Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "...an uncanny knack for sharp insider information..."--AP "...amazingly accurate inside info..."--Politico.com "...a viral sensation..."--Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."--Washington Post
Remember way back a long time ago earlier this session when the GOP tried to portray themselves as the party of the Constitution, even hosting a “seminar” about the Constitution from the conservative National Center for Constitutional Studies. Even now, you’ll still see one of these legislators occasionally whip one out, although it is usually only to try to brush some snack cake crumbs off of their other papers or to misapply it to justify their own kooky ideas.
No, the hypocrites in GOP can’t hide utter disdain for the actual document. Take Rep. Greg Hinkle (R-Spearhunter) who, when confronted in his anti-constitutional stance by Fox News of all things in a segment titled with the double entendre “Taking Liberties,” immediately dismisses the document.
Other GOP lawmakers have endorsed a seemingly endless list of proposals to rewrite the Constitution into something barely recognizable. These range from a bizarre proposal to create a new, incredibly cumbersome method to repeal federal laws, to more distressing proposals to strip people of their citizenship, enshrine discrimination into the Constitution, eliminate all federal education programs, and even repeal the right to privacy and the right to a clean and healthful environment.
Congressman Dennis Rehberg and his extremist friends in the State Legislature have been going on about “sovereignty” and “nullification” all year. However, some Republicans noticed that Montana’s millionaire Congressman is pretty spendy with federal money.
Click here to listen to Republican state Rep. Jerry O’Neil say Rehberg has “fared pretty low” on protecting Montana’s sovereignty thanks to his earmark addiction.
Here is what Rep. O’Neil said about Rehberg’s big spending:
“I would think maybe one of the things that would have been rating was the legislator’s earmarks. One of the highest promoters was Denny Rehberg. And I think he would have fared pretty low as promoting our state sovereignty when he’s voting for every earmark that comes before him. So I don’t think that’s partisan. Call em’ as they are.”
When Republican Representative James Knox (R-Billings Heights) testified in front of a Senate committee this week in favor of repealing Montana’s medical marijuana initiative, he appeared to be near tears.
Janna Taylor, one of Montana’s loudest and proudest Tea Partiers, and also the Montana House whip, has collected $1,000,000 over the last 10 years in federal cash farm subsidies, according to newly released figures.
State senator Bruce Tutvedt, another proud ultra-conservative who runs around Montana railing against excessive spending and the evils of “too much government”, has collected $643,063.
In fact, of the top 33 legislators in Montana who are recipients of federal farm assistance payments (which are cash payments that the government gives farmers for NOT growing crops), 30 are Republicans. They all claim some affiliation or solidarity with the Tea Party. All of them rail constantly against the federal government and excessive spending. Most of them just voted, last week, for the now infamous Montana Nullification Act, which would have allowed the state to selectively ignore federal law.
Taylor was the gal, mind you, who said that Governor Schweitzer had “grown government” so much that “the governor’s residence needs to be fumigated when he leaves office.” And here is a peach of a response from Rep. Taylor, when confronted with the fact that she’s been on the dole to the tune of a 100 grand annually for the last decade: “I don’t control federal dollars. Talk to Senators Baucus or Tester.”
Speaking of Senator Baucus, Taylor’s husband ran for US Senate against Baucus in 2002, but dropped out when the Democratic party ran an attack ad against him, using TV footage which tried to suggest, in a not so subtle way, that Mr. Taylor was once an “effeminate” hairdresser in a previous life. The TV ad also raised a more substantive issue: that Mr. Taylor had taken massive amounts of federal loans to start a beauty salon, which he had never repaid.
Amusingly, Mr. Taylor, in that pathetic 2002 effort to beat Baucus, had been giving speeches dressed up as Teddy Roosevelt, with wire-rimmed spectacles, a TR-style mustache and even donning a turn-of-the-century wardrobe.
I don’t know what TR thought of hairdressers, but he probably didn’t believe in anti-government, free-market-obsessed conservatives taking loans and not repaying them, or taking a hundred thousand dollars a year for not farming.
Tutvedt, too, has an interesting response when confronted with his own pile of checks that Clinton, Bush and Obama have written him for the last 14 years in federal assistance: he is preventing starvation. If there we’re a free market for crops, Tutvedt says, “people would starve or go hungry, and I’m not willing to go there.”
I never knew Tea Partiers were so worried about the neediest.
