Just 30 years old, his resume is already impressive: state champion high school debator, graduate of Flathead High School, honors graduate of Gonzaga University, law degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia, legal practice in Pennsylvania. Then, a return to his boyhood home, the Flathead Valley. Today he serves on various nonprofit boards, once served on Kalispell’s school board, coaches legislative debate at Flathead High, and practices law in Whitefish. Among his legal services: gun trusts. More on that later.
Next week, I’ll start looking at the elections in depth, concentrating on legislative contests. In the meantime, here’ what happened today as of 1800 MDT. I’ve provided links to the candidates’ websites when possible, but most last minute filers have made last minute decisions to run and are not prepared with campaign biographies, publicity photographs, and websites.
Champ Edmunds and Susan Cundiff filed today for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Edmunds is a state legislator from Missoula. Cundiff, also from Missoula, works for the School of Business Administration. She’s also an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International, a notary, and a sales associate at Victoria’s Secret. I suspect she’s running to publicize her business interests. Neither candidate is a threat to Rep. Steve Daines.
Filing for the 3 June 2014 Montana primary closes at 1700 MDT today. If there are surprises, they’ll pop up by then.
In the Flathead, the big questions are whether a Democrat will file for House District 7 or any of the county offices, especially county commissioner. A smaller question in the Flathead is whether any more Libertarians will join Christopher Colvin on the ballot.
Libertarians could affect the outcome of the races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and Public Service Commission District 5 (Flathead, Lake, Pondera, Teton, Glacier, and Lewis and Clark counties). So far, no Libertarian has filed for any of these contests, but I think more than one will. In a close race, a Libertarian will pull votes from the Republican and improve the Democrat’s chances of winning. Just ask Jon Tester, Steve Bullock, and the Republican Party.
Speaking at the Montana Democrats’ Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner in Helena last night, keynote speaker Cecily Richards made a mistake Montana’s Democrats must be careful not to repeat:
He’s a great, great senator for the state of Montana, and we’ll work very hard to try to re-elect him in November.
She meant “return him to the Senate.” As an appointed, not an elected, Senator, he can’t be re-elected until he runs for a second term in 2020, assuming he wins in November. Richards can be forgiven the mistake. But if Walsh and his supporters make it, they’ll open themselves for a hard counterpunch.
Rep. Steve Daines can’t use “re-elect” either, unless he changes his mind and decides to run for the U.S. House again.
Flathead Memo will be a nonpartisan blower of an ear shattering whistle whenever “re-elect” is abused in 2014.
The disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 in the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam is as fascinating as it is chilling. There was no distress signal. The airplane simply vanished in the dead of night. Whatever happened had to have been catastrophic and sudden.
It might have collided with another aircraft, an aircraft flying without lights and with its radar transponder turned off, or an aircraft controlled by a pilot with his brain turned off. It might have lost all electrical power, which seems equally unlikely. It might have been blown up by a bomb in its huge cargo bay. A pilot or hijacker might have dived the aircraft into the sea. It might have been shot down Or I suppose it might have been hit by an asteroid (possible, although rather improbable).
More pieces of the 2014 election puzzle fell into place this week with numerous filings. A major — and unpleasant — surprise was John Driscoll’s entry into the Democratic primary for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House. It was not a surprise that political war horse John Bohlinger filed for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate so that the voters could return him to the pasture instead of returning there on his own volition. Drew Turiano became the fifth, and surely the most colorful, Republican to file for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House. In the Flathead, Democrats are within one person of fielding candidates in all of the county’s legislative districts, not an easy task given the Flathead’s strong preference for Republicans. And at the end of the roundup, what a good friend says is the best backhanded compliment he’s ever read.
John Walsh’s cowardly vote against Debo Adegbile is beginning to hurt him with Democrats, who may switch their primary vote to Dirk Adams in protest. Here’s an example from the comments section on Missoula’s influential 4and20blackbirds blog:
Below, verbatim, is Derek Skees’ detailed account of events leading up to his announcement that he had received the endorsements of Conrad Burns and Bill Gallagher.
Did 79-year-old former Senator Conrad Burns endorse both Republican candidates for the Republican nomination for Public Service Commission District 5 — and not realize he had done so? That seems a distinct possibility.
What’s the matter with Sen. John Walsh? He joined six other Democrats in voting against confirming Debo Adegbile as head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Did Walsh do that because law enforcement officers hate Adegbile for serving as an appellate attorney for a death row inmate convicted of killing a policeman? Or, did he have a principled reason for his vote?
Was a 4 March 2014 break-in at All Families Healthcare, a Kalispell clinic that performs abortions, an act of terrorism — or a just an incident of vandalism and perhaps attempted burglary? A 24-year-old Columbia Falls man, arrested Tuesday evening when caught red-handed robbing a store on Main Street in Kalispell, is, reports the Flathead Beacon, also the prime suspect in the break-in at the clinic — but before that was known, many had concluded that the break-in was a political act, an act of terrorism committed by an opponent of abortion.
Sen. John Walsh and John Lewis support building the Keystone XL pipeline, which would cross northeastern Montana on its way to Houston, Texas, and the gulf coast refineries equipped for cracking the heavy bitumen based crude oil being shoveled and steamed out of Alberta’s Athabasca Tar Sands. For Walsh and Lewis, whether to build the Keystone XL is fundamentally more an issue of energy production and jobs — especially, jobs — than of global warming (or in the weasel phrase of the day, “climate change”).
That delights unions, many of them actively campaigning for building the pipeline because of construction jobs, but rankles environmentalists, who regard global warming as the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse and the Keystone XL as the Devil’s drinking straw.
Unfortunately, some environmentalists, looking for arguments against the pipeline, are deriding construction jobs as temporary and therefore of little benefit to local communities. That’s a mistake.
All construction jobs, by definition, are of limited duration; temporary. That doesn’t make them bad jobs, or jobs communities should discourage. Most construction jobs, especially those with union benefits, pay well and provide a good life for workers and their families.
The Keystone XL will not create many long term jobs along its route, but it will contribute to creating and/or keeping jobs in the gulf coast refineries — jobs just as important to the nation as job building the pipeline through Montana.
If environmentalists continue to rail against construction jobs, they’ll needlessly drive a wedge between themselves and organized labor.
I urge environmentalists to join me in cutting Walsh and Lewis some slack on this. Unless, of course, they like the sound of Sen. Steve Daines.
Wondering why the crack in the Wanapum Dam has officials so concerned? Take a look at the high resolution version of the photograph of the deformation in the dam that the dam’s owner, the Grant County PUD, just published (go the the PUD’s website for the full image). Something moved that shouldn't have moved. If I were living below the dam, I’d be ready to move to higher ground in a heartbeat.
Public confidence in the PUD’s handling of the situation will depend on whether the public believes the PUD is being honest and fully disclosing the facts. So far, the Grant County PUD’s use of its website to report developments on the situation appears to me to be consistent with good crisis management public information practices: just the facts, meaningful context, and no speculation. But if the PUD slips into an evasive, trust us mode that suggests important information is being concealed, confidence in the utility will erode, and erode quickly.
If the PUD’s public relations staff can find the time, it should consider publishing a graph that shows the effect of the lower water level on the dam’s energy output. Reducing the hydraulic head for the turbines from 80 to 60 feet is a 25 percent reduction in head, but because the relationship between the height of the head and turbine power is not linear, the reduction in power, and thus in generating capacity, probably is in the neighborhood of 40–50 percent.
