Montana Politics Steve Daines

A Post in Which I Upset Almost Everyone Talking About Max Baucus

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The knives are out against Senator Baucus as he considers (or prepares for) his re-election bid inMINIMUM WAGE 2014. On the right, we’re seeing predictable, often childish attacks about the Senator’s personal life and alleged liberalism. From the left, we’re seeing predictable, often childish attacks about the Senator’s personal life and alleged conservatism.

That Baucus engenders such hostility from conservatives and from the self-appointed arbiters of progressivism on the left certainly is a testament to a career that is perhaps more defined by moderation and political pragmatism than that of any other Montana politician I can remember.

Do I wish Senator Baucus were a more reliably progressive voice and vote? Certainly. Have I been incredibly critical of his work on health care and taxation? Repeatedly. Do I wish he was less influenced by corporate interests? Often. Is he my first choice for one of Montana’s senators? No.

But let me be clear: absent a credible, more progressive challenger who can not only defeat Baucus in a primary but win a general election in Montana, I will support Senator Baucus’s bid for re-election.

It’s not enough to attack Baucus, pretending that will conjure a liberal candidate who can win in Montana. Progressives had better have an alternative in mind when they tear down the Senator, because it’s a hell of a lot easier to throw bombs than build the support for a candidate. I haven’t heard any names of candidates who are likely to defeat a Republican candidate who will receive millions in Koch-Rove money. Have any expressed interest? Do any have a reasonable chance of winning election?

Let’s not indulge in any Brian Schweitzer fantasies until and unless the man makes it clear that he wants to run for the Senate. My guess is that he doesn’t have any interest at all. If anything, there’s another location he has in mind in Washington.

I for one, cannot work to help create Senator Steve Daines or Senator Dennis Rehberg. Attacking Baucus without a candidate who can defeat Republicans like these is beyond foolish; it’s just grandstanding to get attention.

I’m unlikely to ever support Senator Baucus as enthusiastically as I have Senator Tester, though truth be told, their policy positions are often quite similar. But I do know this: if we return Senator Baucus to Washington, women will have another vote to protect their reproductive rights, labor will have an ally who represents workers, schools will have an advocate for adequate funding and support, and those without health insurance or with pre-existing conditions will have someone fighting for their health. And let’s not forget: Max was the first elected statewide political official to stand for marriage equality.

I would always prefer a more progressive candidate that Montana Democrats are able (or willing) to choose, but I’m not willing to sacrifice critical policy that protects the rights of human beings for ideological purity. While the latter must feel incredibly affirming, it doesn’t win very many elections. And I still believe those matter.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-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.

156 Comments

  • I don’t think it could be better written. LEt the hate begin… but some people actually believe in getting things done, not just whining from the sidelines.

  • That’s what I have been saying all along. these so called progressives are willing to slit their own throat, because of contrive slights against them…. Not caring that he protects their rights to progressive politics. We have no one to fill his shoes. and he has done more for the Democrats in Montana, then most could even remember.

  • PW says my predictions about the future are always wrong. Predicting the future is a risky venture, except in this regard: I said that no matter how bad Baucus is, Democrats will line up behind him in 2014 because they are afraid of mean old Republicans.

    And again, lesser-evil politics is a political junk bin. Any damned fool can run on that basis, and indeed they do and indeed you vote for them. If you set your expectations low enough, you’ll never be disappointed. That’s why being a Democrat is such a low calling, like a child aspiring to be a WalMart greeter.

    And there is a a logic behind rejection of L/E politics: There is no upper ceiling on evil, ergo, coming in second in the evil race also entails unlimited evil, and Baucus is a hearty steed.

    • Dude – I just read your blog. You really think 9/11 was an inside job? I’ll just ignore the rest of your comments from here on out. Thanks for the heads-up.

      • Btw, Pogie, unless you are > age 59, i lived in Montana longer than you have been alive, and know a thing or two about “Montana politics,” which are no different than anywhere else.

          • Ok, we should support Max. Even though he is a corrupt, sleazy right winger, he’s a Democrat. That’s it in a nutshell, all you need to know.

              • [sigh] no, pw, I’m not giving you a fricking name.

                This is quite a circus, you jokers quite a spectacle. I watch politics, I see how empty the process is, how bad the candidates are, how utterly stupid the debates and advertising are. From that I see that it is a show that has some other purpose than self-government, which is long gone. My conclusion: American elections exist to give you the illusion of democracy. If you did not suffer that illusion, you might actually exercise your citizenship by joining a movement, a labor union, a new party, or fighting for campaign reform, or (gasp!) being in some fashion … creative?

                You laugh at the Republicans because they had a lineup of 12 presidential candidates. Because they are the “other” party, you easily saw that they were all bad, some even stupid, and that to choose among them was pointless. You then easily saw that Romney was a transparent con man, but stopped there, as you did not also see that the choice between Romney and Obama was also pointless.

                You then sneer at and condescend to those of us too wise to participate in the nonsense, and say that unless we should shut up because microscopic variations in advertising strategies and financial backers creates a meaningful choice.

                After all of this, you will say “give us a name, Mark.” You’re a weak excuse for a citizen, PW, a man reduced to football fan with a painted face. You’re better than this – you seem to have an agile mind in other areas. But in politics, you’re a tool.

                • The GOP is splintering: after its destruction we will examine our consciences then steer our own party into the future. You, Tokarski, are an anachronism destined to be exsanguinated onto the kill floor of history, too.

                • So then, you’re going to remove the fiancial backers from the party too? As far as I can see, that subject is taboo here, as if people who win elections really have power. Elections merely distract us from real power, office holders are actors.

                  Talk about that, Kurtz, and there is progress. As long as you ignore it, your party is nothing but a sham.