This weekend, letters to the editor appeared in Sunday dailies across Montana decrying the focus of Montana TEA Party Republicans in the legislature on frivolous, anti-worker, unnecessary and hypocritical bills instead of jobs.
The governor proposes a balanced budget; Republicans counter with $497 million in cuts, but then increase their own per diem expenses. They vehemently oppose health care reform, but then enhance their own personal health insurance benefits. They propose business tax reductions, but underfund education, thereby increasing college tuition and forcing us to raise taxes through local school mill levies.
In its rhetoric, the Republican Party claims to be the party of small government. The reality — at least as reflected in bills proposed in the Montana Legislature this session — suggests something else. Among the Republican proposals are several bills that intrude on privacy rights and individual liberties, including ones to require unnecessary medical tests (ultrasounds before abortions) and mandatory counseling (for couples seeking divorce). Other Republican-sponsored bills seek to take local control away from municipalities (overturning Missoula’s nondiscrimination ordinance) and from school districts.
Americans for Prosperity and its hyped populist Tea Party, was started by the oil industry billionaire Koch Brothers of Koch industries, along with Rupert Murdoch who owns FOX News, and other lesser multimillionaires according to www.SourceWatch.org. Using such secretive front groups as AFP, these extreme right wing elites are engaged in a well-planned strategy to destroy unions, the presidency and the environment.
I mean it seems that the legislative session itself is, for some, a daily exercise in hypocrisy. Where else can a member vote against benefits for victims of violent crimes in the morning, go have a free lunch on home health care workers making seven bucks an hour, then vote to line one’s own pockets in the afternoon, then head out to get sloshed at whatever corporate lobby group is peddling free booze and fried food that day.
I mean THIS is what I call a two-timing double-talking phony.
Republican Representative Keith Regier’s hypocrisy surfaced in the Montana Capitol this week when he submitted his bill to designate a week honoring Montanans with disabilities “to expand the public’s knowledge, awareness, and understanding of developmental disabilities.” In reality, Republicans in the legislature are already plotting to deprive Montana’s disabled citizens of the funding that covers their health care and other necessities. If you are looking for someone who epitomizes hypocrisy, look no further than the GOP legislature. The Billings Gazette reported recently that:
Montana Republicans running the Legislature are analyzing the federal health care law and may consider getting out of Medicaid altogether as one of the options.
Medicaid is the program that cares for the elderly and disabled in Montana.
The irony is hard to miss: Montana State Senator Roy Brown, a co-sponsor of the so-called “Clean Campaign Act“, appears to be violating that very statute with his most recent attack on Kendall Van Dyk.
Senate Bill 279 says that once it gets down to 10 days before the elections, candidate or a political committee must provide to candidates any final copy of campaign mail on the date it is postmarked. Mail such as the piece posted here, for example, were supposed to be given to Brown’s opponent. Sources say that didn’t happen. Perhaps Roy thinks the laws doing apply to him, just the little people, or perhaps he’s rolling in so much cash he could care less about the penalties and fines he could incur.
Very unfortunate incident in Billings two days ago.
Like most Republicans, Jeff Essmann, State Senator from Billings, religiously professes to be concerned about jobs, taxes, spending and the economy–unless, heaven forbid, it would require him to be supportive of a Democratic governor. This week Schweitzer began a series of TV commercials aimed at recruiting businesses into Montana, by advertising Montana’s excellent tax structure, business climate and workforce, and our enviable budget surplus, all of which rank among the nation’s best.
“Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, who has encouraged the state to recruit businesses, called Schweitzer a “shameless self promoter” for appearing in the ads.”
Later in the article, Essmann is quoted as saying that Schweitzer
“blew a billion dollar surplus” and has “grown government”.
Strangely, Denny Rehberg and Newt Gingrich have both been in the press lately saying the opposite, praising Schweitzer for his fiscal restraint and keeping government as small as possible. So it’s not clear what Essmann is talking about.
But far more troubling than the standard Republican-state-legislator-lies is the fact that a senator from Montana’s largest city has decided to deal with the Governor’s effort to recruit business by insulting him and ridiculing him an lying about him. And it should be noted that Essman’s quotes have now appeared in papers and business trade journals around America, in articles that were intended to promote the state. That’s Jeff Essman’s pitch to businessman around America. “Don’t listen to Schweitzer when he tells you what a strong business climate we have in Montana. He’s a shameless self promoter.”
Good job. The local Chamber of Commerce should swiftly and immediately tell Mr. Essmann to shut his mouth, and retract his comments in the interest of state business development.