Montana’s Politicians… An Impotent Lot


We tell the feds to get lost when it comes to healthcare, wolves, and guns, but those we elected beg for help from the federal government to enforce marijuana laws? Please.

Today we learned that Montana medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert was able to negotiate a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Daubert is the founder of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He was influential in the drafting of I-148, the initiative that Montana voters approved overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2004.  Daubert was also a one of a handful of partners in Montana Cannabis, one of several caregivers who were raided in March of 2011.  Others involved in Montana Cannabis have not been quite so fortunate as they were recently indicted on multiple federal counts of conspiracy, cultivation, and gun charges.  According to news reports,  Daubert has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises”. Unlike the charges Daubert’s former partners are facing, his doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence.  Recent federal cases have indicated that this is an increasingly common charge by the feds- especially when cases against the accused are relatively weak and built primarily on circumstantial evidence.

Montana’s indicted cannabis caregivers have accepted plea deals featuring significant charge and sentence reductions (most sentences range from 6 – 18 months in federal prison) although they were also subject to massive asset forfeitures and additional fines.  So far though, it appears nearly everyone has been negotiating with the feds, but what happens to those who refuse the plea deals?

Lindsey's legal practice is built upon helping clients adhere to state law. He now faces mandatory minimum sentences of 690 years as a result.

Take, for instance; Chris Lindsey.  He is a soft-spoken, educated, non-violent intellectual. He is a husband and a father to a young son.  Lindsey, a Missoula attorney, served as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis (yes, Tom Daubert’s company) for less than a year.  He left the company a full fourteen months before the March 2011 raids that preceded these federal indictments.  He was indicted last week on a long list of federal conspiracy, drug, and gun charges.  The guns weren’t his. He wasn’t a drug dealer and as far as conspiracy goes, well, I suppose I’m breaking some of those federal statutes simply by writing this post.  Chris has built his legal practice around helping Montana’s medical marijuana patients adhere to state law.  He has not been accused of breaking any of Montana’s statutes and yet he is unable legally to use his clear compliance with state law in his federal defense.  He says he can’t accept a plea deal on something he believes in. So what does that mean for Chris?  Brace yourself.

Mandatory minimums on his charges amass sentences of 690 years in federal prison.  Maximum sentences are 25 consecutive life terms plus an additional 85 years.  What purpose do we serve by incarcerating a productive professional with no history of criminal activity- someone who has never been accused of any sort of violence?  This is a travesty of epic proportions.  Keep in mind that there is no parole in federal prison and that convicts must serve 85% of their sentences.  Doesn’t this make you wonder why those who make a deal (thus maintaining frightening and artificially high federal conviction rates ) are criminals who upon acceptance of a plea deal, are instantly benign enough to warrant sentences averaging one year yet those who value their principles enough to defend them in a court of law are scary enough for consecutive life sentences?

Our state government allows this injustice, without so much as a complaint. While politicians from other states protest the federal crackdown medical marijuana, those from Montana are silent. Montana politicians typically claim to exhibit a sort of libertarian-streak that is native to our people- people who just want to be left alone.  In reality however, our politicians are pussies.  Nearly every one of them.  They are too worried about being reelected to actually take a stand to protect the very people who elected them.  From our Congressional delegation to our local sheriffs, Montana politicians LOVE federal intervention on marijuana cases.  In fact, instead of actually working with our existing state law, state law enforcement often refused to prosecute those in defiance of the law in order to set up a repeal of I-148 in our last legislative session.  Rumor has it, to ensure a repeal, our elected officials even worked with federal agents to schedule a key legislative vote simultaneously with dramatic federal raids taking place in the state capital, as well as cities across the state.  On one Republican state representative’s Facebook page, he declared immediately after the raids  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds”.  I guess these faux Libertarian-minded Montanans believe they can deal with everything on the state level- healthcare, wolves, guns- everything but the “scourge of Montana” (yes, another state legislator called it that), marijuana.

Our governor, Brian Schweitzer, did absolutely nothing to protect Montanans from federal intervention.  Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester are fighting for Tester’s US Senate seat.  Conveniently, neither of them have stood up to federal medical marijuana intervention.  Max Baucus recently announced his intent to run for reelection in 2014- has he taken a stand?  Nope.  Our attorney general, Steve Bullock, who has continuously opposed legislation as well as legal maneuvers designed to protect patients, now wants to be our governor.  Nearly all of the prohibitionists in our state legislature are running for either reelection or election to yet another state office.  If our state governments refuse to protect us from the tyrannical federal government by use of the “supremacy clause” and a disgustingly broad interpretation of the commerce clause via Raich v Gonzales, what is the point of having state governments at all?
As we head farther into campaign season, let me remind you all that politicians are the biggest criminals alive.  We reward them with our votes and pay them healthy salaries with our taxes. We subsidize the failed war on drugs by allowing our government to perpetuate violent crime on our borders in the name of security. I am BEGGING you all, please do NOT disappoint me.  Get your asses out June 5 in primary elections and don’t you DARE neglect to vote in the general election November 6.   I do not feel safer with Chris Lindsey behind bars- or Tom Daubert, for that matter, do you?

Montana’s politicians are vacillating, submissive cowards and it is high time for some outrage from Montana’s citizens, this is embarrassing. 

Saint Essmann: The Innocence of Malignant Narcissism


Thanks to Montana Cowgirl for picking up my slack…. Senator Jeff Essmann stammered while attempting to answer a question on Aaron Flint’s Voices of Montana this morning.  That question?  “Senator Essmann, have you ever smoked marijuana?” reminded me of the time Rep James Knox (RWNJ-Billings Heights) was asked if he’d ever sold drugs.   Unfortunately, I’m far too busy coordinating the eastern side of the state in the Patients for Reform, Not Repeal quest to actually fulfill voter intent by allowing the actual voters to decide whether Jeff Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a hot mess or a brilliant piece of legislation.  Hypocrisy reigns in the prohibition crowd….

I don’t really care if Essmann has smoked marijuana nor did I really care if President Clinton was receiving extra-curricular blowjobs, but I don’t appreciate liars- especially those who feed at the public trough. On the other hand, maybe Essmann is just that much of a dork. He could in fact be the only adult human being I’ve ever met who hasn’t tried marijuana… but I doubt it.

I See Dumb People


 

Montana’s GOP renounced the tea party in dramatic fashion earlier today.  Jennifer Olsen, Queen of the tea people was defeated in her quest to become Vice Chair of the Montana GOP.  Incumbent Chair Will Deschamps defeated his less moderate challenger Mark French as well (although I don’t necessarily consider French a tea person- certainly not the same flavor of tea as Olsen anyway).  Jennifer, from Billings; is the co-founder (with her father Eric Olsen) of Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots.  Montana Shrugged is known for its divisive tactics and inconsistency in following the principles it espouses.

Pardon me while I laugh.  Upon viewing the preceding clip, I was initially certain it was a joke.  Seriously.  Never before have I encountered a more contentious person in the Republican party.  Not even A.J. Otjen…. although she often makes me laugh as well.  Representative Cary Smith, of medical marijuana GOP God Squad infamy, nominated Jennifer Olsen for Vice Chair of the MT GOP and in doing so mentioned that she is actively involved with the Young Republicans.  As someone who actually IS actively involved with the Young Republicans, I can attest that there isn’t much farther from the truth…. which isn’t surprising considering the source.

