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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
1 Comments
If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
5 Comments
Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
15 Comments
It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
7 Comments

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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.
Brian Schweitzer

2012 DNC Convention: Brian Schweitzer Takes Charlotte by Storm

by: Bob Brigham

Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 21:57:44 PM MST

This is a testament to Governor Brian Schweitzer's reputation as a straight shooter. And to the caliber of his operation.
Brian Schweitzer at the DNC Convention, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

Dave Barry says the very least we could do is elect Schweitzer president:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There is an innocent explanation for how I wound up on the floor of a bar with the governor of Montana.
[...]
In addition to being a governor, Schweitzer is a rancher who raises heads of cattle. I asked him if he has ever castrated one.

"Hell yes!" he said. He then proceeded to tell me, in extremely explicit detail, how he did it. The more he talked, the more enthusiastic he got; finally he got down on the bar floor to demonstrate his technique. He was down there for several minutes. I squatted next to him, taking notes and becoming increasingly faint. I was very grateful when he finished. (His conclusion was: "And then you throw them in a bucket.")

After the castration lecture, Gov. Schweitzer presented both Jay and me with official Montana governor belt buckles, which are made of solid metal. This is now the manliest thing I own. Gov. Schweitzer is leaving office in January; if we don't elect this man, at bare minimum, president of the United States, we are even stupider than I think we are.

With the polls showing that Schweitzer would beat Max Baucus by double-digits, this is a week the national press are looking beyond 2014, to 2016.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

2012 MT-Sen as Practice for 2014 Max Baucus Retirement Party

by: Bob Brigham

Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:31:32 AM MST

Photobucket
Looking back at the weekend's Montana Democratic Party Convention, I can't help but wonder if this year's senate campaign between Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg is little more than practice for the 2014 primary against Max Baucus.

One of the top arguments against Denny Rehberg is all of his votes for the Patriot Act. If you're a Democratic Party activist and volunteer to write a letter to the editor against Rehberg, it's quite likely you'll be asked to complain about his support for the Patriot Act. The same practice Democrats will get this year whacking Rehberg for his Patriot Act support will come in handy next cycle when it's time to hold Max Baucus accountable for his support of the Patriot Act. It's the same argument, all you have to do is switch the names.

Another big topic iss the REAL ID Act. Same thing, another example of Montanans hating something Rehberg did, campaigning on it all year and getting practice to hold Max Baucus accountable for being as wrong as Rehberg.

Iraq War? Ditto.

Cosiness with big money special interests? Baucus is even worse.

PhotobucketBush Tax Cuts? Rehberg just voted for it, Baucus was so instrumental pushing it through the senate that he was rewarded with a photo-op by "getting" to stand right next to Bush when he signed it into law.

In short, this entire year is practice for the 2014 Max Baucus Retirement Party.

Now I don't know if Brian Schweitzer will primary Baucus. I doubt he knows. I do know that if he runs, he wins with a huge, double-digit margin.

Because it's not just the current race that is reminding everyone of the problem with Max Baucus chairing the Senate Finance Committee, all you have to do is read the news.

The latest Max Baucus scandal that everyone is talking about is the emails released that show how Max Baucus blocked reform to allow the reimportation of prescription drugs and prevented Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices. How is that going to stack up in a Democratic primary against the guy who made a national name for himself by taking busloads of seniors to Canada to get the exact same prescription drugs for lower prices?

And now Max Baucus says he's going to do a major overhaul of the tax code? Come on. Everyone knows this is just a transparent play to raise big corporate bucks. He's saying he's going to do major reform, but won't say how? That's like putting a for-rent sign on his senate office, it's a clear signal to everyone with a loophole that they'd better pony up to Max. With everyone familiar with his transactional approach to legislation, it will work. He's going to raise a boatload of money off this stunt.

But will it really matter? In Montana, is there really much of a difference between running a $5 million campaign and a $20 million campaign? At a certain point, there aren't just diminishing returns, but backfire as voters are reminded by his over-saturation of how Max got his money. I don't think anyone in politics doubts that if Brian Schweitzer runs against Max that the good guv will be easily able to raise enough money to run a solid campaign. No, he won't raise as much as Max, but he can raise enough. And with every left of center organization with an email list chomping at the bit to take out Max, he'll have lots of nationwide support.

I don't even think it takes a figure as beloved as our governor to beat Max. Sure, as the most popular elected official in the state, Schweitzer would start out with a big lead in the polls (he's again up by double-digits in the latest poll). But after spending all this year making the arguments against Denny Rehberg that are the same arguments against Baucus, Montana Democrats will be primed for change. Forty-years in DC is too long and it shows.

And if Montana Democrats don't replace Baucus as the nominee, it's likely we'll lose the seat. Baucus got lucky in 2002 with an opponent who dropped out of the race and again in 2008 with an opponent who never even really joined the race. But it's foolish to plan on Baucus being lucky enough to again run unopposed and with his record and negative approval rating, Democrats are toast if he's the nominee. Especially considering Max can't even relate to voters on the stump anymore, he can barely even read off a tele-prompter anymore.