We're not sending an army to expel Russia from the Ukraine's Russian speaking Crimean peninsula, so I wish President Obama would stop predicting there will be adverse consequences for Russia unless it withdraws from the Crimea. He's right to express concern for what Secretary of State John Kerry aptly called Russia's 19th Century behavior, but he should make no threats, direct or implied. This is an European issue with a long history — see the maps at Talking Points Memo — that we should leave to the Europeans. Demanding that Putin withdraw his army from the Crimea, and being rebuffed, only makes us look weak and foolish.
Just two items in today’s roundup, but they’re big ones. In Montana, Rep. Steve Daines is caught red-handed trying to mislead with statistics on the Affordable Care Act. And in the state of Washington, a huge crack in the Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River could have a ripple effect that reaches upstream all the way to the Flathead.
Seventy-year-old Max Lenington, Yellowstone County’s treasurer and a man unafraid to speak his mind, is in the news again — and again, it’s for speaking his mind in an ugly letter he ought not have sent to the editor of the Billings Gazette.
Lenington has apologized for the letter, which he admits was “over the top.” But he can’t seem to help himself and plenty of people, Democrats and Republican alike, think he should resign now instead of finishing his term, which expires at the end of the year, and retiring, which he says he’ll do.
It’s an expensive paperback, $38, and the author expects his readers to be intelligent. But for those willing to invest the money, and read with their brains fully engaged, Peter Musgrove’s Wind Power will return a wealth of knowledge on wind energy.
Once a lecturer in engineering at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, Musgrove finished his career working on wind energy in the private sector. Unlike most American books on wind energy, which are either homebrew manuals or engineering tomes, Wind Power is both an elegant history of wind energy and an analysis of wind energy public policy issues in both Europe and the United States.
Rewritten & expanded. Former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns and current Public Service Commission chair Bill Gallagher head a list of political heavyweights endorsing Derek Skees for the Republican nomination for the District 5 seat on the PSC. Gallagher, the District 5 incumbent, is not seeking re-election because of illness.
Skees represented House District 4 in the 2011 legislature, but chose to challenge Monica Lindeen for Montana State Auditor in 2012 instead of running for re-election to the legislature. Lindeen beat Skees 53.5 to 46.5 percent, but Skees beat Lindeen by 88 votes in the PSC District 5 counties.
Former Bigfork state senator Bob Keenan filed for the Republican nomination for SD-5 (map) late last week. He’ll square off with Rep. Scott Reichner, the three-term incumbent of current HD-9. This will be an interesting match-up, and one that at this point I consider a toss-up.
I’ve updated Flathead Memo’s table of Flathead candidates.
With the 10 March deadline for filing approaching, there are still no Democratic candidates in HD-4, HD-7, HD-9, HD-10, SD-4, and SD-5. Democrats have a bad habit of waiting until the last day to file, so there’s a high probability that most of these districts will be contested in the general election. House District 7 is a swing district that could elect a Democrat. Senate District 4 probably leans Republican, but could elect a Democrat if (a) the electorate sours on the Republican nominee, and (b) Democrats nominate a good candidate.
Dirk Adams filed for the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate late last week. Given John Walsh’s advantage in fundraising, lead in endorsements, and status as a U.S. Senator, I’d say the odds of Adams’ winning the nomination are only slightly better than the odds of winning the Irish Sweepstakes. Still, if he runs a high minded, issues oriented campaign, he could do a lot of good for both his party and himself even if he doesn’t beat Walsh.
One issue opportunity is energy.
Adams is the only major candidate to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil from Alberta to refineries in gulf coast Texas. Shoveling and steaming the bitumen based oil out of the Athabasca Tar Sands generates 10–20 percent more greenhouse gases in the well to pipeline phase than, for example, sweet light crudes. Opponents of the pipeline believe stopping it could hold tar sands oil production to its current two million barrels per day, and thus retard global warming.
There were dozens of exhibits at the Maker Faire at FVCC on Saturday, but the quality of the exhibits was uneven. Many exhibitors displayed the objects they made, but provided little or no written or visual information on how they made their objects. Only a few exhibitors had displays showing both what they made and how they made it. Most were there to show and talk.
Master explainer Alan McNeil’s 3D printer exhibit, for example, featured his printer manufacturing 3D objects, a three-panel display explaining what 3D printing is and how it works, and examples of the objects he has manufactured with it. He attracted dozens of people, especially rapt young people whose questions he answered with patience and precision.
I suspect some exhibitors were there simply to advertise their wares, and were loath to provide any information on how they make what they made lest they disclose their methods and impair their competitive advantage. That’s human nature, I suppose, and akin to a cook’s hoarding a recipe. But I think such fears are exaggerated.
At least two highly accomplished luthiers displayed their exquisitely crafted fiddles and instruments. Even if they had provided me with detailed blueprints and instructional videos, and all the necessary materials and tools, I could not have returned home and begun producing comparable stringed instruments. Knowing how a master craftsman builds something is not the same as being able to build it just as well yourself. You can take home the drawings for the fiddle, but unless you also take home the luthier, you’re not going to make the same music.
My advice to next year’s exhibitors: provide written and visual materials that explain how you make what you made.
Is hydroelectric power renewable energy? Some point to annual weather cycles and say yes, the rain falls, flows to the sea, rises to the clouds, and returns as rain and snow. Others say, yes, but: although the water cycle is eternal, dams are not. They fill with silt and become waterfalls that generate spray and nothing more.
Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh start Saturday at 0800 in Kalispell. Details below, and free coffee at the event.
At the more civilized hour of 1000, a “makers faire” kicks off at FVCC, sponsored by both the college and the Flathead County Library, aka ImagineIF Libraries. One of the exhibits is on making a pneumatic cannon, which, if it shoots potatoes, should fit in with the library’s plan to offer a workshop on building a chicken coop.
After you get back from the faire, you can read my comments on the Keystone XL pipeline and possible political blackmail by green voters and organizations.
That would be Edwin Berry, Ph.D, the Flathead’s leading global warming denier, whose attractively designed PolyMontana blog provides a smorgasbord of polemics by conservative and tea-stained authors.
Garner, of course, is the former Kalispell police chief who’s running for the Republican nomination for House District 7 (map) against Ronalee Skees, wife of Derek. Fisher is the former Kalispell mayor who’s running against state Rep. Mark Blasdel for the Republican nomination for Senate District 4.
Writing in the comments section of young-earther Roger Koopman’s Libertarians can help Republicans eject RINOs, Berry says:
Campaigning is underway in the Republican primary for Senate District 4 (map) in Kalispell. Former Kalispell mayor Tammi Fisher is running ads (screenshots below) on Facebook, asking viewers to hit the “like” button, and providing a link to her campaign website.
One like is from Scott Davis, a leader of the Kalispell Quiet Skies campaign that last November successfully rolled back a proposed expansion of the Kalispell City Airport. Fisher also opposed expansion.
A little after 0200 this morning, the sky started clearing, revealing the moon to the south, and wispy clouds backlighted by a strong auroral display to the north. My sidewalk and driveway were slick with black ice, so I limited myself to stepping onto my lawn just off my front porch and obtained the following photograph. A friend in eastern Montana reported clear, dark skies and a spectacular display of the northern lights.
I’m beginning to think I’m the only liberal blogger in Montana who isn’t, figuratively speaking, standing in front of the Missoula County Courthouse with a bucket of tar and bag of feathers demanding that County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg resign forthwith and spend the rest of his life repenting the sins the U.S. Department of Justice asserts he committed.
