Questions Emerge About Potential Conflict of Interest Between Mailergate and Silicon Valley Start-up

Other Oddities Come to Light

mailergateThere are a few interesting developments today in the evolving mailergate scandal in which Stanford “researchers,” along with a researcher at Dartmouth College, sent 100,000 fake “voter guides” into Montana, with the look and feel of official state voter guides. You can see the fake voter guides at the Flathead Memo here.

First, it appears that one of the Stanford professors has a for-profit side venture called CrowdPAC   This obviously raises questions about about a potential conflict of interest between mailergate and Assistant Professor Adam Bonica’s for-profit silicon valley startup company.

Bonica co-founded CrowdPAC with a former aid to British Prime Minister David Cameron named Steve Hilton. CrowdPAC is funded by blue chip venture capital funds and appears to have both republicans and democrats involved in various capacities.

So one new question that has emerged is whether Bonica was using the fake voter guide experiment he sent in Montana, in which he wanted to test how his partisan scores drive voter turnout and behavior, not for academia but for his for-profit venture-capital backed side venture, CrowdPAC.

We also need to know if Stanford is a shareholder or holds any position in CrowdPAC.  This is surprisingly common–in fact sources close to the industry say Stanford loves to brag about its role in creating Silicon Valley companies like CISCO Systems and Google.

Here’s what CrowdPAC does and how they make money doing it.

Bonica’s company sells data complied with algorithms for quantitative measurement of political ideology.   Bonica built a model for CrowdPAC that uses algorithms based on political contributions, consumer data, and Twitter and social media “scraping” technologies to unlock all of this.  Want to find a list of candidates who support cyanide strip mining or oppose GMOs?  Supposedly CrowdPAC will sell it to you.  It’s like Moneyball for political candidates or groups, with a little bit of Kickstarter thrown in.

CrowdPAC plans to make money in three ways:

1-Selling consulting services, presumably to SuperPACs like CrossRoads GPS.

2-Taking a percentage of donations it solicits.  For example, it finds me a list of candidates who oppose trapping, and then gives me a confidence rating that they will actually vote as if they really are a friend of animals.  And for this service, CrowdPAC will take a piece of the donations that I spend with those candidates–all through their own CrowdPAC online portal.  Think Kickstarter for politics.

3-Selling ads on their sites.

If the research were for Bonica’s for-profit company, that would explain why it didn’t go through Stanford’s Independent Review Board.  Stanford has confirmed “…the study did not follow Stanford’s protocols that would have required a review by the Standford IRB.”

Whether this is being done to line the pockets of a silicon valley start-up or to publish academic research, is unethical to make Montanans guinea pigs and meddle in our Supreme Court race. The Western Association of Political science featured a post that condemned the experiment.

Political scientists told Talking Points Memo in a report released Monday morning that the “study” was:

“malpractice” and “improper and unethical” because, by introducing the ideological position of non-partisan candidates, the flyers could — intentionally or not — influence the results of the elections.

“It’s basically political science malpractice. That’s what I’d call it,” Jennifer Lawless, professor of government at American University in Washington, D.C., told TPM. …there is a difference between trying to have generalizable results and playing electoral god.”…Jeffrey Tulis, associate professor of government at the University of Texas-Austin, told TPM in an email after being alerted to the study: “My initial reaction is that this quasi-experiment is improper and unethical.”

Thanks to Granite State Progress, Dartmouth College now says it too will launch an internal investigation into the fake mailers after local New Hampshire media began reporting on the scandal. 

MTguineapigfightersAs James Conner at the Flathead Memo writes however, internal investigations will not be enough here.  Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl are both launching investigations into the fake mailers. Sen. Jon Tester sent scathing letters to the presidents of both colleges and has called for an investigation into federal mail laws that might be in play here.

There are still too many unanswered questions.  I’ll add a couple to the questions on Conner’s list.

Why was Adam Bonica in Montana earlier this year trying to sell his for-profit services through CrowdPAC at a conference in May of 2014?

Why did the site, which until yesterday had posted a graphic nearly identical to the fake voter guide mailers, suddenly scrub that graphic from the site?

The only the difference was that the Montanans4Justice graphic and the fake voter guides is that Montanans4Justice used little pictures of the candidates heads showing how close or how far a candidate’s head was to Obama.  But as soon as the mailergate story broke, the graphic on Montanans4Justice was obliterated from that site.

As the Flathead Memo reported, the anti-Wheat site “Montanans4justice was registered on 3 September 2014 by an anonymous party.”  And even though the graphic was removed as of this posting, it still contains references to the exact same partisanship metrics used by the mailers and the supposed “experiment” –CrowdPAC’s DIME method, as well as criticism for Wheat and praise for VanDyke.  [this time I got screenshots, see below.]  CrowdPAC launched the same day. 

If you’re new to this scandal, you can read the list of problems I have  with this here.  There is more good information on the Flathead Memo, as always.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 6.42.55 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 6.41.15 PM



96 Comments on "Questions Emerge About Potential Conflict of Interest Between Mailergate and Silicon Valley Start-up"

  1. What kind of a terrible name is Crowdpac – what kind of political science professor doesn’t understand the extreme negative views people hold toward pacs. Oh….

    • According to Montana’s top election regulators:

      The fliers, which have shown up in mailboxes in Helena, Missoula, Kalispell and Billings, are deceitful because the seal and the title gives the appearance that they came from Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s office, McCulloch said.

      “This was a piece intended to influence voters,” she said. “I think they actually crossed the line from research into influencing voters.”

      Only her office can authorize use of the state seal, she said. McCulloch is working with Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl to address whether any laws have been broken.

      Motl said the mailers’ appearance two weeks before the election, the use of the state seal and the printed directions for voters to take them into voting booths is cause for concern.

      “The concern is that it has the appearance of a communication on behalf of the state of Montana when it is not, in fact, a state of Montana communication,” Motl said. “It does not look like a scholarly document.”

      The mailers could be considered advocacy, in which case the people behind them must file formal disclosures with his office, Motl said.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 26, 2014 10:58 PM at 10:58 PM |

        Thank you for that!

      • Other questions that need to be asked:

        The results of this study might be used for BOTH CrowdPAC and Stanford/Dartmouth research papers. Is that an ethical and permitted use of state funds? Charities? What is the link, if any, with Hewlett’s for-profit ventures?

        Does Hewlett or any of its major managers own a portion of CrowdPAC? Are they investors?

    • What do you know – CrowdPac’s other co-founder Steve Hilton also teaches at Stanford.

  2. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 26, 2014 10:06 PM at 10:06 PM |

    Jeebus, Cowgirl. You do good work. Please allow me the privilege of buying you a Great Falls beer of your choice if you get up this way. Thanks. I take my hat off to you.

  3. Actually, those metrics would be quite valuable. Even project sponsor Hewlett probably is hoping for some useful numbers from the matrix. If it’s good information on the actual ideologies of politicians, not what they say they believe, how is that a bad thing? Is it truly wrong when an academic leaves a college to go into the private sector with their invention?

    Furthermore, I’m not really sure if you can make the case Montana voters were being experimented on except to test the validity of the DIME information — and to me, that is not a bad thing. In an election where the information available to voters is pathetically sparse, the DIME material is prima facie helpful to both those happy with a liberal court and those NOT so happy.

    I would be fascinated to know if there are any significant differences in voter turnout, or the number of positions marked per ballot between the precincts that got the DIME info and those that did not.