Audrey Walleser, newly elected Chairwoman of the Montana Young Republicans, and current Treasurer of the Yellowstone Young Republicans issued the following statement:

“Ms. Olsen on numerous occasions has slandered and libeled the Young Republicans.  She has shown nothing but contempt and disrespect for the Montana Young Republicans and their missions and goals.  She has also never attended a YR event nor paid dues to any YR club or organization, therefore is not a member of either the Yellowstone Young Republicans or the Montana Young Republicans.”

I offer the following screenshots as evidence of her loyalty to the Young Republicans, apparently fighting for our principles is easier than living up to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrast the preceding screenshots with this one:

 

 

 

I am a big fan of individual liberty and personal responsibility as well as fiscal constraint, all principles that are typically associated with the tea people.  I don’t abhor everything Tea, my problem is primarily with Montana Shrugged- more specifically its leaders. Although they claim to be a patriotic force- and one to be reckoned with- independent from the GOP, two of their three leaders are now members of the executive board of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee.  Yellowstone County is a bastion of RWNJ ideology- most members of the GOP God Squad call that area home- Representatives James Knox, Cary Smith, Tom McGillvray, and Ken Peterson as well as Senators Jeff Essmann, Ed Walker…. and those are off the top of my head.  Forgive me if I’ve forgotten any key prohibition players in Yellowstone County.

It is no secret that I’m disillusioned with both the tea people and the current hypocritical majority of the Montana Republican Party and I doubt anyone would accuse me of being a uniting force in the party these days.  However, I do believe we need to either expand our tent or distance ourselves from the uneducated extremists in the party or we will face blowing defeats in 2012 elections.

Mainstream Republicans have to know that the Tea “party” gave us a group of legislators responsible for the most ridiculous legislative session in recent history.  Some of their legislation was purely symbolic, many bills were blatantly unconstitutional and some of the profoundly flippant legislation bordered on obsessive…. all of which obscured any successes of the GOP in 2011.

The Comforting Embrace of the Government Nanny


 Montana’s 62nd legislature, led by a healthy Republican majority, sought repeatedly to overturn citizens initiatives and impose new moralistic standards upon its citizens.  As a result, the hypocritical right; who profess a dedication to smaller, more localized government and less intrusion, is being criticized state-wide by its own members. The left generally looks to the government to solve whatever problems we face but most Montanans are already aware that the government’s solutions are generally more destructive than than any problems presented to us. What ever happened to this? Montana is widely known for its libertarian bend and traditionally has had no problem in the past saying no to the federal government.  Real ID, wolves, firearms…. we generally prefer to rule ourselves.

Forget political ideology, Montanans should be dropping labels and stereotypes and embracing each other in the battle our own federal government is waging against us. Instead we are divided, selectively enforcing components of the constitution to meet political needs.

Gonzales v. Raich, the Tenth Amendment, and Controlled Substances Act

Gonzales v Raich essentially ruled that even intra-state marijuana activity was subject to federal jurisdiction via the Commerce Clause. Federal intervention falls under the category of “powers delegated to the United States by the Constitution” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).

While condemning Republicans for their anti-liberty actions regarding Montana’s medical marijuana industry, I’ve noticed frightening inconsistencies in both sides of the political spectrum.  With great frequency I wonder how the left is able to justify their support of national healthcare reform (Obamacare) considering the very decision- Gonzales v. Raich -that made such a mandate possible is also utilized in federal intervention in medical marijuana states.  On the other hand, many conservatives advocated the federal government’s limitless reading of the commerce clause to fight the war on drugs, but now denounce the use of such power to enforce Obamacare…. selective application.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitution provides that the powers of the federal government are limited and specifically defined. Because the Constitution did not give Congress the authority to regulate alcohol, prohibition required a constitutional amendment.  If we are taking a principled stand on limiting the scope of the federal government, we need to do so consistently.  Medical marijuana or socialized medicine, we need to ask ourselves whether allowing the federal government to regulate anything and everything is acceptable to us.  The Commerce Clause is a double-edged sword.

How many Republicans would be willing to enforce the Tenth Amendment when the issue is marijuana? How do Democrats justify involving the federal government in healthcare but not in regulating cannabis?

IRS

New tax mandates and penalties included in Obamacare will cause the greatest expansion of the Internal Revenue Service since World War II, as 16,500 agents will be hired to enforce the law.  The IRS is also harassing medical marijuana dispensaries.  According to Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, no deductions or credits can be claimed by businesses “trafficking in controlled substances”. So, medical marijuana dispensaries across the state are being audited and disallowed all  business deductions (e.g., buying marijuana, hiring staff, paying for office space, etc.), essentially taxing businesses out of existence.  Using the IRS to enforce health care reform sounds ridiculous, nearly as crazy as involving federal agencies like the EPA, ICE, DHS, or OSHA in medical marijuana raids.

FDA
The Food and Drug Administration wants to hold your hand as well, they essentially believe in no health freedom at all. From the FDA in a dismissal notice filed in Iowa by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”

The FDA believes that it is the only entity granted the authority to decide for you what you are able to eat and drink. The government nanny, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you desire.  This is of course, the same entity that gave us Thalidomide, Vioxx, Phen-fen, and a host of other unsafe pharmaceuticals that were eventually pulled from the market after killing and maiming countless Americans.  Naturally, the FDA has also “definitively established” that marijuana has no medical use or value.

Under the guise of public safety, our populace has been conditioned to believe, despite the overwhelming oppositional evidence, that our government is acting in the name of public safety.  Bans on smoking, including toys with children’s high calorie meals, circumcision, salt, and cell phone use while driving, as well as laws requiring seat belt use can all be easily justified by the sheep.  In reality, they are all affronts to liberty.  Adults should be able to make their own choices, free of government instruction or guidance.   Sure, we all want affordable healthcare- but don’t tell me the federal government has a right to force us all to purchase a product while you claim they have no right to regulate our use of banned substances.

This isn’t about Republicans, it isn’t about Democrats. This isn’t about health care or medical cannabis, this is about liberty.  This is our future and we can’t have it both ways.  We need to forget partisan politics and defend the constitution.  Where is the Tea party now?


Montana Governor Brands “Black Market Bill” (SB 423) Unconstitutional


In a surprising move (surprising to me at least), Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer called Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann’s SB 423, “unconstitutional on its face”.  He expressed his intention to issue an amendatory veto on the legally defective legislation as he doesn’t believe it could survive a court battle in its current form   The legislation, which passed Montana’s House and Senate earlier this week has been nicknamed the “black market bill” by opponents who believe eliminating the medical cannabis industry will invite dangerous criminal elements engaged in drug activity to again control the supply of marijuana in Montana.

In an interview with Lee Newspapers State Bureau, Schweitzer was highly critical of the GOP-led 2011 Legislature, expressing his disgust for their “squandering”  of Montana’s 90 day biennial legislative session.  He asked,

“Why don’t you just pass something that works, that’s constitutional and that can survive the test of time?” he asked.

A bipartisan interim committee, after months of work, inspired HB 68, sponsored by Diane Sands (D- Missoula).  While nowhere near perfect legislation, it is difficult if not impossible to find patients or growers who would prefer Essmann’s bill to HB 68, which was tabled in committee.  A re-written version of SB 154, a gray bill sponsored by Republican Dave Lewis (and largely preferred by patients and growers) also received little support from the repeal-driven prohibitionist Republicans.  Referring to HB 68,  Governor Schweitzer said ,

“They threw that in the garbage and now they’re going to send me this (SB) 423, which everybody’s who’s read it says, ‘Oh yeah, it’s unconstitutional,’ ” he said.  “The bill as written is not going to survive the courts.”

