Category Archives: TEA Party

Give Me Your Crackpots, Your Liars, Your Befuddled Faction Yearning to Drink TEA

by Cowgirl

It looks like Billings Mayor Tom Hanel got into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t looking.

Lee Newspapers photo

How else to explain that Hanel cast the deciding vote to keep discrimination legal in Billings, Montana’s largest community.  By doing so, Hanel put the crackpot ideology of certifiable nutjob Jeff Laszloffy over the views of most people in Billings–people Hanel is supposed to represent.   Laszloffy is head of the “Montana Family Foundation.” He’s the guy  who led the fight to allow discrimination against LGBT Montanans.

To be sure, readers may note that I have found it necessary to call people nutjobs fairly often, since I live in a state where elected lawmakers introduce bills to declare that global warming is good and plan to demand that the federal government prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully acquired. But even amongst these world-class minds, Jeff Laszloffy still appears to have been napping in the nutpile the day the man upstairs was cracking nuts.

So let’s take a look at the man whose views Mayor Hanel valued most when it came time to make city policy. This was certainly a very poor calculation on Hanel’s part.

Hanel listened to a proven liar

Earlier this summer, Laszloffy was the subject of a documentary exposé on influence peddling in the Montana legislature. He was caught lying on camera when he claimed that there was “no connection, absolutely none” between the public school privatization bill he backed last session and the corporate front group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, which was pushing this same bill nationwide.

The PBS documentary uncovered multiple connections between Laszloffy and ALEC, including how Laszloffy’s bill to force taxpayers to subsidize sectarian religious schools is almost a word for word copy of ALEC’s bill. Laszloffy claims in the documentary that charter schools aren’t for-profit corporations, and was caught in another lie. The exposé pointed out financial and investment news reports outlining the high profitability of these private charter schools. ALEC even funded the PR campaign Laszloffy used to push these private charter schools in Montana.  And even though Laszloffy said he had nothing to do with ALEC, PBS also uncovered jointly funded surveys by ALEC and the Family Foundation–and jointly funded articles trumpeting the Family Foundation’s private school push, all of which appear in Laszloffy’s groups’ own legislative testimony.  You can watch the entire expose online here.

Hanel listened to a birther

Laszloffy went live from Birtherstan in 2011, when he actually supported the infamous birther bill, Bob Wagner’s House Bill 205 which would have required all candidates to produce birth certificates–especially a certain black candidate. Laszloffy testified:

We’ve gone over 200 years without this being a problem and it just became a problem in the last election cycle. And I think the circumstances surrounding this are frankly bizarre. There is question as to whether the president was born in the United States, we all know that…The president could fix this by simply releasing his birth certificate and that would get us past this little road bump.

Hanel listened to a certified crackpot

Yep, the mayor of Billings chose to listen to a man who sent his daughter to a school which claims it can teach how to bring people back from the dead.

Hanel listened to a man who celebrates discrimination 

Laszloffy also organized a small group in celebrating their hatred of gay people by throwing a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.  The day was marked by bringing gay-haters together to teach their kids that discrimination against others is something to celebrate–preferably with stale fast food from 1000 miles away.  Just the kind of person you want to be playing a key role in making city policy right?

Hanel listened to a man who led the fight to allow religious boarding schools to operate without regulation despite terrible allegations of child abuse.

Laszloffy lead the fight to allow religious boarding schools in Montana like Pinehaven Ranch to remain unregulated. These religious schools, which have no licenses, no accreditation and employ teachers who are not certified,  are now dealing with allegations that staff used violence to discipline students. And yet the Montana GOP has voted, under Laszloffy’s direction, to allow such schools to continue to go unregulated. CNN ran a big story about it  on the Anderson Cooper 360 show.  Rep. Ellie Hill’s HB 236 would have addressed the problem. Laszloffy lobbied hard against Hill’s bill, convincing the GOP majority to let these kids suffer free from protection.

So yeah, this is pretty bad policy making, and its pretty ridiculous that Billings Mayor Tom Hanel went so wrong by listening to this guy instead of his own constituents.  He should be replaced at the earliest opportunity since he has demonstrated such poor judgement.

Wyoming Makes Racist Ted Nugent a Deputy Sheriff

Congratulations Wyoming, You’ve Reached a New Low

ted-nugent-faceby Cowgirl

When Ted Nugent spewed racial slurs and said that women who didn’t support hunting should be “fixed” or “replaced” by their husbands, he wasn’t put on the first bus out of Big Horn County, Wyoming–he was made a deputy sheriff.