    Not being discussed here is that the DIME metrics show Montana’s Supreme Court as the sixth most liberal in America, just behind Washington state and some distance ahead of Vermont — home of Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders. In other words, the DIME metrics (which Judgepedia is using) show that the politics of the Supreme Court of Montana are not a very good match for the ideology of Montanans at large. THAT;s what has the Left freaking out. Both Wheat and Van Dyke have proclaimed their absolute objectivity and respect for the law blah blah — but neither are being fully truthful. One is a conservative, one is a liberal, and it ought to be in the open, for Montana voters to decide. Right?

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 26, 2014 10:43 PM at 10:43 PM |

      Are you are a f*cing moron or simply brain dead?! I report, you decide! Come ON here, skinflute. Name one, only one, JUST ONE other university study ANY where that sent out 100,000 mailers in order to influence a vote toward nazzzi fascist christofascist dinkwads like the Big Kochs, the wee willy weeks, and james kenutty KOCKS! Just one, Davey, that’s al we ask! Do it! Provide us with examples!

      • Go back in your bottle, Larry. These guys probably won’t CARE if they get booted out of academia. They’ve got good stuff here. Both parties will pay for it.

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 26, 2014 10:56 PM at 10:56 PM |

          True. Some fellas LIKE Big Kochk! Some fellas are into academic fellatio! Both literally and figuratively! My guess? bonica likes a Big Kockh!……….literally! But he really should change his last name to Monica! It fits!

          • politicalEconomist | October 26, 2014 11:17 PM at 11:17 PM |

            It always nice when a little homophobia and gay bashing works its way in to a debate. Lets you know who the Real Manly Men are. Of course I think the Koch’s have long supported gay marriage so maybe this all makes sense now.

  4. Crowdpac is where you one-stop shop for the perfect slate of candidates. Might work!!!!!

    And I found something else when I followed the link and looked at Crowdpac — what is Greg Orman?

    “The objective data on Greg Orman clearly indicates that he is far more likely to be, effectively, a Democratic member of Congress than his campaign claims.

    “Crowdpac’s research shows that campaign contributions are the best predictor of how a candidate would behave in office. Crowdpac’s data model calculates objective scores for candidates based on campaign contributions – donations to candidates, and those made by candidates. The scores use a liberal/conservative scale, where 10L is the most liberal and 10C is the most conservative.

    “Overall, the data shows that Greg Orman is much more liberal than the Democratic nominee for the Kansas seat Chad Taylor (who dropped out of the race in August). Based on Taylor’s donors and who he himself donated to, Crowdpac scored him as a 0.7C – slightly on the conservative side of center. Orman, on the other hand, is much more liberal with a score of 4.6L. Orman is in fact more liberal than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (4.4L). His score is also extremely liberal in the context of Kansas, which has not elected a Democratic Senator since 1932. ”

    Oh, but Orman’s INDEPENDENT, just like BERNIE SANDERS and Angus King of Maine — who was rated by Crowdpac and DIME at —wait for it — ‘When King was running for the Senate in 2013, like Orman he did not say whether he would caucus with the Democrats or Republicans. Angus King in fact went on to caucus with the Democratic Party, and as his Crowdpac profile page shows, his voting record in the Senate has been liberal nearly 97% of the time. Crowdpac scores King as a 4.3L, which makes Greg Orman more liberal than Angus King – perhaps another clue as to how he might behave if elected.

    Oh, nothing to see here, nothing at ALL! Move along.

    • uh Dave, the people in Kansas like Greg Orman, for lots of very good reasons.
      The independent people in Montana might not like con-servatives forcing
      a very narrowly experienced, work adverse, person to sit on the Supreme Court

      Sounds like you are so enamored of Conservatives,
      You do not see the obvious,
      The US Supreme Court money=speach, and corporations=people disorder
      is actively campaigning against the people of Montana.

      Wheat has and will conserve Law and order!
      The Johnny came late candidate advocates new law, and a new world order.

      Conserving public financed elections, and original intent of 14th Amendment, will reduce corruption in the R and D duopoly franchise.
      Beware of the military-industrial-political complex!
      (From a late draft of Ike’s Farewell Address!)

  5. For me there are two reasons why it’s obvious that the mailers did damage – that Montanans4Justice deleted the evidence from their site, and that Dave Skinner thinks they were great. FAIL.

    • This is to be expected from someone who ends a letter to the State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee with “If you have questions or want to know of other slimy stuff I’ve dredged up, feel free to contact me …” (Dave Skinner input on new laws governing the operations of the COPP, 4/9/2014, Exhibit 4).

  6. You’re sure testy that Montanans are finding out your boy Wheat is a raging liberal. Trying to hide it from Montanans?

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 26, 2014 11:39 PM at 11:39 PM |

      Hey, BJ, did your farm animals reject your amorous advances tonight??? Jus’ wonderin’. PETA would approve! Nuthin’ like “bonding” with your critters now, is there BJ????

      • Venom about farm animals usually comes from California transplants, not Montanans. And it’s usually a substitute for the inability to argue substance instead.

        Would somebody mind telling me why Cowgirl hasn’t banned this Kralj guy yet?

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 5:44 AM at 5:44 AM |

          “Venom about farm animals usually comes from California transplants, not Montanans. And it’s usually a substitute for the inability to argue substance instead. ”

          Source please? You DO have sources for what you write, don’t you, Ivy? Wow. Big second amendment tough guy like Ivy LUVS the second amendment but HATES the first! Typical inbred nazzzi! And that’s just real sad!

          • Simple exercise in logic, as native Montanans are the bulk of those you’re making fun of as inbreds, and I certainly see it where I live: I know at least three ex-Californians who make the same fun of native Montanans as “critter bonders”, as you so gracefully put it (and maybe Amanda Curtis with you) that you do.

            As for the Second Amendment, I love the First, but the Second is the only reason anyone still pays lip service to the first. The other eight have been, thanks to ditzy Democrats and some Republicans alike, effectively suspended by what passes for a legal system today. I would not, however, expect someone like you who “answers” people who reason with you with insinuations of amorous advances to livestock, to have noticed or grasp that the Second Amendment should by all rights be a “liberal” cause instead. That would require intelligence instead of manipulability.

            I think you had the audacity to say elsewhere that arguments talk and bullsh_t walks. And there, with nothing better than “inbred” and “critter bonding” digs in your replies, you are hoist on your own petard.

            I’d say checkmate, but I don’t want to tax your abilities. You’ve shown you lack the intelligence or integrity to admit it when (see illustration at top of page) somebody hands you your own posterior on a plate. Which is what has just happened.

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 3:27 PM at 3:27 PM |

              Ivy, we’ve moved on, cupcake. Do try to stay up with the blog. BTW, you dislike me. ALL inbreds dislike me. We get that, and no one, least of all me, really cares! Issues are issues, individual posters are not. Try not to get distracted, for that shows weakness of argument! BTW, you’ve never seen inbreds in Montana??? Sheesh. Where the hell do YOU live?! Head on down to the Bitterroot some time, or up north. or the leftover clair prophet inbreds in Bozeman. LOTS of inbreds in this state. You should’a been here for the last lege! It was classic inbred! Like the Holy Buybull says,

              “Verily I sayeth unto ye, you shall know them by the bills they introduce and the sheep they know, for yea, verily, they knew their sheep”!

              • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 3:52 PM at 3:52 PM |

                p.s. No inbreds in Montana? Actually, there’s TONS of them! Many have moved here from the south. I mean, who the HELL would’a predicted a whole bunch of christofascist inbreds fillin’ up the Metra and whining about being a persecuted minority some thirty years ago? Not in Montana, THAT’S for sure! Their religeeesous liberties are under attack by the homos! The homos are comin’! The homos are comin’! Sheesh. What dinks. Welcome to Wasilla Montana!


                • Ivy, we’ve moved on, cupcake.
                  Translation: I, Larry, am WAY too gutless to admit openly that you nailed my walk/talk double standard. Doesn’t matter, we noticed anyway. But really, I didn’t really expect you to admit it squarely on.

                  Try not to get distracted, for that shows weakness of argument!
                  Heh. You have no sense of irony, do you?

                  LOTS of inbreds in this state.
                  This from the guy who, when I called him on it, disavowed saying he was saying Montanans were inbreds in the first place. :-/

                  who the HELL would’a predicted a whole bunch of christofascist inbreds fillin’ up the Metra…
                  That would put it at about four years into Ronald Wilson Reagan when the “Moral Majority”, a nice echo of Nixon’s Silent Majority, was kicking into full gear. No, they were around all right, I was paying attention. I assume you don’t really believe they every fundamentalist here moved up from Mississippi? :-/ Also, at this point you’re now back to backpedaling on the Montanans are inbreds thing again. Okay.

                  The homos are comin’!
                  Both sides are capable of this. You get on the email lists, you’ll see they’re practically identical, with just substitutions in wording. Everyone’s got their fundraising boogeyman no matter which side it is. A good reason to get out of the whole “side” thinking trap itself.

  7. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 27, 2014 8:35 AM at 8:35 AM |

    Hard to know what the Kockh funded think tanks will come up with next! But none of it is any good!

  8. FYI, the Western Political Science Association did not condemn the experiment. Your link is to a guest blog post by a professor.

  9. politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 10:06 AM at 10:06 AM |

    Maybe some context will help. Let me explain what these guys were trying to do. Again this is only if you actually care about what actually happened. If you want to just spin conspiracy theories or manufacture outrage skip this post.

    1) Turnout in purely non-partisian elections is lower. When voters do turnout they often skip ballot items where there is no party affiliation (this is called “rolloff”).

    2) Many political scientists have theories and models that try to explain why so many voters skip these items. They even try to use existing data to try to statistically figure out why people are skipping nonpartisan races on ballots where they vote for other things.

    3) One of the theories is that without a partisan cue (the R or the D by the name), voters feel like they do not have enough information to make a decision. There idea is that most people have a fairly strong political identity. They also feel that the R or D by someone’s name is good information about their ideology. So they use that information when they vote, even if the otherwise don’t know anything about the candidate or race.

    4) In non-partisian races that information is not on the ballot and so with less information people are less likely to vote.

    5) It’s hard to test whether or not this is true or not just using existing voting returns, demographic data and other data that already exist.

    6) To really test if low information is leading to lower participation in nonpartisan races you need to do a controlled experiment.

    7) You need two groups that are more or less identical but one group gets nothing. They are the “control group”. The other group is the “treatment” group and they get more information about the candidates. Specifically they need to get more information about the candidate ideology, because that is the very thing that the theory mentioned above claims the R or D gives voters. It gives them a shortcut to the candidates ideology.

    8) Bonica has developed a measure of ideology that can be used to score candidates for all sorts of offices from federal to local all on the same scale. That was impossible before because until recently the only way to create objective ideology scores was from looking at votes politicians take. Candidates for many different offices do not have an existing set of votes. Further unless the set of votes is the same it is hard to put candidates from say a state house race in Delaware on the same scale as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. This measure has been throughly peer reviewed in the top journals and most people think it is a pretty good measure of ideology. Not the only one, but a good one.

    9) So back to the experiment. With this measure you can give the voters in the treatment more information about the ideology of candidates in nonpartisan races and then see if overall the voters with more information tended to participate in that race more than the voters in the control group.

    So thats it. Thats what they were trying to do. And it is in line with hundreds of studies looking at voter participation.

    Just go to Google Scholar and type in: voter turnout field experiment and you can see them for yourself.

    • I hate to sound like a broken record, pE, but here are just a few of the problems: The researchers used the Montana State Seal, and other voter information logos and language, to make the flyer look like an official state document. The flyer injects partisan politics into a nonpartisan race. The researchers, who are trying to influence Montana elections, did not file with the secretary of state. The funding for the project is obscure, “Paid for by researchers at Stanford University and Dartmouth College?” What, out of their own pockets?

      I’d also like to see a more detailed analysis of the methodology used in the ranking of the candidates as “More Liberal” and “More Conservative.” Something stinks there. And Cowgirl and others bring up additional concerns.

      How’s that for a start, pE?

    • Good answer, Bob, but most here are too dense to comprehend. But thanks for trying.

  10. politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 11:09 AM at 11:09 AM |

    1) Maybe they should not have used the seal. The flyer does plainly state right below the ideology graphs where it comes from. Maybe that should have been bigger. If those things were a mistake or broke the law then the Bonica team should pay the fine and apologize. But that is a separate issue from the conspiracy theories and voter fraud accusations being thrown around. It also raises some first amendment issues as well as academic freedom issues. I think if you care about democratic participation then you want political scientists out there trying to understand as best we can why people don’t participate. Having the government essentially make such research illegal would actually hurt attempts to increase democratic participation.

    2) They were not injecting partisan politics into the race. As I tried to explain above, but I’ll admit I was not as clear as I could have been, they were trying to provide information about ideology because there is no partisanship in the race. The difference between partisanship and ideology may seem like a fine point to someone outside social science, but it is at the heart of what they were trying to test.

    3) The funding is not obscure. It probably just takes a bureaucracy like Stanford a day or two to provide the details. The amounts being thrown around here are way to high for a study like this. Those are probably the funds to fund their entire research center. Which probably does a lot of different things and conducts many studies.

    4) My explanation was trying to explain this is a typical study done the way hundreds of other were done. And the motivation and research design makes perfect sense. They were not trying to “swift boat” the Dem candidate as many here think. If fact if the experiment did have that effect it would actually ruin their results and be unpublishable. Their interests were scientific not in trying to swing the race one way or the other.

    5) Luckily for you it looks like Adam is big on transparency in this research because there is an extremely detailed and transparent explanation of the methodology used for the ideology scores:

    You can get the codebook. Download the data and fire up your favorite stats program and go through all its nooks and crannies.

    If you wanna compare it to other methods there are scores for Congress:

    – IDEAL


    And the scores for Supreme Court:

    – Martin-Quinn Scores

    • To be honest, pE, I think the biggest problem is that Montanans don’t like being lab rats, especially in as important a race as the Montana Supreme Court. Two of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in this country should have been aware of this. Let me address a few of your other points:

      1) “I think if you care about democratic participation then you want political scientists out there trying to understand as best we can why people don’t participate,” eP says. I doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out why people don’t participate. Million dollar campaigns (that start nine months before the general election), dark money, a constant barrage of TV commercials (and mailers), push polls; nasty, negative attack ads; political gridlock — no wonder folks are turned off, feel helpless and don’t participate.

