A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

Flathead Memo Archives, 16–31 January 2016


31 January 2016

Sunday briefs

More on the SD-47 Democratic primary. According to Logicosity, former Rep. Joey Jayne is anti-choice and prone to taking extreme positions. Being anti-choice reduces a candidate’s chance of winning a Democratic primary. Democrats across Montana will be watching this primary closely.

Logicosity, incidentally, is analyzing legislative contests with an insider’s knowledge and acumen.

Confirmation bias and the Finicum shooting video. The FBI released aerial video of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum in the belief it would confirm the official version of why he was shot. Instead, much to the FBI’s surprise and dismay, the video, which many find ambiguous, has raised doubts that law enforcement authorities are telling the truth. What caused law enforcement to misjudge the public’s reaction so badly?

…read the rest

No, Washington Post, Hillary and Bernie are NOT in a statistical tie

Today’s Washington Post reports that the latest Des Moines Register poll found Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by three points. Because the poll’s margin of error is four points, the Post says:

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are locked in a statistical tie in the hard-fought and unexpectedly close Iowa Democratic presidential contest, a new Des Moines Register-Bloomberg poll found Saturday.

The respected survey found Clinton commands 45 percent of Democratic support and Sanders 42 percent. The poll of 602 likely Democratic caucus-goers has a margin of error of 4 percentage points, meaning Clinton’s lead is within the margin of error. The survey comes three days before the first presidential voting of 2016 and reflects a late surge by Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who was once considered a long shot here.

A true statistical tie would be 45–45 or 42–42. Hillary’s three-point lead translates into a 77 percent likelihood that she’s actually leading; a lead is not a tie.

…read the rest


30 January 2016

Saturday political roundup

Rep. Albert Olszewski, M.D., as Greg Gianforte’s running mate? He’s one of three possibilities named by Matt Monforton at his Republican Uprising blog. The others are young Rep. Daniel Zolnikov and Rep. Nancy “Raw Milk” Ballance, whom Monforton describes as Montana’s Margaret Thatcher. Olszewski voted against legalizing the sale of raw milk. Thatcher was a chemist before she became a politician, so it’s possible the scientist in her supported pasteurization more than her inner libertarian supported the sale of raw milk.

If as governor Gianforte became too steamed over an issue, Dr. Olszewski as lieutenant governor would have credibility if he warned Gianforte to watch his blood pressure.

Zolnikov is just 28 years old. Montana’s 1972 constitution sets the minimum age for governor at 25 years of age. The minimum in Montana’s 1889 constitution was 30. There was an effort during the drafting of the 1972 document to allow an 18-year-old to qualify for governor (the voting age had just been lowered to 18), but cooler heads prevailed. The age 30 minimum makes more sense, and should be readopted.

New York Times endorses Hillary Clinton. Not unexpected, but disappointing nonetheless. HRC is a policy technician whose natural top step on the political ladder is deputy chief of staff. She’s not a crisis manager — I shudder at the consequences of her taking that three-in-the-morning call — and her judgment, as exemplified by her email debacle, isn’t sound. Bernie Sanders has good judgment and is a capable crisis manager, but he scares the bejesus out of Wall Street and the banker owned Democratic establishment. That’s why the Times endorsed HRC — and one reason why I support Sanders, the last of the New Dealers. I also support Sanders because I believe he has a much better chance of winning than HRC.

Democratic primary battle developing in Senate District 47. That’s the district (map, district snapshot-PDF, Indian majority districts map-PDF) that stretches from Missoula to Polson, comprising HD-93 on the north and HD-94 on the south. Termed-out Rep. Daniel Salomon (R-Ronan), who current represents HD-93, is running for the Republican nod for SD-47. Rep. Kimberely Dudik (D-Missoula) is running for re-election in HD-94, which she won by just 48 votes in 2014. Facing off for the Democratic nomination are Missoula attorney Tom France, and former Rep. Joey Jayne, St. Ignatius, also an attorney. Jayne consistently introduced legislation to repeal the death penalty, which is a double plus on my scorecard.