Montana’s governor, who recently was featured in national news stories for calling Republicans in the state legislature “Bat-crap crazy” and for registering a “VETO” cattle brand with the state (with which he last week ceremoniously killed bills he considered foolish or unconstitutional) isn’t fond of a requirement in Essmann’s bill that requires Montana’s medical cannabis patients to carry their state licensing card with them at all times, regardless of whether or not they are in possession of marijuana.  Patients are also subject to warrantless searches of their homes at any time and names and addresses of those in the program are provided to local law enforcement officials.   Schweitzer believes such provisions to be violations of the 4th amendment, which protects Americans from unlawful searches and seizures as well as the  federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

if you’re taking OxyContin or penicillin or for God’s sake, even aspirin, that is your own personal health care records,” he said. But HB423 is “demanding” that the fact that someone is using medical marijuana and “be turned over to law enforcement in every town.

Schweitzer too acknowledged the black market appeal of the legislation,

“There’s another problem with it, and I think it’s a fundamental problem,” Schweitzer said. “Under this bill, I will guar-an-dang-tee-you, that there will be more illegal marijuana (that) makes it to the alley under this proposal than we currently have because now you’re going to have 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 people growing their own. It’s not possible to monitor all of them.”

“I mean does someone with a straight face think you can have 5,000 people growing their own and none of it makes it to high schools or to college dorm rooms?” he said.

A severability clause was included in the bill, which ensures that, in the event of a court ruling striking components of the legislation, other parts of the bill remain viable.  Because of its inclusion, Schweitzer believes that Essmann and other Republicans are well aware that the bill is unconstitutional.

“Why don’t you just pass something that works, that’s constitutional and that can survive the test of time?” he asked.

That sounds far too easy for the TEA people-inspired Montana GOP, however.  This shouldn’t be about politics, it should be about doing the right thing for the segment of the population who Montana’s original medical cannabis law was designed to protect.  In efforts to eradicate all state-sanctioned medical use of cannabis, Montana’s GOP lawmakers for the past 90 days have resorted to tears, lies, and dramatic stories intended to convince the legislative body and public that our state is now considered a “source nation, like Columbia” our youth are prostituting themselves for cannabis, and that caregivers are selling marijuana in middle and high schools across the state.  Oddly enough, there have been no arrests made for any of those particular crimes.

Sponsor of the bill, Jeff Essmann cited recent correspondence with federal officials who “clarified” federal policy  in his bid to save our state from the evils of cannabis.  No word on whether he used such correspondence to ensure Montana is in compliance with federal law regarding wolves or implementation of federal health care reforms however.  We are all aware that the federal government knows best anyway, right?

Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
– Federal Bureau of Narcotics Chief Harry J. Anslinger, 1929

Republicans in Montana have been hammered by those on the right this session as well as the typical lefty critics after various testimonies  in reference to  blow-dart murders, appropriate state prison sentences for gay recruitment, and the dangers of punishing DUIs were publicized on numerous news programs. While Republicans across the nation- including several GOP presidential nomination hopefuls- are advocating sweeping  marijuana law reforms, Montana’s Republicans are determined to move backwards as they promote their dangerously myopic “morality” agenda.

President Obama’s Audacity of Dope


By now it is clear to most Americans that many of Barack Obama’s campaign promises were nothing more than hollow rhetoric.  Obama’s failure to deliver is a relief to most conservatives who weren’t excited about the prospects of net neutrality, higher taxes, and cap & trade legislation while Obama’s base is also livid with him because he didn’t fight hard enough for single payer health care or ending tax cuts for the wealthy, and he also failed to reform our immigration policy.  While shocking to virtually nobody, progressives expected more of Obama.  After all, he had also promised an unprecedented level of transparency.

Obama appears to be particularly hypocritical in his administration’s prosecutions of medical marijuana.  Obama made very specific promises regarding federal prosecution of medical marijuana facilities in states with medical marijuana laws in place.

The White House, in 2009 offered the following statement:

“The President believes that federal resources should not be used to
circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior
leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects
them to review their policies with that in mind.”

Despite numerous vows to the contrary, only days after his inauguration, Obama allowed the DEA to raid multiple medical grow facilities in California and other medical marijuana states.  Since Obama took office, his administration has engaged in over 100 aggressive medical cannabis raids- in comparison to the Bush administration’s total of just over 200 raids…. in EIGHT entire years. When not engaging in raids, the Obama administration terrorizes medical marijuana patients and businesses via the IRS.   Americans for Safe Access, a medical cannabis advocacy organization,  has given Obama a failing grade for his medical cannabis policies.

It appears that Obama considers the cannabis-friendly crowd to be a  politically disposable bloc of voters, and maybe he is correct.  I suspect, however; that if Montanans come out of their cannabis closet- even if only to vote- that our state legislature will look VERY different in the 2013 legislative session. The question is how to effectively mobilize them- doing so has traditionally been a challenge.

Smaller government is a core belief of the Republican party- one would expect that allowing citizens, with their physicians, to choose the health therapy they prefer would fit into the smaller government component, but that isn’t always the case.  While the Republican-led Montana legislature should certainly be blamed for the fate of medical cannabis in the state (a repeal bill masquerading as a reform bill-  Senator Jeff Essmann’s SB 423- is likely on Governor Brian Schweitzer’s desk today), not all conservatives support a nanny-state government.  Milton Friedman’s criticism of the failed war on drugs was based on his devotion to the principles of limited government.  William Buckley, founder of the conservative National Review, supported legalization and mocked silly fear-based rhetoric utilized by prohibitionists.  Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan, and 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls  Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson also support legalization.

While Democrats have traditionally been credited with advocating cannabis reform, Obama has shown us via actions and policy that the Democrat Party does not necessarily support cannabis reform endeavors either.   We all need to ask our politicians- regardless of party affiliation and prior to primary elections- specifically how they feel about issues important to us all.

Bloviations by Governor Brian


Shovel-ready indeed. It is getting deep! Sen. Hamlett is right about one thing, BS is certainly a tool.

During Schweitzer‘s SOTS speech, liberal  media/bloggers/lobbyists hacks were tweeting the praises of our Governor to the point that I was tempted to ride out the rest of the event in a pair of thigh-high boots… it was really getting deep, but such tweets were unnecessary as nobody does a better job of praising Governor Schweitzer than the ego-centric proud governor himself. Governor Schweitzer,with his frenzied appearance, bloated body, shiny (slime or grease perhaps) happy face, and trusty bolo tie  looked like a statesman heart attack waiting to happen as he delivered his final lecture SOTS address to the Republican-controlled legislature last night.

Governor BS delivers Montana some more BS

 

Arrogant blowhard Never one to brag, Governor Schweitzer gave credit where credit was due- to himself.  Placing the focus on jobs- after poking fun at Republicans of course- Schweitzer touted mining and natural resources, agriculture, and our bright future.  Instead of being forthright in admitting  that his budget relies on raiding various pots of one-time money to squeak by the next two years, he chastised Republicans for always utilizing low revenue projections, telling them that if they chose to cut funding for public education, they would be doing it as a reflection of their values, not because of fiscal need, citing Montana’s “money in the bank”.   I find it ironic that he is punishing the fiscally responsible schools in eastern Montana by stealing taking their surpluses to fund education in western Montana.  If our economic forecast is so bright, why is this necessary?

