Tagged: nullification

Posted: January 22, 2014 at 7:59 am

Senate District 29′s Big Anti-Gay Obsession

tinfoilcapitol 2A rumble between two Republicans infamous for their anti-gay remarks will soon be underway in the Sweetgrass, Columbus, Park City area, where two TEA Party hotheads are going to tangle for state senate in a very conservative district. Rep. Joanne Blyton (R-Red Lodge, birther) has also filed for the seat.

The first candidate is state Rep. David Howard, chair of the House Human Services Committee, a man who has scoured the internet for world’s least credible anti-gay propaganda sites and furiously posted them to his Facebook page, night after night.

Here is his latest post:

Howard fbHoward’s post links to this article.  Howard must spend a lot of time on such sites–his Facebook page is dedicated almost entirely to anti-gay postings. (And occasional donkey porn apparently.) Even as the rest of the world has started to finally realize that marriage equality and recognition of committed loving relationships is an important civil right, the Republicans anti-gay propaganda just keeps getting more embarrassing.

Rep. Howard is also on the record saying he believes a Civil War is imminent. He also believes that “the godless liberals are forcing America’s kids to be sitting ducks” for mass murderers, and that medical marijuana leads to death. And it just gets wackier–and creepier.

Howard is expected to face TEA Party Sen. Jason Priest in the primary, although he has yet to officially file. Priest is the lawmaker who was forced to apologize for anti-gay remarks he made on his Facebook page, the Billings Gazette reported.  Priest used his “hateful, homophobic talk” to argue his dislike for paying taxes.

Jason Priest anti-gay remarks

Priest worked with a group of America’s most far-right activists who are pushing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to do away with our union as we know it--a constitutional amendment that would allow states to nullify federal laws by a vote  2/3 of state legislatures. Montana State Senator Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) is one of the movement’s leaders.  Priest says:

“Montanans are a liberty-minded people and I will proudly sponsor the Article V application for the Repeal Amendment in the Montana Legislature to send a clear, strong message to Washington that we are a sovereign state with Montana-made solutions to today’s challenges.”

Priest had been listed on the movement’s website among the dozen or so leaders of the amendment, but the site has suddenly been taken down now that Priest is in a race for GOP leadership against Ravalli County TEA Partier Fred Thomas. Billings Sen. Jeff Essmann (R-TEA Billings), is running for house and seeking a house leadership position.  There is no non-TEA Repub in the running for GOP leadership at the time of this posting, although Sen. Llew Jones has been mentioned as a likely leader for his abilities to work with all sides.

The concept of nullification was a key feature of the most extreme legislature in Montana history–nearly a dozen bills to declare federal authority “null and void” or unenforceable in Montana were introduced by Republicans during the 2011 session.  However, Democrats and moderate Republicans joined forces to defeat the nullification bills time after time.  Governor Schweitzer called the bills “anti-American.”

Priest has drawn national attention before.  Speaking to group of Tea Party followers, apparently unaware of a running camera, Priest said,

“I live in Red Lodge where I’m that guy that nobody agrees with, and I don’t mind. I have to talk to them about things that are important to them in ways that aren’t offensive to them. That’s a good lesson to learn. I would rather tell them they’re insane… Is that camera on?”

Priest has also taken heat for making his considerable wealth from the medical debt of people who can’t afford health care.

An interesting letter to the editor was published in the Billings Gazette during the 2011 legislative session which asks about the conflict of interest incurred by state Senator Jason Priest. Priest sponsored a bill that could reap financial benefits for the medical debt collection industry he comes from.

For years Sen. Priest was the CEO of a company that specialized in collecting unpaid medical debts owed to hospitals.   The LTE reads:

State Sen. Jason Priest is the founder and president of Medipent, a New York company that relies on the huge mountain of personal debt generated by our broken health care system for its existence. Yet, as a representative of the people, he aligns himself in opposition to health care reform — a program that intends to eliminate the debt that sustains him and his company. How is his involvement not a conflict of interest?

Posted: October 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Mailer Touts TEA Partier’s Role in Nutjob Bills

A bizarre mail piece appeared in Whitefish arguing that voters should support Tim Baldwin for legislature because he wrote one of the worst nutjob bills of the 2011 session.

The piece actually brags about Baldwin’s work to write HB 414, one of the infamous nullification bills, an idea so nutty it made national news.  As TIME magazine reported in its profile of Montana’s wacky bills, nullification has a sinister 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.

Like nullification fanboy Derek Skees, (R-TEA) who currently holds the HD 4 seat Baldwin is running for, Baldwin is a states-rights fanatic.  He believes that the fifty states individually can, should and must override federal law when they please. He admittedly does not recognize the supremacy clause of the US Constitution, saying it is a tool of “socialist and nationalist ideologues” designed to bring “state annihilation.”