In 2014, more Republican than Democratic votes were cast in SD-47, but a strong Democratic candidate running a strong campaign with a strong get out the vote operation might have a chance in 2016.


The voting age population in HD-4 was 25 percent American Indian (download spreadsheet) in the 2010 Census. That could provide an advantage for Jayne in the Mission Valley. France (whom I know; he did the legal work on Conner v. Burford) may have an advantage in Missoula, but he’s off to a slow start; no website yet. Both would make excellent legislators.

Are Flathead Republicans conceding House District 5? HD-5, Whitefish, leans Democratic. The seat is open thanks to Democratic Rep. Ed Lieser’s retirement. Democrat David Fern, who has served many years on the local school board, filed for HD-5. So far, no Republican has filed, or even filed a C-1. There’s speculation that high school student Chet Billi, who is promoting I-175, the let-high-school-teachers-pack-heat-in-the-classroom initiative that’s approved for signature gathering, may file for HD-5 as a Republican. I expect a more seasoned Republican will file for the seat.



29 January 2016

FBI video does not prove Finicum shooting was “righteous”

Updated at 13:46:22 MST. Yesterday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a 26-minute, low resolution video of the operation that ended in the shooting death of Robert LaVoy Finicum. After viewing the video several times, and going through the shooting segment frame by frame, I find myself wondering whether Finicum could have been taken alive. He should have been taken alive.

I have some comments. But first, a description of the video and images that I extracted from it.

…read the rest


28 January 2016

Teabagger Gerald Cuvillier files for HD-13 as a Democrat — again


Sanders County tea partier Gerald Cuvillier has once more filed for the Democratic nomination in House District 13. He also filed for HD-13 as Democrat in 2014 — despite having served as vice chair of the Sanders County Republican Party.

In 2014 HD-13 Democratic primary he received 95 votes. Real Democrat Weylin Achatz received 372. In the general election, Republican Bob Brown defeated Achatz 2,772–1,143.

Cuvillier ran for the Trout Creek school board last fall. He came in third (and last) in an election for two trustee positions, receiving 12.3 percent of the vote.

Why Cuvillier is committing this mischief again is a head scratcher. Judging from his frequent comments in the Flathead Beacon, he’s still guzzling the tea. In fact, by comparison, Ted Cruz seems a socialist.

So what happens if Ryan Zinke and Greg Gianforte make campaign stops in Trout Creek? Will they pose for a selfie with “Democrat” Cuvillier?



27 January 2016

Shame on Bernie's shameless fundraising

My training in fundraising is old school, encumbered with the notion that potential donors should be treated with dignity, not hectored as potential deadbeats or shamed as cheapskates. One’s pitch should be “Here’s the problem, here’s the solution, here’s what your contribution will do to help. Please contribute as your means permit.”

Today’s political fundraisers will say and do anything to cadge a contribution. They’ll take a man’s last shirt and leave him without the means to buy even a peanut butter sandwich for dinner.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign hired some of these shakedown artists, who could work for any political party. Here’s part of a pitch I received in this morning email:

Last year I only made about $5,000 from Social Security benefits. Folks in my situation often feel ashamed of how we’re living and so we want to do better. We want to contribute to our communities, but sometimes our bodies can only do so much.

Even though I can’t afford much, I contributed $15 to Bernie because I’ve never felt before that a candidate would appreciate a donation from someone like me. [Bolding in original.]

With the Iowa caucus happening Monday night, there’s not much time left to make a contribution that will help Bernie win in Iowa. Can you please contribute $3 to Bernie now?

Three bucks won’t help much. But it will get Bernie’s supporters in the habit of donating. Contribute three bucks now, and suffer a never ending fusillade of “can you chip in another $3?” emails. Meanwhile, one more entity has our credit card information, putting us at increased risk for identity theft.

Sorry, Bernie. Pitches like today’s don’t get my credit card out — but they do get my dander up.