      2) There seems to be a pretty fine line between ideology and partisan politics, especially when you compare supreme court candidates to Obama (D) and Romney (R).

      3) I still find “Paid for by researchers at Stanford University and Dartmouth College” to be obscure. Sounds like they personally paid for the research, printing and mailing of the flyer.

      4) I don’t believe that the study was meant to “swift boat” the Democratic candidate. I do believe it was a poorly thought out experiment.

      5) I appreciate the links and will look at them in more detail. I have to admit that statistics wasn’t my strongest college course but my gut tells me there’s something wrong with a graph that has a gun-toting, anti-choice, anti-gay, Koch-backed creationist just slightly to the right of Mitt Romney (and Romney being more moderate that Barrack Obama!) Well, it gives me pause. What’s your baseline here?

      Finally, I think it would have been wise to run the flyer by the secretary of state and commissioner of political practices before sending out 100,000 pieces.

      • politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 2:55 PM at 2:55 PM |

        “To be honest, pE, I think the biggest problem is that Montanans don’t like being lab rats, especially in as important a race as the Montana Supreme Court.”

        Thats a fair point. But you do realize that what these guys did is small potatoes compared to the constant experiments the political campaigns are running on people all the time in close races. Or that almost any website you visit regularly and sells ads is running on you all the time. The difference is those groups ARE trying to sway the election and/or make money off you. They will also rarely or never disclose to you that they are doing it. These researchers were not trying to sway the race and would have disclosed everything once the experiment was over and been happy to answer questions about it.

        “1) “I think if you care about democratic participation then you want political scientists out there trying to understand as best we can why people don’t participate,” eP says. I doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out why people don’t participate. Million dollar campaigns (that start nine months before the general election), dark money, a constant barrage of TV commercials (and mailers), push polls; nasty, negative attack ads; political gridlock — no wonder folks are turned off, feel helpless and don’t participate.”

        Lots of those things actually increase turnout (sadly). So its more complicated than might appear at first brush. Also a conservative would give me a different list of all the things they think depress turnout. For a social scientists they have to carefully and convincingly demonstrate causal links.

        “3) I still find “Paid for by researchers at Stanford University and Dartmouth College” to be obscure. Sounds like they personally paid for the research, printing and mailing of the flyer.”

        If I had to guess they were trying to follow the pattern voters are familiar with on campaign materials while giving easily identifiable sources. Darthmouth and Standford probably would not have liked “Paid for by Stanford University and Dartmouth College” Also there was a link to a page with tons of information on it about the researchers and who they were and where the scores came from.

        “4) I don’t believe that the study was meant to “swift boat” the Democratic candidate. I do believe it was a poorly thought out experiment.”

        I tend to agree. But I would think that even if it had not had the Seal and they had been registered with the state and it went off without a hitch. I don’t like this sort of research all that much. But it is legitimate and done all the time.

        “5) I appreciate the links and will look at them in more detail. I have to admit that statistics wasn’t my strongest college course but my gut tells me there’s something wrong with a graph that has a gun-toting, anti-choice, anti-gay, Koch-backed creationist just slightly to the right of Mitt Romney (and Romney being more moderate that Barrack Obama!) Well, it gives me pause. What’s your baseline here?”

        There is a post below where I address some of this. But there are always issues when scaling multidimensional politics to a single scale.

        “Finally, I think it would have been wise to run the flyer by the secretary of state and commissioner of political practices before sending out 100,000 pieces.”

        I bet they wish they had. This issue may have sunk a lot of work and money.

    • Unauthorized use of the Great Seal of Montana and tampering with elections are not issues of academic freedom. They are issues of law. That’s why Bonica, et al, are under investigation, and should be under investigation.

      Did you have advance knowledge of this experiment? Did you know the mailer would bear the state’s seal and invite the recipient to conclude the mailer was an official document from the state? And if you did, why didn’t you report what you knew to MT SecST and MT Political Practices?

      And why are you hiding behind a pseudonym? Come clean, tell us who you are. Have the courage of your convictions.

      • politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 3:03 PM at 3:03 PM |

        “Unauthorized use of the Great Seal of Montana and tampering with elections are not issues of academic freedom. They are issues of law. That’s why Bonica, et al, are under investigation, and should be under investigation.”

        If using the Seal broke the law then they should pay the fine. I don’t consider running field experiments election tampering. There are hundreds of such experiments that have been published.

        “Did you have advance knowledge of this experiment? Did you know the mailer would bear the state’s seal and invite the recipient to conclude the mailer was an official document from the state? And if you did, why didn’t you report what you knew to MT SecST and MT Political Practices?”

        No. I don’t know Bonica (although I met him once about 6 years ago) or any of the other people personally. I am not at either institution.

        “And why are you hiding behind a pseudonym? Come clean, tell us who you are. Have the courage of your convictions.”

        James, but not everyone has been. So I would prefer to remain anonymous. If that is against the rules I will just refrain from posting.

      • Mr. Conner: small things absorb small minds.

      • Is that really the great seal or just a graf from the flag? Which MTLA used to no screams from Linda McC.
        James, DIME is a gold mine and you know it.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 27, 2014 1:37 PM at 1:37 PM |

      “If you want to just spin conspiracy theories or manufacture outrage skip this post.”

      Well then, why won’t Bonica say where the money CAME from? He knows, doncha think?

      “voter fraud accusations”

      Um, we voters have done nothing fraudulent. Why would you even imply that? More bullshit argument.

      “It also raises some first amendment issues as well as academic freedom issues”

      No it doesn’t. Freedom to act illegally and unethically is NOT a protected freedom, nor an academic freedom. Why do you think the Universities have already apologized?

      “They also feel that the R or D by someone’s name is good information about their ideology.”

      First, not their place to assign a political party to candidates. Most of us honestly don’t know or care. Having Wheat stand next to the black devil Obama in Montana is beyond the pale, and a horrible, unethical attempt to smear a man with guilt by association where none occurred! This is Montana. We can figure out for ourselves who is qualified to sit on the court. Actually, the fliers MAY have helped Wheat by shining a spotlight on Van Dink and his “qualifications”?! He is no longer another stealth christofascist nazzzi! He’s been outed.

      “They were not injecting partisan politics into the race.”

      Um, yes they were! To supposedly test the results! What a joke. Ideology my ASS!

      ” I think if you care about democratic participation then you want political scientists out there trying to understand as best we can why people don’t participate.”

      Voter ID laws. The abolition of same day registration. Endless attempts by the Pubes to restrict voting. Endless rightwing propaganda decrying how government doesn’t work, thereby creating cynicism in many. I THEENK we already know why lots of folks don’t vote! Let’s start there, shall we? Much better study to do. Ask the folks who must wait in lines for hours on end why they don’t vote! More of your bullshit!

      “And the motivation and research design makes perfect sense.”

      Really? To whom? Seems that it DOESN”T make perfect sense to the vast majority of folks here in Montana. How could some professors be so dense? THAT does not compute! Hell, even our press people were dumbfounded by this “study”. And they’re not easily confused!

      “they were trying to provide information about ideology because there is no partisanship in the race”

      Yes, putting Wheat next to the black dude is QUITE unlike every dickweed ReePube in this state who tries to make their opponent an Obama clone! Come on, dufus. Even YOU aren’t that dumb, are you? Yes, I think you are. Enuff for now. You’re simply digging a deeper hole. Can’t you just admit that this was an HORRIFIC thing to do by a couple of supposedly really smart guys? You may be selling bullshit cheap, which you are, but I got some news for ya. WE MONTANANS AIN’T BUYING ANY TODAY! Sorry.

