Montana Conservatives Try Yet Another Anonymous Blog

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Other than denying women access to reproductive health care, nothing seems to unite Montana Republicans moreimages than their hatred for anonymous political blogs attacking their candidates. They whine and caterwaul and complain about blogs like Montana Cowgirl and the Montana Streetfighter, but not without their typical hypocrisy. Despite their drumbeat of criticism on social media, they’ve repeatedly tried—and failed—to develop anonymous blogs of their own. I think they may just be bad at it.

Two weeks ago, just as the campaign season began in earnest, a new conservative-leaning site called the Montana Pundit appeared on the scene, with some specious attacks on John Walsh appearing to be its only content.

In 2012, a mostly anonymous site called Treasure State Politics served up a breathtaking mixture of support for Sandy Welch, Corey Stapleton, murderous syntax, and the most egregious violations of the English language this side of a TEA Party poster making party. The site still exists, but got very quiet after the near-Democratic sweep in November 2012. While these authors occasionally used their names on posts,  they certainly didn’t when it mattered.

Back in 2011, before Steve Daines decided he would get his ass handed to him by Jon Tester, a blog called Common Sense Montana attacked the Senator using specious claims and trumped up nonsense. Daines, of course, was behind the blog.

In 2008, the Montana GOP endorsed a racist, classist piece of tripe called the MTPundit which offered up a barrage of some of the worst writing and Fox News talking points imaginable. It lingered sadly on for a few years, but never reached the glory of its early, hate-filled days.

Back in 2007, the Republicans offered up a professional-looking anonymous site called The Hardliner, which was so infrequently read and so little regarded that its proprietors had to fake comments to give the illusion it was being read. It lasted about two years, but probably had two readers in its entire run.

There have been others, of course, from Big Sky Cairn, 2nd Grade Bike Rack,, Havre Daily Corrector, The Viceroy’s Fuguestate, and more. One can’t forget Conservative Cowgirls (which is now a porn link), either. I’m sure I’ve missed some of the others that have briefly flickered for a moment before fading away faster than Neil Livingstone’s political career.

None of these even addresses the fake news sites like the Montana Statesman, which lived and died with the Rick Hill campaign against Steve Bullock.

I’d say Montana Republicans don’t have any real problem with anonymous blogs at all. It’s just that they’re terrible at running, writing, promoting, and proofreading them. I’ve made my feelings about anonymity clear a number of times, and while my preference would be for all content to be published under real names, I understand why some can’t—and I don’t give any credence to people who complain about successful anonymous blogs simply because they lack the skills to develop their own.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an 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.

52 Comments

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  • YES! I’ve been WANTIN’ to take on the wackos at their own sites for a looong time now! Will they allow anyone to comment with OUT censorship? I seriously doubt it. You see, in the final analysis, not only are they ignorant, but they are also cowards! And readers sense that. They can’t work without a net, and they know it. Hence, they censor, because in a free for all fair fight, they lose every time. They’re shoddy! And readers don’t like that. Oh, and plus, they’re just shitty writers too! They can’t write with ANY authenticity, authority, and erudition , for they have none! Kockh brother talking points are like shootin’ blanks in a gun fight! And that’s all they got! A whole lotta pop pop with NO impact! Let’s see how long this one lasts!

    p.s. Hey rightwing wacko dudes, for a small fee, I’ll juice up your site for you! HEY, I gotta eat too! I’ll take your side and make your Kockh talking points fun and interesting! ‘Cause let’s face it. All YOU dudes are freakin’ LOSERS!

  • The domain was registered on 6 December 2013. Its only reason for existence is throwing rocks from dark alleys. It reads as though it’s written by wannabe John Galts sitting in the back of a teabagger bar, sipping expensive ale, eating garlic and jalapeno onion rings, while trying to write like H. L. Mencken. They’re wise to choose anonymity.

  • yes, Democrats are much better at throwing rocks from dark alleys when it comes to anonymous blogging. is that something to be proud of?

  • The anonymous people running the Montana Streetfighter blog make a regular habitat of censoring and removing substantive comments directly related to their posts.

    While I dislike Rep Steve Daines policy positions, I’m not so sure Daines would have “Got his ass handed to him” by Jon Tester in the 2012 Senate election, if Daines would have stuck in that race. And really, considering that Tester was an incumbent US Senator sitting on a pile of campaign cash shouldn’t the incumbent Senator beat the statewide political newbie 9 times out of 10 anyway?

