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
That’s how a state senator reportedly responded to a bedridden constituent in need of major surgery who contacted him recently to express her support for SB 395, a bill that would provide private health insurance for 70,000 working poor in Montana –think restaurant workers, hotel staff, and ranch hands.
Why is Republican legislative candidate Liz Bangerter is using her campaign account to make donations in her husbands name?
Don Pogreba at Intelligent Discontent recently took a look into Bangerter’s campaign finace report and found some irregularities. Bangerter’s report shows her campaign giving $620 to Republican Sandy Welch for State Superintendent, but there is no donation of $620 from the Bangerter campaign listed on Welch’s report:
Instead, there are two individual donations from the Bangerter family, one for $310 from Elizabeth Bangerter and another for $310 from Carl Bangerter.
The contribution limit for this race is $310, not $620. So it looks like one of these two campaigns has tried to disguise Bangerter’s campaign’s donation as two donations from Bangerter and her husband to make it appear to be within the legal limits.
Republican candidates across the county have tried to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who believes that rape victims should be forced to give birth and said that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
That’s been much more difficult for GOPers in Montana.
The forced birth for rape victims amendment cleared the house and the senate with 96 votes. All Republicans voted for it except Lila Evans. However, because it takes a 2/3 vote of 150 legislators to amend the constitution, the amendment failed by only four votes.
Below the fold is the list of current legislative candidates who voted in favor of forced births for victims of rape and incest. Check it out to see if your legislator is on it–I’ve alphabetized the list by town.
Shamefully, Jonathan Windy Boy and Gene Vuckovich also made the list. To be sure, there are many more GOP candidates for legislature who share these beliefs but weren’t in the 2011 session–like Scott Sales. There are also many more Republican legislators who voted for this but aren’t up for re-election this year.
While Judy Martz crisscrosses the state saying assuring voters that “there is no war on women,” Rick Hill’s record and positions prove otherwise.
He has, shall we say, a Woman Problem. No, I’m not talking about Hill’s affair with a cocktail waitress. Hill has a problem with women voters because of his backward beliefs and miltant anti-woman voting record. And if he becomes governor, there will absolutely be a war waged against women from the second floor of the State Capitol Building.
One wonders if Hill, had he knocked up his waitress, would have asked her to have the baby.
When he’s in office, therefore, Hill will do what all Republicans do on abortion. They can’t make abortion illegal outright, so they do it by death by a thousand cuts. Limit funding for poor women who can’t afford to feed the children they already have; pass laws requiring ultra sounds and vaginal probes; allow sham clinics, run by religious zealots rather than doctors, to fraudulently operate in a way that draws unsuspecting women in, leaving them confused and misinformed. Forbid any state institution from performing abortions. Publicly support anti-Roe ballot initiatives. With a solidly GOP legislature, a Governor Rick Hill would be an anti-choicer’s dreamboat. And yet on this crucial issue, such a Governor would maintain a position that 90% of Montana voters oppose.
The new report by NARAL Pro-Choice Montana also shows that during his short time in the House, Congressman Hill cast 50 votes to restrict women’s reproductive rights. And, when the right-wing Montana Family Foundation released its voter guide recently, only two candidates in the entire state of Montana even bothered to fill out the survey. Hill was one of them (the other is Liz Bangerter– more on that later).
When asked whether he was opposed to abortion in all circumstances (e.g. even when a woman has been raped.) Hill refused to answer. He also refused to answer the question about whether abortion should be prohibited except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: beware when GOP candidates don’t respond to questions during campaigns. They will screw you once they are elected. Here is the screenshot of the questions and here are Hill’s answers.
Hill is even on the record opposing no-fault divorce–a law all 50 states have passed. Hill would have us return to centuries past, when couples were required to assign blame or fault before they could end a marriage. The situation was especially horrendous for victims of domestic violence trapped in abusive marriages who were left no way out without the consent of the abuser. Hill touts his opposition to no-fault divorce in this campaign fundraising letter (PDF).
For those that are interested, here’s a screenshot of Liz Bangerter’s answers to the Montana Family Foundation questionnaire. Here are the questions.
Montana Republican Party bosses say they have ”no idea” why women aren’t running as Republicans. Today, we bring them the answers.
Reason # 1: Dennis Rehberg
Let’s start with the man at the top of your ticket. As we all know, one of the biggest challenges your party seems concerned with is coming up with a socially, and more importantly, legally acceptable excuse for raping women.
As an example of this, look at Congressman Rehberg’s vote to prevent certain situations from “counting” as rape. Up for debate was a bill to regulate who got to decide whether or not to have the rapist’s baby, Mother Jones via Think Progress reported. Women who were to be excluded from getting the choice: those who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, minors impregnated by adults, and women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator for fear of being murdered. This would exclude abortions as an option for women who were raped in these circumstances (drugged and unconscious, 13 year old girls impregnated by 55 year old pervs, and women who keep still for fear of being murdered) from Medicaid coverage.