Malheur ends in blood, Obama and Bernie, Hillary’s selfishness

Malheur rebellion ends in blood. Ammon Bundy’s locoweed rebellion went from black comedy to tragedy in minutes yesterday when scofflaw Robert LaVoy Finicum was killed resisting arrest. Presumably the shootout was recorded by dash and body cameras. Finicum, incidentally, wrote a strange novel that was reviewed on Talking Points Memo.

There are still occupiers at the refuge, probably confused and angry, and reportedly still defiant. I suspect they’ll stand down without resistance after further thought, a good breakfast, and some daylight.

Obama and Bernie go one-on-one in the Oval Office today. Obama will, I suspect, try to nudge Sanders into conceding the nomination to Hillary Clinton before the primary voting really gets going. I think it’s too late for that, especially given the Democratic establishment’s scorched earth campaign against Sanders — a campaign that makes Sherman’s march through Georgia seem like an urban renewal project.

Hillary’s selfishness could result in the New Deal’s repeal. There are several younger Democratic leaders — for example, Martin O’Malley, Sens. Sherrod Brown, Martin Heinrich, and Sheldon Whitehouse — who would make good candidates and Presidents, but HRC’s fanatical ambition, aided by Clinton loyalists who wanted to serve in another Clinton administration, and by “we want a woman President” gender identity fanatics, cleared the field so that she could, at 68, have another crack at the White House.

If she truly wanted to serve the country, she would have concluded after 2008 that she just didn’t have the political skills and reputation for honesty and openness that being a successful Presidential candidate, and President, requires, announced her retirement from politics, and cleared the way for a new generation of Democratic leaders. Instead, she became all the more selfish, all the more determined to become the first female President, and pretty much demanded the nomination because it was her turn. Now all that stands between her and the nomination is 74-year-old Bernie Sanders, one of the last New Dealers, an honest man who’s catching fire with the voters, especially younger voters, mainly because HRC is such a weak and flawed candidate.

If this election become HRC’s last hurrah, it will also become the New Deal’s last hurrah. If Republicans control Congress and the White House, Social Security, Medicare, fair labor laws, the entire legacy of FDR and LBJ, will be repealed. HRC’s filthy rich. The demise of Social Security won’t hurt her. Perhaps that’s why she doesn’t care about the consequences of her selfishness.



26–27 January 2016

Flathead legislative filings — what will Steve Lavin do?
Update, 27 January: Lavin filed for HD-8 today

Updated at 12:41:05 MST, 27 January 2016. Rep. Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell) filed for House District 8 today. No Democrat has filed for this district yet.

Rep. Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell), currently representing House District 8 (map), is the only incumbent Flathead legislator who has not filed for re-election. Nor has he filed a C-1 statement of candidacy with the commissioner of political practices. This is a bit odd, but it’s too early to conclude that he may not run again.

If, however, he decides not to run again, he may delay his decision until the last moment, or even file and then withdraw at the last moment, to deny a Republican not of his choice time to mount a campaign. Were he not to run, former Kalispell Tammi Fisher, who was clobbered by Mark Blasdel in SD-4 in 2014, might file for the Republican nomination.

Republicans have candidates in all Flathead districts except HD-5. But as displayed in the table below, only three house districts have Democratic candidates. Recruiting Democrats to run in deep red districts, even as non-campaigning options on the ballot, is becoming increasingly difficult. Serving as a non-campaigning ballot option, or mounting a soapbox campaign with no expectation of winning, are honorable political adventures.




25 January 2016

Tonight’s debate for the soul of the Democratic Party

Provided I can work it into my unexpectedly tight schedule, I’ll be live Tweeting (@jrcflatheadmemo) tonight’s Democratic debate in Des Moines, IA. The town hall format event starts at 1900 MST, and will be broadcast and live-streamed by CNN. There’s plenty to debate, but the format makes asking follow-up questions difficult. And CNN is notorious for asking questions intended not to elicit truth and understanding but to incite conflict, and thus “good television.”

