The Olsens dig a deeper hole


st patty's day jen olsenJust a quick post to let everyone know what Montana Shrugged, the Tea Party Hate Group is up to these days.  Instead of hiding in a cave, apologizing, or entering some sort of rehab like most people do after they are exposed as bigots, Jennifer and Eric Olsen instead sent their entire list of “supporters” an email filled with lies.  Although montanafesto was not mentioned specifically, it isn’t a stretch to assume they were referring to this blog.  All grammatical errors in the following email are theirs:

Since our last memo, the liberal and progressive bloggers have made false accusations against Jennifer.  This is a concerted effort to takedown the good conservative leaders in America. Since forming the Montana Shrugged Teaparty group, we have received a good share of hate mail.  We figure that goes with the territory of conservative causes.  WE are proud to lead the charge in this battle.  The most blatant of these lies which was picked up by the News was manufactured by a local blogger who has shown consistency in the past of promoting false lies about many conservative leaders in Montana. 

We want you to know that there is absolutely no racist bones in our bodies  We are adamantly working against President Obama’s agenda to fundamentally transform America from a free Constitutional Republic to an Oligarchy type government where government rules all.  WE as leaders of the Teaparty, as well as the Country overall, are under attack by the liberal and progressive activists.

Every turn of the pages in the news, shows Obama’s concerted effort to control people’s freedom ever more.  The continuing deficit spending and Obama’s refusal to push for a budget is pushing our great Country to bankruptcy.

We all need to stand up against it more now than ever.  Obama is a lame duck leader without any cause to reform.  He is hell bent on breaking this country and pushing it into a socialist European like nation.  Hmmmmm how well is Europe doing?  Not well.  In fact, many Countries over there are breaking towards a capitalistic society where free enterprise rules.

One way that you all can do to help is come out in force to our rallies and parades.  Volunteer to help us make the gatherings larger and more entertaining.  We are planning the 4th Annual Teaparty Rally in Billings on April 15th.  You can sign up to attend on Facebook page under name of Montana Shrugged TEA Party Patriots.

Please check out Drill Baby Drill radio show every Monday night at 6:30 pm mountain time.  Call in to 760-259-2312 or listen to athttp://www.belladangelo.com.  You can check out archives of past shows too.

Follow us on Facebook too.

Thank you for your continued support. Stand with us and rally for America.

Eric is doing a new blog radio show on Monday Nights through a network setup in North Dakota.  As you recall, he used to to a local interview show in Billings which was very successful in getting the message out and vetting many candidates in previous State Elections.
Even Joe “The Plumber” was on the show via Skype.

Please check Eric’s new radio show out at  www.belladangelo.com or call in to 760-259-2312 to listen in or chat (EVERY MONDAY 6:30 PM).  The show is titled Drill, Baby, Drill.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ONLINE

 

If simply disagreeing with them makes me a liberal, well, I guess I’m guilty as charged, but I think the Olsens need to learn that there are plenty of conservatives who disagree with them, including me. Jennifer Olsen, who posted an image of a racist stereotype on her Facebook page on Feb 15, 2013 seems to be enjoying her infamy.  No word from Brian Kenat, another tea partier/Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee board member bigot, but he was sure to unfriend Facebook friends we shared after montanafesto published screenshots flaunting his incredible prejudice last week. Perhaps we will ask some hard questions on their popular obscure radio show.  Hopefully the bigots have learned a lesson.  Often, however; when actions have no consequences, that isn’t the case.  Too bad for Yellowstone County’s Republicans.

 

GOP’s Fork in the Road (updated with statement from Corey Stapleton)


Today our following post appears on Montana Cowgirl as a guest analysis. Update:  Includes statement from Corey Stapleton following post.

GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stapleton’s latest ad, by highlighting elderly opponent Rick Hill’s various policy failures, accuses him of having “too much baggage” to effectively govern Montana.  The direct “baggage” in question includes supporting a state sales tax, chairing a board that supports Obamacare, and receiving “sweetheart real estate deals”. Among the indirect baggage (displayed in the ad on various pieces of luggage) is Jack Abramoff (Hill received substantial campaign donations from Abramoff, a lobbyist convicted of bilking tens of millions of dollars from Native American tribes), Ponzi Scheme (Hill fell victim to a Ponzi scheme and lost millions), Vietnam (Hill is allegedly a draft dodger) and Worker’s Comp (the program Hill claims to have reformed boasts the highest rates in the nation).   Not only has Rick Hill failed to deny any of these allegations, the Democrats conducted a fact check of the points made in Stapleton’s ad and determined it was factual.  Hill has consistently been absent from primary season’s conservative debates… perhaps to avoid answering tough questions.

What does Stapleton have to lose by “going negative” in this ad?  Unfortunately for Hill, sometimes the truth is negative and when one files to run for political office, ALL past actions are fair fodder. Stapleton was smart to focus on Hill’s various political inadequacies.  If he had instead created an ad to hit Hill personally by further exposing his extramarital affair with a Sip N’ Dip cocktail waitress, or Hill’s ex-wife publicly stating that Hill had abused her emotionally and had criticized her appearance and lack of education,  perhaps such a piece would qualify as an attack ad, and one taken right from Hill’s own playbook.

From High Country News:

“Rick Hill was so far behind in the polls last winter that his two Republican primary opponents said Hill wasn’t even a contender for Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives. So Hill tried something. He went negative.  He attacked his Republican opponents, who both complained he was being nasty and unfair when he called them tax-and-spend liberals in bad disguises. But the strategy worked. Hill rallied in the final weeks of the campaign and won the primary with 44 percent of the vote, eight points more than his closest opponent.”

