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

Archives Index, 2017 November 1–15


15 November 2017 — 0738 mdt

Olszewski’s distraction


After the special legislative session was expanded yesterday, Sen. Albert Olszewski (R-Kalispell), an orthopedic surgeon, and a candidate for the 2018 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jon Tester, introduced SB-10, a bill to overturn a new rule on birth certificates promulgated by Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services, which maintains the state’s vital statistics.

The new rule, scheduled to take effect 9 December, simplifies the procedure for changing a birth certificate following a gender transition. A public hearing on the rule was held on 12 October and comments were accepted through 20 October.

…read the rest


13 November 2017 — 0804 mdt

Special legislative session notes

The 2017 special session of our legislature convenes in less than two hours. The Republican majority has expanded the session. The governor’s proposals will be considered, but if adopted they won’t be adopted in the form proposed. I hope the legislature will adopt budget modifications, including tax increases, that prevent vital services, especially in the health and human services sphere. But I’m not optimistic. The Republicans have commanding majorities in both chambers, and believe that tax increases are intrinsic evils, not instrumental goods. That belief by definition precludes using the power of government to redress injustices and mitigate the maldistribution of wealth.

Crime may pay for Shelby

GOP Rep. Rob Cook and Sen. Llew Jones are supporting a scheme to strongarm Gov. Bullock into negotiating a new long term contract with the private prison in Shelby. In return, the prison company will return $30 million to the state’s general fund. It’s lowdown political thuggery and extortion, and Holly Michels at the Missoulian has the story and some quotes that won’t restore your faith in the goodness of humankind.

…read the rest


13 November 2017 — 0602 mdt

Montana Republican Party stands on platforms with
radical anti-tax and return to the gold standard planks

Whom to tax

Don’t tax you,
Don’t tax me.
Tax the fellow,
Behind the tree.

Last week, Logicosity’s Edward R. Burrow wrote, “Most R’s believe government spending is out of control and would prefer to chew and swallow glass than raise taxes to feed programs they abhor.” The Montana Republican Party’s platforms for 2016, 2012, and 2008, which are consistent with the national Republican platforms for those years, prove the truth of ERB’s observation.

Beyond protecting the tax cuts it enacted under Republican governors, Montana’s Republicans seek to replace the progressive income tax with a flat rate tax, such as the Fair Tax or sales and value added taxes. Those are deeply radical and regressive proposals. The GOP also proposes returning to the gold standard, a favorite of Ron Paul and his disciples (for those contemplating such nonsense, I always recommend Golden Fetters, by Barry Eichengreen). The Montana GOP’s 2008 platform was explicit on this point; subsequent platforms employ vaguer, more circumspect, gold bug language.

Here are excerpts from the platforms’ sections on taxation and inflation.

…read the rest


11 November 2017 — 0953 mdt

Faith debased communities may have normalized Moore’s predilections

If a thirty-something Roy Moore was putting dirty moves on 14-year-old girls, why are reports of his encounters surfacing only now? That’s a fair question. And the fair answer? Certain evangelical community values may have normalized his behavior. If what he was doing wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t news.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Kathryn Brightbill reports that in many evangelical communities, the courtship of mid-teenaged girls by older men is a standard practice, and thus considered normal:

…read the rest


10 November 2017 — 2028 mdt

Daines disses Moore & more on Ol’Roy


Sen. Steve Daines abandons Roy Moore. Only a few days after endorsing Moore, Daines announced he’s unconditionally retracted his endorsement, thus scrambling back to political safety.

Mitt Romney says Moore’s not fit to be a senator — and thunders “Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections.”

Romney appears to be 84-year-old Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Republican heir apparent for the U.S. Senate.

Romney believes the women who say Moore sexually fondled them against their will. I doubt, however, he believes that in the court of public opinion, the standard should be, or is, guilty until proven innocent.

…read the rest


10 November 2017 — 0516 mdt

Music for an Alabama man who’s facing the music


Flathead Memo dedicates this hand clapping, foot stomping, performance of Elisha Hoffman’s 1878 gospel classic, Are You Washed in the Blood?, to Alabama theocrat Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Roy’s a man removed — not once, but twice — as chief justice of his state’s supreme court for flouting the law — and, according to the Washington Post, a man who, 38 years ago, clapped his 32-year-old hands on a 14-year-old girl who didn’t appreciate his friendliness. He was, the Post reports, similarly friendly with three other girls, all past the age of consent, and also unappreciative of his clappy digits.

His adventures are allegations, unproven but deemed credible by some, that even if true will not result in his prosecution. The statute of limitations expired decades ago. And like all other Americans, he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence. But the allegations might cost him votes, perhaps enough votes that he loses the election.