Dennis Rehberg was also busted pretending to support breast cancer awareness while voting to end mammogram coverage. (Note: A mammogram is a test for breast cancer.) He opposes equal pay for women–the guy even flipped off a pregnant constituent. Rehberg tried to end funding for Planned Parenthood twice in the last year. The TEA Party Congressman cosponsored and of course voted for H.R.358, the “Let Women Die” bill. H.R.358 would force doctors to let women die rather than provide abortion care.
“Back in my days, [women] used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives; the gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
A little while ago Congressman Dennis Rehberg said the War on Women was “fabricated.”
Reason # 2: Rick Hill
Just last month, former Congressman Rick Hill, who is running in your GOP primary for Governor, endorsed legalizing insurance company discrimination against women. This means insurance companies would be allowed to charge women more for health coverage, or to exclude women’s health needs like mammograms from coverage–which is currently illegal. He’s the subject of a recent television ad about how his first wife went public over the abuse and adultery she suffered though.
In 2000, Congressman Rick Hill criticized challenger Nancy Keenan for being a single woman without children. Keenan, a former teacher, responded by saying she “wanted to have children,” but was unable to because of a hysterectomy. She also noted: “nothing is more devastating when a doctor walks into the room and says you’ll never have children” [Great Falls Tribune, "Hill Unleashes First Campaign Volley," May 25, 1999]
Republicans never seem to mention Rick Hill’s voting record. Perhaps that is because Hill voted in support of a $115 billion cut in Medicare – a program that helps mostly women (who live longer). Hill also curbed payments to hospitals that serve a large number of poor and uninsured people who would see Medicaid payments shaved by $15 billion, and cut $2 billion from health oxygen benefits to seniors and the disabled. These cuts also predominantly impact women and children. Women are usually the one’s who bear the burden of caring for aging parents and family members with disabilities. [HR 2015, Roll Call 241, 6/25/97]
Reason # 3: GOP Legislators
Republican legislators have twice compared women to animals to convince each other to vote for anti-women bills. Coincidentally (??), your men in the legislature also openly posted pornographic images of women and animals on their Facebook pages.
During the 2011 legislative session, you Republicans tried to legalize insurance discrimination against women. You also tried to pass an entire slate of anti-woman bills. The fact that the bills were unconstitutional didn’t stop you. It got so bad that word on the street is one of the attorneys hired to draft the unconstitutional bills quit halfway through the session. He later began a campaign for Congress–on the Democratic ticket.
One of the bills would have forced women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound. In other words, before she can get a abortion–which is her Constitutional right–she must be penetrated–with or without her consent–by an ultrasound wand in a procedure that serves no medical purpose whatsoever. (No, the other kind of outside the tummy ultra-sound won’t work because it is too early in the pregnancy.)
There are, of course, many more reasons why the Montana Republican Party is repulsive to women, but when dealing with Republicans, it is best to give information in small doses, that you might digest it more easily. At least now, you’ll have no excuse for pretending ignorance in the news.
Montanans have a strong candidate in the race to take back the seat held by TEA Party nutjob Liz Bangerter.
Long-time Helena leader Kelsen Young (pictured) says she’s running for office because she believes “we need more strong, independent and progressive voices at the State Legislature.” So true.
Bangerter is a Republican first-term legislator campaigning for re-election to Helena’s House District 80. She was elected to represent a liberal district by pretending to be a moderate. Then, she turned out to be one of the most conservative GOPers out there. Bangerter voted for Derek Skees’ unconstitutional scheme to create an eleven person panel to nullify federal laws and voted to allow hunting with silencers. Worse, she actually sponsored the bill to legalize insurance company discrimination against women.
It turns out that Bangerter actually serves on ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force. For those of you not familiar with ALEC, here’s the deal. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators like Bangerter exact changes to the law they want passed.
What kind of bills? Often these are changes to the laws that will make the corporations more money. They are also often bills that the GOP will introduce only to attack Democrats in the next election, based on their votes. The pre-drafted ALEC bills are all wrapped up with neat little talking points and press releases so the legislator doesn’t actually need any brain cells.
Besides legislators like Bangerter, only corporations have full membership standing in ALEC. Corporations sit on all ALEC task forces–like the one Bangerter is on. The corporations vote with legislators to approve “model” bills–the only difference is that the corporations get veto power over any legislator ideas.
And so, Bangerter is one of the last people we need making Montana laws. Thankfully, with a top quality candidate like Kelsen in the race, it looks like Bangerter’s is one more seat that the Republicans won’t be keeping.
To find out more about Kelsen, visit her website. Kelsen grew up in Havre and Helena and has spent the last 15 years working to end domestic and sexual violence. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, which is a statewide non-profit.