                • You keep harkening back to the good old days when Democrats let activists set the agenda, Mark. Give me a name of someone willing to run against Baucus, and I’ll vote for them, work for them, whatever.

                  But you won’t. I don’t know why not, I can think of several people who may run and who I will vote for if they do. And if you’re right, and there is a vast group of non-voting Americans who resemble the Labour party in Britain, anyone moderately to the left of Max will unseat him and have a shot at winning the election. Thing is, Mark, you’re wrong. Those people don’t exist, not in numbers, not in Montana. And we’re discussing politics in Montana.

                • Well, again, elections don’t matter as candidates must take private bribes to be viable. Also, the vast majority of the public is dustracted, uneducated, gullible. So votes are not of any credible value. It’s just a manipulation contest, most money finishes first. So that part of our democracy is a joke but you cannot think beyond it.

                  It takes maybe 5% of the population to make a difference. In this crazy country even that seems unattainable . But i laid it out for you: state level finance reform. Old wine in new bottles don’t get it done.

  • Unfortunately, that is not how primarying works. Worse, this argument is at it’s heart an argument against accountability.

    Nobody had heard of a local councilman named Ned Lamont when the case was made that Joe Lieberman was unacceptable as a candidate. But the reality-based community stood up to Lieberman and a candidate emerged who won the primary (unfortunately, a quirk unique to Connecticut meant it took another six years for Lieberman to be replaced by a Democrat).

    If you want to remove somebody from your party the first step is to hold them to account. And even if a primary doesn’t happen, you’ll force them to be better. And even if the primary doesn’t win, you force them to be better.

    But if you are so counterproductive you don’t even both standing up and holding an incumbent to account, all you do is give them license to be worse. It’s your perspective that has allowed Max Baucus to become such an awful and corrupt politician.

    And until senate senority is reformed, Max Baucus will chair Finance until he leaves office or Democrats lose control. As chair, he hurts Democrats and America far worse than any frosh Republican could. Democrats will be better off without Max. Period.

    But if you want to hold the seat, you should be fighting hard – now – against Max. Because that’s how successful primary candidates emerge. And considering Max’s poll numbers, if Dems are fool enough to renominate him, in all likelihood we’re going to lose the seat. Which wouldn’t be the worst outcome (this would be like sacraficing a pawn to take your opponents queen).

    Here are how scenarios involving Max rank for Democrats, from best to worst:

    *Max retires, is expelled, or otherwise leaves the senate. Under Montana law, Governor Bullock gets to appoint a Dem. The longer she has as incumbent, the easier it is to hold the seat in 2014. MDP is finally free of Baucus.

    *Max announces forty years in DC is enough and he’s not running for reelection. Multiple candidates from Democrats’ deep bench run for the open seat. This would look the same as the above scenario if Bullock appointed a care-taker, except the MDP would still be under his thumb.

    *Max is successfully primaried and we hold the seat. There is no imaginable scenario where we could end up with somebody worse who could pull this off.

    *Max is successfully primaried and we lose in November. At least Dems stood up for our values and against corruption. And at least Max is out at finance.

    *Max isn’t primaried and loses. Democrats would have had to pretend people should vote for him for no reason, looking ridiculous and not worthy of anyone respecting them. But at least he’s gone.

    *Max wins primary and wins reelection. At least we tried, but we’re still stuck with him.

    *Max isn’t primaried and wins reelection. Another six years where no matter how big a Democratic majority, nothing good can get through Finance.

    The more Baucus is held to account, the more likely the better outcome. There is a direct, inverse relationship between Max Baucus’ fortunes and ours, as Democrats and Americans.

    • Bob – what? Ned Lamont lost to Lieberman. So, what you’re saying is “hold Democrats accountable by nominating unelectable candidates.” Love that strategy.

      • Ned Lamont successfully won the primary. It was only because of a state legislative mistake when moving primaries that Lieberman was allowed to run in the general. Montana does not have that same flaw.

        And regardless, by standing up to Lieberman back then, we kept him from even trying to run for reelection last year. And now he’s finally been replaced. And by a helluva good guy. All because people in Connecticut and across the nation were smart enough to ignore Pogie’s advice.

        • Um. No, Lieberman just said, “F**k it and screw the liberals” and then – ta da – the last 6 yrs. And I love how you take ownership for beating Lieberman in a primary? Were you there? I’m honestly confused, like a lot of people I know, about what you actually do other than spend your day sending out silly, grammatically flawed tweets and taking pictures at rallies.

        • Like I said, I’ll certainly support a credible alternative if there is a progressive candidate who can win a primary, then beat Daines or whoever the Republicans throw out there. I just don’t see that candidate emerging, especially with Baucus positioning himself to run again.

          I think the demographic profile of Connecticut voters is a bit different than that of Montana, too.

          • “Like I said, I’ll certainly support a credible alternative if there is a progressive candidate who can win a primary, then beat Daines or whoever the Republicans throw out there. I just don’t see that candidate emerging, especially with Baucus positioning himself to run again.”

            Translation: “No matter what else I might say, I’m behind Baucus all the way.”

            The inability — of those who are attempting to rationalize how they are going to support Baucus when they know he is corrupt — of dems to look across the board and propose candidates is truly amazing. Primaries are where candidates arise and create constituencies and develop momentum.

            If dems start from a defeatist point like Don is, then there will never be any candidate who will live up to the inevitable Baucus machinations.

            Here you want some candidates?

            * Lizard offered Wilmer. I’d second that.
            * Denise Juneau would be a great candidate
            * Nancy Keenan just left NARAL. She’d be a formidable candidate!
            * Ellie Hill from Missoula is a rising start in dem circles. Of course, that would assume that dems from other than Missoula think that any candidate from there is acceptable.