I wouldn’t count on that. Ol’ Roy draws his support from Alabama’s peckerwood evangelicals, men and women who find his theocratic defiance of civil authority a virtue, and whose theology loves a sinner come to Jesus. Even if Roy is guilty as sin, he may be able to confess his sins, beg forgiveness, asseverate he’s on the path of rightesousness, and stay in the good graces of his base. Indeed, the peckerwoods might consider his behavior proof that he’s straight and virile, virtues in their eyes. As Charles Pierce wrote in Esquire (and was quoted by Ed Kilgore):

I may be entirely too cynical but I think, if Moore has the sand for it, he will follow this up with an explanation of how he had sinned, as all fallen humans do, but that Jesus has forgiven him and washed him in the blood of the Lamb, and now it’s time for him to bring his redeemed hindquarters to godless Washington to show the heathen the path to glory that he’s been blessed to follow. That might work.

It might. It certainly would be a performance to rival Jimmy Swaggart’s and Jim Bakker’s confessions of sin and pleas for redemption, and a favorite on YouTube for decades to come.

Some Alabama Republicans, no doubt hedging their bets in case he wins, have defended him. But he’s not getting much support from national Republicans, whose disapprobation is almost universal. Their calls for his exit from the campaign, however, are conditional: “If he’s guilty, he must go,” is the standard response. It’s also the response adopted by Montana Sen. Steve Daines last night. What they're not telling you is: they don’t like Moore, but they’d rather serve with him than with a Democrat.

Now, some pickin’ and grinnin’ in Roy’s honor:



8 November 2017 — 0854 mdt

Flathead municipal elections turnout was disgracefully low

Only one in five registered voters bothered to cast ballots in the 7 November municipal elections in the Flathead (Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Kalispell), according to the preliminary report posted online by the Flathead County Elections Department. A turnout breakdown by city and ward is not yet available (will it ever be available?).

Because registered voters is a subset of the voting eligible population, the absolute turnout was below 20 percent, perhaps as low as 15 percent.

Turnout this low is more than disgraceful. It lessens the political legitimacy of an election.

I believe two factors are primarily responsible for the low turnout:

…read the rest


6 November 2017 — 1423 mdt

Note to readers

It’s a big news day — Gov. Bullock has called a special legislative session that starts next week — and for me, a big snow removal day. Removing the snow from my drifted driveway (out of sight at the end of the arborvitae) has priority. My total snowfall since Halloween was ≈ 15 inches. I’ll be posting after dinner, or perhaps double posting tomorrow.


5 November 2017 — 2039 mst

I look forward to reading Donna Brazile’s new book

Hillary Clinton’s claque, of course, prefers that no one reads Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House , the new book by former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile, and that those who do read it dismiss it as sour grapes ravings by a disloyal woman scorned. That’s why they’re belittling Brazile and denouncing her book before it’s published on Tuesday.

Her critics are the same diehard Hillary worshippers who employed similar tactics to try to discredit Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, the unflattering account of HRC’s campaign that has withstood its critic’s attacks.

…read the rest


3 November 2017 — 0635 mdt

A Montana budget deal will be an abomination, not a miracle

There are reports that Gov. Bullock and some Republican leaders are closing in on a deal to temporarily raise a tax or two to pay for fighting forest fires, and to allow funds to be transferred from Peter to pay Paul. Once a deal has been cut, at least in principle, Bullock will call a special session to ratify the agreement. An agreement must be reached sooner than later because the state is rapidly burning through its cash, and big payments are coming due.

At this point, there’s a lot of posturing, maneuvering, and low and high dealing. Nothing is settled until everything is settled. Except for the negotiators, no one knows all or most of the details. But all of us know this is no way to run a government — and that whatever agreement is reached will stink like a startled skunk no matter how much perfume the politicians spray as they attempt to spin it as a sweet deal.



2 November 2017 — 0711 mdt

Only John Heenan and Tom Woods have strong health care planks

Six Democrats are running for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two, John Heenan and Tom Woods, have strong health care planks in their platforms. Two, Lynda Moss and Kathleen Williams, have no platforms, but have made statements concerning health care. Jared Pettinato’s one-plank platform does not mention health care. And Grant Kier’s health care plank is Hillary Clintonesque mush.

In their own words:

John Heenan believes health care is a right

John believes that we need to put people’s health above insurance company and health industry profits. The current proposed healthcare law would be a disaster for families in Montana. It eliminates protections for people with pre-existing conditions, rips away coverage from 70,000 Montanans and causes premiums to increase for countless others. John believes healthcare is a right, and he supports affordable healthcare for everyone, and would vote for Medicare for All.

…read the rest


1 November 2017 — 1832 mdt

New website kicks off campaign to pass 6-mill university levy –
and there’s already organized opposition to the levy

Updated. Montanans for Higher Education’s (MHE Facebook) campaign to pass the six-mill university levy in the 2018 general election hit the internet this week with two new websites, https://www.montanansforthesixmill.com/ and https://www.nohightaxes.com/. Both domains were registered with GoDaddy this week.

There’s already opposition: Montanans Against Higher Taxes, whose C-2 form on file with Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices lists Timothy Adams of Bozeman as its treasurer. MAHT has a Twitter page.

…read the rest