Hill’s record is chock-full of relevant accomplishments, there is no need to attack him personally.   For instance,

  • Hill edged out 433 other competitors to win the dubious honor of runner-up in the Worst Boss in Congress contest, which took into consideration that Hill had once thrown a letter opener at an aide and screamed “I don’t eat deli” when a staffer brought him the wrong type of sandwich.
  • Hill’s infamous criticism of childless opponent Nancy Keenan- Keenan had no choice in the matter due to a hysterectomy, an experience she called “devastating”.
  • Hill’s abysmal voting record
  • Hill’s ties to Triad Management, Inc; a shadowy shell group accused of numerous campaign finance law violations. After Hill expressed to Triad a need for a third party to attack opponent Bill Yellowtail for “wife beating”, the management firm funded brutal campaign ad attacks on Yellowtail. Particularly hypocritical was Hill’s statement “I stood up for my kids, he left his.” considering Hill’s refusal to leave a seedy lounge after his wife discovered him carousing with his younger lover while his young children waited in the car.

Vilifying Hill by citing any of his aforementioned imperfections seems more like educating voters than attacking an opponent.  Montanans have a right to hear the good, bad and in this case, the ugly truth about our candidates.   Rick Hill represents the worst part of the Republican party- the lobbyist fourth branch of government and for decades has said one thing and done another–all the while profiting handsomely off the political system. When Rick Hill quit Congress, more Montanans viewed him unfavorably than favorably, Stapleton’s ad addressing Rick Hill’s “baggage” simply reminds them why.

UPDATE:  Corey Stapleton has released the following statement:

To all who are interested,We received some interest surrounding the different allegations in my
campaign’s latest ad “Baggage”, which highlights some of my opponent Rick
Hill’s public choices.  I hide behind no lawyers, no employees, no spokesmen
who can say whatever–and then recant the following day (as we just saw with
Brock Lowrance, Hill’s campaign manager, switching his narrative from “not
only false but entirely fabricated” to admitting Hill did own the Helena
properties referenced as “Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”.)And of course, Rick Hill has not made any statements denying the bags.  It’s
important to know, as governor, the contrast of my openness and Hill’s hiding
behind spokesmen and lawyers, is germane to the character and integrity issues
brought up in ‘Baggage’, and further underscores our argument of his
unelectability as Governor.  We think it’s important to have transparency and
openness in our political leaders.  I will be that kind of Governor.I strongly stand by the ‘bags’ in our ad:“Vietnam”:  Selective Service record enclosed.

“Obamacare”:  Actions, not words.  When you sit on a board of directors you
are accountable for the actions of the organization.  When a ship runs aground
the captain is accountable, regardless.  This is a big deal in leadership, and
I feel passionately about this bag because it displays Hill’s hypocrisy:  Blue
Cross Blue shield is one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of Obamacare.
They spent $9.7 million in 2009 alone, lobbying for Obamacare.  They currently
have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court—supporting the
‘individual mandate’ which is the backbone of Obamacare!  It is what it
is–Blue Cross/Blue Shield supported and is supporting Obamacare.  And Rick
Hill bragged on two occasions of “chairing a board of directors for one of
the largest insurance companies in America” at Republican Lincoln Reagan
dinners that I attended in 2011.  I took his statement at his word.  If it is
untrue that he chaired, but was rather a director, that is because we based
our statement on his.  And all directors of the Board are accountable to Blue
Cross’s actions.

I copy and paste right off Google (Mar 26, 2012):
legitgov
ShareThis
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mass. filed amicus brief in support of Obama’s
health-care law –In SCOTUS case, Obamacare has industry allies 26 Mar 2012
Lawyers from the health insurance and hospital industries have petitioned the
Supreme Court to save President Obama’s health-care law from a constitutional
challenge by 26 states and a small-business group, while other big-business
lobbies have stayed neutral. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts filed an
amicus brief with the court in support of Obama’s Department of Health & Human
Services. The insurer writes that it played a central role in crafting Mitt
Romney’s Massachusetts health-care law that served as the prototype of
Obamacare… On the question of constitutionality, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of
Massachusetts argues that the individual mandate is “a valid exercise of the
Commerce Power because Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in
the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care
substantially affects interstate commerce.”

My plea to Montana:  Do not be fooled by the entities or politicians who hide
their actions behind confusing words and legal mumbo jumbo.  Blue Cross is a
good company, but their corporate structure allows them scalability when it
suits their purpose and deniability when it doesn’t.  We need leaders to hold
both our corporations, unions AND our government accountable.

“Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”:  Rick Hill admitted on Aaron Flint’s “Voices
of Montana” radio show last year to a caller’s question regarding such real
estate.  Hill responded that he hadn’t had that property “since 2002 or 2003″.

“$400 million tax”:  Hill lobbied for passage of former Gov. Marc Racicot’s
sales tax proposal.

“Workers Comp”:  Hill routinely takes credit for his role in the 1990’s
workers comp overhaul…fastforward: Montana’s Workers Comp was routinely
panned as one of the worst in the country in the 2011 Legislature.  If you
want credit for the fix you get credit for the failure, too.

“Jack Abramoff”:  Congressman Hill received donations from Jack Abramoff.

“Ponzi Scheme Lawsuit”:  Rick Hill constantly touts his success in business on
the campaign trail.  He made millions of dollars in the insurance business,
but then lost those millions in the investment business.  Victim or Baggage?
You decide..because I can’t—Hill’s pre-emptive lawsuit, and his role in the
investment scam, won’t be determined until sometime after the Primary
election–when it would be too late for Republicans to act (should they
nominate Hill).  Montanans deserve to know why Hill filed a lawsuit several
months after filing for office.  See enclosure

“Lobbyist”:  Rick Hill was a registered lobbyist for the past decade, since he
left Congress.

All of the bags in “Rick Hill’s Baggage” are tied to public records.  While
“Baggage” might be tough on Hill, it is fair.

Sincerely,

Corey Stapleton
Candidate for Montana Governor

 Click on the links below for more information:

Yellowstone County GOP Chair’s Smear Machine Targets Innocent Candidate for Governor


“I am blessed with a great deal of energy, which I use to help our community elect Republicans.”- Jennifer Olsen.