That’s because one never should take the prosecution’s case — in this instance, the DOJ’s case — at face value. Van Valkenburg and his deputy county attorneys may be guilty as charged, but they’re entitled to present a defense before judgment is passed. An accusation never obviates the need for a fair trial.
But I do hope the situation is resolved sooner than later. Regardless of the merits of the DOJ’s letter, the controversy over whether women involved in sexual assault cases are getting a fair shake from Missoula’s county attorney is hurting the community and depriving women of faith in the justice system.
Van Valkenburg’s truculence exacerbates the situation, making its resolution harder. He’s wise he’s not seeking re-election. And at some point, he might be wise to step down before his term expires. But right now, that’s his call, not mine.
The smarter people at NBC never will admit it, but Kirsten Cooper’s interview of Bode Miller was exactly what the network’s producers wanted: painful, and thus dramatic, video of a grown man losing his composure and breaking into tears when asked one question too many about his brother’s death.
Miller graciously absolved Cooper of misbehaving in the interview, but that doesn’t absolve NBC, or television in general (and in particular, the worst offender, CNN), from the reprehensible practice of asking those it interviews not what happened, but “how do you feel?” in hope of inciting an emotional outburst that will set the internet and talk radio abuzz with outrage or admiration, and thus improve ratings and increase profits.
That’s what Cooper and her bosses set out to do. They did it expertly. And they did it because America’s Olympics transfixed couch potatoes aren’t that interested in an interview about the technical aspects of running the Super G. “Bode, please tell us how you gained time at Gate 6 when everyone before you lost almost four-hundredths of a second,” elicits “well, I noticed everyone was skidding on the ice, so I shot a straighter line and increased my edge angle by 15 degrees,” which elicits a change of channels by society matrons in Savannah who don’t know shush from schuss but tuned in hoping Bode, or someone, would cry during the post-race interview.
Olympic coverage has become tearjerker television, reality television at almost its worst (the worst is National Geographic’s Snake Salvation), highly offensive but highly profitable. It’s a damned disgrace.
Updated. Today’s must read blog posts are at Montana Cowgirl, Intelligent Discontent, and 4and20blackbirds.
Cowgirl has a long post on the tea party’s attempt to disassociate itself from the bumbling Republicans on the Ravalli County Commission. Be sure to read Commissioner Foss’ close to deranged letter on the Flathead Water Compact.
At Intelligent Discontent, Don Pogreba concludes his detailed discussion of the U.S. Department of Justice’s letter criticizing how the Missoula County Attorney’s office handles accusations of rape and sexual assault with a call for the immediate resignation of Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg. Pogreba provides a link to the Missoulian’s story on the letter, which in turn provides a link to the letter. In a follow-up post, Pogreba urges Montana's attorney general, Tim Fox, to assist in resolving the situation.
At 4and20blackbirds, Jhwygirl, writing with tightly controlled fury, also urges Fox to become involved
Given Van Valkenburg isn’t running for re-election, I’m content to let him serve the remainder of his term and retire. The DOJ’s letter serves as the prosecution’s brief, and the prosecution’s brief always makes the accused seem guilty, so I’m loath to convict him without more information. Still, his truculent response to both the letter and the DOJ’s investigation of his office raises eyebrows, does him and his office no good in the court of public opinion, and undoubtedly generates rather than soothes fears that victims of sex crimes will not be treated justly by his office.
Although Van Valkenburg may intend to defend himself and concede nothing forever, he can best serve his community and successor by quickly reaching a responsible agreement with the DOJ.
Today, brief discussions of Sen. John Walsh’s military records, Jason Priest’s legal and political predicaments, residency requirement for state legislators, and cross-county legislative districts in Flathead County. I was tempted to offer a comment or two on the Republicans’ ridiculous big stink over Gov. Steve Bullock’s following the law when he appointed Walsh to replace Max Baucus in the Senate, but decided there was no sport in tommy-gunning ripe carp.
Halfway through the 10 January through 10 March filing season, Republicans have filed for every legislative district (map) in Flathead County, but Democrats are without candidates in five districts, including two Kalispell districts — HD-7 and SD-4 — that Democrats have a chance of winning.
Lists of filings are maintained by both Montana’s Secretary of State and Flathead County’s elections department. PDFs of candidate’s C-1 and D-1 forms are available from Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices. Detailed maps of the districts are available from the redistricting commission, and Flathead County’s GIS department. And below, Flathead Memo’s list of Flathead legislative candidates.
Most of Flathead County is rural/suburban. Districts in those areas are heavily Republican. But districts — Hd-5, HD-3, and HD-7 — in the county’s three major urban areas, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Kalispell, can be and have been won by Democrats in the last ten years.
Updated. I think we can safely conclude that Republican State Senator Jason Priest won’t be filing for re-election. Yesterday, reports the Billings Gazette, he was charged with crimes that, if convicted of committing, could lead to his spending more than one Christmas in the slammer:
According to a press release (full text below) from his Senate office, John Walsh’s governance priorities are civil liberties, spending cuts, and jobs — and apparently in that order.
These priorities, two of which are mutually exclusive, strike me as being determined by polling results.
Running as a guardian of civil liberties responds to reasonable fears that the National Security Agency’s snooping on Americans violates privacy, guts freedoms, and needs to be curbed. There’s widespread support across the political spectrum for that position. There, he’s on solid political ground.
But he’s on shaky political ground, and in policy quicksand, when he simultaneously advocates reducing the deficit and creating job.
Today Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced his choice for Lt. Governor: Angela McLean, head of the board of regents for Montana’s university system, a former schoolteacher. It strikes me as a pander to educators and identity politics appointment.
I'm left wondering whether Bullock simply has contempt for elected officials other than himself, or whether he’s so sure he’ll never die in office that he’s not obligated to choose someone who’s ready to be governor if a wayward asteroid obliterates him on his way home tonight.
I wish Ms. McLean well. But I also wish Bullock had chosen someone who had at least run for dogcatcher. Given he wanted to appoint an educator and woman, Denise Juneau would have been a much better choice. Juneau has won statewide office twice, and her star shines brightly. Perhaps it shines too brightly for Bullock’s comfort.
Magenta, also known as purple and fuchsia, is an extra-spectral color, a color not found on the spectrum of visible light as a single wavelength. It’s a combination of red and blue wavelengths with greater intensity than any green wavelengths that are present (in the additive primaries system, magenta can be described as minus green).
In the realm of kings and queens and glorious extravagances, magenta, usually known as purple, is a royal color.
And in the realm of frivolous lawsuits, it’s the color that a federal district court judge in Texas decided was protected by trademark. At the Washington Post, Brian Fung has the details.
Slopestyle skier Maggie Voisin injured her right ankle during practice yesterday, forcing her to withdraw from the event. That’s a shame, and a disappointment for her and her hometown, Whitefish, MT. Her friends and community not only formed a formidable cheering section, they pitched in to make it possible for her family to attend the Olympics with her.
At 15, Voisin has a bright future in her event if she can stay healthy, and could well represent the U.S. again in four years. In the meantime, she and everyone else should give Vladimir Putin a boot in his bottom for building an exceedingly dangerous slopestyle course that’s better suited for toughening Spetsnaz than showcasing the razzle-dazzle of trick skiing.