Perhaps our next governor will need neither, Bob.

Now there is an idea....

I would like to remind Governor Schweitzer of his own words used early in his address: “Be careful of half-truths, you may just get the wrong half.”  Indeed, I feel very a little dirty after listening to his hour-long  brag-fest address.

Montana Democrats: Thy Name is Contradiction


We should leave it to the person’s own faith and values, not the government, to make personal decisions.  No one’s actions should be dictated by another person’s faith.”

Calling the Montana’s 2011 lawmakers (according to pro-choice leaders, all 96 Republicans in the legislature are pro-life) one of the most extreme anti-abortion legislatures in two decades, leaders of abortion rights groups urged their supporters to pack the Capitol to defend their right to exterminate the live repercussions of their sexually permissive lifestyle at their will.  Today’s rally attracted 150 abortion fans who waved signs with emblazoned with phrases like “Birth Control, Not Bans”, “Montana is PRO-CHOICE”, and “Pro-Choice, Pro-Family”.

Juliana Crowley of NARAL Montana said of anti-abortion lawmakers this session:

“They are not close to being moderates at any level.  They have an extreme agenda, which aims to strip women of their ability to make private medical decisions.”

I find it ironic that the same people claiming that Republicans are stripping away rights and allowing the government to make private medical decisions are also the same people who advocated the federal government forcing millions of Americans to purchase undesirable and expensive health insurance via Obamacare.  The liberal mentality is such an enigma.  Let me get this right…putting criminal monsters (like Nathanial Bar-Jonah) to death is entirely too barbaric yet obliterating the most innocent lives is a RIGHT.  The federal government can apparently make all healthcare decisions for us except those involving our unwanted offspring.   If they’d truly like to see the government stay out of their decisions, Planned Parenthood should be defunded  (half billion+).  Maybe people would begin to take responsibility for their own actions if the government was no longer in the abortion business.

Chuck Baldwin: Carpetbagger or Called by God?


Is Baldwin a political opportunist or was he called by God to move his family to Montana?

Montana newcomer Chuck Baldwin, the pastor who ran unsuccessfully for US President in 2008 on the Constitutional Party ticket, recently declared that the prospect of running for Governor of Montana is “so thrilling, I just get goose bumps.”  Baldwin said “There has to be a governor who is willing to put his life on the line to defend the constitution.”  That brings up an interesting point actually. Baldwin would enter an already crowded  race, joining Corey Stapleton, Ken Miller, Rick Hill, and Jim O’Hara on the GOP ticket, Dave Wanzenreid for the Democrat party, and Ron Vandevender who is running as a libertarian.  Baldwin has been critical of the both the Republican and Democrat parties, calling them “two peas in the same pod” so I assume he’d be running as a Constitutional party candidate.  As far as I know, however; the only candidate in the race thus far who was actually “willing to put his life on the line to defend the constitution” was Corey Stapleton, who spent more than a decade in the US Navy.  Perhaps the statement was an endorsement.   After receiving a direct message from God, Baldwin moved nearly 20 family members to the Flathead valley last summer.  Declaring Montana the “tip of the spear” in the freedom fight, Baldwin abandoned his Pensacola, FL  flock  in favor of the more freedom-minded Montana folk. While I’m sure Chuck Baldwin is a fine man, I have yet to see that he is capable of running an organization or city let alone running one of the largest states in the union.  I often do agree with Baldwin, but I don’t think  Montana is ready to elect a 9/11 truther who believes that a breakup of the US is inevitable, regularly appears with conspiracy wackjob Alex Jones, and preaches about new world order and FEMA death camps. Baldwin said:

So, living or dying, we intend to circle the wagons around the State of Montana and fight to our dying breath for the right of that State to live free!

Last I checked, Montana wasn’t at war.  Baldwin’s rhetoric is passionate and dramatic, but lacks specificity. I’m not denying the possibility of a calling from God, but many may doubt his claim- Montanans are skeptical of outsiders.  I’m happy he and his family moved to Montana and that they are freedom-loving Christian patriots- his influence could strengthen conservatism in Montana. If however, he runs for governor after so briefly residing in our state, suspicion will override all respect I have for his ideals and I will view him as a political opportunist who thought Montana’s voters were prime for picking.  In addition to that, it may guarantee a Democrat governor.

City Lies: Montana left giving Pinocchio some stiff competition


City Lies: Montana's Democrats Lie to Constituents

Today the Billings Gazette features a beautiful contrast between the members of the media who prefer to ignore facts and those who respect Montanans enough to print the truth.  Ed Kemmick, TEA party/liberty hater, penned the article “City Lights: Learning From the News”.  In it, he inadvertently yet efficiently demonstrates to Montanans why exactly we don’t, in fact, learn anything from the news.   In Chuck Johnson’s “Horse Sense: Contrary to rhetoric, lawmakers did not raise salaries” Johnson wrote a far more factually accurate account of the Republican “hypocrisy” Democrats, including Kemmick; have alleged.

Fortunately for “journalists” like Kemmick, most Montanans haven’t developed the critical thinking skills required to discern media bias, so I appreciate the Gazette throwing us a bone with this display of Kemmick’s obvious (and typical) partiality.  The title,  “Learning from the News” is actually hilarious.  To those of you who aren’t familiar with the events in the Montana legislature this week, allow me to recap.

  • HB1, also known as the “feed bill” passed on a strict partisan vote.  All 68 Republicans approved it while all 32 Democrats voted in opposition.  This $8.8 million bill pays for the entire legislature- staff, equipment, salaries of the legislators, etc.  It is equal to only .24% of Governor Schweitzer‘s proposed budget.
  • HB1 is $370,000 less than in 2009.
  • Legislators are paid $82.64/working day of Montana’s 90 day biennial session. Their per diem allowance increased by $1.62/day, to $105.31/day (such increase by law is adjusted based on the lowest of three factors).  In reality, due to calendar differences, this legislature will actually be paid slightly LESS than the one in 2009.
  • New legislators are allowed $1000 for the purchase of a laptop- some argued that they should be forced to use their own.  Either way, the allowance is a full third LESS than in 2009.
  • Fees for health insurance of all state employees has risen from $626/month in 2009 and $679/month in 2010 to $733/month this year.  Legislators, as state employees, are eligible for either health insurance or a subsidy, they cannot be blamed for rising health insurance premiums.
  • Democrats have accused the Republicans of “voting themselves a pay raise”, something that is actually impossible according to Section 5, Article 5 of the Montana Constitution (yes, that same Constitution many Democrats believe is among the best in the nation) preventing lawmakers from legislating their pay, whether it be an increase or otherwise.
  • Condemning the GOP as hypocritical for their opposition to national health care reform mandates, the left presented acceptance of  health benefits as equal to taking a government subsidy, when in fact, this generous benefit is available to all state employees.  Shall we consider each Montana government employee a ward of the state? Furthermore, I have a feeling that if Americans were all offered the opportunity to purchase the same health insurance as our state employees instead of being FORCED to buy a product from which US lawmakers exempted themselves, public sentiment would be drastically different.

