Just When You Thought Ryan Zinke Couldn’t Be More Despicable

Failed Lt. Governor candidate Ryan Zinke certainly has a knack for demonstrating an almost unparalleled capacity for despicable behavior in the name of self-aggrandizement. For the past year, he has been raising money condemning the Obama Administration for “outing” Navy SEAL Team Six, even though it was Zinke himself who not only named the group publicly but disclosed operational details of the mission. Now Zinke’s back. In a platitudinous and grammatically-challenged hash of inane right wing talking points about American foreign policy in the Daily Interlake, he falsely claims that American ambassador Chris Stevens was raped and tortured during the Benghazi attack. Zinke writes: Yet not a single official was fired despite the brutal rape and torture of our ambassador and the death of three American heroes. Continue Reading →

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Walsh Offers Excellent Contrast with Daines

The news that Lieutenant Governor John Walsh has entered the race for Senate has energized Montana Democrats and made a race that seemed worrisome immediately competitive. While the specific timing of the announcement (late night Wednesday) was certainly odd, in a broader sense his timing couldn’t have been more perfect: announcing his candidacy at the precise moment Steve Daines is demonstrating his preference for radical Republican obstructionism over real governance provides the kind of contrast Walsh will use to his advantage in the campaign. In the last couple of contested Senate elections here in the state, Montanans, despite a conservative bent, have chosen sensible pragmatists over radical ideologues—and are likely to do so again. The experience gap will also work to Walsh’s advantage. While each has experience overseas, the fact that Walsh led Montana troops in a war zone as Daines was helping outsource Montana jobs to China offers another instructive contrast about their priorities and values. Continue Reading →

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Did the Government Shutdown Affect the Missoulian’s Editorial Judgment?

I’ve seen some embarrassing, shoddy, terrible work from Montana newspapers over the past seven years writing this blog, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything this bad. It’s bad enough for Representative Daines to score political points while people who rely on government services can’t get them, but unimaginable that a newspaper would print word for word his office’s attention-seeking spin. Real political journalism in Montana might not be dead, but it’s certainly on life support. Representative Steve Daines Press Release:
Congressman Steve Daines today released information regarding his staff and office operations during the current partial government shutdown. “Serving the people of Montana remains my number one priority, and my staff and I will continue working to serve the people of Montana and provide Montanans with needed information about the services they rely on during this time,” Daines stated. Continue Reading →

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Saturday Quick Takes: Draft Baucus, the Farm Bill, TRS, and More

Another interesting read up at the Flathead Memo today, reporting about the effort to draft Senator Max Baucus for “one last term.” James Conner writes:
Should Baucus change his mind and run for another term — I don’t think he will — I’ll vote for him. Better Baucus in the Senate, his ties to the health care cartel notwithstanding, than any Republican. I sense a great disturbance on Twitter over this one. Good news for the Teacher Retirement System, which is in much better financial shape after some simple modifications during the Legislative session that increased contributions from teachers, districts, and the state.  Fascinating to see that sensible legislation is even more effective than ideologically driven calls to gut the system. Senator Tester killed the Monsanto Protection Rider this week, a move that was correctly praised by the Center for Food Safety, who called it  “a major victory for the food movement” and “sea change in a political climate that all too often allows corporate earmarks to slide through must-pass legislation.”

Radical Republicans in the House, including Montana’s Steve Daines, continue to threaten sensible agriculture policy and threaten the livelihood of Montana farmers. Continue Reading →

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Open Letter to Stacey Rambold

Man, you dodged a bullet. Judge Baugh made hopefully the worst decision of his judicial career, and you are a free man again. As much as I wish I could, I can’t put you in jail again. I suppose some (wo)men of faith or philosophy would advise that the guilt of what you’ve done is the ultimate punishment, that the fact that you’re free is immaterial. But I’m not sure – guilt generally involves giving a damn about other people, and you’ve amply demonstrated that’s not your forte. Continue Reading →

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Revisiting the Wisdom of Parental Consent Laws

As an educator who has worked with many troubled teenaged girls, I have a lot to say about Stacey Rambold, the sentence Judge Baugh gave him for illegally engaging in sex with a 14 year old girl, and a Washington Post opinion that sex between teachers and underage students really should be considered consensual. “Furious”, however, is not a state of mind conducive to righting long blog posts, so I’ve yet to effectively put my thoughts there into words. I would, however, like to note a somewhat marginal side issue – Montana voters and legislators have decided repeatedly that minor females must notify their parents before having access to their constitutionally guaranteed reproductive freedoms. The only safety valve for girls whose extenuating but non-emergency circumstances make such notification inappropriate or even dangerous? The ability of the judiciary to wisely, sensitively, and impartially evaluate the interests of 13-17 year old girls in matters related to sex and their bodies. In light of the fact that that Todd Baugh is still a sitting judge in the state of Montana, is anyone willing re-consider the wisdom of this position? Continue Reading →

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Criticism of Obama’s Syria Policy Reveals Longing for Autocracy

I’ll be honest – I didn’t watch Obama’s speech. I might read a transcript when I get the chance, but it’s pretty clear that the speech isn’t going to set the course for our Syria policy – that course has been set, and will now be steered again to the UN Security Council. But I did find the reactions to his recent policy highly interesting – most telling is that we have the chairman of the RNC saying, ““The administration’s handling of the U.S. response to Syria has been so haphazard it’s disappointed even the president’s most ardent supporters.””, we have Peggy Noonan again questioning Obama’s competence, and a general complaint that the president looks ‘weak’. I pointed out a long time ago that Obama’s critics have chosen this as the theme – they mock him for ‘leading from behind’ and skewer his administration for being too weak on foreign policy. Essentially, they are saying ‘man up!’, occasionally in as many words. Continue Reading →

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