As Media Matters reports, Nugent was in town for a “rally” of the Wyoming TEA Party, which was attended by several of the state’s statewide candidates including Sen. Mike Enzi and candidates for Congress, Secretary of State, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Casper-Star Tribune offered the embarrassing excuse that they were not able to ask Sen. Enzi whether he agreed with using racial slurs for Japanese Americans and that women who don’t like hunting should be neutered or divorced–because he left the event “before the tea party ended.” I guess we’re expected to believe that they didn’t know how to find any of Enzi’s statewide offices. (Although to be fair, perhaps the internet hasn’t yet arrived in the Equality State Wyoming.) There has also been no word on why none of the other candidates were asked if they agreed with this kind of thing.

At this point, we can no longer call Wyoming “the Equality State” without the heavy use of air quotes.  But perhaps in Montana we might adopt a new slogan:  “At least we’re not Wyoming.”  I hope our neighbors to the south will forgive us this.  We’re used to being at the bottom of the TEA Party imbecile pile.

Twelve MT Lawmakers Call for Rounding Up and Arresting Federal Officials

by Cowgirl

Twelve Montana lawmakers are backing a bill to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the Affordable Care Act in Montana. The state legislators voiced their support for such a scheme in a survey from Ron Paul’s “Campaign for Liberty” TEA Party, on which they indicated they will either vote for or sponsor such a bill.

And what a group of legislators they are. Gordon Vance, Nancy Ballance, Cary Smith, David Howard, Kerry White, Sarah Lazloffy, Nicholas Schwaderer, Daniel Zolnikov,  Jerry O’Neil, Art Wittich and Mike Miller are all on record backing legislation to declare the Affordable Care Act illegal and to allow police to arrest federal officials who take steps to implement it in Montana.

These TEA partiers also say they support a nonsensical and unconstitutional dogma called “nullification” that holds that states can ignore the federal health care law–and other federal laws–if they choose. Two sitting lawmakers, Rep. Jerry O’Neil (RTEA-Columbia Falls) and Rep. David Howard (RTEA-Park City), both known imbeciles, were foolish enough to admit they would actually sponsor such legislation.

David Howard

Rep. David Howard has called for a new, modern-day Civil War and dedicated his entire Facebook page to racist, bigoted, bizarre and anti-gay posts. Republicans elected him Chair of the House Human Services Committee of the Montana Legislature.  He is running this year for a four-year term in the Montana state senate.

As Time Magazine reported in 2011 after TEA Party poster boy and perennial candidate Derek Skees began pushing the concept of nullification in the 2011 Bat Crap Crazy Montana legislature,

[N]ullification also has a controversial history. It was invoked by South Carolina lawmakers seething over tariff laws in the antebellum South, and again during the civil-rights era, when states opposed to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 used the idea of interposition, nullification’s kissing cousin, as a mechanism to resist integration.

Out of over 200 candidates and legislators running for office this year, 34 loons answered the Campaign for Liberty questionnaire, as you can see here. Besides the twelve sitting legislators who back the arrest and nullification bill, an additional 18 candidates for the Montana state house committed to support it. Meanwhile six candidates went on record saying they will sponsor the legislation. Only four legislative candidates refused to answer or admitted they oppose the manhunts for federal health care officials.

Rep. Kerry White (RTEA-Bozeman) says he had hoped to join Cliven Bundy in his armed stand-of public employees in Nevada.

Rep. Kerry White (RTEA-Bozeman) says he had hoped to join Cliven Bundy in his armed stand-off against public employees in Nevada.

Every single one of these legislators and candidates should now be asked for specific explanations of why they support arresting anyone for implementing federal laws.

After all, the list of those up for arrest would be rather large.  All of the state’s navigators and certified application counselors are actually federal officials who have been given grants paid with federal dollars to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act. The biggest chunk of these officials are community health center, tribal clinic, and hospital employees. Additionally there are hundreds of insurance agents who were were certified to offer Affordable Care Act policies through the exchange using official federal funds and resources, and there are hundreds more state public employees whose work to implement the federal health care law is paid for with federal funds and required under federal statute.

Jerry O'Neil

Rep. Jerry O’Neil, RTEA- Columbia Falls says public beatings will save taxpayer money.

