Montana Politics

The Hearing on SB 114: Absolutely Terrifying

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I should confess something. For a long time, I’ve dismissed the threat of the Tea Party and its adherents because their observations about government and interpretation of the Constitution are so comical that it’s hard to imagine anyone takes them seriously. After watching a few hours of testimony on SB 114, I’m less dismissive, not because their ideas seem any less ridiculous, but because many of them earnestly believe the conspiracy theories they espouse.

Senator Hinkle (R-Marbut)’s bill was supported by exactly one law enforcement official and a collection of people charitably described as unhinged. It was opposed by county attorneys and law enforcement. You know, the people who actually have to work to combat crime, not the ones who only do it at fantasy gun camp with Gary Marbut, who actually referred to “black ninja suits” during his testimony today.

In the end, though, the Republican majority on the committee voted unanimously to disregard the advice of Legislative legal counsel, hamstring federal law enforcement,and ignore the supremacy clause of the Constitution because:

  • some unnamed guy in the 1980s was briefly detained by federal marshals.
  • some lunatic thinks a federal agent is spying on him in a Park Service vehicle.
  • “the Constitution dictates that sheriffs must be our first line of defense” and “because the federal government has chosen not to protect our borders.”
  • “of the march towards world government” and the 2005 meeting that established the “North American Union.”
  • someone heard on Fox News that federal agents have secret unsigned warrants.
  • someone was upset because a FWP agent (you know, from the state) gave some tickets without calling the local sheriff.

Additionally, stories like this one from the Associated Press need to do a better job of talking about the actually discussion that transpires at these meetings. Matt Volz writes:

At Friday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, dozens of people waited in line to condemn the government or to say their rights are being chipped away.

While factually accurate, the bland description hardly captures the full-fledged lunacy of the remarks made by proponents. News coverage needs to do more than discuss the existence of two sides on an issue; it should accurately depict the nature of the arguments presented by both sides.

A final note: thanks to Senator Augare for defending the integrity of federal law enforcement officials today.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-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.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

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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  • Well, that is EXACTLY what I've been saying now for a long time. The newspapers are shit AND remiss. They are full of nutless wonders who are complicit in the nonsensical treason being espoused by the far rightwing lunatic fringe. And now, these fringe characters have infiltrated the legislature and assumed an air of legitimacy. Let me offer up one example. I have YET to see even ONE state daily explain exactly what the Constitution Party is all about and its origins in hatred and racism. They simply give it equal billing and legitimacy to Republican, Democrat, and Constitution Party withOUT ever attempting any sort of explanation. And that's very sad. As if it couldn't be any clearer, their bottom line is simply profit with absolutely NO concern for their duty as the fourth estate. And that is very sad.

    I can't understand how these people in the news bizz actually do their jobs knowing that they are contributing to thus horrendous situation. How nutless can you get?

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