Political Gossip, Satire, and Analysis from MT's Capital City "…a viral sensation…"–Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos "Among the best state-based political blogs in the nation."–Washington Post "MT Cowgirl gets more scoops than anyone. The online voice of the left in Montana." –Billings Gazette
An absurd former TEA Party legislator who was ousted by Bozeman voters last cycle appears to be hoping that Belgrade voters may be unfamiliar with his record and may vote him back into office.
That man is Tom Burnett, who served one term in Bozeman in 2011 and was immediately voted out in the next elect. The former lawmaker may soon be under investigation for having been caught up in the Meth House Scandal, in which documents found at a meth house in Colorado were found to implicate certain GOP lawmakers for illegally coordinating with a dark money group, the American Tradition Partnership. But that’s just the beginning.
Tom Burnett has accused a youth support for LGBT young people in his community of meeting to recruit people into becoming gay. He has also written that he wonders whether the high school support group would soon include pedophiles and beastiality:
“Is it only a matter of time before the umbrella covers pedophiles, necrophiles, and zoophiles? When will the high school advertise a group called Beastiality Acceptance Alliance, BAA?”
But perhaps what Burnett is most known for is his obsession with preventing poor people from getting enough to eat. For a peek into the serpents’ nest of irrationality that is this guy’s brain, look no further than what he calls his “studies” which consist of lies, unsubstantiated anecdotes, and incoherent wackiness he found on the internet.
Burnett’s latest screed, released in October of 2013, is a follow up to his premier work “Childhood Hunger, the Myth” in which he reveals that pictures of fat kids he found on the internet prove that there is no such thing as childhood hunger.
His bizarre writings prove nothing other than that the snake on a yellow background is the perfect symbol for the TEA Party.
Consider Burnett in light of the recent scandal in Iowa. That state’s top GOP-appointed public-health official resigned just last week after she was caught making unsubstantiated comments about food stamps.
“The No. 1 food item bought with food stamps in Iowa is Mountain Dew,” the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health claimed, even though states obviously don’t track such purchases. The woman later claimed through a spokesman she “found it online” but couldn’t remember where.
After this scandal, Montanans are even less likely to put someone like this in charge of making decisions here–someone who makes things up to demonize and perpetuate stereotypes about the poor.
Burnett has organized TEA Party events with Tim Ravndal, the Helena TEA Partier who made national news for comments he made that implied support for violence against gays.Burnett also is the author of the famous bill to eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354) It made the venerated 2011 Montana Nutjob Bills list first published at Cowgirl Blog.
The vice-Chair of the state Republican Party, Sen. Jennifer Fielder promoted the gathering of an extreme anti-government group appeared as a keynote speaker at the group’s event. But when a reporter showed up, “she quickly distanced herself from [Defend Rural America leader Kirk] MacKenzie when asked about his extreme rhetoric and ideas,” which included that “neo-environmentalists” are “domestic terrorists.” Fielder said that the group ideas weren’t what she thought they would be.
So now she knows, and there’s no longer a way to claim ignorance.
But Sen. Fielder must not be too upset about the group’s views. She’s invited yet another Defend Rural America speaker, Doyel Shamley, to present information to a legislative hearing this Wed, Jan 8. You can see that he appears under Fielder’s portion of the Environmental Quality Council agenda.
Shamley appears on the MT EQC agenda, billed as a “natural resource consultant.” But Doyel Shamely is so much more.
Shamely is the host of a somewhat creepy conspiracy theory program which posits that politicians, lawmakers, members of the royal family, the illuminati and others have created a “New World Order” through which they attempt to control the thoughts and beliefs of everyday people–of course, there is connection to UFO’s and aliens visiting planet Earth.
Is there a New World Order? Are they trying to control every part of our lives? Are we treated like sheep?…Are they politicians, company directors, religious leaders, royalty, lawmakers, or all of the above and more? How old is their rule? And what secret organization do they belong to?
Perhaps more importantly, are UFOs actually visiting our planet? Have they been here for thousands of years? All this and more is constantly investigated by thousands of people around the globe and nobody more than the Hour of Our Time Show*[hosted by Shamely]…Are they trying to control our minds? Are they lying about the Alien Threat? You decide.