    According to official election results, Tester got 236,123 votes in the 2012 general election while Daines, in his first statewide election, got 255,468. Now I realize that making vote comparisons across different races doesn’t always produce a direct correlation, but it’s clear that in November 2012 more Montanans had a positive view about Daines than they did about Rehberg. Or, said another way, more Montanans had strongly negative views about Rehberg than about Daines. I’m pretty sure that if the state GOP could turn back the clock, they’d have kept Rehberg in the House and would have liked their chances running Daines against Tester.

    And, if we’re going to speculate that Daines would have “Got his ass handed to him” by Jon Tester in the 2012 Senate election that never was, shouldn’t we also consider if ethically questionable TV ads run by the anonymous, dark monied Montana Hunters and Anglers would have had as much of an impact on Daines, as they did on Rehberg? I mean, would those TV ads from Land Tawney (who sat on Tester’s Sportsmen’s Caucus), State Sen Kendall Van Kyk, Hilltops Barrett Kaiser and George Cooper have cared as much punch?

    http://www.propublica.org/article/in-montana-dark-money-helped-democrats-hold-a-key-senate-seat

    • Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that the distinction between Democrat and Republican in the last race was the amount of support garnered from cloaked or hidden special interests, in Tester’s case, the timber lobby.

      • While your endless repetition of the same argument makes you believe there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, Mark, it doesn’t actually make it true.

        • As explained elsewhere, it is merely that the two oligarchical parties are all the 1% need to express their differences, which to exist. There are a few progressives in your party, they are marginalized and certainly have no chance for leadership. Their best bet is to get the hell out.

    • That’s fair. Daines might have dropped out because he was going to get his ass handed to him by Dennis Rehberg, who subsequently lost to Jon Tester.

      As to the claim of censoring “substantive” comments, Matt, you and I have had this issue in the past, too. Often, your comments are really nothing more than spamming the same idea all over the web. I don’t know their motivation, but I’ve deleted your comments, too. It isn’t censorship.

      • “I am not censoring your comments, Matt. I merely delete them.”

        Matt, you are too anti-FJRA (which = anti-Tester) for his taste, never matter that he would oppose (probalby did?) that very same bill when it was promoted by Burns. It does not matter that he says the same things over and over again on his blog, nor that the same bill is offered again and again by either party. You may not repeat comments.

        I think you’ve added another ad hoc addendum to your commenting rules, Don.

        • No, this has always been there:

          I’m also quite willing to delete comments that are off-topic, self-promoting, or just annoying.

          Just because I (or anyone else) provides a platform online, doesn’t mean every comment gets posted.

          • Or, … I will delete comments while in hissyfit mode, and then later justify it.”

            Honestly, I don’t care. I thought for sure you would delete that comment. I delete Kralj on a regular basis just because he is annoying. I just don’t make up hoity,-toity reasons. I’ve been known to delete Swede because he can’t think in complete links. I’m no saint in this regard.

            • For someone who doesn’t care about deleted comments, you sure as hell whine about it a lot. I still think you ought to whine more about 4and20blackbirds, though, as they’ve banned you. I let you post here. I’d say that’s quite generous of me, given your behavior and disposition.

              • I gave them good reason to ban me. What can I say? The ban continues to this day because Jhwygirl is a Big D girl. Don’t dis the party. Quite unforgiving.

                I try to understand the Big D mindset, as it is interesting behavior from a sociological standpoint.

                I think your motivations are two: fear of the other party – they literally scare you Into supporting D’s. This can be seen in your constant ridicule of the Tea Party. From them you draw energy.

                Second, winning elections. The ultimate validation.

                Policy matters might be 3rd, as you do write about them but don’t hold seem to want to hold your people accountable for them because of the first and second items.

                This is all I can make you you and yern,

      • Yes, Don. I remember the time you censored and removed my comment about the FJRA. A comment which apparently was so egregious to you because it included links to actual testimony given before the Senate’s ENR committee by myself and the head of the Forest Service. Of course, that time, if I recall correctly, you also took the extra unusual step of re-writing my comment but keeping it under my name.

        Anyway Don, yes, often times when we are discussing the same piece of legislation my comments will be the same, as my critiques of the legislation are the same. I shouldn’t have to waste my time coming up with new ways to explain the same critiques of a specific piece of legislation, especially when there is a good chance that the blog moderator will just censor and remove the comment anyway.

        And you know what Don? You and others may not think the substantive concerns we’ve expressed for 4 years about some of the specific aspects of Sen Tester’s mandated logging bill matter or are valid, but here’s a good example of how correct and justified some of our policy critiques have been.