The format rewards a laid-back, friendly one-to-one approach, best exemplified by Bill Clinton’s demeanor in his town hall debate with George H.W. Bush in 1992. I hope Bernie, Hillary, and Martin, know the price of a gallon of milk.

We can expect questions on racial reparations, single-payer health care, and, I hope, questions on environmental issues such as clean drinking water (think Flint, MT), the ethanol as biofuel foolishness, coal or clean air, and law and order issues such as mandatory minimum sentencing, and the illegal crackpot right occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

…read the rest

How did the Democratic Party become so old so fast?

Three of the last five Democratic Presidents were under 50 when elected: John F. Kennedy, 43; Bill Clinton, 46; Barack Obama, 47. Jimmy Carter was 52. Lyndon Johnson was 56 when elected in 1964. Now the youngest major Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is 68, and her only credible challenger, Bernie Sanders, the favorite of younger Democrats, is 74.


Bernie and Martin have more governing experience than Hillary

It’s not even close, as the table below shows. HRC was elected to the Senate twice, and appointed as Secretary of State once. The rest of her alleged governing experience was as Bill Clinton’s wife.


24 January 2016

HD-5 candidate David Fern favors higher minimum wage


Updated. In an oped published in today’s Flathead Beacon, David Fern, the long term member of the Whitefish school board who’s running for the Democratic nomination for HD-5 (map), called for raising Montana’s minimum wage to $11 per hour.

Two bills to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10, one (HB-384) by Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, the other (SB-2) by Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, failed in the 2015 legislative session.

Fern’s proposal is very modest.

Democratic Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley propose raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Hillary Clinton favors a raise to $12 an hour.

Every time someone proposes raising the minimum wage, it triggers the right’s Pavlovian reaction to economic justice. Those who worship at the altar of cheap labor warn, with Richard Nixonesque gravitas, and with faces so straight they seem set in epoxy, that paying workers more will hurt businesses and cost the jobs of low wage workers.

Those who believe that will believe anything. Actually, raising the minimum wage puts more money in the economy and helps people pull themselves out of poverty.

If paying hamburger slingers at least $15 per hour causes a half-dollar increase in the price of a cheeseburger, or even double that, I’ll gladly pay it and add a tip. So will all decent people.


Bernie meet-up in Whitefish draws dozens

More than two dozen, in fact, reports an eyewitness, who supplied the photograph below of New Deal Democrats listing to Sanders speak to them via television.

The event was held at the Crush, a last minute change required by a last minute refusal by Caseys to host the event (I’m told Caseys’ owner, no progressive, overrode his scheduling staff upon learning that supporters of a self-described socialist might besmirch his establishment).

My congratulations to Rhonda Effron and the rest who organized the event.




23 January 2016

Saturday roundup

New, posted at 12:37:33 MST. Bloomberg joins Democratic establishment’s anti-Sanders campaign. Former New York City major Michael Bloomberg, 73, admits he’s considering an independent run for President. Politico reports “He’s less likely to run if Hillary Clinton emerges as the likely Democratic nominee.” You don’t say. Because he would draw votes away from the Democratic nominee, the only rational interpretation is that he’s attempting to frighten Democrats into abandoning Sanders. Like Hillary, Bloomberg is moderate to liberal on social issues, but pro-Wall Street on economic issues. The problem for Hillary, Bloomberg, and the Establishment, is that together they have only a few hundred votes to cast in the primaries while there are still millions of New Deal Democrats ready to vote for Sanders.

Posted earlier:

Libertarian files for House District 3. Shawn Guymon, who last ran in the Columbia Falls based district in 2012, filed for HD-3 as a Libertarian yesterday. This is good news for incumbent Democrat Zac Perry, who in 2014 won with a plurality in a three-way race with Republican Jerry O’Neil and Libertarian Chris Colvin. Guymon may draw 200 or so votes from Republican Taylor Rose. In a close election, that could help Perry win by a plurality again.