We're going to have to wait until the snow starts melting next spring to see who steps up to challenge Baucus. But Montana Democrats don't have to wait to practice the campaign, we just have fight Denny Rehberg.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

HuffPost: Environmental Leaders Call for Civil Disobedience to Stop Keystone Pipeline

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 12:52:08 PM MST

( - promoted by Rob Kailey)

(The following was signed by Maude Barlow, Wendell Berry, Tom Goldtooth, Danny Glover, James Hansen, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, George, Poitras, David Suzuki and Gus Speth - MK)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Dear Friends,

This will be a slightly longer letter than common for the internet age -- it's serious stuff.

The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.

The full version goes like this:

As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we've seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.

And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.

These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a certificate of 'national interest' to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called 'Keystone XL Pipeline' from Canada's tar sands to Texas refineries.

To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta, disrupting ways of life in indigenous communities -- First Nations communities in Canada, and tribes along the pipeline route in the U.S. have demanded the destruction cease. The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous -- and though the pipeline companies insist they are using 'state of the art' technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen-hundred-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.

How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per million. Even with the new pipeline they won't be able to burn that much overnight -- but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out. As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate "the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground." In other words, he added, "if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over." The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of the game. "Unless we get increased market access, like with Keystone XL, we're going to be stuck," Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary, told a Canadian newspaper last week.

Given all that, you'd suspect that there's no way the Obama administration would ever permit this pipeline. But in the last few months the president has signed pieces of paper opening much of Alaska to oil drilling, and permitting coal-mining on federal land in Wyoming that will produce as much CO2 as 300 power plants operating at full bore.

And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she's 'inclined' to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it's because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it's also because of intense pressure from industry. TransCanada Pipeline, the company behind Keystone, has hired as its chief lobbyist for the project a man named Paul Elliott, who served as deputy national director of Clinton's presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce -- a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined -- has demanded that the administration "move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline," which is not so surprising -- they've also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can 'adapt their physiology' to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.

So we're pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington. A wonderful coalition of environmental groups has built a strong campaign across the continent -- from Cree and Dene indigenous leaders to Nebraska farmers, they've spoken out strongly against the destruction of their land. We need to join them, and to say even if our own homes won't be crossed by this pipeline, our joint home -- the earth -- will be wrecked by the carbon that pours down it.

And we need to say something else, too: it's time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces.

We don't have the money to compete with those corporations, but we do have our bodies, and beginning in mid August many of us will use them. We will, each day through Labor Day, march on the White House, risking arrest with our trespass. We will do it in dignified fashion, demonstrating that in this case we are the conservatives, and that our foes -- who would change the composition of the atmosphere -- are dangerous radicals. Come dressed as if for a business meeting -- this is, in fact, serious business. And another sartorial tip -- if you wore an Obama button during the 2008 campaign, why not wear it again? We very much still want to believe in the promise of that young Senator who told us that with his election the 'rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet start to heal.' We don't understand what combination of bureaucratic obstinacy and insider dealing has derailed those efforts, but we remember his request that his supporters continue on after the election to pressure the government for change. We'll do what we can.

And one more thing: we don't want college kids to be the only cannon fodder in this fight. They've led the way so far on climate change -- 10,000 came to DC for the Powershift gathering earlier this spring. They've marched this month in West Virginia to protest mountaintop removal; Tim DeChristopher faces sentencing this summer in Utah for his creative protest. Now it's time for people who've spent their lives pouring carbon into the atmosphere (and whose careers won't be as damaged by an arrest record) to step up too. Most of us signing this letter are veterans of this work, and we think it's past time for elders to behave like elders. One thing we don't want is a smash up: if you can't control your passions, this action is not for you.

This won't be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for several weeks, to the date in September when by law the administration can either grant or deny the permit for the pipeline. Not all of us can actually get arrested -- half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside Canadian consulates in the U.S., and U.S. consulates in Canada -- the decision-makers need to know they're being watched.

Winning this battle won't save the climate. But losing it will mean the chances of runaway climate change go way up -- that we'll endure an endless future of the floods and droughts we've seen this year. And we're fighting for the political future too -- for the premise that we should make decisions based on science and reason, not political connection. You have to start somewhere, and this is where we choose to begin.

If you think you might want to be a part of this action, we need you to sign up here http://www.tarsandsaction.org/...

As plans solidify in the next few weeks we'll be in touch with you to arrange nonviolence training; our colleagues at a variety of environmental and democracy campaigns will be coordinating the actual arrangements.

We know we're asking a lot. You should think long and hard on it, and pray if you're the praying type. But to us, it's as much privilege as burden to get to join this fight in the most serious possible way. We hope you'll join us.

Maude Barlow
Wendell Berry
Tom Goldtooth
Danny Glover
James Hansen
Wes Jackson
Naomi Klein
Bill McKibben
George Poitras
David Suzuki
Gus Speth

p.s.--Please pass this letter on to anyone else you think might be interested. We realize that what we're asking isn't easy, and we're very grateful that you're willing even to consider it.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Northern Rockies Rising Tide: Silvertip and The Logic of "Next Time"

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 16:02:28 PM MST

http://northernrockiesrisingti...
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

2014: Brian Schweitzer would "crush" Max Baucus in Democratic Primary

by: Bob Brigham

Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:35:01 AM MST

( - promoted by Rob Kailey)

Last month, David M. Drucker had a story in Roll Call looking at all of the talk of Governor Brian Schweitzer primarying Max Baucus in 2014 for the Democratic Party senate nomination.