Gov. Steve Bullock announced today he’s appointing Lt. Gov. John Walsh to serve the remainder of Sen. Max Baucus’ term. No surprise here. Walsh wanted the job, and the conventional wisdom is that serving as interim Senator will help him in his campaign to be elected this fall to a full six-year term in the Senate.
Bullock did not announce who will replace Walsh as Lt. Governor. I suspect he has someone in mind, but wants to hold a separate press conference to introduce his choice.
Walsh needs all the help he can get. Right now, he’s not raising the amount of money he needs — he has one-fourth as much cash as Rep. Steve Daines, the putative Republican nominee for the Senate — and hasn’t heard the last of his adventures with the Army’s inspector general. Serving as Senator raises his profile, improves his access to money, and gives him a leg up on seniority if he wins in November.
Updated. Our congratulations and best wishes to Sen. Max Baucus on being confirmed as ambassador to China on a 96–0 vote. Max voted present, and the senators from Kansas, and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Republicans all, did not vote.
Gov. Steve Bullock will hold a press conference at noon tomorrow, and the expectation is that he’ll announce who he will appoint to serve the 11 months of Baucus’ term. I expect he’ll appoint Lt. Gov. John Walsh, whom he has endorsed for the Democratic nomination for the Senate, unless Walsh changes his mind about wanting to be appointed.
Actually, the more interesting question is: whom will Bullock appoint to replace Walsh as Lt. Governor? I think there’s a fairly strong probability he’ll pick Montana’s superintendent of public instruction, Denise Juneau, who will be termed-out in 2016 and has strong credentials for public service.
Update. At the Billings Gazette this evening, Charlie Johnson reported that Bullock may be considering for Lt. Governor two women apparently without experience in electoral politics:
John Walsh lacked experience in electoral politics (he was well versed in National Guard politics). I thought Bullock picked him in spite of that, but if Bullock is considering appointing as Lt. Governor another person without experience in electoral politics, perhaps Walsh was picked because he hadn’t run for, or served in, electoral office. Is it possible that Bullock deeply disdains or fears other elected officials?
As for Baucus, he must still present to the Chinese government his credentials as ambassador. That’s usually a formality, and presumably the Chinese have quietly approved of his appointment, but there’s always a remote possibility — lottery ticket odds, really — that an unforeseen foreign policy crisis could provoke Beijing to reject Baucus. I wonder how much Mandarin he can learn at 72.
John Walsh has finally added issues and about pages — they’re called What John Fights For and John’s Story — to his website. This is a smart move, as it counters criticism that he’s hiding his platform from the voters. His energy plank is missing, but I expect it will be inserted into his platform soon. I’ll examine his planks later this month. I’m using the rest of this post to examine some design elements of his website, and others, that concern me.
Update, 5 February 2014. At 1655 yesterday, the temperature at Glacier International Airport was 4°F; the wind was ENE at 10 mph. At 2155, the temperature had dropped to -2°F, the NE wind was 22 mph gusting to 33 mph, and the wind chill — which scares the bejesus out of facilitators, but has little effect on the properly dressed — was -26°F. That’s not cold enough to cancel a meeting of adults.
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Never mind that everyone involved in revising the Flathead National Forest’s forest plan probably owns a down parka, warm boots, and a winterized vehicle. Never mind that many are experienced winter campers. It’s cold outside, and the facilitators for this week’s meetings have quailed at the prospect of going to work in winter weather. Stay home, they say, stay warm.
Here’s the official message, followed by a screen shot of the NWS’s forecast:
Environmentalists in the Flathead will gather in Whitefish at 1700 today as part of a nationwide “rapid action rally” protesting the development of Alberta's oil sands.
The rally’s location is 600 2nd ST E. in Whitefish. That’s the corner of Highway 93 and 2nd ST, and appears to be the front lawn of the Whitefish Middle School. There may be parking places within walking distance. Dress warmly, as it will be cold and windy. The organizers urge bringing signs.
The rally is a response to the U.S. State Department’s release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement concluding that constructing the Keystone pipeline would not affect the development of the oil sands. Whitefish’s rally also protests the proposed Otter Creek coal mine in southeastern Montana.
Were I the owner of the Denver Broncos, I’d seriously consider firing head coach John Fox. Down 36–8 to the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the third quarter, it was clear the Broncos were beaten and beaten badly. Yet Fox kept Denver quarterback Peyton Manning in the game, hoping perhaps for a miracle despite Manning’s ineffectiveness, when he should have replacing him with Brock Osweiler.
Would Osweiler have turned around the game? No. But why risk an injury to Manning in a lost cause? Once a coach knows his team won’t win, he’s obligated to prepare for the next game or season by protecting his starters and giving his reserves playing time. San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich understands that, but Denver’s coach, Fox, does not. Denver’s players deserved better.
It’s Jason Priest, a very conservative Republican from Red Lodge. According to the Billings Gazette, he’s charged with “first offense partner family assault and resisting arrest.” I think partner family assault is legalese for wife beating.
Montana Cowgirl is following the story, and I encourage you to visit her website and join in the discussion.
Democrats cannot be happy with John Walsh’s fundraising efforts. In the last quarter of 2013, he raised $583,000, ending the year with $435,500 in the bank. Republican Steve Daines raised $1 million in the same period, ending 2013 with $1.9 million in the bank.
I think it’s too early to conclude that national Democrats have written off the Senate seat Max Baucus is vacating, but Walsh’s anemic effort is a bright red flag that something is wrong. By comparison, Open Secrets reports that Jon Tester raised $13.3 million during the 2009–2013 cycle.
If Walsh doesn’t pick up the pace and pull in at least $2–3 million by the end of March, waging a winning campaign will become next to impossible.
Montana’s Attorney General, Tim Fox, conceded yesterday that Matt Monforton, the conservative attorney running for the Republican nomination in HD-69 (Bozeman area), would prevail in his quest to keep part of Montana’s MCA 13-35-225, Election materials not to be anonymous — statement of accuracy — notice — penalty, from being enforced, and committed the legal equivalent of throwing in the towel:
In the Answer, which is being filed concurrently with this Response, The State admits that the Statute, as amended, remains unconstitutionally vague. See Answer and Concession of Defendants (Doc. 18) at 2, ¶ 2, and 6, ¶ 21. The State does not intend to enforce the Statute.
That’s a start. The next step is repealing the offending section of the statute, an act more likely to occur if Monforton wins, but not that likely to occur at all because legislators, and not just in Montana, seem unable to resist the temptation to pass unconstitutional legislation that gives incumbents an advantage.
There are enough people working in education that some will fall off the low side of the bell curve on commonsense and decency. The latest example, described by the Salt Lake Tribune, comes from Utah:
A cafeteria manager has been placed on paid administrative leave as the Salt Lake City School District investigates the seizure of school lunches from up to 40 young students with unpaid meal tabs.
The lunches were taken away Tuesday at Uintah Elementary, a move that has sparked outcry from parents, lawmakers and outraged observers who have created a sensation on social media.
That’s right. They weren’t quietly told they couldn’t have lunch. They were served. Then, their food was taken from them and thrown away. At high noon. In public.
After the children had been thoroughly humiliated and frightened, they were served fruit (an apple?) and milk (water might be healthier) in a patronizing act of mitigation
The incident brought together at least one Republican and one Democrat in Utah’s legislature, with the Republican calling for firing the lunch thief, and both men vowing to find a legislative solution so that something like this never happens again. A good idea, that.
There’s a foolproof way of preventing such sadistic stupidity. End the practice of charging students and parents for school meals. Hunger impairs learning. Therefore, feed everyone, pay for the vittles with tax revenues, and forbid co-payments.