      Now, stop pretending to be something that you’re not. You are NOT research scientist! You cut and pasted some nonsense, but your off the cuff defense unveils you to be a silly pretender. I’m thinkin’ you must be dave Skinner. Sure seems like his modus operandi!

  11. Both schools should have authenicated the mailer with its respective official seal.

  12. “Maybe they should not have used the seal…”

    This is not a matter of ethics, but a matter of law. It’s not “maybe,” it’s clearly that had no right to do without prior authorization from our state.

    I agree that this kind of research can be valuable, but the lapses in judgment here are massive. In my line of work, a multi-center trial has to be approved by ALL the IRBs of the centers involved. Yet the news makes clear that Stanford did not sign off on the study. Stanford has already apologized, which is rare for a research center or a university to do before a formal investigation has been completed.

    There were probably lots of ways to do this that involved more forthcoming experimental materials. They didn’t need the state seal and they could have represented themselves as credible political scientists the whole time. If anything, the Hawthorne effect was probably higher, not lower, with the State Seal attached.

    • So what the heck is the actual MCA? I have a bolo custom cast with the Great Seal in silver. If I have my picture taken with that and someone spots it, am I hosed? It’s our FLAG fagawsakes?

      • The difference is, nobody infers from the bolo that you’re an official of the state.

        With a mailing it becomes entirely different. Same as putting a corporation’s logo/letterhead on your letters. At that point it veers towards or into the realm of fraud.

        • Here’s the MCA that MIGHT relate to the seal.
          “45-7-209. Impersonation of public servant. (1) A person commits the offense of impersonating a public servant if the person falsely pretends to hold a position in the public service with the purpose to induce another individual to submit to the pretended official authority or otherwise to act in reliance upon that pretense to the individual’s prejudice.
          (2) A person convicted of impersonating a public servant shall be fined not to exceed $5,000 or be imprisoned in the state prison for any term not to exceed 5 years, or both.

          History: En. 94-7-210 by Sec. 1, Ch. 513, L. 1973; R.C.M. 1947, 94-7-210; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 351, L. 1995. ”

          Says nothing about the state seal. If these kids had used the Montana flag, which they should have, there would be no case — this is almost certainly the graphic designer’s fault.

          First count is 13-35-218 b
          ” (2) A person may not, by abduction, duress, or any fraudulent contrivance, impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise by any voter at any election or compel, induce, or prevail upon any elector to give or to refrain from giving the elector’s vote at any election. ”
          Prevent free exercise? Compel or induce? HUGE stretch here. BS.

          13-35-235. Incorrect election procedures information. (1) A person may not knowingly or purposely disseminate to any elector information about election procedures that is incorrect or misleading or gives the impression that the information has been officially disseminated by an election administrator.
          (2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

          Election PROCEDURES or “impression” that it is official? How about the big letters on the back of the MTLA’s pamphet with the SOS address all over it? You have GOT to be kidding me. AND it’s a misdemeanor rap.

          13-37-201. Campaign treasurer. Except as provided in 13-37-206, each candidate and each political committee shall appoint one campaign treasurer and certify the full name and complete address of the campaign treasurer pursuant to this section. A candidate shall file the certification within 5 days after becoming a candidate. A political committee shall file the certification, which must include an organizational statement and the name and address of all officers, if any, within 5 days after it makes an expenditure or authorizes another person to make an expenditure on its behalf, whichever occurs first. The certification of a candidate or political committee must be filed with the commissioner and the appropriate election administrator as specified for the filing of reports in 13-37-225.

          So, if they had done that 5 days prior, it would all be copacetic. But is the expenditure on anyone’s behalf given the material and its nature? Don’t insult me.

          • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 29, 2014 4:40 AM at 4:40 AM |

            Wow, Skinflute! You can do THAT kinda research, yet you STILL can’t post those supposed 23 bills Amanda Curtis voted against?!

            You get an F from the NRA, The National Retard Association!


  13. Here’s the main problem to me: The definition of “conservative” and “liberal”. I understand from the Stanford website that the researchers define liberals and conservatives based upon where their campaign contributions come from, not their actual governing policies. Therefore, Obama and Romney are at polar opposites, but in terms of actual governing policies, they are very close together. For example, Obamacare is simply a national implementation of Romneycare from Romney’s days as gov. of Mass.

    It is important to consider context. During the 2010 election, Republicans were highly motivated to do anything possible to defeat Obama. even Repubs who may have thought Romney was too liberal (Sheldon Adelson) were highly motivated to contribute to Romney in the general election even though they did not support him in the primary. This would lead to a calculation that Romney is more conservative than he actually is. On the other hand, real liberals already knew that Obama was not a liberal but contributed to his campaign anyway to prevent Republican control of the white House.

    And speaking of context, Obama, for many reasons, is highly unpopular personally in Montana. The researchers must have known this. So why did they use the names “Obama” and “Romney” rather than just a liberal vs. conservative continuum? Do they think that MT voters don’t know which is which? The ONLY reason I can think of is to actually influence the election results by identifying Wheat personally with Obama. Why do you think every other word out of Daines’ and Zinke’s mouths is “Obama”? This is where the mailer really crosses the line between research and influence.

    • politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 2:07 PM at 2:07 PM |

      1) That is correct. It is based on campaign contributions. For reasons you have mentioned and more it is not a perfect measure. No measure is. There is a very long literature on the pros and cons of various measures of ideology. One advantage that DIME has over the others is that you can give a score on a common scale to candidates at all levels of office. And even candidates who have not taken a single vote.

      2) At the federal level there are 3 popular measures of ideology NOMINATE, IDEAL and DIME. They all use different input and methods for coming up with a ideology score. The correlation between the three of them is very high. This leads political scientists to believe that they are all getting at the same underlying “latent” trait. Until someone comes along with a better measure, these three are the ones we have.

      3) I do not know the guts of DIME enough to know if DIME tries to correct for the types of effects you mention with respect to people donating to the presidential candidates because they are their teams horse in a two person race. Or if such effects would even lead to the scores being biased. As you can imagine when Bonica first started publishing his method there was a great deal of skepticism about this new measure. He has more or less convinced other scholars that the measure is a good one. Getting social science research published is a blood sport with everyone gunning to take down your research. So I am sure these issues were raised. But again I am not sure how or if they are addressed.

      4) They probably used the two recent presidential candidates because they wanted to give people a context for the scale that they would understand. Without some scale to the line it does not mean much. You could give the numerical scores but thats very technical. However, the issue you raised about Obama being unpopular would probably have been a big concern with interpreting the results of the experiment. What you want is to just give information about ideology, not necessarily harm or help a candidate because of an association with other politicians. I would guess they weighed the costs and benefits of several approaches and decided that using well known politicians was the best way to go. The reports I have seen said they ran it in several states so the scores for Romney and Obama would have been the same across all states and their popularity would play differently in those different states.

      5) I am not trying to convince anyone that the research would have produced clean results that would break open our understanding of voters who go to the polls but then skip races. I am not even really trying to convince you that what they were doing was worthwhile. To be frank, I am not a big fan of this type of experimental work. I am just trying to convince you that this is normal research that happens all the time and the chances that they would risk their careers and credibility trying to swing an election all while destroying their own major research project is zero.