Now, we have the first public poll numbers on how such a race would look. Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of 333 usual Democratic primary voters, with a 5.4% margin of error:

Looking way ahead to the 2014 election Brian Schweitzer would crush Max Baucus in a primary contest if Montana Democrats went to the polls today, 51-34. The general perception is that if this race happened Schweitzer would rely on support from the left to defeat Baucus for being too much of a centrist. That's not actually how the numbers play out though. Schweitzer leads across the ideological spectrum but his biggest advantage is with moderates at 28 points (55-27), followed by a 12 point advantage with 'somewhat liberal' ones at 50-38 and then 11 points leads with 'very liberal' (52-41) and 'somewhat conservative' (44-33) voters.

Schweitzer is also up double-digits over Baucus with women (48-36), even bigger with men (55-32).

Governor Schweitzer started his career in politics wanting to go to DC and serve in the senate. Here's his chance. Also, probably the best/only chance for Democrats to hold the seat as it makes sense for Democrats to vote against Max Baucus, as he does more destruction as Chair of Senate Finance then he adds benefit. Baucus needs to go.

UPDATE: From The Hill:

Franklin Hall, a senior adviser to Schweitzer posted the poll on his Facebook page and flagged it for friends on Facebook as "very interesting".

Very interesting indeed.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Letter from Dillon: HELP!

by: Turner

Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 09:00:16 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

I suspect that most of the readers and contributors to Left in the West live in and around Missoula.  This is an urgent appeal to these people and others living in Montana's larger cities from someone living in a rural county.  

What every Montanan needs to know is that there's a David and Goliath story that's getting almost no attention in Missoula, Billings, Helena, Great Falls, or Bozeman.  To flesh out the analogy, we (that is, people living in Broadwater, Jefferson, Madison, and Beaverhead counties) are David.  Northwestern Energy Company, and its political allies like Brian Schweitzer, are Goliath.  Right now, it looks like Goliath is winning.  

For this large corporation, with the complicity of the governor and state and federal agencies (DEQ and BLM mainly), is finalizing plans to build a gargantuan, billion-dollar power line through our counties.  Called the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI), the 500kV line will run through and seriously degrade some of Montana's most scenic areas.

By "gargantuan" I mean that the towers carrying the power line, or lines, will be between 140 and 185 feet tall, most of them taller than the Statue of Liberty!  There will be between four and six of these massive, ugly structures per mile carrying 500kv of buzzing, crackling electricity.

The MSTI power line is supposed to start near Townsend and end up somewhere in Idaho.  NWE's preferred route parallels and criss-crosses some of the best fishing rivers in the state: the Jefferson, the Big Hole, the Beaverhead, and the Red Rock. It will cut a broad swath (220 feet wide) through miles of state, federal, and private property, the latter which NWE and its allies are prepared to seize through eminent domain laws.  

NWE claims the line will allow Montana to transmit 1500 mw of wind-generated energy to consumers in Arizona, Nevada, and California.  This isn't true, of course (most of the energy would be coal-generated), but even if it were true it would take more than fifty wind-farms the size of the one at Judith Gap to generate this much green energy.  

NWE doesn't want to talk about it, but there's a big question about whether there are actually energy buyers in their target market.  Recent solar and wind energy projects in the Southwestern USA may make it unnecessary for this region to import power.

NWE claims that MSTI will be a big job creator.  But the draft environmental impact statement for the project finds that only about 59 permanent jobs for Montanans will be created by the project.  Another 200 jobs might be created, but they will be temporary and filled by out-of-staters.  

There are plenty of major, major problems with the MSTI project that I don't have space to go into here.  For a more complete and better discussion of them, please go to www.keepitrural.net.

What NorthWestern Energy Company is counting on is that people in Montana's larger population centers will be indifferent to what happens to those living in a few rural counties.  They think people in Missoula and other large cities won't care since the project won't be in their back yards.  

I sure hope they're wrong.

We need people from all parts of Montana to contact Brian Schweitzer and tell him to stop lying about MSTI being "green" and a major job generator.  He needs to stop helping a rapacious corporation industrialize some of Montana's most beautiful landscapes in order to realize an obscene profit for their mostly out-of-state shareholders.        

Discuss :: (25 Comments)

Cowgirl on Schweitzer rumors

by: Jay Stevens

Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 14:04:26 PM MST

Cowgirl addresses Brian Schweitzer's claim he isn't interested in running for Senate:

My take is that even if Schweitzer is interested in the Senate-and by all accounts, he is not, since he makes fun of the institution seven days a week-he would not be researching his chances against Max Baucus in a race four years from now. Politicians don't poll that far ahead, ever.

As for Chuck's anecdote about Baucus being pissed at Schweitzer for working up the crowd at the Obama event last summer by calling for universal healthcare, that story has been making the rounds for a while. Baucus gave a speech about the importance of compromise, etc., and then Schweitzer then razzed up the crowd by calling for a Canadian health system, and then Baucus supposedly got in his face and told him he was, by giving such a speech, destroying the entire health-care policy endeavor. UPDATE: A commenter found the speech on youtube! You can watch it here....