Regardless, this difference in ideology is not an excuse for blatant dishonesty by our Democrat public officials. For those who aren’t aware of what constitutes a lie, according to Webster’s big red book of definitions, a lie is:

a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive, something intended or serving to convey a false impression, an inaccurate or false statement, a falsehood.
Let us examine the words of our state’s liberal elite:

Kendall Van Dyk, Senator from Billings,
said tea party-backed Republicans who have trashed government spending need to live by their own rhetoric. He pointed out lawmakers get to keep the laptops even if they lose their next election.  ”Before they do any legislative action up here they sign up for a free computer and free health care all on the taxpayer dime,” he said. “Given the economic times where you are talking about a Republican majority that is looking at cutting $360 million, maybe they should back away from the government trough before they start making cuts to education.”
“On one hand they come to town and they want to cut the size of government — does that mean all of government except themselves?” Governor Schweitzer said. “I think if you are running for public office you probably have a personal laptop and that should be good enough.”  Governor Schweitzer has also recently accused the Montana legislature of being the “biggest boozers”.

From these statements, one could reasonably assume that both Senator Van Dyk and Governor Schweitzer use their own computers for work,  refuse a salary including the per diem allowance and forgo all health benefits.  We can also assume that other than Schweitzer’s Sunday mass communion vino, he probably isn’t much of a drinker.  Surely their liberal mouthpiece, Montana Cowgirl is not being paid with any Montana taxpayer dollars either, right?  After all,  that would make them all HYPOCRITES and you know what they say about those in glass houses.



The Petty Perspective From Within King Schweitzer’s Glass House


Brian Schweitzer and Kendall Van Dyk think Republican legislators are hypocrites and boozers.

Governor Schweitzer really loves Montana’s legislature.  In light of the high rate of compensation ($10 or so/hour) the lawmakers  rake in at work, he wants them to provide their own personal laptop computers for legislative use.  After all, they are making the big bucks while working during Montana’s biennial session.   Today Schweitzer blasted Republican leadership for approving laptop purchases for legislators, calling them hypocrites for campaigning on fiscally conservative platforms.  Schweitzer said that he stopped all computer purchases in the executive branch a few months ago to save money. He says he now only purchases computers if absolutely necessary.

There is no word on whether the governor’s staff uses their personal computers at work, but House Majority leader Tom McGillvray doesn’t seem to think so.  Schweitzer’s comparison to the ban on new executive branch computers is flawed because none of those state employees are required to use their own personal computer. And neither should lawmakers, McGillvray said.

The “feed bill”, which pays for operation of the legislature was approved Monday containing a computer stipend capped at $1000 for lawmakers.   Since 2007, legislators have been given a stipend of up to $1,500 to buy a laptop computer for their own use.

Some democrats plan to oppose the bill.   Sen. Kendall Van Dyk of Billings said tea party-backed Republicans who have trashed government spending need to live by their own rhetoric. He pointed out lawmakers get to keep the laptops even if they lose their next election.  “Before they do any legislative action up here they sign up for a free computer and free health care all on the taxpayer dime,” he said. “Given the economic times where you are talking about a Republican majority that is looking at cutting $360 million, maybe they should back away from the government trough before they start making cuts to education.”

“On one hand they come to town and they want to cut the size of government — does that mean all of government except themselves?” Schweitzer said. “I think if you are running for public office you probably have a personal laptop and that should be good enough.”  Last I checked, Brian Schweitzer was indeed an elected official.  I’m guessing he probably doesn’t use his own personal laptop for work but I could be mistaken.  Where does Governor Schweitzer live?  Perhaps he should forgo his accommodations at the Governor’s Mansion in favor of an more economical Airstream?  Surely the state could make some extra money by turning the governor’s house into a Bed and Breakfast… although I doubt Travelocity and Expedia would assist.  And Sen. Van Dyk…. I’m guessing you are working without compensation or health insurance?

Anyone who has known a state legislator (or has cared to research the issue) is probably aware that the service they provide is a substantial sacrifice.  Their compensation is actually rather minimal and they reside away from their families during the session.  Governor Schweitzer has consistently criticized the entire legislature for everything from being “boozers” to being fed by lobbyists.  For a guy who keeps talking about bipartisanship and working together to pass an adequate budget, he sure has an interesting way of displaying his affection.

I’m not sure how things work in the Montana state government, but I’ve never had an employer expect or even allow me to use my personal computer at work,  primarily due to security concerns.  I do believe that the computers purchased with legislative stipends should probably belong to the state and that upon leaving the legislature, they should be returned.

Governor Schweitzer Loses a Round to the Boozers


Schweitzer isn't likely laughing now.....

Helena District Judge Kathy Seeley dismissed Governor Brian Schweitzer‘s lawsuit against the 2009 Montana legislature today due to a lack of legal standing.  Claiming House Bill 676, a companion bill to HB2, was unconstitutional because it contained multiple subject matters (Montana’s constitution allows only the general appropriations act, House Bill 2 to contain multiple subject matters) and that as a result,  Schweitzer’s veto powers were compromised.  Schweitzer, instead of vetoing the bill, allowed it to become law without his signature in 2009.   Lawyers for the legislature argued that he could have vetoed the bill if he had legal issues with it and Judge Seeley agreed as Schweitzer wasn’t able to identify any impairment of his veto power whatsoever.  Judge Seeley’s decision can be found here.

Legislators on both sides of the political aisle praised the judge’s ruling, expressing hope that the litigation has come to an end to avoid wasting further taxpayer resources.  Schweitzer has not yet decided if he will appeal the judge’s ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.

Last week, Governor Schweitzer took jabs at the legislature, claiming they were the “biggest boozers”.  He cited Department of Revenue data that showed a spike in liquor sales in the Helena area during Montana’s biennial legislature.  Ignoring the fact that the legislature brings literally thousands of people to Helena in lobbyists, legislative staff, and citizens testifying on bills, he instead chose to place the blame on Montana’s lawmakers.

The Log In Governor Schweitzer’s Eye


“In politics, it doesn’t matter what the facts are, it matters what the perceptions are. It is the way you frame it.” Brian Schweitzer, Montana Governor

Governor Brian Schweitzer, well-known around Montana for his hard-drinking and overly flirtatious behavior recently used a tax revenue press conference to publicly criticize Montana’s legislators.       Citing Department of Revenue data indicating that wholesale liquor sales increase in Helena during the biennial legislative session, Schweitzer appeared to place that blame solely on the legislators.  “These are the ones who are the biggest boozers” said Schweitzer.

In a session already expected to be contentious, the comments aren’t sitting well with Montana’s lawmakers.  “That is outrageous. We work very hard,” said Dave Lewis, a Helena Republican who has worked in one capacity or another around the Capitol for decades.  Considering the number of lobbyists and legislative staff in Helena for the session, it  is ridiculous to blame the liquor sales spike on only the 150 elected lawmakers.   Legislators  make significant sacrifices to serve  in Montana’s 90 day session living away from their families and being paid only minimally.

Hallmark mechanisms  of alcoholism and other addictions are the use of  projection and a tendency to blame others. Recognizing and owning one’s problems is key to recovery.  Perhaps Governor Schweitzer is hiding his own chemical dependency issues by projecting his faults on to his adversaries.  I have personally witnessed on numerous occasions,  excessive “boozing”  by Brian Schweitzer himself and his behavior is certainly not becoming of the office he holds.  In the past, Schweitzer has criticized legislators for eating “thick steaks and old whiskey” compliments of lobbyists.  No word on who buys the beef and spirits for the governor.