But only SOME county Republicans apparently…. Jennifer Olsen, co-founder of Montana Shrugged Tea Party Patriots and current chairperson of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee has recently leveled baseless accusations against a rival GOP Gubernatorial campaign.  You may recall that only a few months ago, Ms Olsen was the administrator for the Ken Miller for Governor Facebook page, but it now appears that she has either abandoned the group of green-shirted morons in favor of the Neil Livingstone campaign or she was simply thrown overboard.  Now acting as Livingstone’s unofficial spokesperson on the Montana political blog rounds, commenting as “Drill Baby Drill”, she can be found typically lauding the many virtues of Mr Livingstone.  While I take no issue with her loyal support of her favored candidate, I am disappointed and frankly appalled that the leader of Yellowstone County’s Republican Central Committee has chosen the incredibly un-classy- and public- route of accusing a rival campaign of creating a depraved anti-war website featuring pornographic photos of Mr. Livingstone when literally ZERO evidence supports her claim. Check out her comments below, which were made on this Montana Cowgirl post.

Keep drilling, Ms Olsen. Perhaps you will eventually discover reality.

You may also recall this video clip featuring Ms Olsen.

I’m a Uniter, Not a Divider!

Ms. Olsen shockingly offers no evidence to reinforce her claims that the Stapleton for Montana Governor campaign was involved in any capacity in the creation of the pornographic anti-war website.  Stapleton, former Montana Senate Minority Leader raised more money than the other GOP candidates for Governor last quarter, while the other campaigns, including Livingstone’s, continued to struggle.  Perhaps the Montana Republican Party should ask whether it is in good taste for Central Committee leaders to smear rival GOP campaigns.  *On a side note, Olsen’s attack on the Stapleton campaign should be enough evidence for most Montanans to support his bid for Governor.  After all, he is obviously not enough Teatard to pass muster with the Queen of the Tea People.  I suggest making a donation immediately.

One is left to wonder why a world-renowned international security and counter terrorism expert (Mr. Livingstone) has not determined the source of the website.  Perhaps he designed it himself.  After all, it does depict him in a dominant and quite flattering manner. Also perplexing is that Mr Stapleton, a former naval officer, would be accused of making a site devoted to exposing war criminals.

Unfortunately for Ms. Olsen, Screwingamerica.com is actually registered to David Lambon.  Perhaps the guilty culprit is the dude in the photo below, who does vaguely resemble Mr.  Livingstone’s lucky lover in the pornographic cartoons.

His domain information is all available here…. In the future, I advise Ms Olsen to conduct even a minimum level of research before making such wild allegations.  Tin Foil Hat Warning: Perhaps she believes the Stapleton camp is in bed with Mr Lambon (not literally, we hope).  This isn’t likely either considering the site was created in 2008 and hasn’t been updated since 2010. All porn images on the site are of a homosexual nature.  It does appear that Ms Olsen intended only to throw some mud at Stapleton, hoping to slow the campaign’s momentum in an effort to assist her candidate.  Livingstone is a smart guy, I suspect he will quickly distance himself from the Olsen train wreck as Ken Miller did.

Thinking Republicans in Yellowstone County (I know there are some) would best question Ms. Olsen’s ability to lead the Republican Central Committee in the state’s most populous county in such an important election year.  All candidates should be highly uncomfortable with the chairperson of the county GOP inventing elaborate stories about candidates she opposes.  Hotly contested primaries are contentious enough without party leaders involving themselves in libelous claims.  Ms. Olsen should step down from her position and offer everyone involved a sincere apology.

An Alternate Path to Defeat: Democrat Files for Montana GOP Governor


The Montana GOP is going to need a bigger tent to fit all of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor.  Yesterday, former state transportation director Jim Lynch announced his candidacy in the already very crowded field. Lynch, who lost a Senate race as a Democrat in 1994 and has been a member of Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer‘s  cabinet since 2005 insists he is actually a Republican.  In today’s Billings Gazette, he says

 “I’m probably like most Montanans,” he said. “Most of my views are Republican. I’m a Republican. I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president in my life.”

Although he claims he is running to “pave the way for economic development”, it appears he simply needs a job after Governor Schweitzer asked him to resign under very questionable circumstances.  The governor claimed the DOT’s  hiring of Lynch’s daughter potentially violated nepotism laws but rumors have circulated for some time that Lynch was also under investigation for misappropriating hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to buy an airplane, violating Montana’s constitution.  Shortly before Lynch resigned, a district judge also ruled that the DOT had violated the Montana Environmental Protection Act in approval of the mega-loads plan with an insufficient environmental assessment. Considering the hiring of his daughter took place four years ago, it does appear there may be more to the story.

Sorry Lynch, I don’t think you are like “most Montanans”.  In fact, you may have even more baggage than Rick Hill. Ironically, Lynch was rumored earlier this year to be pondering a Democratic run at Governor, but apparently further fracturing the Republican Party was a preferable path to defeat. Fourteen have filed for candidacy thus far:

Republicans:

–State Sen. Jeff Essmann, Billings. Essmann crafted the unpopular SB 423, which essentially forces medical marijuana patients to seek black market medicine.

–Bob Fanning, Pray. Fanning is an anti-wolf activist.

–Ex-U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, Helena. Ahead in fundraising, behind in morals.

–Neil Livingstone, Helena. Livingstone’s campaign is essentially broke, but he has the means to buy himself name recognition.

–Jim Lynch, Kalispell.

–Ex-Sen. Ken Miller, Laurel.  Ken Miller was sent by God to run for Governor….. again.  His campaign is rather peculiar.

–County Commissioner Jim O’Hara, Fort Benton.

–Ex-Sen.Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Billings.

