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
Is up at Intelligent Discontent, where Don Pogreba writes another of his excellent point by point take downs of shoddy journalism.
I’ve read some terrible headlines from Montana newspapers in my day, but today’s story headlined “Political practices commissioner accused of using questionable tactics to get results” has to be one of the worst. More accurate headlines would include “Those accused of campaign finance violations cry bitterly about it” or “Commissioner Motl works to restore trust in Montana elections.”
Right wing blaming anonymous blogs for GOP’s problems
Kudos to GOP senators President Jim Peterson and Senator Bruce Tutvedt, for thumbing their noses at their neanderthal GOP compatriots in the Senate and supporting (and actually carrying) Steve Bullock’s bill, SB 375, to reform campaign finance. Peterson and Tutdvedt held leadership posts once in the GOP, but were bounced by the new ruling right-wing junta.
Bullock’s bill imposes a very simple requirement, something you would think everybody could agree on: it requires campaign funding sources to be disclosed. If there is an ad on TV or radio, or a glossy mailer that arrives at a voters house, or a yard sign or leaflet, Montana law has always required that the voter be able to inquire as to who, exactly, is paying for the mass-produced item.
But the Supreme Court struck aspects of our law down (in Citizens United) and so Bullock and Peterson are trying to rewrite the statute to meet with the Supreme Court’s idiotic conclusion of law. At another time, Bullock was actually arguing the case in the Supreme Court.
Art Wittich, Jason Priest and others are leading the right-wing charge against the bill.
Hilariously, one of the GOP’s main arguments against this bill is….ready for this…..that Democrats are winning elections because of anonymous blogs, and this bill does nothing to regulate them. From the Helena IR today, reporting on Priest’s floor testimony on the bill:
State Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge warned fellow Republicans that the measure won’t affect anonymous blogs, a venue he argued where Democrats hold an advantage.
Priest went on to say that the democratic party uses blogs to “motivate voters,” presumably in a way that the GOP blogs fail to do. ”Vote for this bill, and keep on losing elections,” Priest warned his fellow party members.
This same point is being made today, in a series of tweets, by party operative and former state GOP communications director Chris Shipp.
The bigger conflict, as we all know, is between conservative and moderate Republicans. Moderates are furious that right-wing groups, acting as a conservative Mujahideen, took it upon themselves to enforce conservative purity in recent elections. In 2010 and 2012 they spent big money to oust GOP moderate candidates in state legislative primaries. This division is a giant disaster for the GOP and has fractured the party possibly beyond repair. So it makes sense that they are blaming their problems on an anonymous blog. That’s what the GOP does best–blame someone else when it fucks up.
For the record, this blog is my own free speech, done on my uncompensated free time, and with the help of many tipsters who let me know about juicy stuff taking place in Montana politics. Mostly it is about googling, emailing and writing, things that many Republicans seem to struggle with as if these tasks require some advanced degree in science.
I get a few thousand readers on a good day (although I did get 14,000 on a single day last month!). It is true that this blog has become influential, but only because it prints facts and opinion that state newspapers, and in some cases democrats in general, choose not to bother putting out there. And don’t forget other blogs such as Flathead Memo,From Eternity to Here, Intelligent Discontent and the many of the blogs listed on the right of your screen on this page, who also do the same, important type of work.
More to the point, Jason Priest and other Tea Partiers should try to take this occasion to become more introverted and ponder an important question: why are typical Republican thinkers and writers in Montana incapable of producing a blog worth reading?
It was a fun week all around for Tea Party loons in Montana. First, to court we go.
Boniek, and some courtroom drama
Yesterday, Tea Party leader Joel Boniek appeared in court in Livingston, to answer for his arrest earlier this year at a traffic stop. You will recall that a few months back, Boniek was detained by a cop at a traffic stop, appeared to then fondle a pistol in his clothing to try to scare the officer, and then ran the roadblock. Boniek is a former legislator and ran for Lt. Governor this year. He rides his mule to work sometimes.
As any good Tea Partier knows, when you have a date before a judge, the best way to win your case is to bring an angry mob of lunatics with you to court, to heckle the judge and prosecutor. This is what Boniek did, and a hilarious scene ensued. As the Livingston Enterprise reported, Boniek showed up and refused to recognize the authority of the prosecutor or judge, the crowd of foaming imbeciles hooting and hollering encouragement. Boniek then tried to prevent the prosecutor from making an opening statement, saying, “Your honor, why is this woman even speaking to me if she can’t prove she’s a public official?” Boniek, like many wing-nuts, believes that neither a prosecutor nor judge has jurisdiction over a citizen unless she can “prove to they have taken an oath.” Oatherism, let’s call it.
Then things really got fun. The raucous crowd began heckling the judge, and so the judge and prosector got up and left the courtroom. At that point, Boniek stood up and declared that he was “now in charge of the court.”
“The judge abandoned the courtroom and I announced the case dismissed as the last man standing,” Boniek later explained to an Associated Press reporter. A bailiff who remained in the courtroom told Boniek that he was mistaken, that he had no authority and that he better take his angry mob and leave. Frighteningly, the bailiff saw a lump under Boniek’s clothing and asked him whether it was a firearm, and Boniek refused to answer. At some point the mob and Boniek finally went home. The charges remain.