Lefty Love Affair With Endangered Democrat Jon Tester Ends Like a Bad DREAM


The End of a DREAM

Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester have had few successes in recent years.  Conservatives feel they have  ignored the wishes of their constituency in pushing through national healthcare reform mandates and other unpopular legislation while progressives feel they haven’t done enough.  Some liberals now refer to the Montana Senators as “blue dog democrats” and describe their political ideology as “right of center”.

You know things are really bad  when your most vocal and loyal fans turn on you though.  In a tragedy befitting a political Harlequin romance novel,   Markos  Moulitsas, the influential founder of the lefty website DailyKos, has broken up with Senator Jon Tester.   After the desperate Senator expressed his intent to vote against the controversial DREAM act,  Moulitsas took to publicly criticizing the man he’d once described as the “future of the Democratic party”.   Moulitsas tweeted “Good luck getting reelected now A**hole” as well as a host other disparaging Twitter comments about the man he’d once loved.

The DREAM act is over, possibly forever; and with it ends the liberal dream of millions of new undocumented Democrats becoming legal voters.  Moulitsas and other progressives have been betrayed by Tester’s desperation as he is facing a difficult reelection bid in 2012.  Montana voters would not forgive the Senator’s support of the DREAM  act on top of the national healthcare reform mandates so Tester caved.  It remains to be seen whether liberals will forgive Tester or express their disappointment in the Senator by closing their checkbooks but it is certain they will not soon forget.  Steve Daines,  a Republican Montana businessman is thus far Tester’s only opponent in the 2012 election although there is speculation that Montana’s lone Congressman Republican Denny Rehberg will seek Tester’s seat in the US Senate.

 

End of a DREAM, Loyal Supporters Turn on Tester

 

 

Brian Schweitzer’s Pathological Projections


Whether invented to cover for revenue projection mistakes in his initial budget or due to delusions, Governor Brian Schweitzer has suddenly discovered an additional $120 million to add to his structurally unbalanced budget proposal.

Schweitzer blasted the Legislature and its fiscal staff for routinely under-estimating the revenue required to formulate the state’s budget yet in recent years, revenues were also considerably lower than the governor’s budget director’s projections.  The governor also made it clear that there will be no need to cut state programs (sigh) and implied that any future cuts in education could essentially be blamed on misguided priorities of Republicans in the legislature.

Schweitzer still plans to use one-time money to balance his budget as well as robbing surpluses in fiscally responsible school districts.

According to Montana Policy Institute’s recently released Pork Report, 10 out of the 25 highest paid state employees are psychiatrists.  Although that may seem excessive and wasteful, Schweitzer is a tough case.  We may need to hire a few more mental health professionals.

Schweitzer’s Pseudo Balanced Budget Scheme


 

Schweitzer tries to sneak by a budget lacking structural balance

 

With barely an  increase in revenue, a sluggish economy and increased costs, how can Montana balance their budget without making cutbacks or increasing taxes?  Governor Schweitzer’s proposed budget manages to do all of the above, but how?  And is it legal?

First of all, his budget will spend more than it takes in, which means it is not structurally balanced.  His budget relies heavily on  various pots of one-time money in order to “balance” but the next Montana governor will not be able to rely on that money and will likely be left with quite a mess.  $95 million dollars of one-time money will be added to the general fund in his proposal.  This money is in large part, from the coal tax fund which is typically used for local government grants.

By essentially stealing money from oil-rich school districts and giving it to the poorer schools, Schweitzer is able to punish the districts for their fiscal conservatism while rewarding those who can’t manage their money  in order to pay for his proposed $38 million increase in education funding.

He also plans to provide state employees one and three percent raises over his two year budget.  Ever the trickster, his budget only needs to pay for 6 months of the 3 percent increase as he proposes it take place in January of 2013.  He is also proposing tax breaks for many businesses and homeowners.  $28 million will come from enhanced crackdowns on those he and the Department of Revenue feel aren’t paying enough taxes.  Sounds lovely.  Get a tax break, receive an audit.

Republicans want to fix the state’s troubled pension funds but Schweitzer failed to address this in his proposed budget.  Although Republicans can rewrite Schweitzer’s entire budget, it ultimately requires his signature so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.  Montana requires a balanced budget, does one that is structurally unbalanced really fulfill that requirement?

.

Disgruntled District 36 Democrats Declare Dastardly Deeds Responsible for Julie French’s Defeat


 

A NE Montana couple is upset that Julie French was defeated in Montana HD 36

Although the Northeastern Montana laugh of the week was provided by the traveling gentleman who thanked the area hospital for their kind and compassionate assistance with his horrible binding case of constipation, Teresa and Robert Jensen (Reserve, MT) provided some competition. Their sugary-sweet love letter to recently defeated Montana state representative Julie French appeared in the Sheridan County News (Plentywood, MT) on November 11, 2010:

 

Thank you Rep Julie French for the dedicated and loyal service you have given the district the past four years in the State Legislature.  During your years in Helena, you proved yourself to be a tireless dependable worker on behalf of your district.

Your legislative accomplishments are solid and you showed time and again that it was your constituents who counted, not the special interests.

I’m very proud of the clean campaign you ran. You talked about the issues that are relevant to our part of the state and you didn’t make any easy promises that will be impossible to keep.  There were no false statements or slanted views. Your campaign was yours and yours alone. Your years of experience and knowledge will be a loss to the legislature, especially in dealing with BNSF.

I want to thank the voters of Sheridan County who rejected the well-funded campaign of fear and smear and voted for Julie.  They deserve credit for standing up to the outsiders who made this one of the most disgusting election campaigns in my memory.

But I am disappointed that neither the Knudsen campaign nor the responsible republican leadership in Sheridan County did not publicly and visibly repudiate those tactics.  It will be a blot on their reputation for a long time.

We need to get away from the kind of negativity that characterized this campaign.  People need to work together to resolve the issues and challenges that face the state and the district.  All our eyes now will be on your successor and we will be watching to see if he lives up to all of his promises.

Julie, while you may not be going back to Helena for the next term, I know your commitment to the people of House District 36 and to the common good of our communities will continue to find ways to express itself.

Again, thank you, Julie, for all your hard work on our behalf.

Sincerely,

Teresa and Robert Jensen

 

Mainstream Montanans will certainly miss Julie’s voting record.  In her time in office, she was able to make many new friends including  unions, radical environmentalists, and many other oppressed minorities.  She should be proud of her ‘D’ scores from Montana Shooting Sports Association, her anti-business scores of 21% and 32% from the Montana Chamber of Commerce, her score of 14% from the Montana Family Foundation, her 100% scores from radical environmentalist groups and her score of 85% from NARAL.

Businesses won’t miss her votes nor will those who work in the oil and gas industry, unborn babies, hunters and gun enthusiasts, stockgrowers, or those with family values.  Apparently Teresa and Robert Jensen don’t believe those issues are relevant to their part of the state.  District 36 is located in the northeastern corner of Montana where residents enjoy hunting and work primarily in the agriculture or oil industries.

According to her voting record, Julie French doesn’t feel Montana should require drivers license and professional examinations to be in English.  She also was opposed to creating a searchable website database for taxpayers to learn about the state budget.  Julie had no interest in defining a person either.  Julie wasn’t all bad for Montana though, after all, there were 7 legislators who voted to spend more than she did (out of 100).