Indeed Fielder has decided that Montana’s lawmakers need to hear from this consultant–apparently no other natural resources speaker would do.
Yes, the truth sometimes has a way of coming out, but that hasn’t stopped Fielder from tried hide from and disassociate herself from the extremist views of these “expert consultants” she consorts with.
For example, Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula) provided her with an email with information about the watershed consultant hired by TEA partiers to block a tribal water rights agreement negotiated by the state of Montana and the CSKT. Kate Vandemoer (yes, this is the Usurpathoner) has a birther blog with some pretty extreme, marginal views–and some writings that reflect the soundness of her judgement. But Fielder got angry and insisted that the contents of Vandemoer’s “personal” blog (whatever that might mean) were not relevant. But in the same breath, she claimed that she had never read the blog. I encourage you to read this informative chain of emails below the fold.
The most cursory review of Vandemoer’s very public blog (Dr Kate’s View) shows that Vandemoer uses it not only to promote her multitudinous and bizarre birther conspiracy theories, she also uses it to share her views on water and watershed politics.
In a post entitled “Watershed Politics” Vandemoer writes the following. (Apologies for the long passage but they illustrate this “expert’s” state of mind.)
the landscape of our America was shaped by our Constitution, the very blood and water of our country…Upon this hallowed ground–nothing more than a chessboard to some– a dark rain has fallen for decades…it is falling and now drenching. I remember being in the wilderness for weeks on horseback, wondering what the black ‘goo’ was on the vegetation and the rocks…This foreign rain, and the raging torrents it produces, are attempting to capture that stream and dream known as America. It is trying to erode our landscape, our system, in order to capture liberty and train it into a controlled system of slavery, where the course of everyone’s life is determined by a single train of thought–communism, new world orderism. The NWO has intentionally created these devastating torrents to undermine sovereignty, liberty, and freedom…indeed I have felt that the very foundation of our country is threatened…and with increasing force.
Does the NWO think it is God, such that it can flood the world with poison rain and torrential rivers to destroy all of creation, and refashion it to its liking (and control)?
She uses the blog to share her belief that climate change is a diversionary tactic to keep the public from looking into a list of conspiracy theories: such as “weather modification by geoengineering“–Vandemoer believes the government is creating natural disasters so that it may “take over our lives.” There’s also HAARP (a secret weapon conspiracy nuts think is used for weather modification. And don’t forget “chemtrails, and microwave pulses.”
So even if Fielder doesn’t scramble to distance herself from the conspiracies, or Vandemoer’s belief that, “the Rothschilds (translated ‘Red Shield), Rockefellers, and many other monied JKhazar Jews, who together form a cabal acting like a synagogue of Satan that is in full gear enforcing its agenda on America, including Agenda 21.” Even if Sen. Fielder does not believe that these views call “Dr. Kate’s” judgement into question, Vandemoer’s views on water as a water consultant should give any sane person pause.
For tomorrow’s legislative meeting. Fielder has invited another extremist to town. She’s asked Ken Ivory to the legislative committee tomorrow. Ivory is the Utah legislator who carried a bill requiring the Federal government to cede much of its land in Utah to the state.
This guy Ivory has already appeared in Ravalli County. Actually, he’s been touring around pushing this idea to other states at ALEC conferences too–legislative language is conveniently available now in ALEC boilerplate. Montanans will remember this idea as one of the infamous nutjob bills of the 2011 legislature, sponsored by Derek Skees.
Unfortunately for Ivory (and ALEC), Utah’s Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel had to go and point out a pile of pesky case law with regard to public lands going back to the 1870s that gives the bill “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.” And the Salt Lake Tribune has called Ivory’s effort “tilting at windmills.” Arizona rejected it. The bill was vetoed by TEA Party Governor Jan Brewer. In Montana, the bill didn’t even make it out of committee.
But the GOP loves to throw these kinds of pointless proposals out there, in spite of the fact that it is a complete waste of public resources to do so. It’s political grandstanding to rally the extreme-right conservative TEA Party base and to feed their antigovernment conspiracy narrative.