Overall, I think the rumors are nonsense. As to Tester, Schweitzer spent a fortune in political capital on Tester's campaign, raising money, barnstorming across the state, and appearing in ads wiith Jag, his dog, talking about what a great Senator Tester would be. And Tester is a great Senator,  and progressives love him, and he and Schweitzer seem to have a strong relationship. S o that part of the rumor has little basis. Nobody I know has ever even heard it. As for a Baucus-Schweitzer showdown, that's far off but it is definitely buzzed around inside the beltway. Baucus has reason to fear Schweitzer because Schweitzer gets Democrats excited, and gets progressives excited too. However, my prediction is that by 2014, one of these two men will have moved on to become a judge, an ambassador, a cabinet officer, a CEO, a Congressman, or maybe even a presidential or vice-presidential nominee. I honestly can't imagine Baucus and Schweitzer vying for a Senate seat in a primary. So while the rumor is fun, it is probably an empty one.

So there you go.  

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Schweitzer ruling out a Senate bid

by: Jay Stevens

Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 13:50:40 PM MST

Charles Johnson is convinced:

I asked Schweitzer if planned to run against either Tester or Baucus for the Senate, as the rumors have him doing.

"That sounds like silly talk to me," the governor replied. "I've got 2½ years of this job, and it's the most challenging and most interesting job on the planet. And I really have no interest in being part of the United States Senate. I like to get things accomplished on a weekly and monthly basis, and I know that in the U.S. Senate, it takes a long time to accomplish things."

I followed up by asking Schweitzer: "So you're ruling out running for the U.S. Senate."

"Yeah," Schweitzer said.

I pressed him further: "So you would never run for the Senate?"

"Never's a long time, but I have no interest in being in the United States Senate," Schweitzer said.

Huh. Whaddya know? I've heard the rumors, too, and even followed some of the intra-party sniping. So...if the Guv is going to bow out...why the coal letter? Why the sniping at the Democratic delegation? Why the smack talk about single-payer? Presidential bid? Jockeying for a cabinet seat? Habit?

Who knows...

Discuss :: (17 Comments)

Doing the right thing unexpectedly trumps politics

by: Montana Cowgirl

Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 17:19:36 PM MST

I don't know about you all, but it seems to me like it was about time Montanans got one of those faith-restoring moments when doing the right thing unexpectedly trumps politics and common sense actually prevails.

Last month you read here that Senator Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) had been considering pushing the ball forward on the international effort to save the Flathead and Glacier National Park from degredation created by proposed coal mining operations in Canada.

The word on the street up in the Whitefish, where this issue looms extremely large, is that Zinke will introduce a bond measure in the state legislature to accomplish this.  At the bottom of all of this is the filth and effluent and goo that would run off into the river and into the Montana Flathead valley if the Canadian mining were to go forward.  Max has been talking about it for 30 years but has never actually done anything about it. Tester doesn't seem much engaged at all.

Schweitzer got an MOU signed, but the progress stopped there because of the lack of a federal appropriation.

The Flathead Beacon is now reporting that there may be hope for moving forward with what it calls "the historic agreement banning natural resource development along the North Fork Flathead River, signed by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell" in spite of previously deadlines and current obstacles.

In a May 26 posting, the blog Left in the West reported on a rumor that Whitefish Republican state Sen. Ryan Zinke was planning to introduce a bond measure in the next Legislature to compensate the B.C. mining firms for their sunk costs if an agreement had not been reached on the payment by then. Reached last week, Zinke said he hasn't been involved in any negotiations and would need to learn more about the issue, but that he would contact Schweitzer to discuss such a measure if it is still necessary next year.

"I haven't talked to the governor's office on options, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities and I'd certainly consider it," Zinke said. "If we can't figure something out, then I would work with the governor to move on something."

Kudos to Sen. Zinke for giving a damn about his district and his willingness to work with the Governor to come up with a solution even though they aren't of the same political party.  Of course it's a smart political move on his part too, given that his name is in the mix for GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2012, as Jay notes below.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Trout must hire lobbyist

by: Montana Cowgirl

Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 11:13:52 AM MST

Reminiscent of when Denny Rehberg famously told an eastern Montana county to go hire a lobbyist if it wanted to get federal money to pave a local road (even suggesting the name of a lobbyist that they ought to hire), last week Max Baucus could be seen in the newspaper saying something similar.

For the first time in 35 years, there is agreement between Montana and Canada to permanently forbid mining and exploration in a beautiful and wild area next to Glacier and Waterton Parks. All that is needed is 17 million dollars from Congress to seal the deal. Yet last week Baucus stated publicly, and incredibly,  that the request for the appropriation "came in the wrong form".  This claim merits serious examination.  As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as a "form" for requesting federal money. When a state needs something from the federal government, the Congressman/Senator is supposed to bring it home.  Plus, Baucus could be heard saying recently that he has been working very hard on this environmental issue for 35 years.

It is a very peculiar state of affairs that no doubt traces to the ego-bumping between Schweitzer and Baucus. Some activists on this issue hope perhaps Tester can do better. Nobody expects Rehberg to do anything, of course.  The best part is that Max Baucus's staff continues to send out press releases describing Max as "America's most powerful senator."