The concept of nullification was a key feature of the most extreme legislature in Montana history–nearly a dozen bills to declare federal authority “null and void” or unenforceable in Montana were introduced by Republicans during the 2011 session. Gov. Brian Schweitzer in his veto of this particular nullification bill, HB 414, wrote:

“The 2011 Legislature may best be remembered for its efforts to “nullify” numerous federal laws and set records for the greatest number of unconstitutional bills in a legislative session -as identified by its own legal staff.”

Spear-hunting, war on women, nullification and militia bills have taken their toll on the Montana legislature, with polls showing that 61 percent of voters don’t approve of what the lunatics in the state house did, while only 24 percent of voters approve of their behavior.

Baldwin recently moved to Montana from Florida and lives in Kalispell, another trait he shares with Rep. Skees.  Baldwin has lived in Kalispell for two years and has never lived in Whitefish.

Contrast that with forester Ed Lieser who has served Whitefish for 22 years.

Posted: May 17, 2012 at 5:59 am

Montana TEA Party Campaigns for Pro-Nullification Supreme Court

The Montana TEA Party jumped into the Montana Supreme Court race this week. A shadow group for TEA Party Republican Jason Priest has put out a mailer on behalf of right-wing Supreme Court candidate Laurie McKinnon.

Yet while Priest depicts McKinnon has the rule-of-law candidate, her biggest supporters–Priest and the TEA Party–are intent on forcing a law that would mean the exact opposite.  I’m talking about nullification. Montana State Senator Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) is one of the nullification movement’s leaders.

The concept of nullification was a key feature of the most extreme legislature in Montana history–nearly a dozen bills to declare federal authority “null and void” or unenforceable in Montana were introduced by Republicans during the 2011 session.  However, the fact that the Supreme Court would declare the bills unconstitutional helped Democrats and moderate Republicans join forces to defeat the nullification bills time after time.  Governor Schweitzer called the bills “anti-American.”

Besides seeking a nullification-friendly Supreme Court, TEA Party Republicans are also pushing a constitutional amendment to let state legislatures nullify federal laws. They’re calling the amendment the “Repeal Amendment”. 

Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) is listed among the dozen or so supporters of the amendment.

Priest says:

“Montanans are a liberty-minded people and I will proudly sponsor the Article V application for the Repeal Amendment in the Montana Legislature to send a clear, strong message to Washington that we are a sovereign state with Montana-made solutions to today’s challenges.”

Priest is the TEA Party Republican who made national news for posting comments to Facebook using  “hateful, homophobic talk” to argue his dislike for paying taxes.

Priest set up a shadow group to put out the mailer with the innocuous sounding name  ”Montana Growth Network.”  It has the look and feel of a mailer put out by a mainstream group so as not to alert the public about the impetus behind it. Speaking to group of Tea Party followers, apparently unaware of a running camera, Priest said, it was important to talk to non-TEA Party types “in ways that aren’t offensive to them. That’s a good lesson to learn. I would rather tell them they’re insane… Is that camera on?”
Priest’s mailer does not mention the ethical questions surrounding McKinnon’s campaign tactics raised in a recent Billings Gazette article.
Click the mailer below to enlarge.

Posted: April 9, 2012 at 9:46 pm

The TEA Party Doesn’t Represent Helena

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.

Posted: June 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Scary Types in the Flathead: Realtors Have Some ‘Splaining to Do

A national AP article ran across the country last week, highlighting the right-wing nut-jobs that are gravitating toward the Flathead Valley and particularly Kalispell.

These include Chuck Baldwin, Randy Weaver and a long list of others who are on various watch-lists of human rights groups like Southern Poverty Law Center and Montana Human Rights Network.

But there is a great irony to it all.

The business that suffers most from this trend is real estate. To have a community become known as a haven for lunatics is a sure way to cause real estate prices to suffer.  And the Flathead valley does not need a drag on real estate right now, because the national real estate crash has hurt the Flathead, and hurt ancillary businesses there like wood products and construction and electricians and so on.

The irony? Realtors are partly responsible for the right-wing colonization effort in the Flathead.

For starters, the National Realtors Association had an enormous influence in creating the Montana Tea Party legislature, having spent over $2 million on Montana this past election cycle to get ultra-right-wing Republicans elected in the legislature by blanketing the airwaves with a series of campaign ads about impending taxes.

It brought new faces in the legislature like Derek Skees, who in turn started actively seeking the spotlight for himself and his crazy buddies and causes in the Flathead.  Skees, in fact, was just featured in TIME Magazine, which did a profile about him being the national leader of the nullificaiton movement, headquartered out of the Flathead.   And there have been other disturbing articles in the national press, like the recent Associated Press piece, about how right-wing crazies are getting elected in, and moving to, the Flathead valley.  Not a good way to keep real estate values high.

