Category Archives: Congress

GUEST POST: Preserve the Power of the Vote

by Jackie Gysler

While 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Montana women’s right to vote, few Montanans can compete with $10,000 to $425,000 campaign donations.

Only 28% of Ryan Zinke’s donations and 33% of Steve Daine’s donations come from Montanans compared to over 70% of John Lewis’s and Amanda Curtis’s funds. Zinke’s recent fundraiser cost $10,000/couple with John Boehner who leads the most unpopular U.S. Congress ever, with only a 10% approval rating. Steve Daines collected $425,000 from a Wall Street billionaire and vulture capitalists. Corporate fundraisers are the newest fad in Washington, D.C., thanks to fewer anti-corruption rules.

Your vote is extremely important!

In 2012, the conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justices, many whom were nominated with a religious promise to strike down a woman’s right to vote on her own reproduction, struck down Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, diminishing the right to vote of all Americans.

As a result, in 2012, 75% of Montanans voted for a referendum directing Montana’s two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Congressman to create a U.S. Constitutional Amendment to stop unlimited corporate money from buying elections. In September 2014, Republican U.S. Senators blocked this bill.

Can you afford to buy politicians?

Preserve the power of the vote! Get your community to vote for math teacher Amanda Curtis to be Montana’s first female US Senator, and instead of the most unpopular U.S. Congress ever, vote John Lewis starting October 6th at your county courthouse!

Let me know if you see this in newspapers or can help get it into your local newspaper.

Jackie Gysler
Bigfork/Wolf Point
jigysler (at) gmail.com

Two Strikes and You’re Out: Zinke still struggling to spell “2nd Amendment”

It has unfortunately come to the Cowgirl Blog’s attention that the Ryan Zinke campaign has, for the second time in several weeks, misspelled the word “amendment” in its campaign material when referring to the Second Amendment.

In September, Zinke spelled it “Amendmant“, on a banner at an official campaign booth.

zinke spelling error

I blogged about it then, and given that Mr. Zinke is a long-time reader of (and commenter on) my blog, we know that his campaign got the word. But their second attempt didn’t go much better.  They’ve misspelled it again, this time in a widely circulated campaign mailer, and the mailer is below. The new spelling is “Amendement,” with an extra “e”.

I suppose the the campaign deserves credit for trying hard, and improving.  And we all make mistakes of course.

But there is a serious problem in America, namely that the Republican Party is the Party of Stupid.  Think Bush, Palin, and don’t forget the idiot Dan Quayle, who also spelled something–the word “potato”–with an extra “e”, costing him his political career.

With this latest spelling struggle, the Zinke campaign is not giving us any confidence that they are going out of their way to try combat this image.  And realize that this mailer was not only generated by the campaign, but was also in all likelihood professionally designed and printed by a Republican direct mail firm (there’s no such thing in politics as a neutral consulting firm; they are either Ds or Rs).

I say two strikes and you’re out.  If you are running for Congress and you talk ceaselessly about the second amendment, you must be able to spell it, or you are disqualified.

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GUEST POST: Open letter to (alphabetically)  Curtis, Daines, Lewis, Zinke

by Mark Van Loon of Hamilton,  MT

For over 100 years, the Montana law that kept corporate money out of politics has made our elections more fair and more truly Montanan.  The U.S. Supreme Court decision in “Citizen’s United” overturned this MT law.  Even arguing in front of the Supreme Court, the MT law, supported by an overwhelming majority of Montanans, was disallowed.

The only way to overturn the “Citizen’s United” decision is through a Constitutional Amendment – an arduous process.  There is currently a strong grass roots movement throughout the United States to introduce and pass this Constitutional Amendment.

As a representative of the people of Montana, would you not only support this Constitutional Amendment but also take a leadership role in getting it passed? Please make your response in a public forum – a press release to major news outlets or a press conference – and explain why or why not.

Hint:  Just saying the Supreme Court has decided this issue so you won’t respond is ducking the question.  Montana voters have a right to know where you stand on this vital issue.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Van Loon

Hamilton  MT

 

 

GUEST POST:  A letter the US Senators of Montana

[This is a guest post by David M. Jordan who is a retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the United States Navy and lives on Georgetown Lake.]  

Gentlemen,

I question the appropriateness of Ryan Zinke using his military background as the basis for a political campaign. I believe his actions denigrate all who have served in the US military, worn the uniform with pride, and do not expect acclaim for our deeds; that his actions could be conceived as being condoned by the US Navy as being in violation of US Navy Uniform Regulations, which prohibit the wearing of the uniform or any part of it for political aims, seems to have not occurred to Mr. Zinke.

