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A Montana TEA Party legislator yesterday said during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday that animal shelter workers were a terrorist threat.
TEA Party Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Ravalli) is sponsoring a bill would eliminate the ability of law enforcement to use animal shelter staff to assist in the rescue and sheltering of animals in cases of alleged animal cruelty and abuse. (HB 179) Apparently she believes one reason the bill is needed is that animal shelter workers are likely terrorists.
“During the past several years special interest extremism as characterized Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front has emerged as a serious terrorist threat.
The FBI estimates that these organizations have committed at least 600 criminal acts in the United states since 1996. resulting in damages in excess of $42 million. Today, those people who have been convicted of their crimes, of the damages in estimation of
$42 million, they work for the Humane Society of the United States.
One in particular, his goal is the total abolition of animal agriculture. I ‘d like you to keep that in mind.”
You can hear her speech, delivered on the floor of the Montana House of Representatives on February 16, 2015, on Youtube here:
This ludicrous conspiracy mongering is a disservice to Montanans. It is beneath us, and does not belong in Montana’s lawmaking process.
Meanwhile Republicans in the Montana state senators managed to vote down a good bill by Sen. Tom Facey (D-Missoula) last week that would have required animal abusers to pay a bond for the animals’ care after they have been removed by law enforcement. They managed to kill the common sense measure without calling anyone terrorists. That bill was SB 115.
But it doesn’t end there. Last week, lawmakers engaged in a series of orientations last week to learn about the issues that might come before them in their various committees.
But something different happened in the House Human Services Committee Thursday, when Chair Rep. Art Wittich (R-TEA Bozeman), put indoctrination on the agenda instead. He brought in two TEA Party opponents of Medicaid expansion from out of state instead.
TEA Party Appointees Brought in to Denigrate Programs to Help Working Poor Montanans
The first presentation Wittich scheduled was from a political appointee of Maine’s TEA Party Governor Paul LePage, one of the nation’s most prominent appointees of Medicaid expansion.
Rather than expand Medicaid, as most states are doing, Maine actually tried to bar people from the health care coverage who were already eligible. The AP reported this week that LePage spent tens of thousand in taxpayer funds on private lawyers in a failed attempt to remove thousands of low-income young adults from the state’s Medicaid program-against federal law with federal law–after being told by Maine’s attorney general that her office wouldn’t take the legal fight because he couldn’t win the case.
The LaPage appointee’s primary accomplishment appears to be that Maine’s Medicaid program had paid its backlog of debt it owed to hospitals (Maine did not say it had paid all its debts.) Montana’s Medicaid program is not in debt. The appointee’s goal seemed to be to convey that federal money to help the working poor is bad (but not presumably federal money for defense contracts and highway funding).Wittich and the TEA Party wing of the GOP has come out in favor of a nonsensical “plan” to refusing federal funding that would pay for most of the Medicaid expansion. Rather than bringing home the federal tax dollars that Montana has already paid, they are actually proposing that we throw that money to the wind, and spend additional state money for health care. This is one of the worst ideas ever to come out of the state GOP in a long time.
Next on the indoctrination agenda was a representative of a right-wing, Koch brothers funded “think tank” called the Foundation for Government Accountability. No joke. This group’s primary goal is fighting Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act. The group’s director, Tarren Bragdon, is a former state representative with ties to the Koch brothers.
Rule Banning Information Testimony Debated
This committee even discussed whether it would bar informational witnesses, who do not support or oppose legislation but simply help inform the discussion, from stating anything other than their name and area of expertise unless called upon. Apparently, the only information Wittich wants this committee to hear is approved TEA Party dogma. Democrats on the committee objected to this move, forcing Wittich to back off of an official rule banning informational testimony–for now.
TEA Partiers briefly went nuts this morning. That’s because a D.C. circuit court’s three-judge panel ruled that Congress did not intend for anybody in states that use the federal healthcare.gov marketplace to get the insurance subsidies available to people in other states.
But the frenzied celebratory consumption of snack cakes was short lived. Just hours later a three-judge panel in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Congress did intend people receiving coverage through the federal government to get subsidies.
The issue at stake here is of particular interest to Montanans because we’re one of the 27 states that uses the federal healthcare.gov marketplace.
1. The DC appeals court decision was made only by a three judge panel, not the full DC court of appeals. The federal government says it will appeal to the full DC court of appeals. This means that all eleven judges would review the ruling. The D.C. Circuit as a whole is much more liberal than the panel of three judges who heard the case. It has seven judges appointed by Democrats and only four appointed by Republicans. This means that the full court is likely to reverse the earlier decision.
2. The Fourth Circuit also liberal-leaning, so even if the Affordable Care Act’s opponents requested a full review to the Fourth Circuit, their ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act would still stand.