Birther at Helena IR
Speaking of Oatherism, you will be happy to know that its better known cousin, Birtherism, is alive and well in Montana–and is being practiced by the editorial staff of the Helena Independent Record.
For those that did not see the item on A Chicken is Not Pillage, in Sunday’s IR there was a news article, written by a national AP reporter, which stated that President Obama was “allegedly born in Hawaii.” Naturally, the Associated Press writer wrote no such thing. The draft of the story that the IR received from the AP did not use the world “allegedly.” Instead, the editorial room of the Independent Record took it upon itself to insert the qualifier–since, as we all know, the place of Obama’s birth has never been proven, right?
“That right-wing notion [that the president isn't a U.S. citizen] has been so thoroughly discredited that only Donald Trump and assorted other loonies still cling to it. Neither the AP nor – I hope – The Independent Record belongs in their company.”
The IR had to do damage control, and a small retraction note was printed on the following Tuesday in which the paper claimed that a copy editor in the newsroom had merely played a prank by inserting the word “allegedly,” believing that his fellow copy-editor would catch it and delete it.
I suppose this could be a valid excuse, but it is also a perfect ruse, an escape hatch by which the conservative Republican publisher of the newspaper Randy Rickman can protect somebody in the newsroom who might have been doing his bidding. I would say there’s a fair chance that, despite what he might say publicly, Rickman believes that Obama’s nationality is an open question. He would not be the only editor in Montana to hold such an opinion. Frank Miele, who runs the Interlake, is a proud birther.
Anyway, I doubt that a reporter will digging into the IR incident any time soon.
Civil War, Anyone?
Speaking of the Helena IR, and speaking of crazies, am I the only one who was surprised when a full weekpassed after Intelligent Discontent and this blog wrote about it before the IR decided to report the fact that the Montana Tea Party has mounted an effort to get Montana to secede from the Union? Unable to live under the terrible yoke of an Obama presidency, unwilling to move en masse to Canada or someplace else, and wholly approving of the actions of the Confederacy in 1860, the Tea Party in Montana and in many other states has launched a secession movement.
Like everything else the Tea Party does, this effort will flop because of consists of imbeciles who can barely read or write, let alone organize a mass movement. However, as with other Tea Party antics that humiliate the GOP with image problems, the IR decided to wait on reporting it until a slow news day with few readers, the day before Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, the Cowgirl Blog told the story shortly after it broke, which is why we continue to be Montana’s number one site for politics.
This week, the GOP candidate for attorney general admitted that he’s deliberately avoiding speaking in public about where he stands. If voters find out what he believes, he’ll be “attacked” for it, he told political podcaster Kevin Hamm. When a candidate believes this is his best strategy, you know his views stray pretty far afield from those that would appeal to main street voters.
As Intelligent Discontentpoints out, Fox isn’t just avoiding media interviews–he’s also ducked six candidate forums. Fox’s entire campaign is based around television ads bought by the insurance industry and cigarette companies who have been found guilty of harming Montana consumers. This is how Fox likes it. This way, no one can ask him tough questions about what he really believes.
Though he’s tried to hide his positions, we do have some clues that Fox is a hard-right ideologue. Fox supports forced birth for rape victims. But 75 percent of the public do not, polls show. He’s also worked as an attorney for notoriously anti-gay groups, as From Eternity to Here recently uncovered.
Montanans have a right to know what Tim Fox is hiding before they vote. If Tim Fox isn’t willing to talk to voters about what he believes, then he doesn’t belong in elected office.
If you aren’t familiar with Dustin Hurst, he’s the pro-Rehberg blogger who fled Idaho under a cloud. What you should know about Hurst is that while working for a blog called TheIdahoReporter.com, he got busted for lying about his identity while trying to chase down a story about a Democratic state lawmaker. The Idaho Statesman reported the incident.
Among the topics of the podcast: the difference between journalism and shilling for Rehberg’s campaign. You won’t want to miss the whole episode. Click here to hear Don Pogreba and host Kevin Hamm at their considerable bests.
Here are just a few of the podcast’s highlights.
Impressively, Hurst says he’s not going to vote at all in the US Senate Race. His reasoning? “Tester and Rehberg are the same person.”
Mr. Hurst claims he is not a Republican operative, but a journalist. Mr. Hurst explains that “a reporter is a stenographer for power”, whereas a journalist is given “more power to cover things a certain way.” He goes on to admit that The Watchdog “is not as talented or far-reaching as the AP.”
Mr. Hurst uses the podcast to announce that he’ll soon be leaving Montana. Hurst is now saying he’s “only here on a temporary basis to cover the election.”
When factual and attribution errors in Hurst’s posts are pointed out, Mr. Hurst eloquently responds to Pogreba’s takedown with “don’t get all smug on me bro’.”
It seems that the Stillwater Republican Central committee and Rep. David Howard (R-TEA Park City) have been promoting the racist rantings of a right-wing radio host. Intelligent Discontent has the story. It’s bad. At least now we have an explanation for how Howard defeated two primary opponents this June–he had like-minded folks in the Stillwater GOP’s leadership.