–Drew Turiano, Helena, self-published sci-fi author

Democrats: Attorney General Steve Bullock, Helena, and State Sen. Larry Jent, Bozeman.

Independent: Robert Coate, Bozeman.

Libertarian: Ron Vandervender, Cascade.

No party disclosed yet: Ronald Lassle, Helena.

Is Lynch a Republican or a Democrat?  With his “grandiose sense of self-importance”, he perhaps suffers  from a cluster B personality disorder, like Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Many afflicted have a shifting morality, they are always ready to shift values when necessary.

 

Trouble in Senator Essmann’s Bubble



Despite Essmann’s confident assertion that his new black market marijuana law is entirely constitutional, Judge Reynolds today issued a ruling today temporarily striking nearly all of the components of the law the MTCIA  considered unconstitutional, overly burdensome, or entirely unreasonable. The ruling places patient access and provider ability somewhere in the murky area between fully upholding Montana’s new medical marijuana law, SB423 which was set to take effect July 1 and temporarily nullifying the legislation in its entirety. Available here, the ruling in favor of the medical marijuana industry, successfully enjoined several provisions. Three of those provisions were voluntarily ceded by the state during the  legal proceedings last week (patient limits, warrantless searches, and the ban of advertising).  The others are as follows:

The Good

  • Providers can thankfully still charge patients for their medicine. SB 423, cannabis donation legislation, required that providers receive no compensation of any sort.  The judge found this expectation unprecedented.   “The court is unaware of and has not been shown where any person in any other licensed and lawful industry in Montana – be he a barber, an accountant, a lawyer or a doctor – who, providing a legal product or service, is denied the right to charge for that service or is limited in the number of people he or she can serve,” Reynolds wrote.
  • No board of medical examiners investigations for physicians recommending cannabis to 25 or more patients in a 12 month period. SB 423 required doctors to pay for their own mandatory investigations after recommending 25 or more patients in a year.
  • Unannounced searches:  This component was ruled unconstitutional and providers and patients will not be subject to the warrantless searches required by SB 423.
  • Advertising ban: This was ruled unconstitutional and will not take effect July 1.  Caregivers/providers are still able to advertise.  I wouldn’t advertise at this point, however; as I believe laying low is rather important during this transition period.
  • Patient limits: This component has been stricken.  Providers are free to have as many patients as  they desire. (SB 423 called for 3 patients maximum)
The Bad
  • To those on probation:  Probationers’ cards apparently are now void until we are able to obtain the signatures to repeal this law.  The faster we accomplish this feat, the more quickly we can suspend ALL of SB 423, not just the components ruled unconstitutional today.  If you have the resources, I’d suggest looking into a lawsuit to ensure the same health care access as other Montanans.  Keep in mind, I’m not an attorney however and cannot give legal advice.
The Ugly
Here is the real problem….unfortunately, we have a glitch in the transition period between being “caregivers” under I-148 and “providers” under SB 423.
  • There is no current provision in the law protecting cultivators from arrest as of midnight tonight.  It does appear, however; that the judge intends for commercial activity, legal cannabis commerce to commence and essentially this appears to be a bureaucratic oversight. But…. we don’t know.  We are hopeful this legal limbo period will be cleared up by the Department of Health and Human Services, but of course; this isn’t a guarantee.  We cannot tell you that you won’t be arrested.  Some activists are suggesting providers arrive in Helena tomorrow to sign up to become a “provider” rather than a “caregiver”.  Please be very careful in the meantime.
  •   Another wrinkle is that the new law requires “providers” be named as such, meaning there is a possibility that we won’t be able to transition to the new status until patients actually NAME us as their provider, but we are hopeful that the DHHS will assist in any way possible.  There is an allowance for a short transition period in the new law which allows “providers” to bypass the FBI background check and fingerprint requirements if they are accepted as “providers” prior to October.  Anyone intending to become a provider is encouraged to avoid these requirements, unless of course; you feel comfortable essentially sending the federal government notification that you intend to break their laws as well as an address to locate you for arrest. But that’s just me….
What Now?
I’m very confident that we will obtain the signatures required to overturn SB 423 completely but it won’t be easy, especially in a state the size of Montana. We have to do so by September 30. We need all of the help we can get, so if you haven’t yet; please sign up at mtcia.org.  We need assistance at every level- from those only willing to sign the petition to those who will serve as county or house district captains.
Keep in mind, there are MANY Montanans who are neither patients or providers helping with this effort.  Our state government sought to overturn the will of Montana voters (62% of us voted to approve the medical use of cannabis back in 2004) and every Montanan should be concerned about this.
*Participating in this important process does not brand you as a marijuana user/proponent/grower/millionaire (ha).  In fact, I’m not currently a patient or caregiver/provider. I stand to gain nothing from overturning SB 423, yet I’m coordinating the entire Eastern zone (which doesn’t even include the county in which I reside), assisting with management and coordination of gatherers in my county and house district, participating in my area MTCIA committee, running Montanafesto, and mothering my beautiful 13 year old mini-me political activist daughter.  None of us are being paid for our efforts and we are working our asses off to ensure patients have safe consistent access as I believe we all (yes, even Republicans) have a responsibility as human beings to help our disabled and infirm.  We are also working to ensure cultivators have a livelihood, so consider helping us help you. *
 You may not care about marijuana, but what about your second amendment rights?  How will you feel if the government decides to enact onerous legislation restricting your use or possession of firearms?  What if your industry is deemed “immoral” or “not what Montanans voted for”?  How will you feel then? If our legislature can overturn a citizen’s initiative passed by so many voters, what sort of message are we sending our already apathetic youth?  It is high time that Montanans start defending our rights, defending our constitution, and defending those of us who aren’t able to defend ourselves.
We are sorely in need of financial assistance as this was only the beginning of this battle.  We have an incredible legal team, but that sort of representation is very expensive. Due to anxiety over the new law, we’ve had a difficult time fundraising the past few weeks.  Now that we have a partial victory, please consider donating to our cause.  We currently owe our legal team a large sum of money. Click on the “donate” tab at mtcia.org- even if you can only spare a few bucks.  If anyone has any fundraising ideas, non-monetary donations, etc, feel free to contact any member of the mtcia board or to leave a message for me here (montanafesto@live.com). Thanks so much to those who have donated not only financially but with their time and talents.  This is a team effort and we are all making history.  Prohibition has a long history of failure, which side of history are you on?
Any questions?  I will do my best to answer queries in the comments or via email.
RAIDS: **warning**
There are rumors that federal raids will be occurring through the first week in July. I cannot confirm the validity of these claims, but please be careful.  Assert your rights as American citizens.  Barring presentation of a valid warrant, don’t allow law enforcement to enter your premises. 
There is, as I write, a federal and state raid occurring in Montana right now, reportedly in Missoula.  There is reportedly nothing atypical about it- plants are being seized, as well as inventory and equipment.  Don’t regard these growers are criminals- it could just as easily be any one of us.  In fact, it appears the most visible and compliant growers have actually been the ones raided.  There is, however; no pattern to the raids.  Some small growers have been raided because of connections to larger growers.  Most are dispensaries, but some were delivery only.  Don’t think for one moment that you are safe- you aren’t.  
Maintaining a total plant limit of under 100 may be beneficial. Please use common sense…. Be as close to invisible as possible.  No newspaper ads emblazoned with marijuana images, no Jason Christ-like tactics like smoking from a massive water bong on the Capitol lawn.  We are a professional but controversial industry so acceptance requires compromise.  