            There’s 4 women who would be great candidates from a traditional dem viewpoint. WHat’s keeping all you Baucus apologists from spending some time trying to get some attention on and support drummed up for any one of them, other than the fatalistic attitude that Don so eloquently presents?

            Hell, what were the final words in the article above that I linked to about Keenan?

            “She plans to stay on at NARAL through the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — which happens to fall just a day after Inauguration Day… But as for Keenan’s next steps, she said she’ll be fly-fishing in Montana and drinking Scotch.”

            Sounds like just the thing someone contemplating a run for Senate might do. Maybe she just needs some encouragement, instead of running into the brick wall of Baucusonian inevitability.

            • I would third for Wilmer in a heart beat, however …

              There are a few problems with your list, JC. 3 of those 4 possible candidates (excluding Ellie) have all vocally supported Max Baucus. The 2 state level office holders have been supported by Max Baucus. That most certainly doesn’t preclude any of them from running against him, but in a ‘campaign against his corruption’, you can certainly see how that puts them in a weaker electoral position.

              The problem for Ellie Hill is not that tricksy false eebil Democrats not fortunate enough to live in the shining bastion of liberalism that is Missoula will reject her out of hand. No, her problem right now is that far too many Democrats across the state won’t know who she is. For her to take on Max in 2014 would require a higher profile than she currently enjoys. I write that not as a detractor, but as someone who does know her, has followed her career and would not only happily vote for her but would also work hard to get her more votes. She’s just not there yet.

              You really need to get used to the idea that not having considered something is not at all evidence of destructive intent. Pogie was probably spot on in his assessment, but also probably hadn’t considered Keenan. Honestly, I hadn’t either. That is an intriguing possibility, if for no reason more than the national appeal to money that Nancy Keenan has. Hell, she’s potent enough that Max might choose retirement rather than face her. But without her name even being on the table, what do you really have that stands against the inevitability of Max’s reelection, save tawdry dismissal of those who see what is obvious? Pogie wrote what was obvious. Your only counter was how he actually controls someone else choosing to run againt him. He has fact, and you have fantasy. If Keenan is playing coy, seducing folk into drafting her run against Baucus, and is willing to stay any such run because Don Pogreba didn’t give her a chance, then she sure as hell isn’t a person who should represent me.

              Before you demean others for not working on the designs you have in your head, you might want to put those designs on paper, make them actual and concrete. Let’s see what kind of superior attitude you throw about when Keenan declares, or declares not to declare. Until then, JC, you’re being pompous because you can hold smoke in your hands.

              • Personally I’ll be writing someone in. Maybe I’ll write in you Rob. You seem to get standing up for people instead of corporations. But I’ve been writing in random names for years.

    • Bob, you know that I agree with you in large part about Max. But I do wonder, a lot, about the contradiction in progressive framing concerning “accountability”. If there is no middle ground between ‘getting a politician being favorable to progressives’ and ‘punishing one that isn’t with righteous ruination’ , then where does “accountability” make any difference? What you describe is a relationship of ownership, not representation. For the most part, we don’t own them because we don’t pay for their success, simply threaten it. ‘Do what we want or we will destroy you’ seems like a hollow threat to most politicians, and doesn’t strike me at all as a way to get what you want.

      That is especially true if you blame others for disagreeing with your tactics, even if they agree with goal.

    • There’s a world of difference between holding someone accountable for his votes and engaging in a non-stop smear campaign.

      For God’s sake, parroting the claims of an American Enterprise Institute “scholar” as if that’s some sort of objective, honest critique?

  • Pogie, your mindless acceptance of the words of authority figures carries through to your attitude about politicians as well. They do not have real power. So the argument about who to vote for instead also reflects that mindset. Voting, no matter how bad the choices, is all you can envision of an expression of citizenship. I know of no greater expression of weakness than you express.

    On the other stuff, again, there’s more to know than what you’ve been told to think. But i do admire your courage in going against the flow. You da man.

    • Seriously, though…who would you support? As entertaining as it always is to read your insightful paraphrasing of the radicalism of some college freshman in his Poli Sci class, is there any candidate for the US Senate who could a) actually win and b) get your vote?

      I think not. That’s why you won’t answer the question.

      • Your shrill insults aside, your understanding of politics begins and ends at voting. That is horribly shallow. You draw personal validation from your candidate winning. I understand that, even accept it, as most people are too busy to pay attention and hence reflexively vote party labels. The problem is, as you so well demonstrate, is that there is no accountability. Baucus has been a shill for power for decades, and here you are, linng up again. That’s insane.

        So you have reduced your citizenship to voting, and when someone does not like your choice, your only conceivable response is “if not him, who then?” And that is the problem. That is the only response you can conceive of.

        Here’s my answer, as I know you are going to keep hammering this point: as long as they all have the same financiers, it does not matter.

          • That’s interesting: You are a tooly Democrat who predictably lines up behind anyone with a D, has no other interest on politics, pretzels his brain around all issues as D’s tell him to, and calls me predictable.

            That’s rich, tool. Rich. If you don’t know money and power you don’t know diddly.

            • You’re only predictable because you’ve made roughly 543,881 comments on Montana blogs over the years and said exactly the same thing each time.

              At least try to paraphrase a new issue of Z Magazine or something next time.

              • You are so presumptuous! What a lame ass, and totally predictable, as impenetrable as Swede to boot. I am yet to walk away from an exchange with you where you are not rude, condescending and ignorant of politics, all the while full of hubris that you understand the game. You’ve never once written about money in politics. You act as if it does not exist. You sneer at yhe other party, all morally superior as you support corruption like Max nrings us.

                You are devoid of self awareness.

                • Mark – you just see Pogie as rude because he beats you in each argument, because you just copy and paste all of your comments. It’s boring and SHALLOW. But, again, after reading your blog, I’ve discovered how detached you are from reality.
                  I believe in change. I believe in pragmatism. Permanent change cannot happen without pragmatism. You believe it ideological purity which has never created substantial political change.