I have no idea, incidentally, how school districts in Montana handle these matters. But I would not be surprised to learn that what happened in Utah could happen here.
Update, 1911 MST. It gets worse by the hour. The Great Falls Tribune reports that the number of Malmstrom missile officers being investigated has risen to 92, and that replacement officers are being sent to Malmstrom.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
There’s a huge problem with the security and safety of nuclear weapons at Malmstrom Air Force Base — and Sen. Jon Tester’s desire to keep the base’s 150 nuclear tipped Minuteman III missiles in Montana may be clouding his judgment. I hope that’s not the case, but that’s not the message I’m hearing from him.
Late yesterday I received from Sen. Tester an electronic newsletter boasting of his efforts to prevent the removal of missile silos from Malmstrom Air Force Base (Great Falls):
I first stopped in Great Falls to meet with Air Force Secretary Deborah James. We discussed the future of Malmstrom Air Force Base, and I reminded her that Congress will reject efforts to unfairly penalize the ICBM force. The government funding bill prevents any study that could lead to the removal of Malmstrom’s missile silos. [Emphasis added.]
This morning, the Associate Press reported that even more launch officers than first thought are being investigated for cheating on readiness examinations:
The number of officers in the nuclear corps who have been implicated in a cheating investigation has more than doubled to at least 70, officials said Tuesday. That means that at least 14 percent of all launch officers have been decertified and suspended from missile launch duties.
All are at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., which is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles, or one-third of the entire Minuteman 3 force. The officials who disclosed the higher number spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information by name while the investigation is ongoing.
This is more than one rotten apple in a barrel. It’s dry rot on a staggering scale in a branch of the military that’s entrusted with the custody of weapons that can kill tens of millions of people.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel admitted as much Friday when he convened a two-hour meeting of the top admirals and generals in our nuclear command to discuss whether Malmstrom’s situation is the product of a systemic breakdown in leadership:
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the officials spent the bulk of the meeting discussing the breadth of the problems, which include low morale, cheating and serious security lapses, and how to begin solving them.
“I think the general consensus in the room was that we all need to accept the reality that there probably are systemic issues in the personnel growth and development inside the nuclear mission,” Kirby told Pentagon reporters after the two-hour meeting with Hagel. [Also from AP story.]
To me, the obvious remedy is closing Malmstrom, discharging everyone stationed there from the Air Force, and dismantling the missiles, the loss of which would not diminish our nuclear deterrent. We still have over 5,000 nuclear bombs and warheads. I suspect as few as 50 would constitute a credible deterrent.
But closing Malmstrom is not an option thanks to Sen. Tester’s zeal to preserve one of the economic engines powering Great Falls. I don’t doubt Tester’s dedication to keeping federal money in Montana — but when he subordinates the safety and security of nuclear weapons to the economic welfare of a small city in a lightly populated corner of the nation, and that’s what he was bragging about in his newsletter, he’s not exercising sound judgment.
Maggie Voisin, a 15-year-old high school freshman in Whitefish, MT, specializes in a skiing event called the Slopestyle. She’s a gifted athlete, the youngest American competing in the Winter Olympics, and the pride of her community. Everyone wishes her well and hopes she returns to Whitefish without injury in what could be the experience of a lifetime.
But is she competing in a sport, or in an artistic competition that requires athletic ability?
President Obama’s State of the Union address (transcript with line numbers, PDF) discussed a number of issues, energy and retirement security among them.
Energy. I consider energy, and in particular the transition from hydrocarbons to solar and wind, as one of the nation’s four most important issues (the other three are health care, jobs, and retirement security). Obama’s energy policy is simple: do everything. Here’s how he described it last night:
Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades. [SOTU, line number 140.]
Energy independence is an illusion. It’s also a dog whistle used by both parties for “We ain’t gonna let them dirty Arabs hold us hostage to their oil.” All of the above means avoiding choices. A Republican President would do the same, perhaps with slightly more emphasis on hydrocarbons, especially coal, and slightly less emphasis on solar and wind.
Retirement security. Traditional defined benefit private pensions are disappearing, even at profitable corporations such as Boeing (where Boeing executives making tens of millions a year just blackjacked the machinists union into surrendering pension benefits that took decades to win). Workers are now condemned to schemes such as 401k accounts that go boom and bust with Wall Street.
President Obama did acknowledge the problem:
Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks.[SOTU, line number 324.]
But did he propose increasing Social Security benefits, something that would help seniors today as well as tomorrow? No.
He’ll only help mañana. And not by proposing increases in Social Security and Medicare benefits:
…tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can. And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations of Americans. [SOTU, line number 326.]
No risk? How can he say that when the program doesn’t even exist yet? If he were in the software business, this would be considered an announcement of vaporware.
And why no call for increasing benefits for Social Security and Medicare? Both social insurance programs are Godsends for old people, but neither program is generous. As the President admitted, a Social Security payment by itself often isn’t sufficient. And Medicare covers much less than 100 percent of a senior’s medical expenses, thus condemning seniors who can afford it to purchasing private Medigap insurance. It’s a disgraceful situation for which Obama, a man rich and still young, offers no improvements. I find myself once again wondering how much he really cares about old people.
Democratic senate and house hopefuls John Walsh and John Lewis issued short statements faintly praising the President that had in common a weird tea partyesque fixation with cutting spending and reducing the national debt. Below, each man’s full statements.
The president says taking responsibility is a fundamental part of uniting our country. I agree. But like most Montanans, I believe the president must do more to protect law-abiding citizens and end the NSA’s surveillance program. As leaders, we must have the courage to responsibly cut our debt, cut spending and live up to the promises made to America’s veterans.
I appreciate the President calling on Congress to work together because we have much more to do to create more good-paying jobs and close loopholes that send American jobs overseas. I remain very concerned about the President’s stance on many issues including his defense of an overreaching National Security Agency. And I’m disappointed by the lack of commitment to cut more spending and reduce our deficit.
Democrats who call for austerity — and that’s what cutting spending produces — betray the hard-working, paycheck-to-paycheck living people they seek to represent.
That’s 400 pages of records, according to the press release I just received from Walsh’s campaign. This is a smart move — overdue, but still smart — that will put into context that inspector general’s pissant finding that Walsh abused his command authority and the subsequent reprimand issued to Walsh.
I do not know where to get a copy of his records. Perhaps that information will be in his next press release. Perhaps the documents will be posted on his still virtually worthless website (although I wouldn’t count on that anytime soon).
Pete Seeger, the folksinger for whom “legendary” seems too weak a word, died at 94 yesterday. No man ever stood straighter or prouder for what was right. His songs will echo forever in our hearts and minds, and the example he set will inspire humankind to its last generation. Here’s Pete singing We Shall Overcome:
State of the Union Address. I’ll read Obama’s speech, but I won’t watch it or even listen to it. Instead of being a straightforward report on where we are as a nation, and where we should be and should go as a nation, it’s become agitprop, a spectacle tinged with pathos and bathos and an embarrassment to our country. And if that weren’t enough to put me off, I’ve never been able to abide Obama’s arrogant and condescendingly professorial delivery.