Shrugging off the Tea Party Takeover of Montana’s Republican Party


Apparently the  tea people takeover of the Yellowstone Central Committee wasn’t quite enough for the Queen of the Tea People, Jennifer Olsen, the Ken Miller for Governor Campaign Facebook Administrator and founder of Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots.  Check out a recent post from Ms. Olsen:

VOTE for me! for vice-chair of the state republican central committee in June!
So…..I have decided to run for vice-chair of the state republican central committee. I have a lot of ideas that can help unify conservative voters across the state of Montana and I would appreciate your vote at the convention in Butte in June…
So…..I have decided to run for vice-chair of the state republican central committee. I have a lot of ideas that can help unify conservative voters across the state of Montana and I would appreciate your vote at the convention in Butte in June. As one told me, the job is what you make of it, and I’d like to see the Republican party of Montana do BIG things. Including of course, winning every seat up in 2012. Who’s with me?Working on my slogan…..but it’ll be good!  
No matter what my slogan…..I want to win in 2012!  Not just for me but for the future of our state…..and our country.  
You can count on me to be a ‘doer’.  I would appreciate your vote in June!

 

Remember this though?  Eric Olsen, In February of this year, co-founder of Montana Shrugged and Jennifer’s father; said “We are equal opportunity haters.  We don’t like Republicans, we don’t like Democrats.  We are Americans working on American issues.” It does certainly seem odd that nearly every core member of Montana Shrugged is now an officer in the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee, but perhaps it is only a coincidence. Always controversial, the group seems thrives on publicity, whether positive or not.
Although Ms Olsen sends out mass emails from Montana Shrugged, she also claims that her personal opinions aren’t necessarily those of Montana Shrugged’s. Considering she is a co-founder of the organization, one may assume she aligns herself with the same values, and after all, she was using the organization’s email address, not her personal one.   A complaint filed against the group for their partisan campaign and election activities was dismissed late last year due primarily to media exceptions in Montana law.  The Office of Political Practices is keeping a close eye on the group, according to sources.
Many of Montana’s most recent session’s freshman lawmakers are sympathetic to the tea people’s cause and although they consider this year’s session to be a resounding success, some of their own party disagree.
“You are scaring the you-know-what out of them with this kind of talk,” veteran Republican lawmaker Walt McNutt said. “This needs to stop and stop now. Stop scaring our constituents and stop letting us look like a bunch of buffoons.”
It is also worth noting that approval ratings of the 2011 legislative session hovered below the 15% mark, so legislators who consider it a success were apparently using completely different criteria than mainstream Montana.   Perhaps accomplishing thoughtful draconian marijuana reform repeal contributed to the legislature’s confidence in themselves. After all, there was Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann’s strange speech at Yellowstone County’s Lincoln Reagan dinner….  after an extensive introduction befitting of a king, the arrogant and aloof Essmann read a letter from a medical marijuana patient who essentially told Essmann that the senator had failed Montanans and succeeded only in destroying an industry.  Essmann’s response, naturally; was “Mission Accomplished”.  Evidently, job killing is now a tea people-approved activity.
Good luck to Jennifer Olsen in her quest to take over the Montana GOP. Perhaps readers would like to suggest some pithy campaign slogans for Ms. Olsen.  Should you require some inspiration, I’ve included a few screenshots from her freedom-loving Facebook account.
Should the screenshots not provide quite enough material to choose from, an automated slogan generator is located here.

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.

Meet Montana’s “Scourge”


Scourge: 1.  A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.

I witnessed most of the medical marijuana testimony in Helena the past few months, testimony given primarily by Montanans who Rep. Dave Howard has termed the  “scourge”.   While some of the stories are more riveting  than others, there are numerous patients whose testimony is etched into my brain permanently.  It takes a lot to make me cry, but to make me cry in public requires far more.  The stories of several patients accomplished just that.   I don’t know that I could sleep at night if I had sought to deny a suffering human being a safe, effective, and sometimes life-saving medication simply to reinforce my poor parenting skills.   Meet a few members of Montana’s “Scourge”.

“Sometimes the most compassionate answer you can give is NO, you don’t need this.”–Sen Rowlie Hutton (R- Havre). For a clear contrast and a lesson in conservative compassion, Senator Hutton’s closing arguments on HB 161 are below.