      • I think we can agree that a candidate’s association with Obama will be seen much differently in Montana, then, say, Massachusetts or California. And, I think it is fair to say that while almost no voters in Montana have a strong positive or negative feeling about Romney, there is a substantial factor that has a highly negative feeling about Obama. So, it certainly appears to me that although you may be able to say nationally there is some neutral connotation to the Obama-Romney context, the mailer wasn’t sent nationally. Which brings up another point.

        As I understand it, the purpose of the mailer was to obtain data about whether information of partisanship will affect voter participation. I understand that the researchers sent the mailer to neighboring or similar precincts to those precincts which did not receive a mailer so that they can compare turnout. So, it appears to be highly relevant to know which precincts received the mailer. Was the mailer only sent to Republican precincts? Blue or purple precincts?

        I think this is an important question given the news that one of the professors has started his own company to sell the gleaned information. Let’s assume that the biggest market for this type of information (i.e., if partisan info boosts voting) is with those with the deepest pockets, such as Rove and the Koch Brothers. wouldn’t it be valuable for the professor to obtain data that shows whether comparison of a candidate to a hated national figure will boost voter turnout of your target voters (right wing conservatives)?

        If the mailer was sent to blue precincts, I believe it will have no effect. However, I certainly believe it may have an effect in boosting voter turnout in red precincts which, will only help Van Dyke. So, it will not only influence this election, the data gained may provide proof to future buyers that CrowdPac can likewise influence other elections by targeting the “right” voters.

        This is the only way this project makes any sense. Think about the supposed premise; does partisan information effect voter turnout? In elections, almost ALL the mailers and other information is partisan. So how is this little project different? Well, in MT., it effects a non-partisan race which really has nothing to do with national politics. This particular mailer actually INJECTS partisanship into the race where little existed. It is targeted at certain precincts. We know that right wing out of state money is attempting to influence judge elections from West Virginia to MT. Corporations want friendly judges. So, is this project simply designed to allow the researchers to sell their findings to the deepest pocket?

        • There is no way in heck that flyer went only to blue precincts. This is proof of concept and you want your controls and confounding factors set up correctly.

  14. Rich thankyou, the fine line between party and ideology doesn’t lead any place.
    DIME not worth a dime at charcterizing Mitt OR Barack

    Stanford thinkers: so the prime root concern is lack of votes for Judicial races?
    take a look at here and now!
    Once again at end of Legislative campaign
    comes a few weeks when voters get a chance to review Judicial candidates.

    Read Pete Talbot’s (1.) again. Go on to Conserve short term, public financed campaigns.
    Move away from R & D franchise system.
    How about starting Judicial campaign season short time ahead of Legislative campaign?
    as way to help voters consider their vote for Judges,
    before R & D campaigns launch!

    • politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 2:13 PM at 2:13 PM |


      The puzzle is why voters who go to the polls skip nonpartisan races more than they skip partisan races. Whether you think that is important or not is up to you. Lots of social scientists and democratic theorists think it is. It may mean that the lack of partisan identifiers discourages political participation. Lots if city and county are switching to nonpartisan races (usually to the advantage of the less popular party in the area) I think that is an important issue.

      Also it is not such a fine line between ideology and party. Through time the connection has ebbed and flowed. If you don’t think the measures are good that is your prerogative. Climate change deniers don’t like the scientific consensus on climate change so the reject the science outright. Its a common trend on the right. But its not company I want to keep.

      • Because most voters lack access to credible information, in this case because there’s no information forthcoming from the tiny Montana media. There’s no party structure to get a message out, so the voter pool is mostly random guessing, with a small number of informed voters and interested donors in the form of Montana lawyers, with the most interested being those with a pecuniary interest in Supreme Court outcomes.
        It’s a stupid system, actually. THe Supremes should be nominated and confirmed along the federal model. Local judges, okay, but the Supremes? No.

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 3:36 PM at 3:36 PM |

          Oh come ON, Skinflute! Geez, credible information??? YOU are the local Montana Spoot Shorter’s Ass. rep on this blog, and yet you can NOT even LIST those supposed 23 gun bills that Amanda voted against! Why? Why IS that? Why can you criticize the press for not doing THEIR jobs, yet you are just as bad?! What are you nutjobs HIDING for? I don’t get it. I think you OWE it to Montanans to BACK UP your bullshit with a few facts! Like the fact folks would LAFF their asses off at the bills in question! Come on. We NEED a good laff about now!

          Guns in bars. GREAT idea, Marsbutt!
          In schools!
          In the lege!
          Gun for the mentally ill!
          TAX breaks for gun shops!
          IGNORING federal gun laws!
          Sheriffs first!

          And on and on and ON! The beat of the inbreds goes on!

          • Guns in bars. GREAT idea, Marsbutt!
            Actually makes perfect sense. The REAL restriction should be no DRINKING while carrying. I’m all for that, penalties and all. But honest people will admit place has nothing to do with probability of use. In fact it’s zoning overrreach (post offices? seriously? This is inevitably from people who don’t own and have no concept.

            In schools!
            I have real problems with the hydra-like mutative “official stories” about things like Sandy Hook, but yes. Guarantee you an armed teacher could have stopped practically every case. Guns reduces crime. That’s what they’re there for. (This includes state abuse/crime too, for anyone paying attention.)

            In the lege!
            College? Legislature? I see little difference between that and a Swiss Army knife. Both can be lethal at the hands of the determined. And it’d be as easy to get them in as on a plane, anyone knows you’d simply get it in via the cleaning crew. There were plenty of people with carry permits, including a Marine who died, in Aurora because they were foolish enough to heed the criminal safe zone restriction, oops, “no weapons” zone. Like they say, it takes a special kind of stupid to think criminals obey those restrictions. And the gun-grabbing liberals do have that blood on their hands, again and again and again.

            Almost certainly unlike you, I actually own one and therefore know what they’re like. It’s a joke to think they’re quiet like you see in the movies. They’re still loud, just not bust-your-eardrums loud. It would actually be better: you’d know what was going on, it just wouldn’t be terrifying. Which in the post-9/11 age is how they want us.

            Gun for the mentally ill!
            I doubt he said this. You were saying something elsewhere about sourcing? And even the mentally ill will always be capable of getting hands on illegal stuff. The problem is, the corporatocratic state wants to be able to use this as a pretext to disarm practically ANY veteran of their right to own. Oh, PTSD, PTSD, PTSD. And you know corrupt shrinks would knuckle to anything.

            TAX breaks for gun shops!
            Never heard of it. Probably some double-taxation thing, which the gun-grabbers would be all for. I would bet there is almost no abuse of power the IRS and ATF haven’t shown themselves capable.

            IGNORING federal gun laws!
            Just the unconstitutional ones. They mostly rest on Interstate Commerce clause, which is naked bullsh_t legal overreach, which is why Schweitzer signed off. Reserved powers and all that – basic US law.

            Sheriffs first!
            The rational law of the land. Just as we have a three branches of government with diverse spheres of authority instead of a pyramidal monarchy, the sheriff system is what has preserved many liberties (at least to date) from the state going back to King John and the Magna Carta in 1215. Or do you like that monarchy idea and not want to admit it? It was Shrub Bush who said, a dictatorship would be okay so long as I get to be the dictator,” and “The Constitution is just a God-damned piece of paper!” Funny, how many liberals would admit, with a little sodium pentathiol, to thinking the exact same way?

