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A Book Burning in the Flathead

While Democrats were electing a new Senate candidate this weekend in Helena, right-wing conservatives in the Flathead were doing what else: burning books.

The so called “God and Country Conference” featured local and national extremists rallying against the government, promoting “confrontational evangelism” and that favorite right-wing past time, burning books.

As the Montana Human Rights Network reports, the event featured: anti-government activist Chuck Baldwin; a variety of carpetbagging pastors from out-of-state demanding more public displays of religious doctrine; a “street-protesting” hate-group preacher from California.  For reasons unknown, the festivities included a cross carrying to a so-called “Ten Commandment park dedication” and highlight of the weekend: a book burning on Sunday night;  Representatives of the Liberty Institute, which has aligned with Montana Supreme Court candidate Lawrence VanDyke in conservative Christian legal cases, were featured prominently in the events.   You can read the whole Montana Human Rights Network briefing on these activities here. 




Dems Make Amanda Curtis U.S. Senate Candidate

Today has brought an interesting assortment of tips and impressions from people who went to the MDP nominating convention.

Im getting good feedback all around, about how the event was well managed and orderly and democratic.  Good job by the Party.  Amanda Curtis won with an almost 2-1 vote margin, making her the first woman to run for US Senate in a general election from a major political party. Apparently John Bohlinger was in attendance but did not get nominated, leaving Curtis and Dirk Adams.

I am hearing that both Curtis and Adams gave solid speeches, that both could still use some sharpening, and that Adams went on a little too long and was at times incoherent.  Also, apparently Adams said in his speech that candidates should not talk about women’s reproductive issues if they want to win.  That’s not a smart thing to say at a democratic gathering, nor is it even accurate.  Adams will have a future in the party but he’s rough around the edges and needs significant polishing.  He will get better.  We wish him good luck and I hope he comes back in 2016 and runs for something else.

Now Curtis will have to go from zero to sixty very fast.  She will need to raise a mean clip of dough before the reports are filed at the end of the quarter, to show what she’s made of.  It’s not clear who sits in her inner circle other than her husband, but let’s hope she’s taking good advice.  One thing she must do, for certain, is to keep alive for the next few days the fire that this entire event has lit.  She should let it burn out only when there is no more fuel.  And everything she does must be done with fundraising in mind. For despite our idealistic feelings that money should not matter, it’s unfortunately about the only thing that does matter nowadays.  If you don’t raise competitive cash, you lose big.  And it will be that way until we have a public financing system.  Curtis’s job is to convert the present excitement surrounding her selection into hard cash. She has about four weeks to do it.  By mid September she needs $300,000 in the bank.  That would require her to raise close to $500,000.  It is a very tall order.  Nine out of ten voters today do not even know that she is running for office, let alone know anything about her.  That won’t change much despite all the free media she can garner.  By the way, Amanda’s first financial ask should be from Dirk Adams, who, as a wealthy Democrat and good sport, should write it for the maximum amount.  Amanda should then tweet a photo of the check, showing unity to Adams supporters.

The GOP has (predictably) already put out a video which they believe serves to criticize her.  It is a succession of short clips from her homemade videos during he legislative session, using fragments of sentences edited together to supposedly show that she is anti-gun, anti-christian, and a socialist.  It’s not much, really. Just a silly, weak opening volley.

Please Welcome New Cowgirl Contributor Carla Augustad

Perhaps you’ve already noticed that the Cowgirl blog has a new guest contributing writer.  Carla Augustad has long been a blogger at Left in the West, as well as a long time activist and even a former legislative candidate, running as a democrat against Mark Blasdel in 2010.

I’m thrilled to welcome her here to the Cowgirl blog.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post or even becoming a contributing author, email me at mntnacowgirl @



Narrowly Confined

by Carla

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! was the publicity slogan of the Flathead Republicans in the 2012 campaign season. The Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! story after the election followed a different agenda as there were a number of jobs Republican led Legislature in the 2013 session did not approve of. For example, there were agricultural and children’s nutrition bills that weren’t allowed through, mostly because our legislators seem to believe that we need discipline. Approximately 12,000 good paying jobs to extend Medicaid coverage to 70,000 working poor Montanan’s including their own employees, was not allowed to happen. Perhaps they think that we need more discipline.

It is not easy to understand why many of our Legislators, the ones that live in our communities with us, do not believe in accepting money from the federal government, unless…

I was heartbroken but not surprised that the Flathead Republicans rejected the opportunity to boost our economy and keep more Montanan’s from early death or disability despite my pleading with Steve Lavin, Scott Riechner, Randy Broedhl, Carl Glimm, Wylie Galt (Martinsdale), Keith Regier and Mark Blasdel during the Montana Women Vote conference in Helena.

I was surprised, however, to read this piece from Keith Regier in the Flathead Beacon after the session was over. Keith did not commit plagiarism, or even fail to cite {like John Walsh did in his pre-Senatorial life} he took some very bad advice. It still puzzles me that our Legislature, the very same people that live in our communities could believe that the working poor and even their own employees are better off with nothing than with they could be with Medicaid.

Keith- yes I understand that addressing him as Regier, is more professional than Keith, BUT we spent enough time together in small groups during my own three campaigns opposite Mark Blasdel,that it feels like all the guys except the newbie Glimm are former chums. Keith also does some farming near me and drives by my house to get to his sod farm.

Sources in Keith’s article are:

Manhattan Institute-known for it’s ties to ALEC, the Koch Brothers, to big tobacco, for school and sanitation service privatization, and for its role in looting pension funds.

The Heritage Foundation
, another Koch based group that is known, amongst other things, for its partnership with the Cato Institute {previously named the Koch Foundation} to scheme up the 1983 recurring undead Social Security Privatization plan called ACHIEVING A “LENINIST” STRATEGY.

The Urban Institute, they took the Heritage institute to task for the “Misleading Use Of Our Work“.

In short, what our Republican party will allow to happen for Jobs! Jobs!Jobs! is as controlling and as confining as what this poor little alligator must be experiencing in his too small tank. If you want a government that allows you to stretch yourself, one that listens to you more than the well heeled henchmen of bitter old billionaires, please take a good look at Melanie Knadler and see what you can do to help her.

Dirk Adams for Senate!

by Carla

I just got notice that John Walsh dropped out of the race, am not sure what the party has planned, but Dirk Adams is the only person to do the homework necessary to walk us into a future that our grandchildren will have a chance to thrive.

If John Bollinger was going for the House seat, I would be there for him in a heartbeat, and I told him so.

Readers, what is your perspective?

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.