Hillary and three Repubicans file for MT Presidential primary. HRC filed yesterday, taking a moment away from her Bernie bashing campaign. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump filed on 14 January, and Ted Cruz filed a day later. The official status is "pending," meaning there are more hoops through which the campaigns must jump. Montana's primary is in June.

No one has filed for Governor, SecST, Attorney General, Auditor, or OPI. That's because public relations fun and games are being played. Each candidate will pick a day to file, hold a noon rally on the Capitol's steps (to make the evening television news), then tour the state to honk their horns. Although the events generate some free publicity, their real purpose is building morale within the campaigns and the party.

Don't look for a Democrat to kick off a campaign for Attorney General. Incumbent Republican AG Tim Fox filed his C-1, but Democrats, or to be more precise, the trial lawyers who are Democrats, have concluded Fox is invincible. A sacrificial lamb may be offered in March. I hope this is just a case of Democratic lawyers saving their vigor for representing their clients.

Bernie Sanders supporters gathering in Whitefish this afternoon. The festivities start at the Crush at 1530 MST. You can RSVP online (but ignore the times — I confirmed the 1530 start — and go to the Crush, not Casey’s). Or you can just show up. You’ll be welcome. Consider arriving a few minutes early, as Sanders reportedly will address the group, and similar groups all around the country, on television.

Sanders — one of the last New Dealers left in the Democratic Pary — is under fierce, scurrilous, and dishonest, attack by the Hillaryites and the Democratic establishment. A strong showing of support in Whitefish today will help Bernie and send a message to Hillary.

University of Montana announces layoffs and cutbacks, but honchos get raises The Missoulian has the story. Meanwhile, the university’s regents raised the salary of UMT president Royce Engstrom, sending the signal that come hell, high water, or lower enrollment, the pay of top university administrators always goes up. Regent Martha Sheehy voted against the raises. Good for her. The other regents should have been as responsible.

Two Mile Drive’s exasperating detour. Two Mile Drive once was a straight, tree lined road. Now it's a crooked road with many fewer trees. A quarter-mile of Two Mile is dug up where a bridge under construction will cross the Kalispell westside bypass, also under construction. There’s a quarter-mile paved detour around the bridge site. When the bridge is completed, we can drive uphill on ice, then drive downhill on ice, and always worry that some fool coming toward us will be in the wrong lane at the blind spot atop the bridge. This is change, but not progress.



22 January 2016

Gianforte rules out PAC money, but not millions in self-funding

Give Greg Gianforte and his staff credit. His campaign is off to a not infelicitous start. He hit eight cities in two days, stayed on message, and neatly executed a gotcha maneuver when he pledged not to take political action money. He earned a B+ or A-.

He missed a straight A by refusing to take questions after delivering his campaign speechlets. According to Greg Strandberg, the official explanation is that his schedule was so tight he just didn’t have time. But I suspect the real reason was to keep him from putting his foot in his mouth.

The no PAC money pledge was not accompanied by a no self-funding beyond the standard individual contribution pledge, so he left wide open the possibility of reaching into his deep pockets. My prediction: he’ll put millions of his own money into the campaign if necessary.

Gianforte filed an amended C-1 statement of candidacy yesterday. He’s no longer an exploratory man. But he didn’t file for governor at the Montana Secretary of State’s office. I suspect he may not for several weeks. Once he files his Declaration for Nomination and Oath of Candidacy, he has to announce his choice for lieutenant governor. By not filing for a few weeks, he keeps the spotlight fully on himself, keeps the Democrats guessing, possibly builds some suspense, and preserves an opportunity for another two-day tour to introduce his running mate.

Whom might that running mate be? A number of names have crossed my desk.

One is Thomas W. Hanel, mayor of Billings, and a former lieutenant on that city’s police force. Hanel also served as mayor of Big Timber and on Big Timber’s city council. He’d be a good choice.

Another name that pops up frequently is State Senator Matt Rosendale, who spent a million dollars of his own money losing to Ryan Zinke for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives.

A possibility from the northwest corner of the state is State Senator Mark Blasdel (R-Kalispell), an effective and polished campaigner who never will be mistaken for a RINO.