As of this posting, the legislators have not said whether the penalty for these hospital and health care workers would be jail time and fines or “humane whippings,” as Rep. Jerry O’Neil as previously proposed.

 

Funding the Fringe

Texas Fracking Brothers Fight to Force Their Religion into Montana Laws by Backing Right-Wing Legislative Candidates

by Cowgirl

Two Texas fracking billionaires who own land in Montana are again funneling hundreds of millions into right-wing causes and candidates after it was revealed that the Texans were the top donors to Montana legislative candidates last election cycle.  The brothers backed TEA Party and religious extremists with frightening beliefs.

The brothers own land in Montana, and their father is a right-wing pastor whose influence over state and federal laws they hope to spread- including the belief that rape victims should endure forced pregnancies. (Note: This extreme view is shared by none other than Steve Daines, who is on the record in favor of forcing women to bear children from rapists.   Remember last election cycle after Rick Santorum that told CNN that rape victims should suck it up and accept “the gift” that  “God has given to you”, Daines brought Santorum out to a fundraising event he had in Montana–with Santorum as the guest of honor.)

Anyway, back to the Wilks brothers scary views.  As Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at People For the American Way Foundation, writes of their dad who is a wingnut pastor at their church:

In his sermons, he decries “socialism” and argues that the Bible was grounded in the free market….He has suggested that the melting of the icecaps might be punishment for sin, and that President Barack Obama’s re-election may be a harbinger of the “end times.”

Besides being the largest donors to Montana legislative candidates, the Wilks brothers also gave $4 million to the parent organization of the Montana Family Foundation, a group which in turn worked to influence legislative races–including attack mailers in GOP primaries across the state. 

The MT Family Foundation is also crusading to dummy down education standards and keep discrimination against LGBT Montanans legal.  As the School Administrators of Montana have pointed out, the Montana Family Foundation claims that higher standards for reading and math are connected to the workings of “the United Nations, UNESCO, the ‘New World Order,’ Marxism, Globalism, Islam, etc.” and that the new, better standards are the culmination “of an envisioned future of  ‘dominant elites’ who have been working behind the scenes for over 100 years to ensure its adoption.”  The Family Foundation and its anti-illuminati cohorts also believe that celebrating bigotry by importing stale, greasy fast food from hundreds of miles away is a good idea.  Like the Wilks brothers, Greg Gianforte is also a major bankroller of the Montana Family Foundation.

But apparently Montana’s wingnut candidates are perfectly happy to do the bidding of out-of-state billionaires. In fact, a report by FollowtheMoney.org’s Amanda Harrow found that “70 percent of Republican legislators and 42 percent of the legislative body as a whole received contributions from the Wilkses during the 2012 election”–as did Attorney General Tim Fox.

Fact Checking GOP Hypocrisy on Federal Funds

The Montana legislature has proven itself to be more concerned with TEA Party orthodoxy than with our well-being, health, and economy. One of the most glaring examples of this is how they rejected free medcaid money for the Medicaid expansion–in a state where 16 percent of the population is still uninsured–in a state with the lowest percentage of employer-sponsored health care in the U.S.

When Montana TEA partiers and legislators try to explain why they refused money to pay for 100% of the health care benefits for 70,000 working poor Montanans for three years and never less than 90% of this cost, they try to make it sound like we’re taking on a “long-term liability” because they claim the feds will refuse to pay what they’ve committed to. Even thought this share is mandated by federal law–and even though this has never happened with Medicaid which has been operating in Montana since 1965. They say that accepting Montana’s share of this federal money makes us “lemmings about to jump off the cliff” and demand “belt tightening” to end the “tyranny” of federal funding.

Yet there is a mind-numbing level of hypocrisy on this front. It seems that some federal dollars are tyrannical lemming bait and others are not. Montanans welcome billions in federal funds that build highways, bring c130s and f15s to Great Falls, fight fires, clean up asbestos in Libby, and of course hand out  farm subsidies for Montana legislators. But when it comes to providing affordable health coverage to our working poor neighbors, some lawmakers want to draw the line. Why? Because they believe that federal funding for health coverage is somehow different than funding for concrete slabs, cleanup crews, or wildfire fighting camps. Of course, there isn’t any difference between these federal funds and the supposed dependencies they create—except in what the money pays for, and who it helps.