We who have been retired from the US Navy long enough to realize that most people get tired of hearing about it real quick, have many medals and decorations among our souvenirs have had experiences that we might sometimes reluctantly share if someone asks. We can put some things on a resume and some things we can’t. None of us can hang up a sign with our stars or chevrons and a gentleman really never brags. We care for our families and our way of life as we always have.

Mr. Zinke, on the other hand, has really not been a civilian long enough understand that he is selling his uniform and insignia to espouse a political agenda and that act is disrespecting everyone else who has worn that uniform.

I now spend my life in the National Forests. I am writing this letter in a cabin with a Forest Service property lease that is across the lake from our past [Montana] governor’s home. I work at a ski area that is on Forest Service land up the road. My family is comfortable.   Mr. Zinke is selling out the life I fought for and he is trying to make it look like I agree with him.

I am a retired Master Chief Petty Officer. I am very proud of my service but am a little embarrassed when someone thanks me for it. I love my uniform and it would be nice to wear it to a job interview. I can’t really share most of my sea stories because most people think I’m boasting or lying. Many of my friends are Honorably Discharged, not retired, and wear things on their VFW  and American Legion hats. The rules for active duty, reserve and retired persons are different. These rules and reasons for them are spelled out in US Navy Uniform Regulations. Google it.

I don’t expect you to attack a hero. A well-intentioned query to the CNO or Chief of Naval Special Warfare could be interesting.   I did not make Rear Admiral because I was not that perfect. I made it as far I did with the help of people above me and the sweat of my shipmates. Most of us don’t make it to the top but we are all honorable.

Mr. Zinke has not had the courage to publicly embrace his Tea Party friends and giga–buck backers. He does not advertise his plan to destroy our way of life and cash in on Montana’s wealth of natural resources.

The military life is nothing if not politics. It is not noted as an incubator for statesmen. (Colin Powell is an exception, but he made 4 Star General.)

Thank YOU for your service and sacrifice for our country,

David M. Jordan MCPO(SW) USN,ret.

Ps. To Senator Walsh, Sir, I have seen strong men ask for help in the most unbelievable ways. War is hell. Welcome home.

 

Steve Daines and the Environmental Boogeyman

Steve Daines is an embarrassment.

Steve Daines is an embarrassment. He’s bad for the state.

Steve Daines has a new radio ad on the air, in which Daines portrays himself as the protector of the timber industry, keeping timber mills and loggers safe from “fringe environmentalists” and “extreme environmental groups.”  A narrator also describes Daines as “ranked as one of the most effective congressmen” although she doesn’t cite any study or group that made this dubious determination.

 Listen to this idiotic advertisement, or read the transcript, here.

Daines has simply dusted off a twenty-year-old playbook for these ads:  Environmentalists are shutting down the state and costing us jobs, and we must fight against their lawsuits and the federal regulations that they have persuaded Obama to enact.  Montanans could all be rich from natural resource development if the environmentalists would simply get out of the way.

There’s one problem with the radio ad: In the sixty seconds of narration and sound bites from Daines, timber owners and loggers, nobody cites a single item, a single tangible thing, that environmentalists have recently done to effect the loss of jobs or the decline of the timber industry.  The script is simply Daines and his supporters talking about how he has “stood up” to “environmental radicals.”

Now, if the discussion were about coal or fossil fuels, Daines could at least claim credit for voting against, or opposing publicly, whatever is currently being advocated for in DC by the environmental community, such as EPA regulations, carbon limits, and so and and so forth.  Those are not radical ideas or proposals, but they at least are real.

Daines has instead decided to create a nebulous boogeyman, “the fringe environmentalists,” and claim himself as working hard to vanquish it insofar as it is trying to destroy the timber industry.

There is a reason that Daines can’t point to anything to substantiate his claim, not a single timber sale that has been blocked or federal law that has Obama has signed that have negatively affected the timber business: because there really aren’t any.  The cold fact is that the timber industry–in fact the entire wood products industry–in Montana has been devastated in recent years by one thing, and one thing only: the bursting of the housing bubble.  The market for the product crashed, and has not returned nearly to where it was.

But that doesn’t really matter now, because Daines has discovered, likely through polling and other market research, that if you tell persuadable voters that timber jobs have been lost due to the activities of “fringe environmentalists,” they are ignorant and misinformed enough to believe it.  Which is enough for Daines.  That’s Steve Daines’s brand of leadership.  Enjoy it.