                • No, I see Pogie as unable to respond to legitimate points, and so one who falls into shrill responses having to substance, as when he says “predictable.” He avoids substance and immediately resorts to ad hominem because frankly, he has nothing but being a Democrat. He’s a lightweight, and you apparently too, as your comments about my blog are throwaway condescension, Pogie style, lacking substance, haughty nonsense. You too got nothing.

                  You talk like one of these talking heads who makes throwaway comments about center, left and right as if s/he had a clue what that meant. I don’t think you have a clue. I can lay out a whole host of right wing policies and show you how Democrats energetically pursue them, making it a right wing party and you an unwitting right wing dupe. I can do this with ground level evidence as opposed to your throwaway nonsense.

                  If you got something, anything, now is the time to being it, because frankly, I think you are an empty-headed punk. Bring it, fool. Bring it. I’m waiting.

                • I think you might want to review this thread, Mark. You assert that other people are shrill and big meanies, but you’re the one throwing around personal insults.

                  We all get that you are above petty electoral politics, but none of us get why you can’t stop saying the same things over and over.

                • I responded in kind after losing patience with your shallow throwaway answers. You got nuthin ‘ Don. All hat, no cowboy. Time you were exposed as the lightweight you are. Either bring it, not in hot air, palaver, empty rhetoric, hokum and nonsense, vague generalities about illusory right and left, but real Baucus deeds . We can debate each one, if you got any. I don’t think you do, empty hat.

                • “Bring it on”? “You got nothin'”? What is this now, a goddamned football blog or a frat-boy party?

                  Mark, how you can you jump into a discussion of electoral politics by stating categorically that elections don’t matter and that no one on the site is worthy of carrying your thesaurus and have any hopes of being taken seriously?

                  And then to complain that someone else is being rude, all the while tossing around playground insults! You take the prize, you really do.

                • Don started out by saying: “The knives are out against Senator Baucus as he considers (or prepares for) his re-election bid in2014. On the right, we’re seeing predictable, often childish attacks about the Senator’s personal life and alleged liberalism. From the left, we’re seeing predictable, often childish attacks about the Senator’s personal life and alleged conservatism.

                  That Baucus engenders such hostility from conservatives and from the self-appointed arbiters of progressivism on the left certainly is a testament to a career that is perhaps more defined by moderation and political pragmatism than that of any other Montana politician I can remember.”

                  The problem with this is repeated in all of his writings – everything is undefined. Because party politics centers on people and not issues, people like Baucus are free to rest wherever money puts them, and party followers define that as the pragmatic center. I have listed issues with them here, begged them to discuss specifics – why Obama’s wars and torture and wiretaps are any different that Bush’s. I have listed the issues on which Tester, Baucus and Obama are I distinguishable from the other party, and get what Don gives us here – vague remarks about “progressives” and “conservatives” with no gro ding context.

                  That is what you step into here – issues versus parties. when I ask the, to bring it, I am asking for issue discussion. You take that to mean that I want tough talk, or football halftime speeches? Not at all. I want them t discuss specifics, but they do not because, as I said, they got nuthin’.

                  I suggest you leave me alone and try to corner Don, see what he means by “left,” “right,” “conservative,” “progressive,, and “liberalsim.”. Perhaps you’ll have better,luck than me because frankly, to him, they are free-floating terms that have no substances. They mean only “my guy” and “their guy.” there are no other issues than that.

                • That’s funny there, Mark. When I’ve tried to discuss issues with you, you have assumed my position with no evidence, waffled, trolled, insulted, fled and generally restated the very things you spout here that we are all well familiar with and tired of. Ed just pointed out that’s about what you do, about all you do.

                  I’ve asked you, many times, what power you think the rest of us have beyond electoral politics. You keep with claim that we must “organize”. Fine. I asked why you won’t lead such organization, and you insult and flee. If you want revolution, Mark, quit asking others to bring it to you, and claim it. Otherwise, just as Ed noticed, you look like a coward. Do you actually expect people to follow a coward? Of course you do, because you accuse us of it all the time, with absolutely no alternative.

        • Way to answer the questions Mark, but here they are again:

          Is there a candidate for the US Senate who could a) actually win and b) get your vote?

          In your utopia, who is this mystery candidate? Will you offer one? I’m betting no…

          You Da Man Mark!

          Long winded diatribe via Mark to commence in 3… 2… 1…

  • Max is indeed probably the most corrupt Democrat in the Senate. He has been there so long (I believe he only worked 2 years in the private sector before running for Congress) and is so entrenched in the DC sewer that he wouldn’t have a clue about what happens to us here at home. His disgraceful behavior during the health care hearings when he joked that they needed more police to remove doctors who were standing up to demand a single payer system says it all. Sadly I think that apart from the minority of Montana voters who actually pay attention to the process, most people vote for name recognition, which may explain why the nutters who sent out the most mailers and spent the most money (most of it from out of state) on TV commercials, got elected to the State Legislature. And look where that got us in 2011 and where we’re going in 2013.

    I wish we had someone dedicated and hard nosed enough to run against him, but at the moment the inertia is very depressing.

    I did hear that he wants to exceed Byrd’s tenure in the Senate, like making it into the Guinness Book of Records. Personally I would rather have a Senator this side of 80 making decisions for my state, not some doddering old fool.

      • On the contrary, experience both in life and in government is invaluable and should be appreciated – institutional knowledge is extremely important. However, we do have to encourage younger people to take on the old dudes so they too can gain said institutional experience. We can’t just wait until the old guys (and face it they are mostly old white guys) drop from exhaustion. If he runs again and is elected he will be almost 80 by the end of his 7th term. I would love to see some energetic woman who has experience in the Montana Legislature take him on – times they are a changing and we desperately need more women representing that half of the population as well as our young people in Congress. Since you are a teacher you are more aware than most of the potential of our kids – they deserve legislators who will look out for their interests, not those of their favorite lobbyists.