John Sinrud, Realtors AssociationBut it gets worse.  Right-wing Republican John Sinrud (pictured), the current head of the Northwest Montana Realtors (the major real estate group in the Flathead), is the man who assembled the Western Tradition Partnership, a group that spent roughly $700,000 of secret, unreported funds on the 2010 legislative races (this was in addition to the $2 million that the National Realtors brought in). Sinrud has also been active in county and local races up there as well, something that the NWMR group doesn’t seem to mind at all.

So be careful what you wish for. The Realtors came to the 2010 legislative elections loaded for bear. But they are now being chased by a giant, runaway elephant, and might be regretting having gone hunting at all.

Posted: June 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

Natelson’s Nixing

It was reported this week that Rob Natelson was denied the title of “emeritus” by U of M faculty members.  Natelson is known as “the top legal expert” for the TEA Party – a group which is known for espousing legal theory and beliefs that do not measure up to academic standards.

Take what Time Magazine today calls the classic example of the GOP’s march into the fringe: nullification  – an extremist (and dubious) theory still being doggedly touted by TEA Party poster boy Rep. Derek Skees (R-Whitefish Kalispell):

“Montana that has emerged 
as the epicenter of the nullification movement and the purest laboratory for 
the Tea Party’s model of governance.”

As Time reports, the concept of nullification has a shady history based in racial politics:
“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.”
While Natelson, like Skees, is a defender of nullification, it is a movement with a history that no academic institution would want to align itself with.  Indeed, the crocodile tears from the TEA Party complaining that Natelson was rejected because the U of M is a leftist institution are off base.  Just last year, Carroll College cancelled a “TEA Party Town Hall” appearance by Natelson, and no one could call Carroll College a liberal institution.

Natelson is also the one known candidate to receive a political contribution from the KKK organizer who is running for Congress in Montana.    Natelson received a contribution from Mr. Abarr of $100 when Natelson ran for Governor.

Posted: May 12, 2011 at 7:28 am

National Suicide

A group of America’s most far-right activists are pushing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to do away with our union as we know it--a constitutional amendment that would allow states to nullify federal laws by a vote  2/3 of state legislatures. Montana State Senator Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) is one of the movement’s leaders.

The concept of nullification was a key feature of the most extreme legislature in Montana history–nearly a dozen bills to declare federal authority “null and void” or unenforceable in Montana were introduced by Republicans during the 2011 session.  However, Democrats and moderate Republicans joined forces to defeat the nullification bills time after time.  Governor Schweitzer called the bills “anti-American.”

Montana State Senator Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) is listed among the dozen or so supporters of the amendment.

Priest says:

“Montanans are a liberty-minded people and I will proudly sponsor the Article V application for the Repeal Amendment in the Montana Legislature to send a clear, strong message to Washington that we are a sovereign state withMontana-made solutions to today’s challenges.”

Priest has drawn national attention before.  Speaking to group of Tea Party followers, apparently unaware of a running camera, Priest said,

“I live in Red Lodge where I’m that guy that nobody agrees with, and I don’t mind. I have to talk to them about things that are important to them in ways that aren’t offensive to them. That’s a good lesson to learn. I would rather tell them they’re insane… Is that camera on?”

Priest made national news for posting comments to Facebook using gay innuendoes to argue his dislike for paying taxes. In that posting, Priest wrote,

“Keynes was a big homo if he’s fondling your balls it probably means you’re getting a reach around which is way better than what Obama is giving America. We are all getting the dry thumb.”

The amendment is expected to be announced today.  It will be interesting to see what Rehberg‘s position will be.   Will he support the dissolution of the United States as we know it, allowing his affair with the TEA party  to cloud his judgement?  Or will he abandon his key constituency – the hard-right wing of the GOP?

Posted: March 9, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Right-Wing Editor of the Daily Inter Lake is Way Far Gone

Are people paying real money for the Flathead Daily Inter Lake?A week after writing an editorial in which he offered an impassioned defense of birthers, birther bills and the birther movement, Frank Miele–the ultra-right-wing editor of the Flathead Daily Inter Lake–has outdone himself.

Miele’s latest column takes aim at the “far left wing Associated Press” and the AP’s state-wide profile last week about the Tea Party.  That story gave a fairly benign description of all of the bills and proposals that the Tea Party has pushed forward in the legislature.

Laments Miele:

“I wish I could go through the entire story with you, and highlight all of the unfair reporting, but it would just take too long.”

