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

28 January 2017

Elsie Arntzen and the fine art of shooting oneself in the foot;
Lying about Gianforte reveals Dems’ Trumpean disdain for truth

Elsie Arntzen is to Denise Juneau as Mitch McConnell was to Barack Obama. Whatever Juneau did as a chief of the Office of Public instruction, Arntzen seems determined to undo. She’s killing, or trying to kill, Graduation Matters, an OPI program that was both successful and funded with private money.

Five days ago, Arntzen’s claimed that test scores were falsified when Juneau’s administration used a non-standard method to translate numerical ACT scores to federal qualitative equivalents. Yesterday, Arntzen announced she’s hired an independent investigator to dig into the matter. The usual sequence is investigate first, accuse second, and don’t get the action started by calling a reporter before all the facts are known. Arntzen needs to calm down and get her ducks in a row before shouting J’accuse!

I favor, incidentally, a national curriculum (Common Core isn’t good enough) and national tests so that students receive equal educations and assessments no matter where they live. Too much local control weakens our nation.

Time for a rebuke, too early for a recall. The possibility of recalling Arntzen was raised at Montana Cowgirl, initiating a snarky, not useful discussion. She’s well on her way to making a fool of herself, but she’s done nothing that merits a recall … yet.

The “Greg Gianforte is a New Jersey billionaire” lie is back. The liars are at Montana Cowgirl, which I’m beginning to suspect is run now by hyper-partisan former Montana Democratic Party staff and people associated with Democratic candidates.

Let’s review the facts. Gianforte was born in California, went to high school in Pennsylvania, earned college degrees and his first millions in New Jersey, and in 1995, moved to Bozeman, where he’s lived ever since and made hundreds of millions of dollars. Gianforte’s actually spent more of his adult life in Montana than has Gov. Steve Bullock.


Assembled from various publicly available sources.

He’s not a billionaire. In late 2015, the MDP called him a billionaire, then demoted him to multi-millionaire in 2016.

By any reasonable measure, he’s a Montanan — a very rich and very conservative Montanan who may be too far to the right, and as a former chief executive, too accustomed to getting his way, to govern well. That’s why I voted for Bullock.

The Jersey Gianforte lie is an attempt to paint Gianforte as an outsider from a state with a reputation for pervasive corruption and brass knuckled politics. The obsession with his wealth appears to be an attempt to associate him with the memory of William A. Clark, the notorious Copper King whose infinitely corrupt conduct helped make the case for the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Clark died in 1925, but in Butte and other hard rock towns, his memory lives as though he died yesterday. Resentment and loathing of the rich, and of the not born in Montana, is a powerful part of an insular political culture that fears the future will repeat the past.

Thus the lie, I suspect, comes easily to many Democrats. But it’s still a lie, an easily proven lie that exposes the liars as having a Trumpean disdain for fact and truth. How any of the liars think that helps Democrats win elections is beyond my ken.

Democrats, tell the truth: Gianforte is a Montanan. He’s also a very conservative Montanan whose values and proposals for policy may not be in the best interest of most Montanans. Knock off the name calling and lying; it’s juvenile and counter-productive. Just knock him over the head with the planks in his platform.