Jim Dickey of Columbus is the 2012 Democratic candidate for House District 60. He’s running to replace Howard in the Montana Legislature.
Dustin Hurst is a right-wing blogger that recently arrived in Helena from Idaho, and has written stories defending Congressman Dennis Rehberg and the Montana GOP, and attacking Democrats. He calls himself a “reporter.” His “articles” are trash with no connection to facts or truth. Last week, for example, he wrote a story saying that Schweitzer is “happy with high unemployment.” He also claimed that Rob Stutz had called for a pre-emptive strike against Iran, as this video explains. Intelligent Discontent did a write up of the factual problems with some of the other blog posts Hurst was responsible for.
Hurst works for the Montana Watchdog, a somewhat absurd website that is a subsidiary of the right-wing Montana Policy Institute. It is believed that the site is funded by Koch Brothers’s-type donors from out of state, but it’s never really been clear who the funders are as the supposed purveyors of sunshine and light don’t disclose their own backers.
What you should know about Hurst is that while working for a blog called TheIdahoReporter.com, he got busted for lying about his identity while trying to chase down a story about a Democratic state lawmaker. The Idaho Statesman reported the incident.
In addition to blogging, Hurst is a busy but uninteresting Twitterer, Hurst has also shared his opinions on everything from Bill Maher, Obama, paying taxes and Taco Bell. On one night alone, Hurst used up five tweets on the fact he was watching the latest Tom Cruise movie.
The internet also contains a frightful collection of Dustin Hurst photos, including:
Dustin Hurst rapping
Dustin Hurst ridiculing a disabled person
Dustin Hurst supporting the war and George W. Bush
and Dustin Hurst drinking an unknown beverage lying in the street
Judge Rules Against Head of Local Anti-Gay Movement
A district judge has ruled against Robert Dellwo, the leader of the opposition to the Helena non-discrimination ordinance. Dellwo is the head of the unaccredited Helena Christian School, which is affiliated with East Helena’s Canyon Ferry Baptist Church. Apparently the school borrowed money to build a subdivision but didn’t pay it back. At one time, the church proposed that 800 new homes be built in an area already struggling with water shortages. The school wanted to build the subdivision on the site of an old cyanide mine, which also raised concerns about contaminated soil.
What the church and Christian school will do with their own subdivision is unknown. Montanans tend to be wary of religious colonies after the Church Universal and Triumphant started one outside Yellowstone Park. CUT was the bunch who believed that the world was going to end of a nuclear holocaust at a particular hour and minute on April 23, 1990. They built a massive underground bomb shelter up near Gardiner, MT and stocked it to the rafters with illegally purchased semi-automatic weapons, in preparation for The End (as reported by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Feb. 27, 1995; Bozeman Daily Chronicle, March 14, 1995).
Dellwo is appealing the ruling.
Today’s Must Read Political Blog Posts
Montanafesto and Intelligent Discontent have today’s must-read posts. Both look at the allegations of corrupt campaign finance practices by GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller. The Montanafesto piece is a hilarious look at the contrast between how the Republican portrays himself, and reality. Intelligent Discontent writes about the accusations flying from the other candidates, who have their own troubles.
Three Days Left
The Flathead Democrats are making news for their fun and innovative fundraising. KCFW Missoula TV news and HXLH Helena both covered the eBay auction of the framed Schweitzer VETO memorabilia set–a reminder of the infamous 2011 legislative session. The auction ends Friday April 27.
By now, you’re probably heard about Montana Republican congressional candidate Steve Daines extensivegooglewashing campaign to keep you from learning about his past. Now, he’s expanded his quest to hide his background to Youtube.
What is Daines trying to hide?
For one thing, Daines doesn’t want you to see this Youtube video by Common Sense Issues. The video used to come up when you conducted a Youtube search of Steve Daines. Now, if you try the search, you’ll see that it does not.
The video is evidence in the FEC complaint filed against Daines over illegal campaigning. The Billings Gazettereported in 2010 that Daines is accused of using the video, among other things, to “run a shadow campaign for the U.S. Senate using soft money from a Colorado political action committee.”
Candidates are supposed to file for office and submit campaign reports for public inspection when they run for office. Daines claimed he wasn’t running. He later announced he would run against Tester. When the GOP decided Daines couldn’t win against the Democrat, Daines switched to running for the house.
If Daines is going to got through such expensive and extensive lengths to hide embarrasing video, he should also probably work to hide all the videos tying him to former GOP legislator Roy Brown. Daines was Brown’s running mate for governor on the Republican ticket in 2008. Their failed attempt to oust Governor Schweitzer was one of the most embarrassing campaign episodes in MTGOP history. Brown’s name was so worthless after his defeat that he was unable to get re-elected in his own legislative district. Instead, Brown was defeated by a young Kendall Van Dyk. Sen. Van Dyk (D-Billings) is a non-profit staffer who works 60 hours a week and has no personal wealth. Brown is a well-healed former oil executive who does not work and had unlimited time to campaign.