What’s really hilarious (or absolutely frightening) about Miele is how far gone he is.  He cites this paragraph in AP reporter  Matt Gouras’s article…

“With each bill, newly elected Tea Party lawmakers are offering Montanans a vision of the future.  Their state would be a place where officials can ignore U.S. laws, force FBI agents to get a sheriff’s OK before arresting anyone, ban abortions, limit sex education in schools and create armed citizen militias”

…as the “only fair reporting in the AP article.” In other words, Miele agrees with everything in the above paragraph.

What upsets Miele is that Mr. Gouras goes on to suggest that a number of Montanans are turned off by the agenda described above.  The nerve of the AP to make such a suggestion. Miele says he sees nothing wrong with abortion bans, states’ rights, nullification and militias.  Miele sees all of these items as totally reasonable, and he is outraged the the Associated Press would presume to write an article suggesting that any portion of Montana should be turned off by these elements of the Tea Party agenda.

This guy Miele is half a sandwich shy of a picnic, and no progressive in the Flathead Valley should ever pay 50 cents for the Flathead Interlake. Read it online, and then only for the entertainment value.

Posted: February 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

Nutjob Bills in the Montana Legislature

For your reading pleasure, here are some of the major pieces of legislation that have been put forward by the Tea Party Republicans who are now in control of the legislature.  This is not a joke. These are real bills, and they are currently taking priority in the Montana legislature.  Enjoy.

Welcome to the land of nutters, the Montana Legislature.

1.  Legalize hunting with hand-thrown spear (Senate Bill 112)

2.  Create fully-armed militia in every town (House Bill 278)

3.  Allow legislators to carry weapons in the Capitol (Senate Bill 279)

4.  Create an 11 person panel with authority to nullify all federal laws (House Bill 382)

5   Allow guns in schools (House Bill 558)

6.  Eliminate educational requirements for persons seeking job of State Superintendent of Schools (HB 154)

7.  Lift nuclear ban for purpose of building a nuclear reactor in the Flathead Valley (House Bill 326)

8.  Withdraw the United States of America from the United Nations (Senate Joint Resolution 2)

9.  Eliminate all state incentives for developing wind power (House Bill 244)

10. Omit Barack Obama’s name from the 2012, ballot because his father was born outside of America (House Bill 205)(this guy was on CNN this week)

11. Compulsory marriage counseling for people seeking a divorce (House Bill 438)

12. Give sheriffs authority over the federal government in terror investigations (Senate Bill 114)

13. Legalize hunting with silencers (House Bill 174)

14. Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, churches and banks (House Bill 384)

15. Eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354)

16. Require the federal government to prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully aquired. (House Bill 506)

17. Officially designate the “Code of the West” as the “Code of Montana” (Senate Bill 216)

UPDATE: 18.  Declare that global warming is good. (House Bill 549)

h/t RastaMon for this photo.

Posted: February 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

UPDATED:The Message of the Montana GOP’s Big Night

Our Congressman loves his hobbies.Anyone else find it odd that the party that hosts a dinner named after President Lincoln would be sponsoring so many “nullification” bills?

This party basically believes that when it comes to federal law, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to follow it.  So what’s the deal?

As former Republican Secretary of State Bob Brown wrote recently on this topic:


“A system in which state laws have supremacy over national laws is a confederation, not a union…”


The statement makes the Montana GOP’s focus all start to make sense, as this is exactly what the Civil War was about. Even new GOP-TEA Legislator Derek Skees says the Civil War was about “states’ rights.”  We don’t like what they have to say, we are no longer a part of it.

Like it had for the southerners during the civil war, “states’ rights” has as clear, more sinister meaning to the right wing base.  Since nobody takes the Klan seriously above ground anymore, as it is so repulsive, all the racism of a certain wing of the GOP has all gone underground, and is trotted out through code words.

The Montana GOP dinner’s other namesake, Reagan, GOP “hero,” used to go down in the south during the 1980 primary and rile up the states about states’ rights, which he knew was pure racial code:

He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.

And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.

Any of this sound familiar to those of you following the actions of Republicans in the Montana legislature?  States’ rights, racial stuff, birtherism, restricting voting rights, and even votes against the King Holiday.


Plus anyone who has been around Denny Rehberg after he’s had a few drinks knows what he has to say about people who aren’t of his ilk.  Anyone who has been in the state long enough has heard the stories.

Last night, Rehberg had no desire to talk about his record, a shockingly lame list of “accomplishments.” Out of four bills he passed, three were the naming of two post offices and a federal building.  Not exactly the material of an inspiring message.

So he brings out the queen “states’ rights” tea-bagger, Michele Bachmann, to send a different message for him.  And that message is coming through, loud and clear.

UPDATE: Guess what topic Rehberg has selected for his address to the Montana Legislature?  “States’ rights,” of course.