 To Sen. Hutton I say, with no compassion whatsoever, that “we don’t need you.”  It seems the majority party in Montana’s legislature needs a reminder that they aren’t playing a game- these are real people’s lives being manipulated by their puritanical policies. 

Scourge:  2. a tormentor, somebody or something that is perceived as an agent of punishment, destruction, or severe criticism.

Who is the real “scourge”?

Not What Montanans Voted For


I’m reluctantly inclined to agree with Montana’s Republican legislators who voted to overturn a citizen’s initiative citing that it “wasn’t what Montanans voted for”.   While I don’t agree with overturning an initiative without another initiative, we are indeed experiencing something we did not vote for….. I’m looking squarely at Montana’s Republican legislators.

YOU, our elected officials, are NOT what Montanans voted for.  You campaigned on platforms of job-creation, economic stimulation, fiscal responsibility and personal liberties.  Unfortunately for Montana’s citizens, you are frauds- too lazy to reform Montana’s medical marijuana law, too arrogant to research any aspect of the issue that failed to fit into the utopian image of Montana life according to Joseph Smith…. or Brigham Young….. or the Rev. Harris Himes (who also believes gay people should be executed). Have you ever considered accepting your failures as parents? Our morals aren’t given to us by our government and anyone who is unable to impose morality on himself is likely to be unsuccessful in legislating it for others.  Perhaps your behavior nullifies your credibility? Set a good example instead of asking your GOVERNMENT to do your job.

For reasons unknown,  the Republicans in our legislature, armed with a radical marijuana agenda, aligned themselves early with Puritanical religious zealots and  prohibitionist organizations disguised as community interest groups.   Never reaching out to the patients who used cannabis to relieve symptoms of debilitating illness, nor consulting with cannabis growing facilities, the Republican wolves instead set goals for a full repeal of the law, reluctantly approving a back-up reform bill in the event that Governor Schweitzer will veto the full repeal of Montana’s medical cannabis law.

It is astounding that Montana has legislators eager to defend our “right” to drive while drunk but unwilling to allow us to self-medicate with a safe and effective treatment recommended by our physician.  It is disgusting that we have obese legislators boozing and eating themselves into oblivion while we pick up their health care tab.  Most disturbing is the hypocrisy of it all.

The legislators continue making their claim that I-148 isn’t what Montanans voted for, so we must repeal.  Considering the language of the initiative:

MONTANA MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT: Medical use means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the consumption of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition.

It does seem rather strange that the GOP legislators would continue in this direction…. 62% of Montanans voted to approve the use of cannabis.  Allowing Montana voters a chance at repealing or changing it seems reasonable.  I’m not a cannabis user but I must admit hearing arrogant Republicans speak on behalf of all Montanans as well as making numerous unqualified judgments on medical concerns is infuriating. There are no arguments for prohibition that make any sense at all, but the GOP, who should be fighting for our individual freedoms has instead sold their souls to puritanical hypocrites- as a result, we have a government punishing people for attempts to fight pain and incarcerating people for harmless pleasure.

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.

The puritan through life’s sweet garden goes to pluck the thorn and cast away the rose.

Another Hard Knock for Rep James Knox


Representative James Knox used his website http://www.citizentruth.com (it has since been removed but check out this link about it) to degrade city firefighters.  Here is a screenshot of his Facebook account where he clumsily attempts to promote his “very cool website for Montana”.  He’s so sly! Knox, well known for his attention to grammar confuses us by using the word “sean”.  It doesn’t seem to be someone’s name, as it is not capitalized, so we can only assume that Knox made a spelling error.  I’m not especially nit picky about small details but if our legislators aren’t smart enough to even utilize spell check (especially when the one in question owns a computer business) I’m afraid there is something terribly wrong.  Anyway, I digress……

Knox promotes his website, citizen truth, to mock firefighters

According to a report released by the city of Billings yesterday, Knox’s ongoing and one-sided feud with the firefighters didn’t end with his cool new website.  It appears that he was not only commenting on the Billings Gazette online forums under various online identities, he also caused a serious altercation between the Fire Chief and several retired and active duty firefighters while they were eating at a local restaurant.  Here is the story:

Retired firefighters Don Regnier, Phil Phillippi and Ed Newlin and active firefighters Mike Martin and Ron Martin (no relation) were having their weekly breakfast on Dec. 7 at the Alpine Casino on 16th Street West.  A firefighter made a reference to a comment left online in discussion (shown below) of a Billings Gazette article about the firefighters by “taxed2crabbiness” who they suspected was actually Rep. James Knox who was seated at the next table- also eating I presume.

Grammatical errors, Knox? Really?

Never one to shy away from the limelight, Knox was certain to not only send the Billings Fire Chief Dextras a text message, but to also call him immediately thereafter to tattle to inform him that his firefighters were conspiring to sabotage the brakes on Quick Response Units as well as planning to put additives in the water.  He told Chief  Dextras “You better get over here“.  Within minutes, Dextras arrived in uniform.  He approached the table of firefighters, red-faced and fuming angry, according to the firefighters.  Oddly, however; Knox claims the chief was very calm.  From the Billings Gazette:

“He was angry as hell. He was very angry,” Regnier said.

“The man had fire in his eyes. Three-quarters of the way through it he still called me a liar.”

Mike Martin, one of the active firefighters and a union leader, said the incident was very tense. He said the firefighters would never do anything to damage city equipment or put the public in danger.

“It was so confrontational that I didn’t know if I was going to have to jump up and fight or what,” Martin said.

An investigator was called in from Helena by the city of Billings.  He found that Dextras inappropriately disrupted a meeting of private citizens after assuming wrongly that the firefighters were already guilty based solely on Knox’s phone call. He found no evidence that the firefighters were actually planning to sabotage the trucks.  The city redacted Knox’s name from the investigation documents although Knox gave permission to use his name.  That doesn’t surprise me a bit for some reason.  Knox says, “it was pretty evident what they were saying.” Apparently only to Knox.