…does not, alas, emanate from the Montana Legislature. It comes from Idaho, our neighbor. The Idaho Statesman reports that the chair of the education committee in the Idaho state Senate has introduced a bill to require school children to read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.Tweet
Back by popular demand after the big hit in 2011, here is the current list of actual Republican bills in the 2013 Montana Legislature. Enjoy.
1. Amend the U.S. Constitution to prevent President from entering into any arms treaties that infringe on gun rights. HJ 5
2. Allow corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration for misdemeanor crimes and felonies, punishment to be imposed be commensurate with the severity, nature, and degree of the harm caused by the offender. Punishment must be administered publicly. LC1452
3. Authorize alkaline hydrolysis as a means of dissolving human remains in lieu of cremation, as is done with animal carcasses. LC226
There is an unmistakable lull in the world of firebrand conservativism right now in the Montana legislature. When the legislature was last convened in 2011, right-wing bills were getting big crowds of proponents lining up to testify, to rage against the machine, as it were.
This year, not so much. I read in the IR this week that Democrats proposed getting rid of Montana’s so-called anti-sodomy law which criminalizes homosexuality, and that only two people came in to oppose it. A bill to allow the state to require all state workers to submit to drug tests received no support at all from any citizens. A bill requiring the teaching of creationism similarly did not get a single citizen testifying in favor of it. Several other GOP bills have met with similar indifference, with few if any conservative citizens attending the hearings.
This muted expression by the Tea party and the Right Wing presents a marked contrast to the frenzy of conservative activism witnessed in the previous legislature. So what’s going on? Continue reading →Tweet
As the 2013 legislature arrives, here are some bills that I’m told are already being drafted by certain legislators. Some I like, some not. You be the judge. (For those new to the Cowgirl Blog, referring to the 2011 Nutjob Bills may provide some context).
1. Joint Resolution of the House and Senate, acknowledging the earth is significantly greater than 6,000 years old.
2. Joint Resolution, declaring global warming to be bad.
3. Bill requiring all political funding sources to be disclosed, for all groups and candidates, period.
4. Bill requiring mandatory counseling prior to divorce, for candidates running in a GOP gubernatorial primary.
5. Bill forbidding any GOP legislator who votes to take health care from others from benefitting in any way from any aspect of taxpayer funded health care.
6. State income tax increase for large corporations and Montana’s making more than $250,000.
7. Bill to remove carbon monoxide detector in the Governor’s office.
8. Bill to require legislators opposed to medical marijuana to take a lie detector test, about whether they’ve ever smoked it, and how much they smoked.
9. Bill to require a posting, in Capitol Rotunda, of all federal farm subsidy payments to legislators. (Did you know they are mostly TEA Partiers?)
10. Bill to require school children to carry hand-thrown spears and guns with silencers.
11. Constitutional amendment limiting the number of legislative referenda to three per election with citizen-authorized measures with greatest number of signatures taking priority; and raising the vote threshold needed for the legislature to send a measure directly to the ballot, to supermajority.
12. Bill requiring security checkpoints at all public bathrooms, to inspect all transgender Montanans.
13. Bill to establish dog kennel on Capitol grounds, to perpetuate dog-friendly state government.
14. Constitutional Amendment to require use of branding iron by Governor when vetoing.
15. Bill to allow fishing with silencers (and semiautomatics).
16. Bill to allow legislators to be paid in gold dust, pixie stix, or cattle.
Republican leaders are scrambling to prevent party members from discussing their new wacky gun proliferation ideas in public, but that hasn’t stopped GOP lawmakers from trying to pass them into law.
Already, Montana legislators are introducing what appear to be some of the exact same bills that went down in flames last session. We’ll know more when the drafts of these bills are made public, but here’s what’s out there so far:
The Montana Republican Party announced today that it wants to make sweeping changes to education in Montana.
When the party responsible for the “broken, unconstitutional school-funding system had crashed and burned” calls for sweeping changes, be afraid. The changes they’ve pushed for in Montana seem to be more about stoking the roiling paranoia that motivates the right-wing base than anything else.
Those eagerly awaiting the next important idea to emante from the GOP legislature need only go to the Flathead Memo to see what much-needed policy advancement Sen. Edward Buttrey (R-Great Falls) has come up with this time.Tweet
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.”