        • In general, when one makes the case that he/she is opposed to age discrimination, the phrase “doddering old fool” remains on the side.

          I think it would be great for someone to challenge Senator Baucus, young or old, man or woman. I just need to be convinced that person is out there–and planning to run.

          Until that point, I’m going to stick with the candidate who’s with our interests far more often than he is against them.

          • “Doddering old fool” wasn’t meant to refer to Baucus, just in general that Senators do need to retire and make room for young blood. Heck, in Canada, Supreme Court Justices are automatically retired at 75. Its sad that the entire political process has been hijacked by money to the point that someone who really wants to make a difference hasn’t a chance of being elected unless they have access to oodles of moolah, and that isn’t going to happen to a newby from Montana, especially a woman. We need to get the money out of politics before there can be substantive change in our political representation. That would be a great place to start.

            • Who is the candidate you think could win? We do need more women in the Senate – yes. But just saying that isn’t enough. Electable candidates. That’s what we need, too.

  • Hey ya got this one in the bag.

    Keep pushing gun control, gay marriage, global warming, closing Fed lands to oil and coal, blocking railroads all while flying the Democratic flag and you’re golden.

    • Actually since the majority of Americans are in favor of sensible gun control, respect the rights of gay people to have the same rights as us straights, recognize that our irresponsible use of fossil fuels contributes to climate change and want to keep our national parks for recreation and not desecrated by oil and gas companies, this really isn’t a matter of Democratic or Republican views, just common sense.

          • Inge can’t remember three days ago let alone last November. In his mind he’s always winning, kind of like Charlie Sheen.

            Course IngeSwede may be getting paid by the word which would explain it. I think Charlie is too.

      • draftmama, taking them one at a time.

        Sensible gun control means what? Why are your measures sensible? How will they interdict know gun violence?

        Gay rights. Agreed. IN 10 years this will happen.

        Irresponsible use of fossil fuels. What does that mean? And how does that enter the consciousness when Americans don’t see it as a top 10 priority? http://www.gallup.com/poll/156347/Americans-Next-President-Prioritize-Jobs-Corruption.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication Did you know that, according to Gallup, ” A solid majority of Americans think the U.S. government should approve of building the Keystone XL pipeline, while 29% think it should not. Republicans are almost twice as likely as Democrats to want the government to approve the oil pipeline. About half of independents also approve.” Tester, Baucus, and Schweitzer want it. As you say, “just common sense.”

        • “How will they interdict know gun violence?” What on earth does that mean?

          Even the majority of NRA members favor sensible measure such as background checks, banning semi automatic assault rifles, 30 round clips, etc. etc.

          Gay rights? Dude you are really missing the boat here. Look around you – no one under the age of 30 even understands what the problem is. Apart from the really backward states, gay marriage will be legal in most of the country by the next presidential election.

          And if you haven’t noticed what’s going on all over the planet which is clearly caused by the fossil fuel industry trying to extract the last cent, you are definitely not paying attention. Australia, which is suffering an unprecedented drought and disastrous fires, is in an epic battle between the people and the companies trying to extract the last gasp of coal seam gas, while poisoning the water and killing the people.

          The politicians who want to approve the Keystone XL are pandering for votes and I’m disgusted with all of them. Look at what’s happening in Canada where most of the population is fighting against pipeline expansion. This stuff ain’t good and needs to stop. For all the money being spent to promote fossil fuel extraction we could be developing alternative and renewal sources of energy, if the extraction industry didn’t own the Congress. Just saying.

          • Banning sem-auto rifles? Really? There are those that resemble military arms and those that appear more pedestrian. What they share is rate of fire. Pistols also have a very high rate of fire. Did you know that even revolvers can unload vast gun fire, reload and continue? Again, what’s reasonable and why? Do you know that there are semi-auto shotguns as well? Again, define “sensible” and how does that relate to interdicting know gun violence?

            Gay rights. Beg to differ. Young people are very aware of this issue. Again, in 10 years this issue will pass away as more tolerant voters take control.

            As to your alarmist rhetoric regarding extreme weather events, even the IPCC doesn’t buy it.
            http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/images/uploads/SREX-All_FINAL.pdf Go to Chapter 4 and start reading.

            Here are some selected quotes:

            “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have
            not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change”
            “The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic
            climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados”
            “The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses”

            • Hold on Craig, dmama stated the “majority of Americans”.

              MT voters are not with the majority, but let them think that way or proclaim their candidate represents their views and our chances of winning increase.

    • If Democrats hadn’t pushed for civil rights in the 60’s, they wouldn’t have lost the South — and we wouldn’t have ended up with Nixon and the Bushes. Sometimes it’s worth it to push for ethical positions and take a political beating. If Montana Dems are punished by nuts (including some delusional non-Republicans) for advocating responsible gun control, sound energy policies, and marriage justice, so be it.

      Bigotry, hatred, and ignorance are formidable opponents of rational policies. They win a lot of the time.

      However, responsible people, in the long run, will win out.

  • Well, if you want to believe that gun control isn’t supported by the majority of Americans, just watch the news and see the daily carnage.

    Climate change is what it is. We are simply living in an unsustainable manner – just ask the people who rely on the Colorado River for their water, or the farmers in the Midwest who lost their crops this summer, or the businesses which rely on transportation on the Mississippi River, or my daughter in London who is buried in a foot of snow – unheard of in London, or my sister in the west of England whose village was washed away in floods at Christmas. We just have to stop, and figure out how to adapt to our changing world.

    Fortunately, here in the Helena Valley we live a sustainable lifestyle, but I do fear for my childrens’ future. And all of you should too.

