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.

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.

 

Yes, Your Vote DOES Count


In the final recount, Kendall Van Dyk has defeated Roy Brown by a margin of only four votes in Montana SD25.  My condolences to the state of Montana, in particular to members of the state senate.

Congratulations to the Montana Democrat  Party aka Veg Pac (Values, Energy & Growth PAC).  Apparently sleaze is an effective campaign tactic, one that was rewarded with a landslide victory of 4 votes.

 

I hope Kendall doesn’t find his new senate colleagues to be too  ‘intellectually small‘ for him.

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.

 

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.