The Winter Olympics. Hollywood is known for shamelessness, but the most unrestrained tinsel town production appears dignified compared to the Olympics. There are still a few events — for example, speed skating and downhill skiing — where there’s a clear and objective measure of victory, but more and more there are glitzy productions such as figure skating where victory is determined by subjective methods, by the opinions of judges. That’s show biz, not sport. It’s a sad indictment of American culture that so many people drink beer and gorge on potato chips while watching this stuff instead of going skiing themselves or simply getting out in the sunshine and walking a few miles (which is what I do).
In his decision on Ward v. Miller, Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, reports that the campaign of Rep. Mike Miller (R, HD-84) sent voters letters from Miller’s wife. The handwritten letters were printed in blue ink on custom sized pink paper and mailed in hand addressed pink envelopes. The message, presumably, was “I love my guy, and so too should you.” Motl calls these WIFE letters.
Why would — should — such a letter have any effect on a voter? What else would a loyal and loving wife say about her politician husband?
The only time I might pay attention to a letter from a candidate’s wife is if it said “My husband was just indicted for buggering little boys. I think he’s guilty as hell, I’ve kicked him out of the house and filed for divorce, and I urge you to vote for anyone but him.”
That’s what Bigfork’s favorite retired army two-star suggested that a tea party gathering in South Carolina employ as a guiding principle, reports Mary Claire Kendall at Ed Berry’s PolyMontana website. The Duke, who helped fund George Wallace’s 1968 campaign for President, would, of course, make a movie of the Green Berets genre. Lights, camera, fiction.
I’ve expanded Flathead Memo’s blogroll with a few links to conservative leaning websites. One is Tim Baldwin’s Liberty Defense League. Tim is the conservative half of the Flathead Beacon’s Two for Thought feature, which this week looked at the future of the tea party. After reading the essays by Tim and Joe, you’ll want to visit the Democracy Journal to read Theda Skocpol’s Why the Tea Party’s Hold Persists.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo posted a perceptive essay analyzing venture capitalist Tom Perkins’ crazy assertion that criticism of the one percent and income inequality is tantamount to the terrorism of the Kristallnacht in 1938. Perkins and his ilk believe their wealth entitles them not to be criticized, especially by the ne’er do wells who fail to accumulate as much money as they do, a dangerous notion given the vast political power their wealth can buy.
At the Daily InterLake, there’s yet another exchange of long opeds on global warming — the last such exchange for a while as editor Frank Miele’s patience with this seemingly endless debate has finally expired. My advice: read Jerry Elwood’s essay first, then quaff a double Wild Turkey before braving the screeds by Ed Berry and Pamela McCormick. My view on global warming? It’s still January and my lawn is greening. That’s not evidence of a cooling trend.
More votes are cast in the contests at the top of ballots than in the contests farther down the ballot, a phenomenon known variously as voter falloff, voter rolloff, down ballot abstention, and undoubtedly by other names.
Some academic research indicates one cause is choice fatigue, especially on very long ballots; voters grow weary of indicating choices and decide not to cast more votes. Another cause, I’m sure, is simply not being acquainted with down ballot candidates or issues and therefore abstaining on the principle of doing no harm.
Ever since completing Professor Fenske’s course in logic, I’ve been a connoisseur of examples of unintended ambiguity. Here’s a headline from today’s Talking Points Memo website that would be ambiguous if it did not end with (photo):
Here’s how Sen. Max Baucus responded to a recent letter from a constituent:
But unlike Walsh, Daines has an online history, so we know where he stood in the past. Given his decision not to uncover his 2014 platform yet, voters should assume he stands on these three platforms and endorses all planks that he does not explicitly repudiate:
There’s a potential for a glut of initiatives and referenda on Montana’s November ballot, with three measures ordered by the legislature and a dozen submitted by citizens. Not all will make the ballot. And not all will be covered in this round-up. The full list is on the Montana Secretary of State’s website. The following are on my watch list.
If elected President in 2016, Hillary Clinton would, at 69, be the oldest person after Ronald Reagan to take the oath of office for the first time. She has a history of health problems. But she and her supporters who blindly follow her give every indication they believe she’ll live forever.
Democrats with this attitude do not belong to a reality based community.
Nor do they care if they belong to a reality based community. They’re part of an identity politics personality cult that has as its highest priority electing a woman President. For these Democrats, electing Hillary Clinton President would do for women and gender equality what electing Barack Obama was supposed to do for blacks and racial equality.
In the absence of any credible Democrat declaring for the Presidency, her star, the only one in the Democratic firmament, appears to shine brightly, just as did in 2007, when she was still under 60 and untested on the Presidential stage. Once again, she and her acolytes are attempting to create an aura of inevitability, of invincibility, a sure sign they learned nothing from her last campaign.
All that has changed is that she’s grown older. And, grown old.
Hillary Clinton’s time has passed. If she truly wants to help her country and her political party, she’ll admit that, abjure seeking the nomination, and urge Democrats to nominate someone younger. For example, Andrew Cuomo. So will Democratic activists and superpacs such as Priorities USA Action (which the New York Times reports is now controlled by Clintonlanders).
Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful John Walsh was a no-show at a Yellowstone Democrats dinner last night, reports the Billings Gazette’s Tom Lutey. Walsh’s primary opponents, Dirk Adams and John Bohlinger, showed.
Walsh’s campaign manager spokesman, Aaron Murphy of Hilltop Strategies, told Lutey Walsh had a scheduling conflict. Adams claimed Walsh decided to raise money instead of attend the dinner, but provided no details.
My guess is that Walsh was avoiding a forum in which he might be asked questions he’d rather not answer. And he might have been at Hilltop with his campaign’s staff working on a strategy to contain the damage done by revelations he’d been reprimanded by the Army’s vice chief of staff and had failed to make flag rank.
Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh (Col. U.S. Army, ret.), his human frailties notwithstanding, would serve Montana in the U.S. Senate far better than tea party Republican Rep. Steve Daines. Walsh cares about regular people while Daines cares about rich people.
But Walsh may never win election to a six-year term. He’s bleeding from self-inflicted wounds that I suspect will leave him just strong enough to win the primary, but too weak to defeat Daines in the general election.
Updated and corrected. Democratic Senate hopeful John Walsh is back in the news, and not in a good way. Charlie Johnson of the Lee Newspapers reports that unlike most Montana National Guard adjutant generals, he was not promoted to brigadier or major general in the U.S. Army upon retiring from the guard.
The reason? That inspector general’s finding that Walsh used his Army email account for personal gain when he urged officers to join an organization that lobbies for better equipment and funding for the Guard. It was an anal retentive finding on the order of a parking violation, but it had consequences reports Johnson:
The Flathead County Library — aka ImagineIF Libraries — found $40,000 to take the place out of the library’s name, but it couldn’t find, or perhaps want to find, a sawbuck for a new roll of duct tape to reseal the light globes flanking the steps to the library’s main entrance. Imagine what might be repaired if library director Kim Crowley and the library’s board of trustees had their priorities straight.
Remember Judge Richard Cebull, one of Montana’s blessings on the federal bench? He who used his court email account to unwisely forward an off-color joke about President Obama? He who was not applauded for his sense of humor and subsequently was subjected to a misconduct inquiry by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? He who retired, apparently hoping to keep all the facts under seal? I’m sure you do.
Well, Judge Cebull is back in the news — the national news — because more facts have been released, and they don’t exactly burnish his reputation. His fondness for off-color and politically incorrect humor was considerable. He distributed hundreds of jokes he might have better left untold.
On paper, Frank Garner is the more impressive candidate in Kalispell’s new House District 7 (same boundaries as the present HD-8). A affable former police chief with wide experience in civic activities, he’s well known and well respected by both Democrats and Republicans. One doesn’t doubt he would hold his own as a legislator.
