of whom recently editorialized about the spectacular fiscal shape the state is in. For that matter, so did Denny Rehberg and Newt Gingrich.  And so has every major newspaper in Montana.

8.  The extra dough that Democrats have saved taxpayers has been (1) returned in the form of a rebate (the largst taxpayer rebate ever in Montana) and (2) spent on education, a historic investment in schools.

These are important points that show that Rick Hill’s entire campaign amounts to stale hot air.  The irony, of course, is the Rick Hill is a teat-sucker of major proportions. He sucked large at the government teat, earning almost a million bucks in taxpayer dollars as a landlord who rented property to the government. All while his wife was working in the governor’s office. And he’s complaining about “too much spending”?

Aside from being ineffective politically (because the polls show us that voters side with Democrats and like what they are seeing out of state government), it’s very unpatriotic and a truly awful dereliction of one’s civic duty, to throw your state under the bus, tell lies about it, in order to win an election.  Democrats like Schweitzer try to recruit businesses and market the state’s assets, and the GOP undercuts the whole effort by telling the whole world how bad Montana is for business, when nothing could be further from the truth.

And remember, there is a reason you see the GOP demonize President Obama, as we saw this weekend in Missoula and last night on the Rachel Maddow show (clip below).  It’s because they need to present voters with a Democratic boogeyman, and they can’t find one in in Montana. You can watch last night’s Maddow clip here:

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

GOP Convention Embarrassing on Many Levels

This weekend, local Republicans used speeches, displays, and fundraising gimmicks to showcase the state of the current state of the Montana GOP.  Anyone who stops to consider the Montana GOP’s 2012 Convention can only find the party a complete embarrassment.

First, there was the  raffle to win a gun, duct tape, and a shovel.  Then there was “the bullet-“pocked” outhouse,” that was labeled as President Obama’s presidential library. Lee Newspapers reported that these “might have pushed the envelope” for what’s acceptable to regular people. For Republican candidates, these didn’t seem to be a problem.

Then, things really got weird.  The Missoulian reported that Rick Hill and his wife had wanted to ride into the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula on their motorcycles.

“The lawyers and the fire department said we couldn’t,” Hill told a lunchtime gathering Saturday at the Montana Republican convention.

“Motorcycles are a metaphor for freedom. … The people who would take away our freedom do it by introducing the concepts of risk and fear.”

Put aside for a moment the fact that a retired insurance executive and his wife trying to ride into the GOP convention of blue hairs only makes the GOP’s gubernatorial aspirations more ridiculous.

Rick Hill is clearly trying to tie the fact that he was prevented from embarrassing himself thusly to his rusty belief that it is government regulation that is the enemy of freedom.  But the metaphor doesn’t work.  Hill’s shame was blocked by the private business at which the event occurred–and the insurance policies for the GOP convention and hotel.  The insurance concept of “risk” is one with which Hill is intimately familiar. As an insurance executive he made his living preventing people from taking it–and making a hefty profit doing so.

As an aside, the Missoulian also reported that the bike Hill had wanted to ride was a Harley, though Hill is more well known as a BMW rider.  He has been frequenter of BMW motorcycle forums, as these screenshots below indicate.

These are forums where people look to meet up with other BMW riders:

Hill’s BMW is the bike he seems to prefer, as it is the one he takes with him to California for his annual four month vacation to the state.

It’s also a place where BMW owners can discuss their bikes.

Finally, the Convention planners made a poor choice for the keynote speaker in Newt Gingrich, whose presence only highlighted the problems with the candidates at the top of the GOP ticket and did not fit the bill very well, as I wrote about when the choice was first announced.

Besides Gingrich’s personal foibles, other prominent Republicans have pointed out that Gingrich humiliated the party when he was House speaker, citing Gingrich’s $300,000 payment to resolve allegations of giving misleading information in a 1997 ethics probe.

When Hill entered the House of Representatives, Gingrich served as Speaker, and they reportedly were close while serving together. In fact, Hill and Gingrich were so close that Hill was accused during his 1997 re-election campaign of selling his vote to make Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House again after Gingrich’s Committee donated $10,000 to Hill’s campaign. And, Congressman Hill voted for Newt Gingrich’s re-election for Speaker of the House despite accusations that Gingrich had made false and misleading statements to the House Ethics Committee in 1997.

When Speaker Gingrich decided to step down from his position while embattled by controversy in November 1998, Hill told the Associated Press: “It’s sad to see a friend step down.”