NEW REPORT: 100 Plus GOPers on Record Opposing Citizens United, Including Many Montanans

As the U.S. Senate gets ready to vote today on a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and allow for overall campaign spending limits, a new report shows it isn’t just democrats who oppose Citizens United.  There is increasing Republican support across the country for such an amendment–including support from several Montana Republicans.

The new report was released by Free Speech For People, a national campaign at the forefront of the amendment movement.  The group has also joined with Montanans in the court battle to keep Montana’s campaign finance limits in place. The organization and its allies joined the defense of Montana’s campaign finance limits with an amicus brief and and amici brief in Lair v. Motl. 

The report issued today highlights more than 100 Republican elected officials joined Dems across the country by going on record calling on Congress to pass an amendment bill and send it to the states for ratification.

The list of the Montana Repubs–including some state legislators–can be seen in the report, entitled “Across the Aisle,” which is available online here. [pdf]  The Montanans are listed on pages 7, 10, 12, and 13.

Also listed are Republicans from other states who filed Amicus briefs with Gov. Bullock in his U.S. Supreme Court fight to keep corruption out of Montana elections (page 18.)

The release of the report is timed to correspond with today’s (Sept 8) Senate vote on the Democracy For All Amendment (S.J. Res. 19), which would allow for overall campaign spending limits and would end the big money dominance of our elections. Fifty US Senators are already on record in support of the amendment.

Zinke Tries Taking Credit for Bin Laden Raid

The Bozeman Chronicle is reporting that Ryan Zinke recently sent out a fundraising email in which he implied that he was partially responsible for the Bin Laden mission’s success. That’s probably not the smartest move for a campaign that is already mired in gaffes and missteps.

Zinke was once involved in the Navy Seals but it was a decade or more before the Bin Laden raid.  Zinke served as a Navy Seal in Gulf War 1, in the early 1990s. The problem for Zinke, aside from the fact that he had nothing to do with the Bin Laden raid, is that he once attacked President Obama for “politicizing the Bin Laden raid by trying take credit for it.”  So this latest stunt might haunt him for the next two months.

It gets better. The Chronicle also reports that an earlier fundraising email from Zinke warned that a “leftist infiltration is going to take over the country because of the apathy of patriots.”  That is some hard core stuff.  What’s strange is that Zinke ran as a moderate in the primary and is now apparently running as a right winger in the general.  An unusual strategy to say the least.

Finally, it was also reported in the same article that Zinke was in 2012 formally warned by the Navy about using official military logos for political purposes, but that Zinke has ignored the warning and has put a giant Navy Seal emblem on the outside of his campaign bus.

The emblem is actually perfect for a Montana Republican, as it features an eagle holding both a gun and a pitchfork.

 

 

Billings Gazette Makes a Surprise Endorsement

Over the weekend I mentioned how glaringly deficient the Zinke campaign is when it comes to basic campaign strategy, such as dealing with the press, dealing with negative issues, sparring with the Lewis campaign through the daily news cycle, and so on.

 
Today, it got much worse for Zinke. The Billings Gazette–which announced last year that it would no longer be endorsing candidates for office–effectively endorsed John Lewis via a negative editorial about Zinke.

 
It’s as bad an editorial as a candidate will ever get, accusing him of essentially being a dishonest person with no political courage at all. It’s about as bad as the editorials that were written about Walsh after his plagiarism was revealed.

 
A nasty, nasty opinion piece by entire editorial board of the largest paper in Montana. It’s not easy to garner such hatred, especially when one is a Republican.

Here it is.

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Zinke Has a Media Problem

zinkeputin (1)by Cowgirl

I’ve noticed over the last few months that Ryan Zinke appears to be getting many bad headlines, indicating that he is perhaps a poor tactician whose campaign is not very good at dealing with the press and may also have rubbed the press the wrong way.

 

House Candidates Won’t Debate in Billings after Zinke Backs Out is the most recent headline in the Billings Gazette.  This article reports that Zinke was was scheduled to debate John Lewis but then decided to cut and run.  Worse, his spokesperson tried claiming in the Gazette article that it was in fact Lewis who pulled out of the debate, but when pressed by the reporter, isn’t able to substantiate the claim.