            ALL constitutional rights are important and sacred – no matter WHAT the mainstream corporatocracy-controlled, pseudo-my-side, pseudo-independent entities, from the Washington Compost to Faux News, tell you.

            Picture four Indians with rifles, with the caption, “Turn in your weapons. The government will take care of you.” It is absolutely true: an armed man is a citizen; an unarmed man is a subject. Google “Why Liberals Should Love the Second Amendment.” It’s a great read. Go read it now.

            ALL of them are critical. And the Second safeguards every single one of the rest.

            Dump your party and start thinking for yourself.

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 9:22 PM at 9:22 PM |

              Wow, Ivy. I THEENK you just exposed yourself. You really ARE an inbred weirdo! Now, put a name up there, cupcake. You’ve got all the lingo down, but NOT the courage to sign your name????! And that’s kinda sad. Pathetic really. All the lefties here put their names on their posts, but you inbreds can’t. Why is that? No courage of your convictions? Or just too many convictions?! Are you a felon, Ivy??? Now come on, dude. Stop lying. WHAT were those Ivy league degrees in again, Ivy? And which schools??? Doesn’t compute.

              I knew I could draw you out. I do it to all the inbreds. Don’t feel bad. You gave it your best shot! But in the end, you just couldn’t cut the mustard! Ya gotta be what you gotta be!

              • For an issue-evader like you? Naaah. You DIDN’T admit your “critter bonding” ad hominems were your own “arguments talk, bullsh_t walks”. Therefore you are unworthy of the info – and if you HAD proved yourself worthy of it, you would have understood it was irrelevant anyway.

                And all it would be would be yet ANOTHER excuse for you to focus on person and evade issues (the literal sense of argumentum ad hominem, btw). Been doing anonymity since the late 90s, sure not going to give cowards like you yet another excuse.

                One more time. I ceased to be leftie. I refuse to be rightie. Unlike you, I think independently, for myself, issue by issue, outside the box.

                Your laughable taunts fail. If I were a felon, I probably couldn’t own, could I? Once again we see even an “inbred” could figure out things that stymie the likes of you. But let’s just say it’s an Ivy you’ve heard of and a degree that would give me an above-average analytical matters in such things as we’ve discussed.

                And, although yet again I fear it will go entirely over your head, I in turn THEENK you once more proved my point: you didn’t disprove a single thing I said, you just trotted out your favorite buzzword epithet to make yourself sound clever.

                Fail. See illustration at top of page yet again.

                • And “OMG”, look what you yourself wrote preceding:

                  Issues are issues, individual posters are not. Try not to get distracted, for that shows weakness of argument!

                  Pretty pathetic when you yourself are the best puncturing of your own irrelevant identity taunts, wouldn’t you admit?

                  No, I don’t dislike you, I just think you’re not a credit to the leftie causes you espouse. Just hang it in and learn from the experience, dude, you’ve been skewered.

  15. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 27, 2014 1:58 PM at 1:58 PM |

    So why did they use the names “Obama” and “Romney” rather than just a liberal vs. conservative continuum?

    Good POINT, Rich. And here are some OTHER suggestions they could have used!

    Jesus on one said and the Osama bin Laden on the other!

    A gun on one side and a queer on the other!

    A big Kockh on one side and a union man on the other!

    A Wilk’s ranch on side and a trailer park on the other!

    The list of possibilities is endless! Have some FUN with it!

  16. politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 2:18 PM at 2:18 PM |

    All good suggestions Larry, you should write those up and get them to the American Journal of Political Science quickly before you are scooped.

    Unfortunately for DICE you need a common pool of campaign contributors in order to place the candidates on the same scale and don’t have campaign contributions for any of those pairs.

    I am sure that both the Kochs and unions are in the DICE dataset, but as donors that are used to come up with the ideology score of the candidates they give to.

    You seem really interested in the influence of money on politics and DICE is a really important dataset that tracks a lot of it. You would probably find it interesting if you weren’t so buys being “Internet Tough Guy”.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 27, 2014 3:34 PM at 3:34 PM |

      Tough guy? For playing whack a troll? Nah. It’s just kind of a hobby around here! Argument talks while bullshit walks! Ninety-nine percent of what you write is simply bullshit. (cut and paste) You junk up the forum with verbiage. Hard to dig through all the crap to find anything substantial. And that gets tiresome. AND, it indicates a pretender. So, without giving us your name because you are so “fearful”, at least list some creds! You should be able to give hints of your expertise.

      Can you REALLY not state your argument succinctly? Or are you just too damn intelligent? Everyone else seems to be able to. Why can’t you??? Brevity is the soul of wit. And the opposite is the soul of shit! Hope this helps.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 27, 2014 6:38 PM at 6:38 PM |

        Jumpeen JAYSUS! Boy am I slow! Yes, I know you PE. And you know ME! We’ve actually crossed paths a few times down in Helena, remember? The time we were all testifying on the bill to allow Westmoreland Coal to f*cking un-DO our mine reclamation laws?? Yep. You were there, and so was I! How ARE things down there in Bozeman??? You A-holes still whining and dining all the judges in the state??? And country????

        And we Rangers STILL laff about how you morons said that since broccoli contained cyanide, it was OK for the mining industry to DUMP that shit wholesale into our water supply! Too funny. If you would have turned around, you would have seen me making a hilarious obscene gesture behind your back in sign language! And a fellow Ranger laffing so hard that he nearly fell OFF the chair! I’m sure it’s all on the tape!

        Yes, I know you. And when Ken Toole asked for a show of hands of all the people who worked for the mining industry, nearly ALL the hands went up! And then when Ken asked who was therer on their own dime, there were just a few of us! Yes, I was there.

        I was there when you brought in that asshole rancher who CLAIMED to luv Westmoreland Coal, and bragged what great corporate neighbors they were! The ONLY leettle problem with his story was that that asshole had al READY sold out to Westmoreland Coal!

        Yes, I was there. You dudes really are some sick, pathetic outta staters! But hey, I really, really, REALLY loved your editorial in the state dailies that argued that since Japan had something like 635 people per square mile, WE COULD TOO!

        You guys really are some sorry son of a bitches. Please stop billing yourself as a research facility, for all you are is a NOTHER AFI, academic fellatio institute for the Kocks, wilks, and kennutty Kocks!

        For you folks unfamiliar with PERC, check them out! They were the very first kockh corporate kockh suckers to come to Montana and pretend to be an educational organization dedicated to improving Montana! Well, I had them figured out immediately!

        Here’s there link. I first took notice when I read their board of directors and contributors contained some of the biggest corporate fascist assholes in the country! And I’ll lay you MONEY that that is where lil’ PE works! And that’s why she won’t own up!

        Yep. I finally figured out just who you are! No need to put your name up there. You’ve done been outed!

        Too funny.

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 27, 2014 6:50 PM at 6:50 PM |

          p.s. And for the record, we USED to have some of the finest strip mine reclamation laws in the country. But Westmoreland Coal strolled in and decided that it would be great of the companies THEMSELVES could determine what reclamation was! Hence, if they want to leave it as a toxic shithole and say that that is reclamation, they can DO IT! Nice bunch of folks, huh? And now, they want it all! I’m thinkin’ that they may have overreached on this. Montanans don’t generally LIKE outta state corporate assholes calling the shots! And PE and her PERC asshole buddies were right in there! Check out the records of testimony on that bill. You’ll get a great view of me and some obscene sing language lessons!