3. As Vox reported earlier today, this means full panels of both circuit courts are likely to uphold the Affordable Care Act subsiies. This means the Supreme Court is actually less likely to weigh in. They are more likely to get involved with cases when two lower courts with inconsistent rulings. Of course they can choose whether to weigh in or not.
4. Finally, its pretty ludicrous to try to argue that Congress intended that the subsidies would only apply in states that run their own health insurance marketplaces. “It is…clear that widely available tax credits are essential to fulfilling the Act’s primary goals and that Congress was aware of their importance when drafting the bill,” the Fourth Circuit Court ruled. Experts up and down the line agree that they couldn’t possibly have meant anything else.
The impact to tens of thousands of Montanans and millions of Americans who would no longer get a price break on insurance would be devastating.
Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen reported recently that there are 30,000 people who were previously uninsured who gained coverage in Montana under the Affordable Care Act. If the subsides were stripped from these middle class and low-income people, their premiums would have been an average of 76 percent higher in price than what they are paying now. Many of these people would no longer be able to afford health coverage.
If the DC panel’s ruling were upheld it would be one of the most devastating blows to middle class America in the nation’s history. It puts into perspective just how devastating a blow a faction of TEA Party legislators dealt Montanans last session. That’s when they voted to bar Montana from accepting the money to pay for 100% of the health care coverage costs for 70,000 working poor Montanans.
Montana uses the federal healthcare.gov marketplace because the Montana legislature rejected two bills in 2011 to create a state-based marketplace: HB 124 and HB 620 .
TEA Party Republican Joseph Large says his “fiscal and governmental views are more in line with what the good people of the 9th district are looking for.”
But this is highly doubtful, since Large has managed to amass more than $20,000 in state and federal tax liens and civil judgements.
If he can’t manage his own money and pay his own taxes, he can’t be trusted to manage ours.
Senate District 9 includes Toole, Pondera, and some of Glacier County. Large doesn’t live in any of these counties, so he’s not even legally qualified to run here unless he buys a house and moves to one of them. He was recruited to run by TEA Party Republican Ed Walker (R-Exxon) of Laurel, who is managing the GOP’s legislative races and recruitment. So, it appears that the state party’s current legislative leaders believe that candidates like this would be so valuable in the next session that it has recruited them to run against their own incumbents.
Large faces Republican Sen. Llew Jones of Conrad in the primary. The democratic candidate in this race is Joan Graham. There’s also a TEA Party candidate running as a fake democrat in this race, David Brownell.
And speaking of fake candidates like Brownell, there is also a rash of TEA Party Republicans and neo-confederates running in Maryland this election cycle. Jonathan Hutson has a rundown on the outbreak here, and sheds some light on the motivations behind the plot to deceive voters, which could also be in play in Montana.
Hutson’s in-depth post is worth a read. Maryland’s fake candidates call their scheme to deceive voters a “strategic plan,” called “Operation DINO” for Democrat in name only, which the tea partiers say will have a “devastating effect” on the next election.Tweet
On March 4th, Rep. Jesse O’Hara, a longtime Montana GOP pro-jobs, pro-mainstreet legislator, wrote a thoughtful piece standing up for teachers, schools, and rural healthcare, and criticized the Tea Party Extremists in his own party as a bunch of hijackers, singling out a few individuals such as Art Wittich.
Somewhere along the way, extremists have anointed themselves the arbiters of all things Republican. The failed leadership team of Sens. Art Wittich and Jason Priest, along with their mouthpieces, Jeff Essmann and Edward Walker, illustrated their 10-year plan to purge the party in a series of leaked emails….
….The Republican Party I began with would never gut Montana services so brutally that classrooms are crowded, schools are shuttered, roads aren’t paved, predators walk the streets, rural health care disappears and infrastructure collapses…
Predictably, Art Wittich this week responded with a vitriolic personal attack on O’Hara, belittling O’Hara for being a teacher “who leaves his beach chair only to collect his teacher’s pension and state healthcare benefits.” Wittich also makes the sketchy and borderline-racist claim that anyone in Montana who does not have health insurance is “able but not willing to work.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 150,000 Montanans without health insurance–and 100,000 of these are employed. Another 32,000 are not actually in the labor force–that’s because they either aren’t old enough to have a job, are retired, are a stay at home parent, or disabled, or in the military. Only 13%–20,000 of the uninsured–are without work, and unless Wittich has asked every single one of those people whether or not they are willing to and looking for work, well….
Wittich also says that moderates like O’Hara joined Democrats in legislature to give Title X planning funds “to Planned Parenthood to perform abortions.” In fact, the federal government provides money to family planning clinics, like Planned Parenthood, local county clinics, and others, so that women and men who do not have health insurance can get care at reduced rates, or in some cases free, depending on their family income at the time of their visit. Title X allows these clinics to supplement birth control, breast and cervical cancer screening, testicular cancer screening for men, and other reproductive health services.
