Intelligent Discontent

Quick Takes: Daines as Rehberg, Van Valkenberg, and the NSA


It hasn’t taken long for Steve Daines to perfect his Denny Rehberg impersonation in Washington. He’s already voted against emergency assistance for his fellow Americans and this week he voted against reducing interest rates for college students. Finally, at the Montana GOP Convention/Purge, he trotted out Rehberg’s old imaginary “federal landgrab” with the Montana Land Sovereignty Act. Let’s just hope he stays away from the water this summer, lest the transformation become complete.
Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenberg says he’s “embarrassed” by the Department of Justice investigation of sexual assault in Missoula–not embarrassed by the behavior exhibited by Missoula officials, mind you, but the DOJ itself. Among his incredibly offensive remarks to the City Club Missoula, we see this:

Instead of blaming the media (and often the victims), Van Valkebnerg should welcome federal intervention and assistance to improve the way his office deals with sexual assault cases.

Champ Edmunds, the Senate candidate the Washington Post forgot, offered a speech to the Montana GOP this weekend that ably demonstrated why Brian Schweitzer would defeat him as a write-in candidate:

I understand that the role of a conservative pundit is to appeal to the base, but arguing that the IRS non-scandal is somehow worse than NSA spying of Americans is astonishing. As is the norm, Bill Kristol is dead wrong:

“National security is different from internal matters of the government,” he told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. “We’re dealing with foreign threats here.”

“They’re not allowed to go into that data until they have a warrant signed off on by a judge. That is totally different from the IRS abuses, which I think are very serious, and I think it’s very important for conservatives and Republicans to make that distinction.”

The erosion of civil liberties in the wake of 9/11 is an ongoing, bipartisan nightmare. The abuses under the past two administrations demonstrate that the problem is far deeper than partisan blamemanship. As long as criticism is focused there, we have little chance of ending these abuses from the American law enforcement and intelligence communities.

It’s also terribly reassuring to see members of the Senate like Republican Jon Thune defend his votes for surveillance on Americans by noting that he didn’t really know what the programs did:

“I think the times that this program’s been reauthorized, much of this operates in levels where there are not that many people — members of Congress — who are fully engaged in what’s going on. You know, the intelligence committees obviously are involved and homeland security, I think, to some degree but most members of Congress are given a piece of legislation to vote on and I don’t believe that most members of Congress, perhaps, going into this were fully aware of how broad this program was and so yes, you vote because you’re obviously concerned about protecting the country.”


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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a sixteen year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate. In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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