This is yet another chapter in the continuing drama surrounding Knox.  Rep. James Knox was fortunate enough to ride the tea party wave into office last November, but constant mistakes, malicious attacks, and refusal to acknowledge the needs of his constituents will no doubt combine to ensure he is a ONE-TERM legislator.  It is unfortunate for Knox who suffered a heart attack shortly after the 2011 legislative session began and likely needs his $733/mo health insurance compliments of we the people, but fortunate for Montana.

See below for some highlights of Knox’s first and last legislative session.


Speaker Milburn: Please Control Representative James Knox


Representative James Knox, Continues to Dig his Hole

I’d sure appreciate if Montana’s Speaker of the House, Mike Milburn, would assert some control over his representatives. I’m tired of defending their actions as well as defending myself FROM them, one in particular.  James Knox sent me an email a few minutes ago.

from Rep. Knox <james@vote4knox.com>
to Nicole French
cc Alicia Knox <alicia@kbscs.com>
date Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM
subject My lawyer will

Nicole,

I and my wife have printed all conversations and the message you have posted on the web is not in any of our history.  I ask that you email me the date your claim of this valid message else I will be taking legal action for slander against my wife.

Your call, I will.

James

_______________________________

 

James Knox, you asked for it so you’ve got it!  The date in question is April 5, 2011.  Would you care to look at the screenshot again?  Although I do actually like your lovely wife Alicia, I don’t care for dishonest politicians.  Just one time, I’d appreciate if you could accept the blame and move on- you could even try apologizing for your increasingly improper behavior. If I were you, I would be more concerned about the other allegations circling about you.  Here’s a screenshot anyway though, watch for any grammatical mistakes, as I’m sure they are the fault of someone else, perhaps George Soros.  I feel the need to remind you that Mr. Knox would NEVER use poor grammar….


Oh, but it gets even worse.  This evening, in reply to a letter sent by Hiedi Handford of Montana Connect Magazine, Rep Knox responded in a delightful manner- the exchange is as follows:

On Fri, 8 Apr 2011 15:28:05 -0600, “Rep. James Knox” wrote:

Montana’s across the state have clearly said repeal it.
Thank you,
Rep. James Knox
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES KNOX House District 47
406-534-9582
____________________________________
From: Hiedi Handford [mailto:hiedi@mtconnectmagazine.com]
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2011 3:32 PM
To: Rep. James Knox
Subject: RE: A message from the “Scourge” 

You are so full of shit Knox. Look beyond your own damned nose……

Oh – and you and your wife celebrating patients suffering? What a nice couple you are…….”I’m glad we can take medicine away from people who need it”

Please move back to whatever rock you climbed out from under in whatever state you came from. You most certainly are NOT a Montanan.

Montana Connect Magazine
P.O. Box 432
Lincoln, MT 59639
~ We Bring Integrity & Credibility to the Medical Cannabis Industry~

_________________________________
On Fri, 8 Apr 2011 15:37:19 -0600, “Rep. James Knox” wrote:

 

FYI that post is slanderous and photo shopped I have initiated legal actions. If you actually can believe my wife would actually say that or I would in such poor English say something. Your high. Oh you are.
Thank you,
Rep. James Knox
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES KNOX House District 47
406-534-9582
“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” George Washington, letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795
______________________________________
Knox, by informing others that I used Photoshop to create a false post from Alicia Knox that he claims doesn’t actually exist (although it did before it was deleted) he is actually slandering ME.  Admonishing Hiedi over his unwillingness to use poor English gave me a chuckle because the post in question was actually one of his finer ones grammatically speaking. To mock a legitimate cannabis patient, calling her “high”, however; is reprehensible.
I must admit that posts about Knox were initially sort of sickly entertaining but now, I’m over it.  I’m tired of him hearing of his antics.  I’m tired of him mocking critically ill Montana voters, I’m tired of paying his salary and $733/mo health benefits, and I’m tired of him embarrassing the Republican Party (of which I’m a disgruntled member) and most of all, I’m tired of his actions contributing to our legislature’s public humiliation.  A biennial legislative session shouldn’t remind us of a Jerry Springer or Days of our Lives episode.

Do we really want someone like this representing us?

Interested in more information about James Knox? See the following links:

Eating our Own, A How to Manual By Rep James Knox

James Knox: Montanafesto Links

James Knox: Montana Cowgirl Blog Links

James Knox: Intelligent Discontent Links

James Knox: 4&20 Blackbirds Links

Perhaps you’d like to watch him cry?

Here are some more screenshots for your viewing pleasure.  I didn’t use photoshop on them- they are disgusting enough without alteration.  Click on each thumbnail to expand to full size.



 

Real Montana Scourge: Medical Marijuana or ‘Moral’ Majority


You may recall from last month, Montana’s 2011 Legislature earned failing grades in a Billings Gazette poll in which Montana voters were asked to judge the performance of the legislative body, led by Montana Republicans. In fact, only 24% gave the legislature a positive rating.  Judging from recent events, I’m left to wonder if perhaps they are striving for a new low.

The Republicans, by ignoring constituents and engaging in the sort of behavior conservatives  typically would associate with Nancy Pelosi have alienated even the most loyal supporters this session.   Our legislature is truly out of hand, as evidenced by my frequent anti-hypocrisy posts.  There is something very wrong when I cannot find even one liberal who is more deserving of criticism than those in the leadership of my own party. The Republicans, with a few exceptions; are downright obsessed with meddling in the private affairs of Montanans. Don’t forget about the the national coverage our state has received for frivolous legislation and unbelievable comments made by our GOP legislators…. this situation is unreal.  I am personally embarrassed.