His opponent, Ronalee Skees, lacks as impressive a résumé. She’s best known as the wife of Derek Skees, the tea party Republican elected to HD-4 in Whitefish in 2010, and now running for Montana’s Public Service Commission in District 5. That doesn’t mean Ronalee wouldn’t cut the mustard in Helena, but it does mean that voters making their choice on the basis of the candidates’ experience accept more risk if they choose her.
But the better candidate according to the conventional wisdom doesn’t always win:
Updated. Amount raised, cash in the bank, amount loaned to self, and burn rate. These are the four most important summary statistics in political fundraising. By these measures, the candidates with the highest marks are Democrat John Lewis and Republican Ryan Zinke. Here, in one chart, are the numbers, assembled from newspaper stories and campaign press handouts:
Thirty-four Force Officers responsible for launching nuclear missiles at Malmstrom Air Force base at Great Falls have been accused of cheating on monthly proficiency tests.
Apparently, the officers used cell phones to share answers via text messages. And weren’t even smart enough to cover their tracks.
According to an Air Force general, there’s nothing to worry about:
Imagine if a library’s name conveyed a sense of place. For example, the Flathead County Library. Now, imagine if the sense of place is removed from the name and replaced with — drumroll — ImagineIF Libraries.
But we don’t need to imagine that. It just happened. The Flathead County Library is now the ImagineIF Libraries, a placeless, generic name that could be used in Kansas, Kentucky, Florida, or any English speaking country in the world.
Yesterday I was visiting with an old friend who now lives in Hong Kong. “What is Hong Kong’s latitude,” I asked, vaguely aware it was near the Tropic of Cancer. She said she couldn’t remember, but that Hong Kong to Bali was a four-hour flight, and Bali, due south of HK, was on the equator.
That was enough. Assuming the airliner averages 500 mph, the distance is 2,000 miles. One degree of latitude is 60 nautical miles. Our math put HK 33 degrees north of the equator. Reckoning that was too far north, I estimated 25–30 degrees to correct for the difference between nautical and statute miles.
Back at home, I checked the internet for the precise figures:
A friend living north of the railroad tracks raised that point this morning, and it’s a good one. In summer and fall, when roads through the forests and Whitefish Range are passable, there’s an escape route to the north. But in winter, getting out become much more difficult. And hunkering down in place is not a choice for a medical emergency, for example.
Forty-thousand dollars buys a lot of books periodical subscriptions. But at the Flathead County Library, it bought a new name for the library system: ImagineIF Libraries — a generic name with no sense of place — and plans for the library to build chicken coops. I’m not kidding.
As described by Molly Priddy at the Flathead Beacon:
…the library staff will be out interacting with the clients more, continuing to build relationships and make the library more than just a warehouse for books.
Another part of the rebranding – which was designed by Ricochet Ideas, a marketing company out of Denver – is the hiring of a new outreach and programming librarian, Megan Glidden.
Glidden said the library system would be embracing new activities, such as building chicken coops and then auctioning them off, as a way to provide services to the community outside of books and media.
This is change, but not progress. A library that plans to build chicken coops needs a change of leadership.
Both the InterLake and Flathead Beacon have run detailed stories on the passage of 100-car trains carrying Bakken crude oil through the Flathead. This is especially worrisome given the low (140°F) flash point of the Bakken’s light sweet crude. A derailment could have severe consequences: oil fires, oil spills, or both.
One commenter at the InterLake feared the trains are targets for terrorists and thought it not responsible for the subject to be discussed in public. A terrorist attack on an oil train passing through Whitefish is, of course, a possibility, but the probability one will occur is very, very, low. I don’t consider it something to worry about. It’s sad that some people are so fearful about such things.
An important First Amendment lawsuit was filed against Montana in federal district court yesterday by a conservative attorney from Bozeman, Matthew Monforton. He’s challenging the constitutionality of SB-392, passed in the 2013 legislature by wide margins and codified as MCA 13-35-225, Election materials not to be anonymous — statement of accuracy — notice — penalty, which mandate that a candidate’s printed campaign materials describe an opponent’s votes in a particular way. Charlie Johnson has the long story at the Missoulian:
Rewritten. The challenges are from the hard right in all three campaigns. Whether this is a coordinated attempt by tea party Republicans to block candidates who might be sympathetic to the notion that hospitals would benefit from federal dollars that teabagger Republicans don’t want Montana to accept is an open question, but whether or not it is, the effect is the same.
The hospital associated candidates are Frank Garner, HD-7; Tammi Fisher, SD-4; and Albert Olszewski, MD, HD-11. For more on Garner and Fisher, see my Meet the candidates from Kalispell Regional Medical Center post from 30 December 2013.
Here’s how the challenges break down:
Two days ago, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House John Lewis’ campaign released a statement beginning:
(BILLINGS, Mont.) - U.S. House candidate John Lewis has raised more than $200,000 over the past three months — the most ever raised by a Democratic U.S. House candidate in the fourth quarter before an election year.
I didn’t use it. That kind of boast, aimed mostly at Lewis’ supporters and potential donors instead of the general public, should be made within the campaign to boost morale, not released to the news media to pound one’s chest in public. But if it is released to the whole wide world, it had better be right on the facts.
Updated 1908 MST. As of this morning, 16 Flathead candidates had either filed for office, filed form C-1, or formally announced their candidacies. I’ll update the table below at the end of each day and make it available as a spreadsheet beginning next week. The spreadsheet will contain contact information for the candidates.
Ronalee Skees, wife of Derek Skees (the former tea party state representative who just filed for the Public Service Commission), filed for HD-7. So did Frank Garner, the former Kalispell police chief who’s now security chief at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Garner announced his candidacy last spring, shortly after the legislative session concluded. Here, it’s a reasonable conclusion that some Republicans do not think Garner is a true tea-blue Republican.
Filing for elective office in Montana opens at 0800 this morning and closes at 1700 on 10 March.
If you are a candidate, you should have a press kit ready with your mug photo, biography, issues statement, and contact information including the URL of your website.
Don’t have a press kit? Don’t have a website? Then you’re not ready to start campaigning.
Flathead Memo will cover Flathead and statewide elections in as much detail as possible. If you’re a candidate, campaign manager, party operative, or someone who knows, please put us on your media email list and send us your press kit. Use jrc [at] flatheadmemo.com. FM does not accept anonymous tips, etc.
Usually, whether a politician is slightly overweight is irrelevant to his ability to serve. But in the case of New Jersey’s morbidly obese Republican governor, Chris Christie, I think it is. He wasn’t born with a gene that condemned him to obesity. He simply lacked the restraint to stop eating, always having another donut, and ate himself into gross rotundity.
That lack of restraint is why he’s not the jolly fat man of yore. He lacks the self-discipline that civility requires, so when he’s confronted with something he doesn’t like, such as a constituent with the temerity to challenge his wisdom, he releases his inner thug and tries to stomp the other guy into toe jam.
That’s why I’m convinced of two things. First, even if he didn’t order the traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge, he created the political climate that made it inevitable. Second, if as President he received that three o’clock phone call, he’d push the button instead of gathering more facts. The mere thought of President Christie makes Hillary Clinton look good by comparison.
Democrat candidate for the U.S. House John Lewis is raising the kind of money it takes to win an election. As of 1 January 2014 he had raised $396,000, reports the Missoulian, and had $328,000 in the bank.