    • As you worry about the future please consider the direction of crop production to feed the hungry. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/01/16/fortified-by-global-warming-crop-production-keeps-breaking-records/

      Global production of corn, wheat and rice have all more than doubled since 1970 as global warming occurred. Corn production, the current flavor of the week for Internet fear-mongering, has more than tripled since 1970. So, too, has global vegetable production as a whole.

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports similar good news in the United States. Corn, wheat and rice production are all experiencing long-term upward trends. Indeed, corn and rice production have more than tripled since 1970.

      Importantly, higher crop production is resulting from higher yields per acre rather than merely an increase in land dedicated to crop production. According to the USDA, rice yields per acre are up 45 percent since 1970, wheat yields per acre are up 50 percent since 1970, and corn yields per acre have more than doubled since 1970.

      In short, global warming is creating a timely one-two punch benefiting crop production. Global warming is (1) opening up more land for economically feasible crop production and (2) creating beneficial growing conditions that are increasing yields per acre on agricultural lands.

      All the fear-mongering Internet myths in the world can’t change those facts.

      • Oh lawdy – an article in FORBES got your attention. Hehehehe…. the fact that the increased crop yields are for the most part a temporary phenomenon as a result of the machinations of Monsanto and their evil contemporaries, together with the growing season extending farther north as a result of the warming trend is pretty sad. Roundup ready corn is already creating Roundup ready weeds. Do some research into the genetic mutations in seeds, and the downstream effects of mucking around with nature. It should terrify you – it does anyone with any interest in preserving our planet’s ability to support us.

  • I totally agree with you. IF there were a credible, electable alternative-I’d be there, but there isn’t. As much as I feel that Max is not anywhere near the quality of Senator that the previous seat holder was..(Mike Mansfield) I will support him until another Mike comes along.

      • I wouldn’t put much stock in that, since it’s written by an anti-Baucus activist who is just regurgitating something he read from a writer at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute.

        • I think I’ve made my case. Answer my question, oh political scholar, and I’ll be happy to answer yours. I’ve politely asked a half-dozen times for you to provide the name of an electable, progressive enough candidate we can support. It seems you’re unwilling to answer my question.

          I wonder why.

          • You people are simply unable to see beyond electoral politics. What eunuchs! You’ve been stripped of citizenship, reduced to a mob of cheering fans and don’t know it! You think you matter.

            Elections only matter if we are given meaningful choices AND if those people, once elected, are held accountable. But we’ve all been raised to believe that candidates fall out of the sky, say things we like to hear, and then go off to do our business. As a teacher I’ve no doubt you reinforce this meme. It’s a rinse and repeat cycle, you’re in charge of the next generation, making sure they are lame asses too.

            In 2002 the US backed a coup in Venezuela and overthrew the government, took Hugo Chavez to an island where he was no doubt told with a gun at his head to sign a resignation. People came from everywhere, surrounded the capitol, and the fascists realized they could not overcome popular power, and restored the government.

            Do you teach anything about democracy in your classes, or do you teach this lame crap about voting for the apparent lesser evil? You should take your students on a filed trip to places like Venezuela, Ecuador … where democracy is real, and dangerous., where it takes courage to vote and where office holders make courageous choices. America is over.

            • Mark, I get it now!
              Ok, so really what you’re saying is scrap the current political system and revolt? Start from scratch…
              This is your solution? This is something you think most Americans will get behind?
              Let us pretend, for a moment!
              You know, it’s a novel idea to consider… but I’m not sure we’ve reached revolt conditions yet. To me, it seems a bit extreme and you seem to conveniently forget the collateral damage that comes from said revolt… You act as-if all the nasty by product of a government takeover is worth the epic struggle to overcome capitalism and cronyism. Things are just THAT SHITTY, it’s the only option.

              And then we come back to Earth. There are other means to get change in government and our political system rather than something as extreme as you desire. You don’t have faith, or the patience that either will happen. You’re cite your age and vast experience in the political arena to know with certainty that there is but one option; a complete scraping of the current with some fantastical Chavezian revolt.

              Are things unfair in our democracy? Of course. Does it work as intended? Not always. Certainly not. Are things shitty for various “classes”? You bet. But you propose a solution to shoot the patient in the head for a broken hand.
              I, being younger than you, have faith – perhaps foolishly -that good, clear headed people will find their way into govt to make a difference that isn’t influenced by greed or power. I think it can happen.
              You’ve lost any semblance of faith that it can. Which, by the way, I find most sad. You’re a glass half empty kind of guy, I can see. But I’m sure cocktail hour with you would be a hoot. You’re the guy in the corner that tells the stories – the one that if you’re next to you talk with but inside, the more you hear the more you feel sorry for whatever made you the way you are.

              • You certainly read a whole lotta false dichotomy into it. I don’t advocate revolution, as such a thing is not possible in a thought-controlled environment. There is only a limited amount of range of options – Nader tried the blunt challenge in 2000 and was ostracized, demonized, never appearing again before committee or on TV. You Democrats are far more authoritarian than the other party, far less tolerant of dissent.

                So the agenda has to be subversive and limited, as Americans are not about to get active. There can be but one goal, not a revolutionary one, and not one that can be accomplished via party politics: public financing of campaigns at state levels, wherein it eventually becomes a constitutional amendment. step by small step . Perhaps seeing that threat, the Mullahs removed barriers to private wealth via CU, a huge setback. But that is the only path I can see to reform. It will not happen via your party. You have to give that up, as by definition to get elected your people must accept private bribes, and so are corrupt before taking office. That is why elections are such a joke

                Your attitude, to just give up, is not a good solution.

                • Per you:
                  -“Elections only matter if we are given meaningful choices AND if those people, once elected, are held accountable. ”
                  -” I don’t advocate revolution, as such a thing is not possible in a thought-controlled environment.”