[This spoof article has been making the email rounds -author unknown. I have posted it here in its entirety for your reading pleasure.]
Montana Republicans to Seek Toothpaste Ban in 2013
By MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau | Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:00 am | (0) Comments
Republican legislative candidates are preparing to announce that they believe states should have the right to outlaw toothpaste and other oral hygiene products without the interference of the Supreme Court. However, the candidates are divided over the reasons for pressing for the ban.
“The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that,” said Rep. Derek Skees (R-TEA Whitefish). “Oral hygiene is not a constitutional right. The state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have. That’s the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court–they are creating rights, and it should be left up to the people to decide.”
States’ rights isn’t the only argument Republicans are making against oral hygiene.
“Toothpaste destroys marriages by rendering make-out sessions an act of pleasure rather than a task to be endured as a lead up to the sacred act of procreation,” said Rep. Tom Burnett (R-Bozeman).
Rep. Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) agreed. But she said she saw it in broader terms, as “a violation of conscience, a fundamental assault on First Amendment rights.”
“When toothpaste is distributed to youth, their breath is fresher and they are more likely to engage in the immoral activity,” said Warburton. And that’s why, she said, they’re at risk for everything from AIDS to unintended pregnancy. Besides, “In the real world, everyone knows that toothpaste use is never 100 percent effective,” she said matter-of-factly.”We shouldn’t be luring our youth into unnatural acts with a false sense of safety.”
While no one is suggesting that activists like Warburton and Burnett will ever succeed in outlawing toothpaste completely, they are making incremental progress in discouraging its use in other ways.
“Parents are taking a greater responsibility in teaching their children the great truths of the Bible, a book in which toothpaste does not once appear,” said Rep. Liz Bangerter (R-Helena). “Many youngsters today — especially older ones — laugh at the idea of Biblical health care traditions. The Bible has taken a back seat to other priorities. In its absence, oral hygiene has crept in.”
When asked for an example of what she meant by “Biblical health care,” Bangerter pointed to the biblical cure for disgestive ailments, which appears in Judges 3:21.
“And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.”
Another front in the campaign against toothpaste has centered on science. At the behest of his own quest for knowledge, the Montana Legislature’s leading expert on research convened a scientific study in his own district, which he conducted himself. Rep. Bob Wagner (R-Madison County), who has appeared as an expert on CNN, sought to evaluate whether anyone would notice if he stopped using toothpaste. The answer, reported Wagner, was “no.”
The bad ideas and nutty legislation proposed in the Montana legislature certainly did not come from Montana constituents, and did not even (always) originate in the muddled minds of TEA Party Republicans. Instead, many of the bad bills came from an out-of-state hard right strategy group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.
Much research has already been done into the connections between ALEC and its corporate backers from Big Tobacco, PHARMA, and Big Oil, and there are several good sources of information out there about these connections. But that’s not the whole story.
This summer, Center for Media and Democracy posted some 800 ALEC “model” bills and resolutions on a new website, ALECexposed.org. Now, internet savvy Montanans have an intriguing and largely untapped resource to compare ALEC bills to proposals in the Montana legislature and to see how and where they overlap. It would be interesting if people who find things post them in the comments. Then we could all see what patterns emerge, if there are certain legislators who were the worst offenders, or if certain policy areas appear to dominate the list.
Even the briefest look at the ALEC documents shows that its goals appear to be much broader than enacting pro-corporate policy.
In some instances, the model legislation is designed to advance the agenda of far-right religious fundamentalists to steer public funds to religious/private schools. Here’s the model ALEC bill on special education vouchers–a type of “gateway” proposal to lead the way to full private/religious school vouchers later–and here is the Montana legislative version, for comparison.
In many cases however, the greater goals appear to be electoral. Take the voter suppression proposal, a bill that (if it wasn’t vetoed) would have helped Republicans keep more young Montanans, seniors, and low-income people living in isolated areas from voting. Here’s the model ALEC Model bill to require a current photo ID to vote, and here’s the Montana legislative bill.
The other way ALEC advances the GOP electoral strategy is by forcing dems to take tough votes on issues that the republicans will then use to campaign against them. Take for example, the ALEC bill to opt out of health care reform. Here is the model ALEC bill for a constitutional amendment to allow states to opt-out and here’s the Montana legislative version.
Republicans don’t like to talk about how they are using the legislative process for partisan electioneering with assistance from out-of-state groups. Instead, they claim that ALEC is no more than a non partisan source of policy materials and even bragged about their attempts to pass ALEC legislation.
Here is a list of current legislators with ALEC task force positions (below the fold). Like the TEA Party, the ALEC crew appears to be concentrated in the House with a few notable exceptions, like State Senator and Gubernatorial run considerer Jeff Essmann. The list also seems heavy on Republicans from the Flathead area.