Tag Archives: Intelligent Discontent

Top 10 Biggest Mistakes Rightwing Legislators Made Before the Session Even Started

1. Banning technology.  GOP lawmakers are pushing a rule change that would allow GOP leadership to ban the use of technology from committee hearings.   Rep. Tom Woods, in a guest post on the Cowgirl Blog, explained some of the draconian new rules the right-wing of the GOP legislature is seeking to pass this week.  Democrats on the rules committee objected that technology was important for “researching facts and figures during a hearing, which is of great benefit to our constituencies, our objections were disregarded.”  Some Republicans objected too:  Rep. Mike Miller says he uses technology to take notes, you know, because it’s 2015.  The GOP majority still moved the anti-tech rule forward.

2. Giving legislative staff two weeks off because their new budget software doesn’t work.  The MT legislature is implementing some new budgeting software this session.  Word on the street in Helena is that the software isn’t working yet–so whomever is in charge supposedly decided to just give all the staff a couple of weeks off instead of preparing for the session.  If this rumor is true, this move certainly doesn’t do anything to instill public confidence.

3. Granting new “insanely powerful tool” to the Speaker of the House. This session, GOP leaders are proposing a move which would grant unprecedented new power to the Speaker of the House. As the Billings Gazette wrote in an editorial condemning proposed rule change to give Speaker  Austin Knudsen new powers, “If the full House approves this rule, the speaker will effectively have the power to kill any bill that he wants to kill – unless 60 House members vote against his decision.”  Bad idea.  The Gazette editorial concluded by calling on “Knudsen to rethink his support for this ‘insanely powerful tool,’ as Rep. Rob Cook, R-Conrad, has said.”

“We call on all House members — Democrats and Republicans — to vote against this change that would take power from the majority and transfer it to one representative.”

4. Banning the public from the house floor.  Apparently unfazed with the fallout from getting busted holding a secret caucus meetings in a Helena motel, GOP leadership is seeking yet another rule change to create what TEA Party Rep. Art Wittich called a “refuge” to talk with other legislators without the public present. (Wittich is the lawmaker who faces removal from office for his role in the meth house scandal.) Republicans are proposing a rule banning the public from the house floor 24 hours a day – 7 says a week. In the past the public was not allowed on the house floor two hours before and after a floor session, but at all other hours were able to come to speak with legislators.

5. Claiming they are striving to be more like the U.S. Congress. The GOP-controled rules committee also voted to unilaterally demote democratic vice chairs to the position of “ranking members.” Rep. Jeff Essmann said the move is intended to make the MT legislature “be more like the U.S. Congress.”  As Rep. Tom Woods explained so well,

“In a move that can only be seen as sticking a thumb in the eye of Democrats, GOP leaders in the house rules committee stripped the titles of all house Democrats serving as vice chairs of their committees. No valid reason was given for this action aside from a stated desire to “emulate the traditions in the US Congress.” I have never, ever had a constituent request that our Montana legislature be more like the US Congress, but…there you have it.”

6. Continuing obsession with taking over public lands. Jennifer Fielder alone has requested dozens of different bills to address the same scheme – which republicans call TPL for “takeover of public lands.” Previously, GOP moderates tried to distance themselves from this half-baked and childish idea, especially after the idea got a nearly unanimous endorsement at the recent GOP platform convention.  Moderates backpedalled when it was revealed the transfer would increase our taxes by hundreds of millions, and inflict a major blow to Montana’s tourism economy.

7. Dress code and modesty standard. Requiring, then being forced to rescind a ridiculous modesty standard and dress code targeted at women lawmakers and reporters.  The embarrassment made national news.   Rep. Jenny Eck, thankfully stopped the nonsense immediately.

8. Packing the house education committee with anti-education extremists. GOP leaders sent a clear anti-education message when they appointed a group of homeschoolers, anti-education lobbyists, and even a convicted child abuser to the House Education committee.  It’s already clear that a right-wing attack on education is going to become one of the major themes of 2015.  Montanans are strong supporters of our public school classrooms, and this won’t bode well for the GOP.

9. Holding a secret caucus in the basement of a Helena motel in violation of state open records laws. Having 20 of the state’s largest news organizations file a legal complaint against your caucus for violating open meetings laws certainly can’t be how how any GOP elected official wanted to start the session.

10. Inviting a hate group to speak to the state legislature.  Intelligent Discontent first reported that a hate group would be speaking at the Lewis and Clark Library this week.  Now, that same blog and the Billings Gazette are reporting that this guy has been invited to speak to Montana lawmakers as well.   The group’s speaker is a nullification proponent who preaches that parents should teach their children to hate people and that wildfires in CA were divine retribution for a state anti-discrimination law.

As the Gazette reported “Republicans participating in the sermon defended his inclusion as a matter of free speech.”  The Gazette spoke with GOP state Sen. Jennifer Fielder about it Sunday, as well as Wendy McKamey (R-Great Falls)  who originally said she may not participate in the program after learning of the speakers’ views. Other GOP-ers must have got wind of her hesitation however, because she called the Gazette back the next day to tell them she would definitely be there.

These mistakes are bad not because they further damage the hard right’s reputation with the public, although to be sure they do. They’re bad because they serve to keep the public out of decisions the legislature make and to consolidate these decisions into hands of a few extremists  behind closed doors who dutifully follow national special interest and fringe group directives but don’t represent most Montanans.


Today’s Must-Read Political Blog 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.”

Go read it.

Moderate GOP Breaks Away from Loons on Dark Money

Right wing blaming anonymous blogs for GOP’s problems

by Cowgirl

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 HereIntelligent 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?

Give Thanks, for the Crazies in Montana

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.

TEA Partier

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?

Outrage traveled quickly.   The Huffington Post wrote about the insertion, as did a former copy editor of the Helena IR, on his blog, where he expressed mortification at what had happened.

“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 week passed 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.


Pssst….Tim Fox, Your Ideology is Showing

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.

You can read the story on Hamm on Wry here. 

As Intelligent Discontent points 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.

A Blogger Gets Schooled

It’s the perfect time to catch up with Montana’s political podcast PoliticktickBOOM, which I first wrote about when it launched this spring. That’s because in this week’s episode, host Kevin Hamm features conservative blogger Dustin Hurst of the Montana Watchdog getting absolutely schooled by progressive blogger Don Pogreba of Intelligent Discontent.

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’.”

Today’s Must Read Political Blog Post

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.

Pro-Rehberg Blogger Fled Idaho Under Cloud

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


Political Quick Hits

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.