                  For the first quote…
                  Enough of this Jedi mindtrick, “this is not the candidate you are looking for” BS.
                  I guess you sort of nutted up and gave way to the desire for a Naderesque candidate. Ok, fine. Not my first choice, but I guess it’s a choice never the less. Just think of the hours of pounding out comments you could have saved if you just said that. I think we could all understand at some level.

                  For the second quote. Thought control?
                  Shazaaaaaaaaaaaam!
                  Is there where the tin-foil hat comes in handy? Ps, I hear that when you shape little pointy horns on the tin foil hat, it disrupts the US Government plot to plant thought patterns. Patented technique. You’ll get that soon in the newsletter.

                • Where were you during the 20th century? Lippmann, Neibuhr, Bernays – the whole idea was that public opinion was of no value and had to be managed. The universal franchise meant that there had to be a way to manage us. elections are merely part of that.

      • Actually, Don, her run for the US House wasn’t that bad at all. She began in a serious money hole, and with a recognition problem outside of Bozeman. The field for the Dem primary was large. Weed the candidates down, reduce even the 3 smallest of those, and she could have taken the nomination from Gillan. Money-wise, her rebound against Gillan was exceptional. She entered the Montana House race, late, against a heavily favored incumbent in a divided district, and whupped him. (THANK YOU HD 63!)

        What you find underwhelming, I find instructive for the future.

  • I’m going to have to respectfully break with Pogie here – I will probably vote for basically any primary opposition Baucus has. His seniority may be an opportunity for pork barrel advantages in Montana, but it’s blocking more progressive Democratic Senators from gaining positions of power. It’s quite possible that a weak GOP Senator will be less damaging than a powerful Democrat who doesn’t look out for our interests.

    That said, I do respect what the Democratic party has done nationally and in Montana, and Max has been part of their success locally and their majority in the Senate. That alone may be worth electing him again. I think he has a better chance of winning than many give him credit for, but if he gets spooked by a tough primary challenge, he might be a better Senator if he wins the general. Either way, attacking Max Baucus is certainly the less important half of getting a candidate on the ballot we can vote for gladly – far more important is finding a candidate who wants to try and supporting him/her as strongly as we can.

  • Ok, I’m just going to throw this out there. Nancy Keenan is coming home to Montana. She is an accomplished and successful politician with an open future. Today is her last day at NARAL. This YouTube video was her speech at the 2012 Dem Convention.

    If dems on this blog and elsewhere can’t see fit to agree that she would be a formidable primary candidate to Max Baucus, and work to get her to run, then there really is no hope for the MT dem party. You want a candidate who is an alternative to Max, then work to draft Nancy, and don’t let her and other potential primary contenders think it is a forgone conclusion that MT dems will support Baucus at all costs.

    Don’t take this as an endorsement, just take it as a challenge to see if there really is any spark left in the Montana dem party.

    • Now that’s a great idea. She has a very solid background in public service, and Montana seems to like electing women to office.

      • So, all good dem candidates should run against Daines, instead of considering a primary contest for Max? Ok. Chalk another one up for the “Roll over for Max” club.

      • If MT dems are serious about a successor to Max, they’ll figure out a way to finance her campaign. Let’s see if Don and the others are willing to pony up a Benjamin each to get her started. Or is it just a bunch of guilt-assuaging talk going on here about there not being any alternatives to Max.

              • “Corpse of Bob Kelleher likely not in the race, zombie Max will have to do.”

                Well played, but the Corpse is running a write in campaign.

            • Mark –

              Name a couple issue s where you can give me evidence that a majority of Montana voters are left of Max Baucus, and I’ll take you more seriously.

              • Social security – preserve protect, same with Medicare. Those are core and under attack by both parties, code name ” entitlement reform”. Think about it – why speak in code if what you are doing is popular?

                The public is distracted, uneducated and gullible, but some issues transcend that. Those are two.

                • And, despite your dire predictions, Social Security has yet to come under attack by Democrats, indeed, was defended by them rather ably.

                • not true on two counts: One, SS has been on the table throughout, and two, it has not been “defended.” That’s Democrat-talk for not bei g successful in the attack. second, the can was kicked down the road. Get real.

                  Another issue where the public is far to the “left” is health care reform, the publicly overwhelmingly wanting a public option, and the Democrats pulling the rug.

                • This, PW, is the hardest part to watch – you are asleep at the wheel, not watching your people, assuming everything is OK. Obama, given a chance, will pull the rug on SS. that is why your party is so very dangerous.

                • “not true on two counts: One, SS has been on the table throughout, and two, it has not been “defended.” That’s Democrat-talk for not bei g successful in the attack. second, the can was kicked down the road. Get real. ”

                  Mark, you yourself said that ‘on the table’ is meaningless; the decisions are made beforehand. If both parties agree on Social Security, why don’t they just privatize it the way they both want to?

                  Secondly, on health care – I asked you to find an issue where Montanans are left of Max, not where the country is. There’s no doubt Max is further right than most Americans on that issue, but he’s elected by .3% of Americans, and they are not a representative sample.

                • You keep harking back to the system being representative of public opinion. That is only somewhat true. One, the public has no opinion on most matters, being confused indoctrinated, uneducated, distracted. That’s why elections are mere sideshows. the public is not consulted, but merely entertained. So austerity, fiscal cliffs, deficits, terrorism are not real issues, but merely perception control devices. Ad obviously, the public (and the media) are clueless aout taxation.

                  There is, however, a sense within the public on certain issues – we know, because we all have parents and know families that lost their breadwinner, that SS is a very good and important program. We all know that private health insurance companies are assholes who are only in it for money. We all know that our parents are much better off with Medicare than we are with private insurance, if we even have it. That is why the public, even in its ignorant state, wildly supported a public option, and why Obama also lied and said he supported it to get elected.