So best wishes to Austin Knudsen who apparently, with his vicious campaign well-funded by special interests, stole the election with his dirty tactics.  That is what democrats say about all campaigns after they are beaten fair and square.  It appears that District 36 voters moved decidedly right like the rest of the state.  Teresa and Robert Jensen will have to enlist the help of the purple-shirted thugs next time.

 

Attention Eastern Montana Schools: If You Don’t Spend Your Oil Money, Schweitzer Will


 

Another liberal who punishes fiscal responsibility

Schweitzer has a message for Eastern Montana school districts that don’t spend all of the money they receive from oil and gas tax revenue- he plans to spend it for them.  Instead of recognizing and appreciating their frugality, he plans instead to punish the schools by forcing them to share their oil and gas revenues with the liberal side of the state.

 

Eastern Montana school districts rely heavily on the oil and gas tax revenues.  The few counties that would be impacted by this change are sparsely populated and remote.  The climate is very extreme.  Other than hunting season, tourism is almost non-existent.   When is the last time you heard of someone vacationing in Baker?  The K-12 school there budgeted only $300,000 of the $5.9 million they received in oil and gas revenue, according to Schweitzer.

Montanans in the areas producing most of the oil and gas in the state feel that this proposal is fair only if oil and gas development is open to the entire state.

But Willie Duffield, lobbyist for the Oil, Gas and Coal Counties, called Schweitzer’s plan “a bad idea.”

“The state’s already getting over 50 percent of the oil and gas revenue and distributes it around the state,” Duffield said. “So there’s no need for any more.”

If the state wants to distribute this additional oil and gas money to schools around the state, Duffield said, it needs to authorize drilling for oil and gas in more places.

“There’s oil and gas all under the state,” Duffield said.

We are all aware that the bulk of Montana’s natural resources are produced in these areas and that the schools there benefit from them. To those who want to benefit from Fallon County‘s oil and gas revenue, I suggest they relocate to Fallon County.  Liberals just don’t get it.  Here’s a news flash…. New concept: Cut SPENDING and eliminate wasteful programs instead of finding new ways to steal the required funding.

Montana Democrat Party Hires Purple-Shirted Thug as New Executive Director


Get ready for the purple shirts, Montana!

The Montana Democrat Party was apparently unimpressed with election results as they released their executive director last week.  SEIU political director, Ted Dick of Helena was hired to replace him.

What can Montana expect from Mr. Dick?  It is likely that the dirty mud-slinging campaign tactics he is known for will intensify.  Earlier this year, Ted Dick and the SEIU donated  at least $10,000 to Main Street Advocacy, a progressive “Republican”  group supporting moderate Republicans in contested primary races with Tea Party backed candidates.  Main Street Advocacy eventually returned the money, but Dick’s connection to the group appears to be significant.

Montana Republicans may want to investigate Senator John Brueggeman’s connections to such a group as well.

The Montana Democratic Party has its work cut out.  The people of Montana have spoken and they said, loud and clear: “We prefer a conservative direction in our state”.  So, Mr. Dick, I can’t wait to see how the SEIU’s signature  dirty political practices will affect campaigning in Montana. Will the Democrats have purple buses and rent-a-mobs at their disposal whenever necessary?  Will we see purple-shirted operatives counting ballots perhaps?  After the dirty campaigning by Kendall Van Dyk in SD25, one almost wonders how it could get much nastier.

Something tells me Montana’s political practices commission will be rather busy.

Montana Governor Isn’t a Fan of Tourism


King Schweitzer Hates Tourism

So what is a glory-hound bully king governor to do when it appears he will eventually lose his ill-conceived battle? He changes the rules, of course.

Through Governor Schweitzer,  Montana is sending quite the message to the more than a dozen online travel booking agencies that he is suing in his quest extract more tax revenue.  That message is: “Hey, promote some other state, we don’t like tourism.”  Perhaps those companies will treat us like they did Columbus, Georgia.  After a court ruled that the online travel companies should indeed be paying more taxes, most major booking agencies simply dropped the city from their listings all together.

In Montana, the difference between the bed tax revenue that is paid and the amount the governor thinks it should be is estimated at a paltry $100,000  annually.  One of the agencies targeted by Schweitzer, Travelocity, had just announced a half-million dollar promotion plan for our state when Schweitzer thanked them with a bright, shiny, new lawsuit.

Many jurisdictions across the nation have filed similar lawsuits across the nation and nearly all rulings have favored the travel booking companies.  A representative of Expedia said the lawsuits are a question of whether the companies should pay taxes on their margins and fees. Cities and states that levy taxes on the Expedia’s commission lower its incentive for doing business there, he said.  Some cities, after failing to win similar lawsuits, have amended their laws and informed hotels that if they cannot force the agencies to pay, they will force the hotels to do so.  It is expected that, in the event the cities prevail, the booking agencies will do whatever it takes to recoup the taxes from the hotels.

Claiming that it is just the usual housekeeping, the Montana Department of  Revenue plans to publish new rules that apparently recast implementation of the hotel bed tax which clarify the the taxes. The new rules specify that the agencies need to pay tax on the retail amount received from customers, not the wholesale  value of the room.

In Montana, the online booking agencies have some help in the ongoing dispute.  The Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Taxpayers Association say the Department of Revenue is wrong to use a rule-making process to go after the online companies.

However things play out, it is obvious that these lawsuits will hurt our state’s entire tourism industry.  The economic impact will remain to be seen but surely it will be larger than $100,000/annually.   And in the event  Travelocity and the other number of agencies are victorious, perhaps Governor Schweitzer will send  his brother Walt, who has been described as “Helena’s 800-pound gorilla and state government’s elephant in the room” to shake them down.

Confused By Laws, Governor Schweitzer Sues Online Travel Companies


Schweitzer and his beloved Jag

Today Governor Schweitzer and the state of Montana sued more than a dozen online travel agencies instead of thanking them for bringing tourists to our struggling state.

According to the MT Department of Revenue, Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, and others pay bed taxes on the wholesale portion of the room as opposed to the total amount which includes their fees.  The booking agencies claim that Schweitzer’s interpretation of law is incorrect and that the bed taxes should only be accessed on the amount of money taken in by Montana hotels and that the difference between the total amounts and the wholesale prices is so minuscule that it would produce only $100,000 or so for the state.

Earlier this year,  at Max’s 2010 Economic Development Summit, Schweitzer embarrassed the state by publicly confronting Travelocity leaders over the dispute on the very same day that the group laid out plans to formally promote Montana.

Governor Schweitzer, your big “surplus” shouldn’t be saved by raping an industry that already contributes significantly to Montana’s economy.   Sorry buddy, this time you may have to enact some cuts in state government to make up for the nearly half billion projected budget shortfall.  You may have to stop bragging that you run your state like a ranch and start admitting you are biting the hand that feeds us.

When You Cease to Exist, Who Will You Blame?


Democrats aren’t apparently ready to accept any responsibility for the state our nation or Montana.  One liberal blogger- a Schweitzer cheerleader-blamed it on corporate interests.  According to her/him/it, there just wasn’t  any cash available for democrats.

After all, it’s virtually impossible, especially in a year when Republicans are charged up with rage and Democrats are apathetic, to run a legislative campaign when one side has several million dollars and your side has squat.  There was simply no cash available for Democrats; whereas millions in corporate cash, as I detailed in a recent post, were spent by conservative groups. In some races there were as many as a dozen negative mailers dropped against the Democrat, where as the Republican candidate would get maybe one or two, or maybe none.