The fish in the North Fork of the Flathead, which will be killed off by coal sludge if this deal falls apart, clearly do not understand that they need either a high-powered corporate fish lobbyist, or must write fish checks to the Baucus campaign, in order to see that their home is protected.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Outfoxed: Fox News has history of ridiculing Rehberg

by: Montana Cowgirl

Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 19:06:17 PM MST

You read it here first. There is an anti-incumbent sentiment brewing in Montana.  Now even Fox News says so.

After several incumbents were ousted this year by angry voters frustrated with Washington, more lawmakers could be in for a rude awakening when 11 states hold primaries Tuesday.

Incumbents on both sides are facing questions about whether their politics are compatible with the base of their parties. At least a few incumbents are sweating it out, hoping voters won't send them packing.

In most cases, incumbents don't have too much to fear. In several races, they run unopposed from within their own party. But a few find themselves facing the prospect of an intra-party ouster. The following are races next week in which incumbents are facing the testiest challenges.

Rehberg is one of three incumbents named.  In the Billings Gazette Friday, Rehberg's office accused democrats of "planting the story." Yeah, because Montana's Democrats are so in with Fox News...

Actually a closer analysis reveals that Fox News tends to view Rehberg as joke more than anything.  Let's take a look at recent Fox coverage of Rehberg.  Though Fox is generally very favorable to Republicans, Rehberg also appears to be rather inconsequential on a national scale--to the point that that Montana's leading Democrat gets more Fox News love.

For example, Schweitzer has been featured on the program multiple times touting the states budget under his fiscally responsible leadership, while Rehberg, well, he makes Fox News for different reasons.

Rehberg last made Fox News for asking a Jonas Brother for his autograph "for his daughter" of course.

They also mock the "I read every bill" mantra Rehberg always Tweets about, such as when one reporter got curious and:

queried the office of Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to find out if the Congressman read the bill. I have no idea whether Rehberg truly read it or not. But Rehberg's spokesman Jed Link knew better than to dip his toe into that cesspool.

"We prefer not to comment," Link responded in an email.

I think no further comment is necessary.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

A Bright Green Rumor in the Flathead

by: Montana Cowgirl

Wed May 26, 2010 at 11:22:38 AM MST

I got wind of something last week from a few enviros up in Whitefish and Polebridge, that I think is worth a mention.

It was that Sen. Ryan Zinke, the Republican Senator from Whitefish, is so pissed off that neither Tester, Baucus nor Schweitzer nor Rehberg can get their act together and get a final agreement with British Columbia to prevent coal mining on the North Fork of the Flathead River, that he is planning to introduce a bond measure in the legislature to seal the deal, and take the credit.

The issue with the North Fork is that the coal plots on the Canadian side are worth a bloody fortune, while those on the Montana side are not.  So, while BC and Montana have struck a deal on a moratorium, it hinges on finding a way to compensate BC for about $17 million worth of sunken costs on their end.  So we need to send over the border some federal or state cash, or perhaps some mineral rights.

The word on the street up in the Whitefish, where this issue looms extremely large, is that Zinke will introduce a bond measure in the state legislature to accomplish this.  At the bottom of all of this is the filth and effluent and goo that would run off into the river and into the Montana Flathead valley if the Canadian mining were to go forward.  Max has been talking about it for 30 years but has never actually done anything about it. Tester doesn't seem much engaged at all. Schweitzer got an  MOU signed, but it's not more than a piece of paper that states desire and intent. The essential thing is money.

This move by Zinke would be brilliant. Zinke is a former  special forces commander and otherwise a somewhat moderate Republican, often mentioned as a likely US Senate candidate. If he pulled off a deal with British Columbia where the Big Three Dems could not, he could possibly win the Flathead in a statewide election with 70 percent of the vote (the usual 60 plus  a few hard-core conservation voters). That, with a respectable showing in Missoula as well (where the issue is also big), would make him formidable.

And beyond that, he'd be able to talk about how he got something done, something big and good. That's not something you don't often hear from a Republican.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Unlike Most Democratic Sheep, Schweitzer Not Afraid to Stick Dagger in Tea Party, on National TV

by: Montana Cowgirl

Mon May 17, 2010 at 16:44:32 PM MST

For those on the left who like to paint our Gov with a broad brush as "not a progressive," simply because on one issue (coal) he votes the wrong way, here is another example of why most progressives (in Montana and nationally) like Schweitzer.

The Tea Party movement has spooked many Democrats.  Watch the national news, and see how most Democrats who serve in competitive states or districts are not willing to stand up and take the Tea Partiers on. Instead, they walk on eggshells, always reluctant to criticize them for fear of becoming a target of them or for fear of losing a few independent voters who get their news from Fox. "You are seeing some understandable anger" is the usual refrain uttered by everybody from the President to just about every Democratic US Senator or member of Congress or Governor, unless they are lucky enough to serve an electorate that is heavily democratic and thus safe.

But here is a clip of Schweitzer on the Rachel Maddow show (yay!), calmly sticking a long dagger into the Tea folks, making them look like the foolish and ignorant hypocrites they are. Here's a link to the transcript for those of you reading this at work.  And here's a quote I especially like:

The tea party people get up in the morning and they make phone calls to each other that they're going to go to a rally.  And they use a subsidized telephone system.  Then they drive down a road that was built by the government that is protected by government workers called highway patrolmen. They get to a rally and they carry their signs and they are protected by the firemen and the policemen who are in that town.  And then they eagerly drive home and say, "It was a success.  We're against the government."