                  When up against the public sense on those core issues, Obama and the Democrats have to lie about their support and speak n code, while Republicans can be more open and honest. Your party is the stealth party, wanting to undermine these programs, as open attacks merely rally public support for them. Ergo, Obama has made massive cuts to Medicare with little fanfare, and has watched public awareness closely in regard to SS too, hoping that he can pull slmething off. That’s all the payroll holiday was – a stealth attempt at defunding that failed. Were it a genuine tax cut, he would done it without affecting FICA withholding.

                  Dammit I wish you’d learn a thing or two about politics – you’d understand why in foreign policy Obama has flanked Bush in military aggression, attacks on the Bill of Rights, and why domestically he is extremely dangerous, as you and yern are asleep at the wheel. Democrats are the problem.

          • If you’re saying that all dem politicians that won statewide in Montana last go-round (Bullock, Tester, Juneau, etc.) were not to the left of Max, then I’d have to say you are wrong. Max is the most conservative and corrupt of the bunch.

            Then again, I think arguing a politician’s bent based on a simple left-right dichotomy is necessarily going to simplify the discussion to one of uselessness.

            Look at the lessons of both Denny Rehberg and Conrad Burns (and John Melcher before him). I’d say that eventually, the least corrupt candidate will win. Baucus’ corruption may well be his undoing this cycle.

        • Wait. So I am responsible for Baucus running and winning because I won’t donate money to candidates who have neither expressed an interest in running nor filed for office?

          High standards.

          • First off, no candidate can file for another year.

            “But let me be clear: absent a credible, more progressive challenger who can not only defeat Baucus in a primary but win a general election in Montana, I will support Senator Baucus’s bid for re-election.”

            Secondly, I’ll call your bluff. WHo do you think would be a “more progressive challenger who can not only defeat Baucus in a primary but win a general election in Montana”?

            I named one possibility. Who do you think could beat Baucus, outside of Schweitzer, who most people believe could, given that he was interested in the seat?

            If you’re going to play poker, you might as well deal some cards.

            • For pity’s sake, JC, what Pogie wrote was no bluff. It was a clear statement of intent. What *you* wrote was a bluff.

              Let me deal this card: If Harry Truman would only primary Max Baucus, then Harry would win and only stupid people would be supporting Max. Hoowah, Pogie, don’t you feel stupid now?

              No, Dramaqueen. What Pogie wrote remains spot on. Keenan running is your bluff, until she actually does. Deal that card, and then we’ll have something to talk about.

      • The bottom line in Washington is that moneyed interests punish good behavior and reward bad. All of the talk here about who they are going to back, as if a new face is a remedy, makes them fools, strutting and fretting … Nancy Keenan, once elected, will either learn the system, as Tester did, or be a one-termer, not a bad thing.

  • What seems painfully obvious at this point is that the American ideal that we are “a nation of laws, not of men,” as John Adams put it, has mostly faded away. Most people expect respect for the law, but the ruling class of both parties continues to routinely disregard laws it finds inconvenient with relative impunity. No obvious deterrent to ruling-class lawlessness exists. In the current two-party system, the ballot box returns roughly 95% of our fabulously corrupt members of Congress. What ever happened to that “insider trading bill” anyway.

    Plenty of great citizens, even some pretty noteworthy politicians, have lost elections, or never run for public office. I think it is a mistake to obsess on the “electability” of men (or women), when what’s important is what they stand for and what actions they’ve taken to improve the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

  • I am not a connected person on this subject, but did I miss where Governor BS disavowed interest in running for this seat? He would mop the floor with Baucus in the primary and against any GOP opponent. While a senate seat may not assuage the perceived need people think he has to rule as an executive it still gives him a lot more power than he would have sitting around twiddling his thumbs waiting for the supposed presidential run in 2016. The only threat to zombie max is Governor BS and zombie max and his staff know it. Why else did they create a cowgirl knock off blog and populate it with gag posters like “jag”. Governor BS has his faults but god damn I hope he steps up and knocks Max out, the whole country needs it not just Montana. Just like Brigham said above (not sure he is but he made some good points) Baucus controlling the finance committee has extreme negative implications. Something about “single payer is off the table” blah blah.

    • Since single payer couldn’t pass the Pelosi controlled House, and their version of the bill with the Public Option passed with only 2 votes to spare, I think that statement should be taken as an observation about the Senate whip count and not a declaration of intent.

      • Im sure politically Max would like it to be taken that way among likely Montana democratic primary voters. Of course if Max had some stones and actually intended to ‘put it on the table’ instead of taking it off he certainly could have given his position…even if it were to eventually go nowhere. Of course I doubt he personally cares for the idea and it would have really upset his backers in the insurance industry and probably his staff who are looking for jobs in that industry so obviously its a no go. Aside from the fact it wasn’t going to go anywhere with his colleagues in the Senate anyway Id speculate he/they do not want such a thing ‘on the table’ in any way because then it may start to pierce the veil in the public discourse regarding whats really possible re: health care. People got arrested for trying to make a spectacle of themselves to bring attention to it. Didnt Max get caught on tape mocking them as well? I think thats all you really need to know as far as what his ‘intent’ was regarding single payer. I guess you can argue about what “being on the table” means but as long as zombie max gets to set the table its a net loss.

      • The myth of the immovable vote repeated here. Leaders know how to twist arms when they want something, and how to whine about the votes not being there when they don’t.

  • According to NPR, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106655060

    When Baucus ran for his sixth term last year, his campaign raised $11.6 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly half of the funds came from out-of-state donors, including millions from health care and other industries overseen by Finance and Baucus’ other committees.

    Just 5 percent of Baucus’ re-election funds came from Montana donors.

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