 

A recent Bozeman chronicle headline declared that Zinke Getting Most of His Money From Out-of-State.  Before that it was Zinke Denies SuperPAC Coordination and Why Does Zinke Have Campaign Signs in California? and Zinke has received $116,000 from Employees of Florida Insurance Company Execs.  These are news headlines, mind you, not editorial headlines.  They are positively awful, and we have seen them over and over.  And they are headlines that are appearing in what are essentiallly Republican run newspapers, such as the Missoulian, Helena IR and Billings Gazette. I have rarely seen such a string of bad stories.  But the press, for whatever reason, seems to really dislike this guy.

 

Why do they dislike him so?  Is it because Zinke was so brazen about breaking federal law with his PAC activity, a PAC he controlled up until two weeks before he announced his campaign, after which the PAC immediately spent money “independently” on his behalf?  Or is his the fact that he has hewn to a tired, Tea Party, cookie cutter “Obama is destroying America” type of campaign, which the press probably finds tiresome and empty?  Or is that his “national energy plan” calls for nothing except status quo, staying the course with oil and coal? Or that he has redacted and refuses to release to the press certain key parts of his military record?

 

This is all good news for John Lewis, as is the fact that the Zinke campaign is currently out of cash.

ANALYSIS: What Lee Newspapers Missed in Zinke’s Military Records

by Cowgirl

Like many of you I’ve been wondering why GOP congressional candidate Ryan Zinke would release only some of his military service record information and not other parts.

Zinke chose to give some of his reconds to Lee Newspapers, who he may have presumed would have no idea how to read them and probably think all the redacted stuff is “super secret squirrel” stuff and so ask no further questions.  It is not.  It also leaves one to wonder whether Zinke’s actual military records jive with the story he’s put out in the media or whether they do not.

If someone from Lee had known how to read these documents, and thought to compare Zinke’s released records to other such documents from other military personnel, they might have noted a few interesting things.  Thankfully, a Cowgirl tipster, a former intelligence analyst with the Army who worked with the type of folks Zinke claims to be, has pointed some interesting items out for us here.

Of special interest among the Missoulian-posted Zinke docs is the form DD-214. (That’s what is known as Zinke’s military separation document.)  And the first thing we must note on the on the DD-214 is that Zinke was a shore officer for four years:

Ask anyone in the Navy and they will tell you shore duty is where they send the idiots to keep them away from the people who actually do what needs to be done. Not to mention tours in Kosovo (long after the real action ended in the Balkans) and CJSOTF-AP [Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula (CJSOTF-AP) is a “white,” or unclassified, special operations task force that is always organized around the headquarters of 5th Special Forces Group or 10th Special Forces Group], who did nothing. Also, every officer gets a bronze star as part and parcel of their deployment so they can get ahead. “Highly decorated” is ridiculous. Though surviving BUDS [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training] does get him some points in my book.

Back to the form which Zinke has released, the DD-214: First, there is apparently nothing in it, other than has social security number, that he needed to redact. I’m told that this is the document that goes to a service member’s future employers, so it does not contain state secrets.

He redacted some ending statement in the remarks section, which apparently is noteworthy because that is probably where the military would have included some comment or code about his end of service.

But it seems that what reporters have really failed to notice and ask about is why Zinke has redacted information from his “separation authority” section.  This section would have included a code which would tell us why he is leaving the military. You don’t hide that code unless you are trying to hide the reason why you got out.

For example, in the Army the code “AR 635-200, Chapter 4,” means simply “completion of service, no big deal.” Zinke, my source explains:

had an honorable discharge, which is good, but that does not eliminate him having some code to a Navy regulation about some malfeasance causing him to leave. He retired after 22 years, but by then I think you needed at least 25 years to have the full retirement benies. Also he retired after 22 years as an O-5. Not unheard of, but with his background and evals he should have been an O-6 (captain) unless someone in the Navy chain knew what a douchebag he was. Or if he refused it, which is also possible and would gather him some points in my book again. I doubt it though, if he is running for Congress he would have played the officer games.

Regardless, it certainly appears that by hiding his “separation authority code,” it means that there is some other chapter than simple “completion of service” that Zinke went out of the military under–something which Zinke does not want us to see.

Lee Newspapers should have asked about it.  Perhaps they will now. It’s also interesting (and somewhat telling) that Zinke didn’t think some military-savvy reader would be able to figure out what’s been hidden from the public in these partial records.

So now, we shall see if Lee Newspapers will simply ask Zinke what his separation authority code was and why he redacted it.  They also need to ask whether Zinke has actually set foot in Iraq, as John Walsh has done, or not.  After all, they were certainly eager to write about Walsh’s omission of quotation marks from a college paper.