Both the amount raised and the low burn rate are encouraging metrics, indicating his campaign is moving full speed ahead while conserving resources. In 2012 several Democratic house hopefuls burned through their cash like besotted sailors at a house of ill repute.
Identity politics, the bane of the Democratic Party, has now infested the Republican Party, reports the inside-the-beltway publication, Roll Call. Worried that too few Republican women serve in the U.S. House, several female Republican U.S. Representatives are actively supporting a woman running for the GOP nomination for the Florida special election to replace Rep. Bill Young, who died before the holidays.
Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas and Ann Wagner of Missouri are supporting state Rep. Kathleen Peters for the Republican nod on Jan. 14. She faces lobbyist David Jolly, and the GOP winner will run in a highly competitive special election this spring.
The number of women in the House Republican Conference stands at 19. At least two of those female Republicans have already indicated they won’t return to the House in 2014, which means numbers could get worse — unless they make an effort to help female candidates win primaries.
“I prefer not to be engaged in Republican primaries. They tend to be messy,” Jenkins said in a Dec. 3 interview with CQ Roll Call. “But in reality, I’ve watched a lot of strong conservative women not make it past primaries.”
Their reason for supporting state representative Kathleen Peters? Peters has two X chromosomes. She’s a she, and the U.S. House GOP women supporting her want more GOP women in the house. It’s that simple. Their message: “Boys, stay home. It’s our turn.” Gender is more important than policy.
This GOP trio’s hostility toward men pales, of course, compared to the widespread hostility Democratic women have toward men. There’s Emily’s List, ostensibly independent and nonpartisan, but functionally part of the Democratic Party’s women’s identity caucus that recruits candidates on a women first, policy second, basis that’s designed to exclude men from public service. That caucus doesn’t see it that way, of course — its members believe they are obtaining compensation for past discrimination instead of committing discrimination — but that’s the effect of their actions, and one reason, I believe, why men tend to prefer the Republican Party; why Democrats have trouble winning elections.
The fundamental premise of identity politics is that only members of a group defined by a shared characteristic, usually a physical characteristic such as race or gender, can fully represent that group’s interests. It’s the downside of diversity, a tribal instinct that successful pluralistic democracies transcend, but it always lurks in the background as a path to balkanization, to political disfunction and destabilization.
Humankind is not doing so well that it can afford to exclude from public service people on the basis of gender, race, or some other identity that has nothing to do with the ability to serve.
The United States of America is one country. But within our nation there are thousands of school districts and school boards, many academically contemptible, almost all sports addled, and independent to the detriment of the country. Here’s how to begin improving our primary and secondary schools:
That could be the title of Jackie M. “Mike” Brown’s new ebook, Preparing for the Race: 50+ Questions for the Potential Candidate, a short, wry, and very useful introduction to the fine political art of opposition research.
Brown knows, and knows how. Now author of The Western Word blog, he spent years working for elected Republicans, among them Sen. Conrad Burns (quite a journey from his childhood as the son of a union Democrat). Part of that work was learning as much as possible about the opposition candidate; his life, wife, dog, and tax returns.
Derek Skees, the tea party approved former Republican state legislator who represented Whitefish in the 2011 Legislature, announced yesterday that he’s running for the Montana Public Service Commission in district 5 (map), where incumbent Bill Gallagher is losing his fight with cancer and will not run for re-election. Ryan Murray of the Daily InterLake has the details.
Helena Democrat Galen Hollenbaugh also announced he’s running for the PSC-5 seat.
Skees should be considered the favorite. Democrat Ken Toole won the seat in 2006 by 190 votes over a weak opponent, Republican Mike Taylor. Toole’s victory in 2006 was an anomaly. He rode the Democratic wave that carried Tester to victory, facing a Republican opponent who was far from top tier (far from second tier, too), yet barely won.
I grew up in northern Minnesota, where winter temperatures often dropped to minus 30°F, minus 40°F, and lower. I still remember a night in February that was minus 48°F when Nancy finished a performance at a coffeehouse, and we were more than a little worried that the cold might crack her guitar before we got it home. The guitar survived intact.
I don’t miss weather that cold. It was inconvenient — cars barely started, frozen tires thumped and bumped, and fuel oil bills were sky high — but it wasn’t dangerous for the prepared. When cold weather was forecast, we pulled on an extra sweater, plugged-in the car, and stayed warm.
We never trembled in fear that a polar vortex would swoop down from the north pole, freeze drying everything in its path, threatening the very existence of civilization.
But today’s weather wussies do. Here’s a paragraph from a Huffington Post story alerting Americans to a cold snap:
The temperature predictions are startling: 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls, Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago. At those temperatures, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in because wind chills could hit 50, 60 or even 70 below zero.
Come on. Those are global warming temperatures to those of us who experienced minus 48°F in our youth. They’re startling only to the weather wussies below the Mason-Dixon line, the sun-baked and half-baked who define a cold snap as temperatures below 60°F, and who lunge for the Southern Comfort, the grog serving as human anti-freeze in the land of cotton (and cottonmouths), at the first hint they might have to use their air conditioners as heat pumps.
Get a grip. When the weatherman forecasts cold, don’t throw up your hands in despair — just stay cool, throw another log on the fire, and enjoy a hot buttered rum.
Politicians always tell the voters, “send me to Washington, D.C., and I’ll clean up the mess there.” But they never tell us how they will clean up the mess. I’m not a politician, so I will. Here’s how:
Lt. Gov. John Walsh is the Democratic Party Establishment’s choice for the nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Sen. Max Baucus. Gov. Steve Bullock has endorsed Walsh, and so have Sens. Baucus and Jon Tester. Walsh is holding fundraisers across Montana, and in places like Washington, D.C., where the fattest cats are found. In person, I’m told, he’s impressing donors.
In public, however, he’s holding out on voters by not spelling out his positions on the issues. Several times a week his campaign emails statements taking to task Rep. Steve Daines, the putative Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, for sins against the commonweal (there’s a lot to work with here, so Walsh is being selective), but three months after declaring his candidacy, Walsh refuses to add a detailed issues page to his campaign’s website.
Do Republican voters still love Denny Rehberg? Denny wants to know, so yesterday he told a few reporters he was thinking about running again for the U.S. House seat he vacated for the honor of losing the 2012 U.S. Senate race to Jon Tester.
Recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado under state law (it’s still illegal there under federal law), and those who love dancing with Mary Jane are fouling their lungs and getting sky high.
An initiative to legalize marijuana in Montana may be on the ballot in 2014, and while it might not pass this year, a similar initiative has a very high probability of passing in the next decade. Montana will then find itself in the same predicament as Colorado and Washington: regulating a drug that is legal under state law, but illegal under federal law, the supreme law of the land.
Over at Intelligent Discontent, Don Pogreba has going a spirited discussion on the allegations that John Walsh committed a near treasonable sin by using his official email account to urge members of Montana’s national guard to join an association that lobbies for better equipment and pay for members of the guard. It’s a sin on the order of a parking ticket, but without the fine.
But the banana republic officers involved in the complaint to the army’s inspector general, and who leaked a military document stamped “For official use only. Dissemination is prohibited…,” are committing very serious violations of written and unwritten codes — they’re meddling in electoral politics, and worse, meddling in a clandestine fashion worthy of Oliver North.
If I had almighty powers, these are the reforms I would make. Unfortunately, such powers are not mine, so I’ve identified what needs to be done to make these proposals fact.
Happy New Year!