21 January 2016

Flathead GOP chair compares Gianforte to Carson and Trump


Republican gubernatorial hopeful Greg Gianforte concluded the first day of his “Hey, I’m finished exploring — I’m running for governor,” campaign in Kalispell, speaking to approximately 50 in the safe venue of Thompson Precision. He was introduced by Ray Thompson.

And, reports the InterLake’s Sam Wilson, he was praised for his lack of experience in politics and governing:

Jayson Peters, chairman of the Flathead County Republican Central Committee, listed Republican Sen. Steve Daines along with presidential candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump as evidence of a business-savvy political outsider’s appeal.

“I think what will be interesting will be to take someone who’s just been in business, and put him in the highest position in state government,” Peters said. “That’s a great thing. You look at the national political scene … they’re excited about people who have been outside the political system.”

I’m surprised Peters didn’t mention Carly Fiorina. Perhaps that’s because she’s already lost a major political campaign and Gianforte is only on his way to losing his first.


Did Gianforte hire union buster Scott Walker’s website developer?


Greg Gianforte, as Intelligent Discontent has observed, could have built his website with Montana talent. Instead, he appears to have hired a Greenwood, Indiana, political firm, the Prosper Group Corporation, that “…[specializes] in developing digital strategies for conservative campaigns and organizations,” and brags about its relationship with Wisconsin’s union busting governor, Scott Walker, and Americans for Prosperity, of Koch brothers fame.

Here’s a screenshot of Prosper’s home page:


Gianforte’s 5 January 2016 C-5 campaign finance report records paying Prosper $6,400 on 18 November 2015 for “advertising and retainer.” Intelligent Discontent reported that Gianforte’s campaign paid Connect Strategic Communications of Dallas, TX, a total of $22,531 between 17 October and 7 December 2015. His C-5 lists the expenditure as for “website hosting and advertising.”

…read the rest


20 January 2016

How Bullock can explain why Democrats lie about Gianforte


Republican Greg Gianforte this morning announced that he’s running for Governor of Montana. If he’s formally filed, the information still hasn’t been posted on the elections website of the Montana Secretary of State. He did not announce a choice for lieutenant governor, although fellow young earther Roger Koopman would keep the ticket religiously consistent.

In their story on Gianforte’s announcement, the Associate Press’ Bobby Caina Calvan and Matthew Brown reported:

Democratic operatives have tried to script a narrative that portrays Gianforte as an outsider who does not represent the values of most Montanans. Bullock’s campaign has repeatedly referred to Gianforte as a “New Jersey multimillionaire,” a theme they hope will resonate among voters in a mostly poor, rural state.

Gianforte’s campaign has countered that the businessman was raised in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and has lived in Montana for about two decades.

Is there a way Bullock’s campaign can build on the Democratic Party’s mendacious press releases? Yes. It could record a video with Bullock explaining why the best way to tell the truth about Gianforte is to lie about him. Here’s a script:

…read the rest

Will MT’s Democratic leaders never grow up and behave like adults?

At the direction of Gov. Steve Bullock, party chair Jim Larson, and party executive director Nancy Keenan, Jason Pitt, the party’s communications director (propagandist) is at it again, lying about Republican Greg Gianforte.

In a press release blasted out this morning, Pitt said:

In response to New Jersey millionaire Greg Gianforte announcing his candidacy for Governor today on his website, Nancy Keenan, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party released the below statement:

Last year, Pitt periodically called Gianforte, a 20-year resident of Bozeman, a New Jersey billionaire (another example, and yet another). Earlier this month, Pitt demoted Gianforte to New Jersey multi-millionaire. Today’s press release maintains the lie about New Jersey, but demotes Gianforte to “millionaire.”

How long before the Dems demote Gianforte to middle class, and how long after that to homeless pauper?