        In 2009, in written and verbal testimony that I was invited to give before the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee by then-Chairman Senator Bingaman (D-NM), I stated:

        “The different funding provisions of the bill raise a real potential for other National Forests and Forest regions to have their funds transferred to projects under the FJRA. Pitting one forest against another for funding is unhealthy and does not promote a wholistic, ecosystem approach to public lands management in the Northern Rockies.”

        “The numerous unfunded mandates included in this bill raises the very real potential for other National Forests in Montana and across the region to have their budgets raided and transferred to these forests to complete the logging mandates.”

        I also have been pointing out for years that:

        “The FJRA contains several major precedent-setting provisions potentially detrimental to America’s national public lands legacy. These include numerous unfunded mandates that allows funds to be drawn from other forests and Forest Service regions to implement the logging mandates contained within FJRA, pitting forests against another for funding. This creates hard feelings and mistrust rather than cooperation. Make no mistake, if Tester’s mandated logging bill passes, logging on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest and Kootenia National Forest supersede any other Forest Service budget priorities in our region. Money will be taken from Wilderness programs, trails, weed programs, monitoring programs, law enforcement programs of other national forests….all to pay for more taxpayer subsidized logging for the timber industry.”

        So, keep following me Don and check this out. Just this week the Missoulian reported:

        “Other changes [to FJRA during the Senate ENR Committee Mark Up on 12/19/13] include…a guarantee the Montana [mandated logging] pilot program won’t draw funds from other state programs or Forest Service regions. ‘That’s a pretty big deal,’ Tester said of the funding limitation. ‘I don’t think we would have got the bill across the finish line without that change. Both sides of the aisle worried about pulling money out of other regions to get this bill implemented. It was important to get that language in there.’ Forest Service officials had objected to earlier versions because it might draw resources away from other management plans.”

        So, here we have Senator Tester fully admitting that his mandated logging bill wouldn’t have passed out of the Senate ENR Committee this week without a language change which directly addressed a very real substantive problem with his bill that we’ve been raising for over 4 years.

        You’re welcome, Senator Tester. Good thing we kept hammering away about the funding and budget issues, eh? Looks like it finally sunk in.

        • Matt,

          Copying and pasting the same information all over the web is precisely what spamming is. That’s why I deleted your comments a few years ago. For the most part since then, I’ve just ignored them the way I ignore my spam folder in my e-mail.

          If you really want to engage with people, you should treat them (and their sites) with more respect.

          As for my deleting your comments, you always seem to leave out the best part of the story. When you threatened to use the resources of your organization to sue me for deleting them. I’d say you have a tough case against censorship when you do things like that.

          • Don: You leave out the best part of the story: The facts.

            You see, the issue wasn’t the fact that you deleted comments. The issue was that you replaced my comments with snarky, childish comments, which you wrote yourself, but posted under my name.

            Regardless, pretty clear that you continue to ignore the substance of the critiques about Tester’s bill and also fail to let us know why you’d censor and remove a link on your blog to the official Senate ENR comments from the head of the US Forest Service.

            ——– Original Message ——–
            Subject: FYI:
            Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 13:18:48 -0600
            From: Matthew Koehler
            To: Don Pogreba

            Hello Don,

            I’m requesting that you immediately cease from removing my comments on
            your blog and replacing my comments with snarky, childish comments,
            which you are writing yourself, but posting under my name. If you fail
            to cease these childish actions, I will inform our attorneys and go from
            there. Thank you and have a great day.

            Matthew Koehler

            • Thanks for posting that. I thought about doing it myself, but thought it would be a low blow.

              I think it makes my case pretty well. I think anyone who donates to the WildWest Institute (edited per Matt Koehler’s request) should definitely know that the organization’s money could be spent to file a claim against a blogger who changed your comment on a blog. Not to something offensive or incorrect, of course, but a clear indication that your comments were not welcome.

              So again, if you make a donation to the WildWest Institute, this is how your money could be spent–not on wilderness, not on forest preservation, but on threatening lawsuits against critics.

              • Don, You have a poor memory. I have the entire set of emails saved from July 2011. You also are making stuff up. I’m not a staff member of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. So your whole diatribe about AWR doesn’t make much sense. I’m the director of the WildWest Institute.