I also like his stance on education,

It's not a sin to be frugal.  It's not a sin to challenge expenses. But it is a sin to cut back on education for our most valuable resource.

This is far from the only place where Schweitzer isn't afraid to say what is right even if it doesn't poll well or get him conservative voters.  Here in one of the more conservative states in America, he has made speeches praising the Canadian health system (daring Montana voters to find a Canadian citizen that doesn't like her country's healthcare).

He has openly advocated a withdrawal from Afghanistan--a war which he sees as not worth the lives or expense. He has welcomed American Indians into his government and into the political system with an emphasis not seen in Montana's political history, treating them as the sovereigns they are.  He has gone after the Obama Administration, (and perhaps Baucus and Tester, implicitly...), for selling out to Big Pharma, and not allowing Montana citizens to buy cheap medication from Canada; and recently, he went to Butte to stand up publicly in defense of Saudi and other Arab students who were being taunted and attacked by local redneck douchebags.

He has made historic investments in Montana's HHS budget, in help for the poor, the disabled, and education, and has been happy to tout them even as the Tea Party criticizes him.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

This is becoming a rather difficult week for the wingnuts.

by: Montana Cowgirl

Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 20:14:47 PM MST

The situation: Commercial landlords are up in arms because the governor has exposed the long-known fact that the state, for many, many years, gave super-sweetheart deals to the buddies of Martz and Racicot administrations, in the form of over-market rent contracts to Republican landlords.

The question:  Why not a peep from the lobbyist for the Montana Realtors' Association?

The answer: He is John Sinrud, former representative (R-Belgrade), long-time Schweitzer antagonist, and right-wing nut-job.  Here is Singer's " greatest hits" of Sinrud.  

The dilemma: His politics probably force him to personally agree with Schweitzer here, that you shouldn't be paying $15 a square foot for real estate when you can find $10 on the market.  (Republican politicians are finally starting to get in trouble for their extravagant spending, and I'm not even mentioning the Republican National Committee's expense-account party at a bondage club.)

But his real estate mogul clients probably don't agree with this form of fiscal restraint.  It must be a terrible pickle for poor John, taking his froth-at-the-mouth-rabidity into the nervous breakdown variety.  Plus, I doubt he'll get an audience with the Gov anytime soon to air his clients' grievances...

Another "ouch" for a nut-job. It's a bad time to be a RWNJ in Montana.  

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

It's "extortion"

by: Jay Stevens

Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 12:52:24 PM MST

I have to agree with Matt, the proper word for Schweitzer's letter-for-play is "extortion."

"Extort" on M-W:

"...to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power..."

"Blackmail" is totally different.

The Bozeman Chronicle in a rare moment of clarity:

Schweitzer is apparently seeking some kind of vengeance against political opponents, but if they refuse to write the letters he demands, the people he will actually be hurting by denying their fair share of federal stimulus money are his constituents, the voters of Montana - some of whom have supported him on various issues and some who have opposed him.

This is not a black-and-white world. It is a world of many shades of gray. And the welfare of our representative democracy depends on our freedom to disagree about and debate a whole range of issues.

Drop the silly demands that these elected leaders grovel in front of you, governor, and start practicing some statesmanship.

Discuss :: (17 Comments)

Did Brian Schweitzer Just Jump the Kingfisher?

by: Matt Singer

Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 08:37:37 AM MST

I'm with Jay. This is maddening. It's one thing to mock and rib people for opposing development then requesting money from it. It's even worthwhile sometimes to expose the hypocrisy of people who might vote against the overall bill and then take credit for it.

But prioritizing public infrastructure projects in terms of local governments' support for political agendas is just beyond the pale.

This whole thing has left a really terrible taste in my mouth. I know I'm not alone on that front.

George Ochenski's editor has termed it "blackmail." I think the term they were looking for is "extortion."

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Bagging the RWNJLINO, a new Montana Trophy

by: Montana Cowgirl

Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:42:21 AM MST

A new animal has been sighted in Montana, presumably a relative of the RINO (Republican In Name Only, a perjorative term applied to a Republican who does things that the right wing believes are liberal) and the FCINO (Fiscal Conservative In Name Only, a term coined by the ultra-right wing when the word "Republican" lost its luster).

The third iteration of the  RINO and FCINO is an animal that is actually quite abundant in Montana (so abundant, in fact, that Rehberg staffers may hunt it year round if they like). 

It's a RWNJLINO, which stands for Right Wing Nut-Job Lunatic in Name Only.

The Rawnjalino (or Rawnjalina, if you are talking about a female of the species) has been sighted around the state, in Helena as well as eastern hunting districts, according to FWP's catalogue of indigenous Montana animals.

Take, for example, the three Sweetgrass county commissioners.  (Sweetgrass being one of the most conservative counties in Montana.) They decided to undertake a construction project that they didn't have the money for so they figured "why not bank on some stimulus funds, on the come." Last week, Schweitzer went to Sweetgrass to explain how little money the state has, and how important a balanced budget is, and how the Republican legislators from that district voted against the stimulus. But the commissioners begged Schweitzer for the money.  So those commissioners are RWNJLINOS.  They try their best to be Right Wing Nut Jobs, probably going home at night and cracking open a beer and listening to Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity,  and Rush on the radio in the morning, and complaining about Obama, ObamaKKKare, Pelosi, Reid, stimulus, etc..   But then they go to work the next day and find ways to spend, and beg for, stimulus funds.