When Montana obstructionists refuse to accept these federal funds, they are saying that Montanan’s federal tax dollars won’t be put to work to help Montanans but will be instead sent to other states. The money won’t be circulating in Montana’s economy at all. This is beyond hypocritical: it’s just stupid. If a state rejects federal funding, that money is reallocated to other states. That’s how it works – those funds don’t magically go pay down federal debts. In when the Republican controlled house had a bill to change how federal appropriations work, the refused to even move it out of committee, so you know this is true, and its not going to be any different.

Next time you here someone trying to make the anti-federal money argument to hurt working poor families, feel free to set them straight.

 

 

Montana is at the Forefront of National Fight Against Election Corruption

A Montana case is the next battle in the fight to keep elections from being for sale to the highest bidder by keeping campaign finance limits in place.

Now, a group of leading national legal non-profit advocacy groups including Free Speech for People, former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson, the American Independent Business Alliance,  the American Sustainable Business Council.the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Justice at Stake and the League of Women Voters are joining Montanans in the fight to keep Montana’s campaign finance limits in place.

The groups joined the defense of Montana’s campaign finance limits with an amicus brief and and amici brief in Lair v. Motl.  They are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a District Court ruling that struck down Montana’s political campaign contribution limits.  Earlier, a District Court disregarded both Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent to overturn Montana’s limits on contributions to state candidates, including judges, from individuals and political parties.

In Lair v. Motl, American Traditions Partnership board member Doug Lair wants campaign finance limits abolished.  Several prominent Republican office holders and candidates in Montana caught up in the infamous Meth House Scandal, in which documents belonging to the infamous American Tradition Partnership (ATP), were found in a Colorado meth house.  The documents incriminated TEA Party Senate leader Art Wittich, Mike Miller, Derek Skees, Pat Wagman, Jerry O’Neil, Bob Wagner, Dan Kennedy, Scott Mendenhall, Wendy Warburton, Ed Butcher, and Tom Burnett to name a few.  Wager, Burnett, Miller, O’Neil and Wittich are currently running for office.

Here’s how Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, explains it:  “Campaign contribution limits are justified by an interest in ensuring political equality for all, regardless of access to wealth. When political equality is jeopardized, democracy itself is at risk.”

Justice James Nelson, a former Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, and on of the court’s most respected justices, said, “Candidates for political office and elections should not be for sale to the biggest spenders. The Supreme Court has decreed that money equals speech; and contribution limits help to level a playing field tipped in favor of the big spenders by Citizens United.”  I could not agree more.

The District Court overturned the Montana’s candidate contribution limits applicable to individuals and PACs, even though the limits have already been upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

In addition to the limits on candidate contributions from individuals and PACs, the lower court struck down Montana’s limits as they apply to contributions from political party committees. Montana does not limit the amount that any individual or PAC may give to political parties, but instead restricts the “aggregate” amount a candidate can receive from his or her political party.

Surprisingly, the issue hasn’t been covered by Montana news outlets, even though its the next step in a nationwide battle to protect America’s and Montana’s elections from corruption.

After all, this case comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down longstanding limits on the total amount of money wealthy individuals could contribute to federal candidates in an election cycle. As with the Citizens United ruling which now allows unlimited corporate dollars into our elections, the high court’s McCutcheon decision is unleashing further money into the political process from wealthy interests.

We’ll see if it gets more attention by Montana reporters after the op-ed by Justice Jim Nelson and Ron Fein appeared in yesterday’s Billings Gazette.

Idaho Tribe Nixes Bigot Ted Nugent: Wyoming TEA Party Makes Him Keynote Speaker

An Idaho tribe has cancelled an appearance by racist rocker Ted Nugent at a public casino this week.  Meanwhile the Wyoming TEA Party has nabbed him to be the keynote speaker at its upcoming annual event.

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians  has a history of being strong human rights supporters, so it’s not surprising that the tribe immediately cancelled Nugent when it learned of the booking.  The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Nugent, a board member of the National Rifle Association,

has a “long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language,” Media Matters reported earlier this year.

That came after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and referred to him as a “chimpanzee.” Nugent previously called Obama a Nazi and a “piece of shit” who should “suck on my machine gun.” He once called Hilary Clinton a “toxic cunt” and, on another topic, said, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best [if] had the South won the Civil War.”

Apparently, these same “qualities” make Nugent a perfect person to address Wyoming TEA partiers. WY TEA Partiers told the Casper Star Tribune that Nugent “thinks he can help” Wyoming–a state which used to be proud to call itself “The Equality State.”