                Furthermore, if you recall those July 2011 emails, you’ll remember that I told you that “our attorneys” referred to my family, not the organization I work for. You may also recall that once I told you that I was speaking about my family, not my organization (WildWest Institute), you continued to make fun of the situation, and then I sent you this email:

                ——– Original Message ——–
                Subject: Re: FYI:
                Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2011 06:40:41 -0600
                From: Matthew Koehler
                To: Don Pogreba

                Oh, and by the way, while my brother is an attorney (and a self-made one at that) the only reason my family has “attorneys” is because of a recent situation involving my aunt. I’m sure if I went into detail about what transpired, and why we needed attorneys, you’d feel like a total ass for trying to make this into a big deal. Shit happens in the world, some people do really crazy things to other people and my aunt feel victim to that. If you want to poke fun of this situation, that’s up to you. But please back off with the “attorneys” thing. Thanks.

                —————-

                So there you have it. I’m not even sure how we got off on this tangent. Oh well, I have to finish grinding up this elk before the Packer game starts. Happy Solstice to all and Go Pack Go!

                • Thanks for the correction, Matt. It’s hard to tell the organizations apart since you all seem so similar. I’ll be sure to change the name. Though perhaps some of my confusion comes from the e-mail address from which you threatened legal action.

                  I have the e-mail thread, too. And you backed off your lawyers, shifting to the family, after I called you out on it then. I’d say sending an e-mail threatening to sic your “lawyers” on someone sends a pretty clear message of intent. Most families I know don’t have a team of lawyers at their disposal, but perhaps your circumstances are different than others. I’ve heard that might be true, but I suppose I can’t trust that source of funding.

                  In either case, threatening to sue someone over a blog comment and then crying about censorship is astonishing, but not perhaps, for someone who regularly associates his ideological opponents with Nazism.

                  Best of luck to your organization. It seems really focused on the important questions.

                • Don, the only email address I’ve ever had in my entire life is [email protected]. It comes from the Wild Rockies Info Net, which has no affiliation with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies or the WildWest Institute. Quite a few people in Missoula have @wildrockies.org email addresses. Check around.

                  I also never associated “my ideological opponents with Nazism and called them ‘racist.'” Please stop making stuff up and lying about me. Or provide the proof that I actually did this.

                  You also wrote: “Most families I know don’t have a team of lawyers at their disposal, but perhaps your circumstances are different than others. I’ve heard that might be true.”

                  I agree. And despite the fact that my brother is a law professor, and one of the nation’s leading experts on the Foreign Corrupts Practices Act, I already told you the reason (a family tragedy involving my aunt) that my family needed to hire two attorneys. Why do you keep poking around about this? It’d be like me making fun of you because your dad died when you were young. I’d never do that, so please stop trying to score points and twist things around when they involve a tragedy in my family.

                  As for your allegation that my “circumstances are different than others. I’ve heard that might be true.” Once again, not true Don. Even though I’ve seen anonymous attempts to make me out to be a trust funder, which I assume you are doing here, my father was a house painter for 35 years (before that he was factory worker out of high school), and my mom was a nurse for 40 plus years.

                  I know it’s a huge surprise, but no matter how hard my house-painting dad and RN mom worked they were never able to establish a kush trust fund for myself and my brother, much less even pay for college. Hell, we rarely even went out to eat or to the movies as kids. So, good grief, please knock off that insulting lies about my families supposed wealth.

                • Even when I am acknowledging a mistake, you can’t let it go. I mistakenly assumed that your domain for your e-mail indicated your affiliation. I cleared that up.

                  As for the rest, the only thing that’s factual here is that I changed a comment you wrote (one I perceived to be spam) and you threatened to contact your attorneys.

                  Other than that, it’s all a matter of interpretation and speculation we argued about two years ago. I suspect we’re both wrong in part and both right in part.

                  Can we leave it at that? I suspect we both have more valuable things to do with our day.

  • The blogs are still dead FYI – and there still isn’t any money in blogging.

    The Montana blogosphere today, in it’s entirety, doesn’t garner as many readers as Ed Kemmick’s blog ‘City Lights’ had 15 years ago.

    Back when the blogs were a new, up and coming form of media, ‘Left in the West’ was a powerhouse too, with actual readers, and lots of debate and input.

    Unless you’ve forgotten, Larry, you could give a history lesson on the blogs, because you managed to offend, and get tossed off all the blogs back then, except for mine, because I figured anybody who could JOG from Red Lodge to Cooke City merited a little interest 🙂

    I always disliked anonymous blogs & posts, but I understand somebody wanting to give an opinion without irritating their wife, boss, customers, etc.

    If the blogs were not dead though, there would be an appetite for conservative blogs, just as there is an affinity for conservative talk radio.

    Merry Christmas .