In Townsend, too, the Republican officials are Rawnjalinos.  They had the same problem as Sweetgrass, and are begging for stimulus money.  Schweitzer suggested they get a letter from Scott Sales in support of stimulus funds (Sales voted against all of this money).  We'll see if Sales turns out to be a Rawnjalino, or simply a Rawnj.  Same thing in Whitehall, where Scott Mendenhall and his conservative Jeffco commissioner buddies (Mendenhall even voted for a bill that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against pregnant women) are asking the Governor for stimulus money. Mendenhall voted no on stimulus as well.

So there are many RWNJLINOS here, right wing nutjobs by night, welfare queens by day.

Then there are The Realtors. The realtors, a solidly Republican lot, are up in arms right now because Schweitzer has supposedly notified hundreds of landlords who rent their buildings to the state that he expects a 20% rent reduction, or else he will look for space elsewhere when those leases come due in the next few years.  These are the folks, mind you, that selected ultrarightwinger John Sinrud of Belgrade as their lobbyist. Sinrud and the realtors spent a fortune to defeat Frank Sweeney (the lone environmentalist on the Whitefish City commission last year), and who seem to be behind every well-funded right-wing endeavor in Montana, often with the help of operatives like Chuck Denowh.  So they might seem like right wing nut jobs at a glance.

But they are, in fact, RWNJLINOS. They are, like many well-connected Republicans, welfare queens who got fat, sweetheart deals from Martz, Racicot and Stephens, Republican Governors who fattened up their many realtor friends around the state by paying them higher-than-market, long term rents. Fiscal conservatism is very important to these landlords, unless, of course, they have an opportunity to make money off of us taxpayers. In which case, how dare a Governor try to bargain for a better deal for the state.

There are some better-known RWNJLINOS, like Rehberg (who voted to have citizens carry federal ID cards, which drives right wing nut jobs crazy and is a vote that might limit his career), Greg Barkus (who sponsored an attempt to decimate labor unions in the 2007 session.....and then in 2009 snuck in a 600,000 bailout for his millionaire Flathead buddy Swank, and also is trying, so I hear, to get a work comp settlement for his drunk boating accident injury) Roger Koopman (a man not known for his deep knowledge, but for his wingnuttery:He sent out mailers about members of his own party showing them coddling child molesting serial killers) who was masquerading in drag as a rightwingnutjob but then got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, using the state government to enrich himself, handsomely and illegally. 

And there is even a doe, a Rawnjalina. It's a certain family/christian-values Republican legislator who shall remain nameless, might remind one of Sarah Palin, and was caught in a mating ritual with another legislator, who was not her husband, in a car, a few years back.  She definitely is a Rawnjalina (and a raunchy rawnjalina at that).
 
Wildlife spotting is always great fun in Montana.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Using stimulus money to force obeisance to coal

by: Jay Stevens

Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 22:18:34 PM MST

Is it too late to react to this?

Critics fumed and local officials were dumbfounded Monday when Gov. Brian Schweitzer affirmed he'll tie the release of frozen state grants to local support for Otter Creek coal tract leases in southeastern Montana....

"I'm here today to say this: I haven't decided which projects and how much to cut," he said. "I can cut up to $2.1 million, (but) I believe our situation has improved a great deal, really because of that $85 million."
Schweitzer told a room of three dozen people that he wanted to see letters of support from community leaders, including the county commission, Missoula Mayor John Engen and state legislators, not only for the Big Flat Road project but for the use of coal money to pay for it.

"The potential revenue from the sale of Otter Creek coal might allow for your project/projects to be funded," Schweitzer said in a letter he signed at the end of his visit. "Please return a letter confirming that you 'support the use of coal money for the completion of your project/projects.'"

Wha--? Surely he's not saying he'll give stimulus funds only to those officials who write letters of support for coal...right?

The Missoulian also posted the actual letter the...er....Good Guv (I may have to find a new nickname) sent out to all and sundry...and it's much worse than the Missoulian made it out to be:

...You may have seen that the state might be getting a bonus payment of over $85 million from leasing Otter Creek coal. It's a good shot in the arm to our general fund balance sheet. While we're not quite fully into economic recovery, still, having these funds makes it appropriate to consider certain projects that have been on hold until our cash flow picture improved.

In order for us to proceed with funding please complete the following and send to my office a letter of support from local leaders and community members for one-time only state funding of your project/projects. The potential revenue from the sale of Otter Creek coal might allow for your project/projects to be funded. Please return a letter confirming that you "support the use of coal money for the completion of your project/projects."

Er...we're talking about grants for federal stimulus funds...right? Am I missing something? Can the...uh...Okay Gov...dangle this money as bait for community acceptance of his quixotic coal policy? Really? Was that money really intended be doled out to political supporters of the...er...Barely Satisfactory Gov...and his less-than-stellar - craven, you might even say - sell-out to coal interests?

What the f*ck?

Of course, I fully expect the letters to come pouring into his office...