Bullock, Larson, Keenan, and Pitt are committing political malpractice, and committing it with the provincial glee of schoolyard bullies taunting a classmate who wasn’t born in their sacred community. They’re clearly having fun doing this, but they’re making fools of themselves, embarrassing fellow Democrats, and tarnishing the party’s reputation. Will they never grow up and behave like adults?



19 January 2016

Gianforte’s religion, hardhats v. hiking boots, Sanders & racial reparations

Gianforte’s religious beliefs are a legitimate campaign issue. Montana Cowgirl reports that conservative Republican Ed Berry, a scientist, is skeptical of Gianforte’s embrace of young earth theology. That speaks well of Berry. Young earth theology is an Ussherian cult.

The U.S. Constitution forbids establishing a religious qualification for office. But it does not forbid voters from taking a candidate’s religious beliefs into account when deciding whether to vote for that candidate. In fact, commonsense requires close scrutiny of exotic religious beliefs; for example, a belief in human sacrifice.

Will a hard hats versus hiking boots clash harm progressive candidates? That seems possible. Logicosity reports that Montana’s AFL-CIO is again supporting Republican Steve Gibson over Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell in Helena’s House District 80. Dunwell won by 23 votes in 2014. She should do better this time, even if the unions go after her because she supports a clean and healthful environment and doesn’t ask “how high” when labor tells her to jump.

Apart from the issues specific to HD-80, there will be considerable tension in this election between the green and labor caucuses in the Democratic Party because of fears — or hopes — that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will force the shutdown of the Colstrip electric power plants and the coal mine that feeds them.

This is a complex, divisive issue. Colstrip’s power plants are nearing the end of their economic life unless massively rebuilt. They’re not as thermodynamically efficient as newer plants or combined cycle natural gas fired combustion turbines, but they provide jobs that pay well. Labor is understandably committed to preserving those jobs, and is under no illusion that most displaced Colstrip workers and miners can be retrained for high paying jobs in other occupations. Environmentalists are rightly concerned that Colstrip is a major contributor to global warming, but sometimes they can be too righteous about it.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t support reparations for slavery. That doesn’t make him a white supremacist. But Ta-Nehisi Coates, again writing in The Atlantic, thinks it does. Coates, a black racist who hates white people, but who apparently supports Hillary Clinton, thinks Sanders is a doddering old fool who doesn’t even understand the argument for reparations. It’s an ugly, malicious attack that The Atlantic should be ashamed of publishing.

I suspect Coates’ Bernie’s a white supremacist screed is part of the vilify Bernie blitzkrieg that HRC’s campaign launched over the weekend. He’s also being called a foreign policy ignoramus, and his support of single-payer health care is being derided as downright unAmerican.

Sanders marched with Martin Luther King. Coates should march to a place where he’s never seen nor heard from again.


Do Hillary’s defenders fear Bernie Sanders is the second coming of
George McGovern, Francis Townsend, and Huey Long?

Yesterday, her campaign’s savage and dishonest attack on his support for single-payer health care continued, joined by Paul Krugman, Harold Pollack, and Ezra Klein. All want to address other issues and stay silent on health care, except for quietly singing the praises of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Krugman at least admits tries to buy off the private insurance industry.

As Kevin Drum observed yesterday, much of this criticism is way over the top:

…read the rest


18 January 2016

Three days in 1968 to remember and an MLK event in Kalispell

Three days in spring that I’ll never forget began on the evening of 31 March 1968. Then college students on spring break, we were driving west, nearing Duluth-Superior after a week spent campaigning for Eugene McCarthy in Wisconsin, listening to President Johnson’s speech on our Ford’s radio. Without warning, Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. Somehow I kept the car on the road as we cheered the news.

…read the rest

Here's Bernie's single-payer health care plan


Frequent readers of Flathead Memo generally know that I favor what I’ve called American Care: an everyone covered for everything, zero dollar (no deductibles or copays) federal single-payer system financed by progressive taxation.

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders released the details of his health care plan. These two paragraphs summarize the heart of his proposal. I would have been proud to have written them.