Many legislative races should have been won by democrats that were not, because the resource disparity was simply too great.  That’s showbiz. You need to go big or go home, and Dems couldn’t go big cuz the money wasn’t there.  A few large corporate interests sent huge money into Montana to influence the election.

Many are blaming Max Baucus- for sending 30 paid staffers to Nevada to campaign for the embattled Reid, for not pushing the public option, for failing America and Montana for 35 years.   Where was Tester?  In the days leading up to the election, he was campaigning in Missouri, Nevada and California….. naturally.  They managed to come together at the end, however; in their GOTV effort Saturday-Monday.

There was one “popular” democrat who seemed to be invisible during this election season- that is, when he wasn’t bragging on every national television show possible about running our state like a ranch and his “massive surplus”.  Yeah, you guessed correctly….. Brian Schweitzer.  Where was he?  Whether he was concerned about polarizing his potential constituents in his future run for US Senate, hiring some more government workers, or patrolling his personal wildlife reserve on Mullan Pass, we don’t know.  One thing is likely though, whatever he was doing was done so to benefit Brian Schweitzer and Brian Schweitzer only.

Surprisingly enough, I haven’t yet heard anyone in Montana blaming George Bush yet….. I’m confident it won’t be long.  Democrats need to look in the mirror.  This election was NOT so much an endorsement of the Republican Party, but a DENOUNCEMENT of liberal values and policies.  Americans- and especially Montanans- don’t want to be governed by the left, nor the right, nor the center.  They want to govern themselves.

 

Kendall Van Dyk. Sam Kitzenberg. Arlen Specter.


Before Kendall Van Dyk met the Northern Plains Resource Council……… he was a Republican.  “I was born into a Republican family and I spent more of the  years of my life as a Republican than I have now a Democrat. ”  Political opportunism at its finest.  I bet his parents are thankful they don’t live in his district.  It is one thing to become an independent but quite another to go so far across the spectrum to change parties- can a moral compass just disappear? This reminds me of the time Brian Schweitzer told me he was really a republican.  The governor doesn’t care much about parties, I believe that.  Brian Schweitzer is not a team player unless it benefits Brian Schweitzer.  Regardless of Van Dyk’s claims, he is known in the legislature as being a hot-tempered whiner who plays for his own team.  Whether or not you agree with Roy Brown’s politics, he is known by both parties as a consistent, even-tempered statesman.

Immediately After Reelection, Governor Schweitzer Broke Land Access Pledge


“As the governor, I’m not going to allow out-of-state interests to buy up lands and restrict access to public lands and streams.”- Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana

Another Broken Campaign Promise, Schweitzer Will Say Anything to Get Elected

What Governor Schweitzer forgot to mention was that he personally planned to buy up lands and restrict access to lands and streams as opposed to allowing out of state interests to do so.  Schweitzer owns 670 acres of land up Mullan Pass- land that in the past was available for hunting and fishing.  Shortly after being reelected in 2008, Schweitzer, citing vandalism,  placed chains, locks and signs prohibiting access to the land.  At least 4 signs grace the property- each reads “No trespassing. Jim Brenden no longer owns this ranch. Please respect my privacy. No hunting, fishing, snowmobiling or 4 wheeling. Do not enter.” Schweitzer said that if asked permission, he will most likely allow hunting, hiking, and snowmobiling although he fails to post a phone number or to otherwise direct parties who are interested in obtaining permission.

The federal stimulus provided $330,000 to upgrade the US Forest Service road providing access to the land. Schweitzer isn’t pleased that the road was improved- he preferred the remote nature of his property. It is good news for those angry with the governor’s signs, gates, and fences, however.  Hoodlums wishing to retaliate can more easily poach his elk and throw their litter onto his land-  of course neither behavior is advised.  My suggestion is to call the Capitol to ask Schweitzer himself.

Want to hunt, snowmobile or picnic? Give ole Bri a call…
Governor Brian D. Schweitzer
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
P.O. Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801
(406) 444-3111, FAX (406) 444-5529

Perhaps if he doesn’t answer, you could contact his pal Montana Representative Kendall Van Dyk, Montana’s own environmental super hero who single-handedly clarified stream access laws across Montana.

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Montana Democratic Party Hiding Behind Shadowy Veg PAC Attack Ads


 

 

Acceptable For Me, Not For Thee

 

Liberal Hypocrisy: While Quietly Funding Sleazy New PAC, Montana Democrats Whine About Kendall Van Dyk Being Unfairly Tied to Obama in “Attack Ads”

 

Across Montana this election season, letters to the editor and newspaper articles are denouncing the Values Energy & Growth PAC’s sleazy campaign tactics.  The obscure new political action committee’s C-6 filed recently with the Montana Commission of Political Practices sheds some light on this group which has been making waves primarily in the Montana SD25 race between Roy Brown and Kendall Van Dyk.  The Democratic Legislators Alumni Association, funded by the Montana Democratic Party is the SOLE source of funding for the group behind numerous large mailers suggesting that Roy Brown intends to kill the trout in our rivers with his pals at BP.  Misleading at best, the group’s mailers all present Roy Brown as a wealthy out-of-state oil executive who is out of touch with Montana’s needs. In reality, he hasn’t worked in the oil industry in over a decade.  While the Montana Democrat Party funding the Veg PAC isn’t necessarily illegal, Montanans certainly deserve to know who is behind the mudslinging.

Kendall Van Dyk’s virtual silence on this issue- combined with the “coincidence” that his campaign mailers use the very same photo of Roy Brown used in the Veg PAC’s attack mailers- suggests collusion.  The latest mailers quote Montana Cowgirl, an anonymous liberal blogger under fire by her own supporters for “gay-baiting”.  While the blogger is a consistent supporter of the liberal agenda- in particular that of Montana’s governor Brian Schweitzer and Kendall Van Dyk, her credibility is non-existent as her defense and incessant praising of all things Schweitzer suggests she exists solely for that very reason. The Veg PAC’s use of consulting firm Strategies 360 is also interesting to note considering the group’s VP is a former deputy communications director for Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Kendall Van Dyk has denied knowledge of the Values Energy & Growth PAC and the Democratic Legislators Alumni claims they gave funding to the group after the Montana Democratic Party put them in touch with the group- which only existed 5 days prior to absentee ballots being mailed.  As reported in the Billings Gazette last week:

The Democratic Legislators Alumni Association had given $15,000 to VEGpac the day VEGpac was formed and another $10,000 on Oct. 8. Also required to reveal its finances Thursday, the Democratic Legislators Alumni Association listed just one donation from June 24 to Oct. 16: The Montana Democratic Party, which gave the Democratic Legislators Alumni Association $49,384.

It isn’t difficult to follow the money here, folks.  Everything is connected.  An anonymous Schweitzer cheerleader blogger, an environmental extremist candidate, the Montana Democratic Party….. yet everyone involved knows nothing.  Interesting.  In typical liberal fashion, they are keeping it classy.

I encourage those in SD 25 who have yet to vote to denounce attack ads with your vote.  This story is only the beginning.  Roy Brown’s campaign has been classy and respectful, choosing to attack Van Dyk’s record and agenda as opposed to creating dishonest connections and smearing his opponent personally.  Although democrats are complaining of Van Dyk being smeared by attempting to tie him to Obama, it is difficult to defend when the numerous photos of Rep. Van Dyk posing with Obama are on his flickr photostream.  In contrast, tying Roy Brown to BP is an outrageous assertion as there is no evidence to suggest anything of the sort.