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Schweitzer's Drug Play

by: Montana Cowgirl

Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 03:20:06 AM MST

The idea of reimporting cheap prescription drugs from Canada, where drugs cost a fraction of what the identical medicine costs here, has been dormant for many months, if not years. Then, yesterday, Schweitzer stormed into the china shop and shattered some dishes.

Two questions arise. First, why had the issue gone dormant? Short Answer: The Obama Administration cut a deal with the Pharmaceutical Industry, early in the healthcare reform game, in which Obama pledged to kill any efforts to reimport drugs from Canada in return for the Drug Industry running TV Ads and other media--$80 million worth--in support of Obama's healthcare plan.

That's a shady deal by any measurement, unless the ultimate Obama plan finds some way to drastically reduce or subsidize prescription prices. Thus far the plan does not appear to do so.

But more troubling, and way under the radar, is the fact that our senators have taken the bait. Both Tester and Baucus recently (and quietly) voted against a Senate Bill that would have authorized the reimportation of prescription drugs (made by American companies) from Canada.    

Beyond that, there lurks the more dark and deplorable history of Baucus giving the pharmaceutical industry one of the greatest government corporate giveaways in history.  Those were the days when Baucus was hugging George Bush as a way to get re-elected (how times have changed).  And the most insidious part of that 2002 vote by Baucus, of course, was that Baucus's Chief of Staff left Baucus's office shortly thereafter, to cash in in a new job lobbying the Senate on behalf of the drug industry, employment which quickly made him a millionaire.

The second question is what the White House and/or Secretary Sebelius is going to tell Schweitzer. Has Schweitzer gotten too cute? Has he poked the tiger one time too many? Will Obama somehow retaliate or freeze-out our Governor? Or, has Schweitzer put them in an impossible position and thus revived a very important issue, and put it on course for some sort of resolution? Perhaps even a concession from the drug industry that is something more than a promise to run stupid and ineffective campaign ads for a stupid and ineffective corporate giveaway which the White House is trying to sell us?

This is a major poke in the eye of the Obama team and is sure to get some national attention (as Schweitzer always seems to do.)  But hey, the Obama Administration deserves it. 

Discuss :: (31 Comments)

The Coal Cowboy

by: Yellowstone Kelly

Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 07:07:20 AM MST

The Coal Cowboy has outdone himself this time.

The so-called champion of alternative energy - what he called "clean and green" -- led the charge of the State Land Board in lowering the minimum bid price for the Otter Creek coal from 25 cents to 15 cents a ton.

His actions and his vote were bad enough. But they were accompanied by this outrageous statement:

"The policy deciding whether there will be coal-mining is not set in Helena, it is set in Washington, D.C.," he said shortly before the vote. "If this board votes not to lease coal at any price, there will still be development at Otter Creek."

So, if I understand this correctly: Policies emanating from Washington, DC, are good and must be followed?

Seems like this is the guy who has made a career of running against Washington, DC, often referring to it as a cesspool. After all, he proudly thumbed his nose at the feds over REAL ID and told the US government to shove it up its ass. He didn't like it and wasn't afraid to say so.

Hell. He was all over the national media. He basked for weeks in the glow of the spotlight even though it was a legislative resolution and he had no official role in it whatsoever. The resolution required no action on his part. None. A safe and sanitary act of defiance.

Observers erroneously concluded this bright star from the West was the real hero. Sorry. The hypocrite that he is was just acting. Most of his five years in office have been an act.

"Clean and green"? Foreget it. That was a sideshow and grist for the 2008 election cycle. No, for this guy, some national energy policies must be followed, now matter how ill-advised, no matter how dispicable. With the dirty corporate coal lobbyists leading the way, national energy policy ensures dirty coal is king. They have hundreds of millions to spend to fight any Congressional effort, no matter how lame, to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

And, the "Good Gov," as he is so reverently referred to in the postings on LiTW, did what he said he wouldn't do: Give our resourves away. Where he could have made a difference, he chose to lead by following corporate dogma and money.

Has he ever said he believes that coal contributes to climate change and global warming Don't think so. His escape is 'clean coal technology' and and a boondoggle known as  carbon sequestration.

So, tell me, Governor, when an 80-car coal train passes through Helena, how many thousands of tons of carbon dioxide will be prevented because of clean coal technology? Or, sequestered by carbon sequesatration?

Like you, he knows the answer. None.

The Otter Creek episode is a tragedy that will unfold for decades and centuries to come. The December and February votes represent pandering to corporate interests at its very worst.

Off course, the issue was framed as one in support of economic development and job creation for eastern Montana. But, tell me: Is there an example of a coal-producing anywhere on this planet where coal mining produces prosperity in the region where the mining takes place?

Yes, it took two other votes to deliver the coup d grace. One Democrat led two others into the abyss. With a 66 percent approval rating, this guy can do no wrong. Or, so it seemed. Just imagine what would have happened had five Republicans occupied these statewide offices.

Oh, and one last thing: What happens when there are no bids at the 15 cent minimum bid?  It is abundantly clear that the coal industry colluded not to bid at 25 cents. Since the December vote, it has had us by the testes.

In unison now, along with the the Schweitzer trio,"We want to show we can be just like Wyoming and give away our resources. Just name your price. We'll approve it. Trust us. If it doesn't all work out, we'll blame it on Washington, DC."

Does the bullshit from this guy never end?

Discuss :: (12 Comments)
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