Better coverage. Bernie’s plan would create a federally administered single-payer health care program. Universal single-payer health care means comprehensive coverage for all Americans. Bernie’s plan will cover the entire continuum of health care, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral health care; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments. Patients will be able to choose a health care provider without worrying about whether that provider is in-network and will be able to get the care they need without having to read any fine print or trying to figure out how they can afford the out-of-pocket costs.

What it means for patients. As a patient, all you need to do is go to the doctor and show your insurance card. Bernie’s plan means no more copays, no more deductibles and no more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges.

The Affordable Care Act can be a bridge to Bernie’s affordable single-payer system that covers everyone. At last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton said Bernie’s idea was bad. Why? Because it wasn’t her idea. Because she’s cozied up to private health insurance companies too long. If Hillary had been FDR’s secretary of labor instead of Frances Perkins, Social Security would be a private pension plan tied to the stock market.

Hillary keeps calling herself a Democrat. I keep wondering why.



17 January 2016

Did tonight’s Democratic debate change any minds?

Probably not. Generally, it was a useful, serious, policy oriented debate, especially in contrast to the last Republican debate. Hillary Clinton did lower the tone a bit by arguing that disagreeing with her amounted to disrespect for President Obama. She was dog whistling minority voters. And misrepresenting Sanders’ support of single-payer health care.

Sanders’ sees the Affordable Care Act as a bridge to a single-payer system. HRC sees the ACA as an alternative to a single-payer system, and as an alternative that’s superior to a single-payer system. That’s not quite a Republican talking point — Republicans only support an you’re-on-your-own health care system — but it’s not a progressive talking point. Were she to become President, she would block all movement toward a single-payer system.

Here’s a way to help boot the Bundys from the Malheur

Are you interested in helping amplify the voices speaking out against Ammon Bundy and his Doofus Brigade’s illegal occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge? Now there’s a way to do it.

Two brothers in Oregon, Zach and Jake Klonoski, have launched a crowd-funding website, http://www.gohomemalheur.org/, to raise money for the people and organizations mobilizing against the doofies’ misbehavior. The Oregonian has the story. It’s a good way to help. Send dollars, not snacks.


This evening’s Democratic debate & two Malheur occupiers arrested

Democratic Presidential debate. Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders square off in Charleston, SC, tonight at 2100 EST. NBC News is broadcasting the debate, which also will be streamed live on YouTube. I’ll be watching and may Tweet my reactions (@jrcflatheadmemo) during the debate.

This debate may get dirty. Sanders’ strength has spooked HRC’s campaign. Her inner Lady MacBeth has surfaced. She can’t pull herself up, so she intends to push Sanders down. She’s on the attack, making dishonest claims about his health care proposals.

Several mainstream news organizations this weekend reported that HRC’s campaign underestimated Sanders’ appeal. That’s true — but those reports failed to observe that HRC’s campaign overestimated her appeal. She’s an incredibly ambitious, self-righteous issues technician, not a master politician. She thinks like a corporate attorney, which is all she would be had she not married Bill Clinton. Now there’s a danger she could become the Democratic nominee for President.

Two small fry Malheur occupiers arrested. One was busted in Burns by the Oregon Highway Patrol for driving a federal truck he boosted from the Malheur refuge. The other was arrested in Maricopa County, AZ, on an outstanding, nonfederal, warrant. They weren’t charged with occupying the refuge illegally, so the arrests present them as petty criminals, not heroic revolutionaries.

Meanwhile, the occupiers continued their campaign of petty vandalism. Yesterday the Doofus Brigade removed surveillance cameras from telephone polls. What’s next? Taking out a police drone with birdshot?



16 January 2016

A Saturday serenade for Ammon Bundy and his scofflaws

Here’s some music from 1976 by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie that gets to the heart of the issues raised by the Doofus Brigade’s occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, public land that belongs to you and me. Public lands never had a better friend than Pete Seeger. Guthrie, now 68, was a liberal Democrat as a young man, then turned Republican and Libertarian as he aged. Studs Terkel introduces This Land.