* Below is a clip of Representative Ellie Hill of Missoula boldly defending the medical cannabis industry and patients prior to Representative Dave Howard of Park City, with contempt in his voice, referring to marijuana as a poison and of course, a “scourge”.  Conveniently, Howard also manages to casually blame the Governor Brian Schweitzer for the legislature’s refusal inability to pass thoughtful legislation regulating the medical cannabis industry- because the governor hasn’t “told ANYBODY what he plans to do” with HB 161.

*Representative Ken Peterson of Billings publicly stated that although the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the Montana Supreme Court has ruled a Montana law criminalizing homosexuals to be unconstitutional, he believes there are at least two violations of the law he would consider enforceable. The first of those criminal acts is the “recruitment” of non-gays by gays. I never realized when hanging out with our homosexual friends we were in so much danger. Thanks for letting me know, Rep. Peterson! He also believes that the Supreme Court decisions apply only to homosexual acts behind closed doors, so any public display of homosexuality would be fair game for potential enforcement by the MONTaliban officers.  Read all about Rep. Peterson’s raging homophobia here.

Reverend Harris Himes has been making the rounds- from testifying on behalf of Montana Eagle Forum, his congregation (yes, he is a pastor) and God.  He lectured committee members about repealing the medical use of marijuana and in favor of discrimination of gays, at one point even declaring that homosexuals should be put to death.  Himes finally explains exactly WHY the use and cultivation of marijuana should be prohibited here.  His proximity to God lends credibility and relevance to the pastor’s testimony.

The bigoted legislators and self-righteous individuals mentioned above do not represent the Montana in which I have spent my entire life and if they are considered moral creatures, I’m content being lumped in with the “scourge”.

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.

Hypocrisy or Hyberbole?


Montana’s GOP legislators, most of whom campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility and cutting government waste are now being labeled as hypocrites by Governor Schweitzer and many of the legislature’s Democrats.  After proposing early budget cuts, nearly every move made by  GOP lawmakers thus far has been criticized by the left.

  • Approval of $1000 stipend (down from the previous $1500 allowance approved in 2007) for purchase of a laptop to be used by members of the legislature- Governor Schweitzer thinks they should use their own computers while the legislature argues that other state employees aren’t asked to supply their own equipment.
  • Inclusion of provisions to increase health benefits for legislators in HB #1, the “feed bill” which pays for the biennial legislative session.  Democrats say that it equates to “voting themselves a pay raise” while Republicans state that voting for increased compensation for themselves is constitutionally impossible.
  • Intentions of repealing/nullifying exceedingly unpopular national health care reform mandates- Schweitzer and other Democrats are calling Republicans hypocrites for accepting health insurance from their employer, the state of Montana; while actively trying to thwart the implementation of Obamacare within the state.
  • Schweitzer also recently stated publicly that the legislators are the “biggest boozers”.  His accusation was most likely directed at the left as well as he didn’t distinguish between political parties.

What do you think?

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.

Legislature Opening Day: Brad Molnar’s Pet Monster, Helena Rife with RINOs


Did Molnar recruit a David Souter in newly-elected Travis Kavulla?

When Montana Public Services Commissioner Brad Molnar recruited the Harvard-educated  former associate editor of National Review Travis Kavulla to run against former state Sen. Don Ryan for the District 1 PSC position,  he likely had no idea what he was getting himself into.  Rumors have circulated since the November elections that 26-year-old Kavulla has been making deals with liberals and several weeks ago, he stated that he may not support Molnar, the senior Republican on the 5 member panel for the position of chair, citing Molnar’s involvement in an ongoing (and petty) ethics case. According to reporters John Adams of The Great Falls Tribune (story here) and Lee Newspapers’ Mike Dennison (story here),  Kavulla’s threat was apparently serious as he abstained from voting after Republican Bill Gallagher nominated Molnar for chair. As a result, the commission deadlocked at 2-2 with Democrats John Vincent of Gallatin Gateway and  Gail Gutsche of Missoula voting against Molnar.  Numerous further attempts to select a chair were unsuccessful.

 

Is newly- elected Travis Kavulla a RINO?

Kavulla said he’d support Molnar only if he agreed to sign the Chairman’s Code of Conduct that Kavulla had conveniently prepared for him (which can be found here).  A heated confrontation ensued,which can be viewed here .   The video of the clash between the PSC veteran and the inexperienced freshman commissioner indicates that Kavulla was undoubtedly aware the exchange was being recorded while Molnar was either oblivious or tolerant of the capture.   Needless to say, Molnar refused to sign the document.  In response, he later presented reporters with this “Kavulla Karta“.

 

Voices of Montana‘s Aaron Flint interviewed Molnar after the incident.  The first part of which can be heard here, while the full interview can be heard on this morning’s Voices of Montana.  The PSC will try once again to elect a chair today.   While Brad Molnar is no stranger to controversy, I’m going to take his side on this one.  Kavulla’s “Chairman’s Code of Conduct” strikes me as rather patronizing and incredibly juvenile.  He may be more at home on an episode of Punk’d than in Montana’s PSC.

Meanwhile, the Montana legislature appears to be far friendlier; in fact, some are worrying that the two parties are getting along too well.  Judging from the Facebook walls of prominent political insiders, from Tea party leaders and former legislators to bloggers and legislative staffers, conservatives are clearly worried that the moderate Republican leadership in both houses will ignore the wishes of voters by compromising with Schweitzer and liberals in the legislature.

Did voters in November not make it clear that they were uninterested in negotiating with thieves?  What good is a majority when moderates repeatedly reach across the aisle? “Bipartisan” always seems to be code for surrendering your principles.  Don’t we remember what happens when we make deals with Democrats?  It seems that many Republicans are lacking the memory capabilities of their party mascot.

If the legislature’s opening day is any indication of the sort of session we can expect, we are in for one heck of a ride.