        • politicalEconomist | October 27, 2014 9:57 PM at 9:57 PM |

          Sorry man. I have never been to Helena or Bozeman (although I am told by friends who live there its nice). I did fly in and out of Billings once, but my stay was in Cody, WY.

          I have certainly never worked for the coal industry or for anyone called AFI or PERC. Why do you assume I am a conservative or a “teatard” as you so eloquently put it. You have also assumed the same thing about the researchers running the experiment.

          I’d wager that I’m to the left of you on just about any issue dimension you wanna pick. I certainly use far less homophobic though guy rhetoric.

          • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 5:42 AM at 5:42 AM |

            “I certainly use far less homophobic though guy rhetoric”

            Not homophobic at all! In fact, it’s literary! You see, Shakespeare, as we all should know, wrote some of his best love sonnets about guys! Because he was PAID to do so! Was he a homo? Nope. What he did is sometimes termed literary pederasty!

            Do these guys like bonica actually satisfy the Big Kockh brothers with their mouths? No. They do it by figuratively gratifying the fascists of the world with their illegal activities! Hence, Academic Fellatio!

            Do you get my point?

            • politicalEconomist | October 28, 2014 12:15 PM at 12:15 PM |

              I understood that it is metaphorical.

              The homophobic part is that you are implying that oral sex between men is a degrading thing. That a man receiving oral sex from another owns or dominates that man. Thats the homophobic part.

              Or maybe you simply think oral sex is degrading regardless of gender which make you a prude rather than a homophobe and I stand corrected.

              • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 12:34 PM at 12:34 PM |

                PRUDE??? MOI?? Well, I stand you corrected AGAIN! Ever been to Magic Fingers??? Downtown Saigon??? Dude, I was military. That’s why I had so much fun when the inbreds ALL whined and attacked Billy Clinton, the commander in freakin’ CHIEF, for gettin’ his knob polished by Monica! They were all aghast that he was the leader of our military and did such a thing. Our military. OUR MILITARY! Swoon. How COULD he?! He’s the leader of our military!!! What a role modle for the younger troops! Would Jesus approve?? Would Gen. Boinkin’ approve?? (sp)

                Welllllllllll, I never even MET a GI who didn’t get Monica’ed now and then! Or as often as they could for that matter! Far away from home……lonely…..could die at any moment…… BET they went downtown now and then!

                Oh sure, maybe there was some squirrely fella called preacher who stayed in the barracks and copied the Bible over and over again. (I actually knew him). But every NORMAL red blooded American kid was chasing hookers like there was no tomorrow! And oral sex was right IN there too!

                And no, I am absolutely NOT suggesting that oral sex between men is degrading. Not at all! If they like it, more the better!

                I was ONLY suggesting, since you seem a leetle dense, that gratuitous sex for enriching one’s self IS degrading! Do YOU think that bonica would be at ALL interested in gratifying the Big Kockh brothers if they weren’t PAYING big money for it?? Or does he do it for love alone???? AFI, Academic Fellatio Institute. I kinda like it. Do you have a better??? Not degrading, just a pretty good analogy! Or do you prefer kissing their asses, which to some might seem a little degrading too! ASI, Ass Kissing Institute??

                BTW, you’re a political economist and you’ve NEVER heard of PERC?? Kinda strange, doncha think??

                • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 28, 2014 12:38 PM at 12:38 PM |

                  HEY, now THERE’S a great title for ya.

                  My card:

                  Monica Bonica, PhD. BJ, Fellow, AFI, Academic Fellatio Institute!

                  Has a certain ring to it, don’t it? Impressive creds!

      • Actually, Crotch, PE here (can’t believe it is a liberal, Political Economics is what made me a conservative, I hate rent-seeking) is orders of magnitude more cognizant of this issue than you ever were.

  17. PoliticalEconomist,

    To solve the puzzlement of theorists,
    why not ask exit poll voters next week
    WHY THEY DID NOT VOTE FOR non-partisan candidates.
    Ask voters why they voted against vote rip off 126.

  18. There is something not quite right about the Montanans4Justice site.

    First, the AZ address is just the address of the godaddy hosting service- but was this site really connected to Stanford and Dartmouth? and why was it launched on the exact same day as crowdpac?

    Why can’t the website’s authors spell if they are university professors?

  19. Here’s a picture of what the graphic that USED to be up on the Montanans4Justice site looked like, only with Montana Supreme Court Candidates ( and not on a truck)

  20. Note the shitty “if” style denial apology offered by Dartmouth.

    “We understand that the presence of the Montana state seal caused confusion about the origin and purpose of the materials used in that state,” Anderson said in an emailed statement. “We apologize if it was not clear that the intention of the mailing was entirely scholarly.”

    The arrogance of these pricks amazes.

  21. House of Ill ReButte | October 27, 2014 10:48 PM at 10:48 PM |

    This is why I keep reading Cowgirl’s blog–excellent fact-finding by the Cowgirl and thought-provoking give and take by commenters (Larry Krajik’s childish name-calling and crude responses notwithstanding). It’s intelligent discussion and politicalEconomist’s viewpoint gives information beyond the normal observations. Of course, I think the mailer was deceptive and probably illegal. I just really appreciate the good discussion this blog can evoke. Go Cowgirl!

  22. I guess Stanford and Dartmouth no longer teach the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and both schools’ research review committees also seem to be unaware of it.
    Simply stated, Werner Heisenberg postulated that the simple act of examining an event can change the outcome of that event.
    The well-funded, right-wing academics who sent out the mailers certainly understand Heisenberg — it’s the main purpose of the study — to put an extreme right-winger on the state’s highest court by swaying the rubes, we the Montana voters, under the guise of an academic “experiment.”
    The fact that their “experiment” violated numerous laws as well as the spirit of a non-partisan selection process for Montana’s highest court did not deter them. And acting just 10 days before the election increased the odds they would achieve their goal of electing VanDyke. (In their zeal to institute their extreme ideology, right-wingers have a disturbing and universal disrespect for laws written by others.)
    For what it’s worth, Heisenberg was the head of Hitler’s nuclear weapons program.

  23. pE,

    hmmm, you prob knew what would happen!

    Next time perhaps some lines of logic, with links.

    (The (1.), (2.) (3) did not work for me.)

    Perhaps let go of some academic models of understanding political economics,
    tell us what you understand now at election time.

    geezer Bob

  24. If PE is actually a real Economist I am Gwen Stefani. Stop giving this guy any credence because he wont use his name. For all we know your talking to a Jailed criminal with access to a smart phone, and plenty of time to kill for the next couple of years!

    Hes playing you… screwing with the Mindset Of Montanans. The man is guessing at best.

    • politicalEconomist | October 28, 2014 12:18 PM at 12:18 PM |

      Hi Gwen.

      Never much cared for your music, but it is good to see you take an interest in politics and in people’s academic training. It shows you’re well rounded. ;)

  25. Wiser heads prevail:
    “HELENA, Mont. — The presidents of Stanford University and Dartmouth College are sending 100,000 letters to Montana residents disavowing election mailers that state officials called deceitful and worried will influence the state’s two Supreme Court elections.”

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