This program does not pay for abortion care. It is against federal law for the funds to be used for abortions. From the Consolidated Appropriations Act, Pub. L. No. 108-7 (2003)
(“[A]mounts provided to said [Title X] projects under such title shall not be expended for abortions, that all pregnancy counseling shall be nondirective, and that such amounts shall not be expended for any activity (including the publication or distribution of literature) that in any way tends to promote public support or opposition to any legislative proposal or candidate for public office”). See also, 42 C.F.R. § 59.5 (Title X projects must “[n]ot provide abortion as a method of family planning”).
So what O’Hara might have said, that would have been fully accurate, is that Wittich is not only an extremist, but is also a liar, and an asshole. I will say it here.Tweet
TEA Partier Urges No Seat Belts Civil Disobedience to Fight Obamacare
Former Republican congressional candidate is urging fellow TEA party activists to fight Obamacare and “gun control” by refusing to wear their seat belts, getting ticketed, and joining him at his seatbelt ticket trial in Sanders County, MT. Yes, French using classic TEA Party logic, French is arguing that you should put yourself at risk of a deadly or disfiguring car accident to fight against your own ability to be treated should such an accident occur.
The man that may become the nation’s most wackjob candidate for U.S. Senate is also the darling of Montana right-wingers.
Texas pastor and nutjob radio host David Barton, dubbed “Ted Cruz 2.0″ by Politico, when the news magazine reported this week that he was being recruited to run against TX Sen. John Cornyn, who has fallen out of favor with the TEA Party crew. Barton was brought to Montana this year as the keynote speaker for the so-called 2013 Montana “Governor’s” Prayer Breakfast. (The event is not affiliated with the state government in any way, in spite of what Judy Martz may have wished).
In case you haven’t heard of Barton, he claims that the slaughter of American Indians was justified as “a defensive war against tribes who ‘declared war on all the white guys.’ ‘We had to go in and we had to destroy Indian tribes all over until they said ‘Oh, got the point,’ Barton said, claiming that the tactics were only necessary because Indians were resisting missionaries who were trying to ‘civilize’ them.”
He also believes that demons control parts of the U.S. capitol, that schools turn kids gay, and that the Bible opposes minimum wage. He holds a slew of other hateful and wackjob things, its definitely worth reading this whole list.
So this was no mainstream event–in fact the organizers of the “Governor’s Prayer Breakfast” made a point of refusing to read a letter from Montana Governor Steve Bullock [click here for the PDF] because he said that providing health care to poor people was consistent with biblical teachings. Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich has made a similar argument for the Medicaid expansion.
Not this guy’s Bible apparently. Barton says “tolerance is a bad thing and hate is a good thing.” “We’re tolerating a lot stuff that destroys our families, that destroys our own character and we can’t tolerate that stuff. We have to get back to the point where hate is a virtue, at least certain kinds of hate.” Barton said climate change is caused not by fossil fuels, but by a curse we brought on ourselves by permitting abortion rights. Yes, because the U.S. supports allowing women to choose whether and when to have a child we “‘opened the door to the curse,’ which includes floods, tornadoes, murder and pedophilia.”
Tim Fox, now Montana’s Attorney General, served as co-chair of the event to bring Barton to Montana. Scott Mendenhall, a Republican who represented House District 77 in Jefferson County for four terms, was the events chair. The Helena IRcovered the event, and controversy, at the time, but for some reason neglected to report some of Barton’s most infamous beliefs and statements.
[This spoof article about former state legislator Tom Burnett’s new 2013 “study” called “Deceptions in the Hunger Crusade,” in which he purports to prove that no one should help hungry children get something to eat is making the rounds via email. While the quotes appear to be satirical, these are the same arguments Burnett actually makes in his new study. The credo is Burnett’s exact wording.]
Former state legislator Tom Burnett (R-TEA Bozeman), Montana’s leading crusader for barring hungry kids from receiving food, reached out to food banks today claiming he has new groundbreaking research to prove there is no such thing as childhood hunger.
Writing from an undisclosed bunker in Gallatin County, Burnett said “I embarked on this crusade with a simple goal: to keep basic low-cost food out of the reach of ordinary Montana children who God chose to punish by bringing them up to parents who don’t make a lot of money. And while a battle was lost when voters booted me from office, that dream—that precious, cherished dream—will live on.” Continue reading →Tweet
Lost amid the shutdown shuffle was a big political scoop: the Montana GOP has found itself a congressional candidate, possibly US Senate but House at a minimum.
Who? He’s Larry Williams, who ran unsuccessfully against Max Baucus and John Melcher, for the Senate in the 70s and 80s. Williams is a perfect GOP candidate: a former Wall Street commodities trader, who was indicted for federal tax evasion and currently lives in the Virgin Islands. Now if that isn’t a good candidate profile for Montana, I don’t know what is. Continue reading →Tweet