    • As fascinating as your constant refrain that the “blogs are dead” is, it’s entirely unsupported by something you seemed allergic to while you were writing: facts. I do miss, however, your predictions about elections. Those, sir, were comedy gold.

      • You have a poor memory Pogie – I was in the high 90’s on election results. Write this down – 2014 will be a hugely bad election year for your lib pals.

    • Eric, where have you been? Your opinions were always original for the most part, and were not cut and paste. Why did you stop writing? And, you were always a gentleman on the blogs. I don’t recall ever insulting you. Come back and give us the wingnut perspective. And I thank you for never banning me.

        • Excuse me for butting in here but someone blogging for pecuniary reasons merely has to give up doing it for money and do it because it’s the right thing to do. Hope you can buy a real life, Eric: you’re going to need it.

          • LK, Eric’s a good guy. Even though he’s on the other side of most issues, he’s really a decent fellow. I have many friends just like him, guys whose politics are screwed up, but still a decent Montanan. Don’t be too hard on Eric. Maybe some day he’ll evolve into progressive politics.

            • p.s. I would prefer to have a beer with Eric any day than a guy like Mark Buttinski.

          • Totally agree with you LK, some of the best sites around don’t make a profit!

            Though some of eric’s writing was at least thought provoking, the fact that is, he would write whatever story they told him to write for money.

            A real journalist wont write for money. They would just write the truth and let the chips fall were they may.

  • I think The Zinkster has another, similar trick up his sleeve. He’s got a few Facebook followers that sure don’t seem like real people. I think they are made up. Most notably Americanpro Pro. This “guy” loves Zinke so much. He posts comments on Z’s page every day with ZINKE always in all caps. He absolutely loves him like no other. And when you go to his FB page, there is nothing but about 10 friends and a few stock photos. Check him out. Seems obvious to me he’s not a real guy.

  • Have you considered may Republicans just generally don’t like anonymous attacks? If they are both criticizing Democratic attempts to use fake names to smear Republicans and simultaneously not following anyone on their side enough to make an anonymous Republican blog successful, maybe they just have better standards than the Dems. To call the whole movement “hypocritical” when in fact the demographics prove they are following a specific value of actually attaching names to attacks, no matter what the side, doesn’t add up.

    • I’m struggling to understand your logic here. Republicans don’t like anonymous attacks because they repeatedly try to develop anonymous attack sites?

      I’ll admit I don’t understand that at all.

      • You are trying to categorize all the conservatives in the state as if they got together one weekend and voted to develop an anonymous attack blog.
        A) Trying to categorize all the conservatives in the state by the actions of one loony (while completely understandable since I realize you are more interested in scoring political points than being honest about the reality of a situation) isn’t really being truthful about the actions of “conservatives,” and
        B) The fact that no conservatives in the state actually frequent, search out, or sustain whatever anonymous conservative attack blog that pops up should tell you about the nature of conservatives versus liberals.
        If you, LitW, 420, MTC, MTSF and others somehow have deep wells of people willing to waste time circle-jerking liberalism on the Internet enough that you get a devoted following and the conservatives don’t, perhaps that speaks to some characteristics of your “tribes.” The liberal tribe not only develops anonymous shit blogs as part of their strategy, but liberals will support and sustain them. Conservatives on the other hand, don’t seem all that interested in anonymous attacks enough to actually keep any of the sites going.
        (To be fair, though, I think if Norma Duffy and Larry Kralj were suddenly dropped by their Internet providers, MTC and MTSF might lose half their traffic and comments.)

        • You are good at the logic, sir. I especially enjoy the strawperson claim you make about what I’m saying about all conservatives, followed by the evidence-free, logic-free generalizations about conservatives and liberals.

          Let me try a short version of this for you.

          1. Politically involved Montana Republicans whine about anonymous blogs. They even do it at the Legislature.

          2. Those same people make anonymous blogs that fail due to lack of attention, effort, and basics of grammar.

          3. That’s hypocritical.

          Good? Good.

          • Yes, what an idiot I am!

            The very top of the post says in very large text, “Montana Conservatives Try Another Anonymous Blog” and my feeble mind reading the English parts to mean you are talking about Montana conservatives. I must now retreat from the glowing power of your intelligence…

            • You probably should since your “argument” is just awful. If I said “astronauts went to the moon” would that mean all astronauts went to the moon?

              Stick to the Fox News. I think it operates a bit closer to your listening and reading comprehension.

  • Corey Stapleton’s failed governorship campaign team are major contributors to Treasure State Politics. I heard it was a few kids in Missoula.

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