Even Conservatives See That Steve Daines is Disingenuous

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It’s not surprising that progressives see just how willing Steve Daines is to put politics ahead of integrity: we have the motive to look for it. Even conservatives are starting to see that Mr. Daines simply lacks the honesty to represent Montana back in Washington, D.C.

It’s fair to say that the Rockin’ the Right Side blog and this site have never been in agreement, but they’ve certainly captured Steve Daines in his element, treating constituents with disrespect and dishonesty when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

It’s clear that the Daines staff has two form letters prepared for citizens who contact his office about this issue.  (This procedure likely applies to every issue about which a constituent might contact the congressman.)  Form letter “A” would be sent to a constituent who supports the congressman’s position.  Form letter “B” is sent to one who opposes.

That’s the Daines who I’ve come to know: a candidate who tries to present himself as a Main Street conservative while taking the endorsement of the TEA Party Express, a Congressman who does press opportunities with Montana’s Indian Tribes while voting against their interests repeatedly, and a Congressman who both supports and opposes the government shutdown, depending on the direction of the political wind.

At least Dennis Rehberg had the courage of his incorrect convictions to guide him.

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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.

46 Comments

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  • Yep. I’ve received numerous Form Letter Bs from him as we agree on next to nothing. Please keep informing the public about this guy.

  • While that may be true, I still think it is safe to say that this conservative that took issue with Daine’s chain letters (and he is certainly not the only politician that does that… cough… Baucus…. cough), will still end up voting for Daines at the end of the day. Given a choice between Daines and Bohlinger or Daines and Walsh, these conservatives are going to choose Daines because voting for a Democrat is more distasteful to them than voting for a Republican.

    I have no argument that Daines uses a chain letter system. As someone that routinely writes to my Congress critters, I have received a file full of these chain letters from him (as well as other Congress critters). I don’t think this issue will be a deciding factor for anyone, though.

  • So Daines is changing directions according to the political winds, Bohlinger is changing directions according to political winds…who’s that leave us with?

    Walsh, right? Or did we establish that he’s doing that too and…well now I’m just confused.

    But I doubt that will stop us from writing replies longer than the original post. Busy night grading papers, Don, or just a slow news day?

    • In that, you are very wrong, Mark. Not all politicians use chain letters to reply to their constituents. Many craft personal replies – especially if the circumstances warrant it. I have received at least four personal replies from Tester. If your experience is just chain letters, I would posit that 1) what you wrote to your representative didn’t warrant a personal reply or 2) you were writing to the wrong politicians.

      • I did not intend the comment to be read that way, Moorcat. But yes, every time I have written to a Senator or Congressman and actually gotten a reply (none have even bothered to answer mail down here in CO, so I quit), it is an autopen response based on keywords contained in my letter. I recognize that necessity, by the way. No office holder has time to answer individual mail.

        But in my experience, writing to office holders serves one purpose more than others – it gives them a gauge on what issues are particularly troubling to the public, and so allows them to craft their public statements to mollify those concerns. I do not find it satisfying.

        • I agree. Politicians have a unique opportunity to really endear themselves to constituents.

          Take blogging. We know that a visitor who leaves a comment and then has that comment replied to by the site owner has a much greater chance of coming back to that site again and again.

          These letters to politicians are no different. And personally I just can’t understand it because these guys have the staff to do these things.

          I worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena for 2 years out of high school and we got lots of stuff we used form letters for. I tried to convince them to make up 10 or more different form letters so at least they were a little more unique (we were using 1 or 2).

          And it was my job as an 18-year old file clerk to answer all that mail and decide who got what letter. Then the form stamp (yes, we had one made at my suggestion) would be signed by the Regional Director (or more often than not acting) although I doubt they barely looked at it.

          Someone like Daines or Tester could really get a voter for life if they’d just put a couple unique and personal bits in there. We’re talking an hour a week here. Priorities, right? Remember, most politicians are not getting money from voters, and politicians need money like water and air. If you can’t give it to them, what use are you to them?

  • I realize that this is off topic and you are welcome to delete it, but what are some good Montana News sources that do NOT have a firewall. The ones I used to read are all requiring a subscription or are limiting the number of articles you can read.

  • Steve Daines is going 2have an impossible time explaining to Indian nations in MT why he voted repeatedly against critical health services— Matt Canter (@mattcanter) January 6, 2014

    • Seems to be that Democrats are going to have a tuff time not only explaining to Indian Nations but the people of our entire nation just how poorly Obmacare compares to Walmart’s healthcare plan. http://washingtonexaminer.com/surprise-walmart-health-plan-is-cheaper-offers-more-coverage-than-obamacare/article/2541670#null

      New Obamacare health insurance enrollees may feel a pang of envy when they eye the coverage
      plans offered by Walmart to its employees.

      For many years, the giant discount retailer has been the target of unions and liberal activists
      who have harshly criticized the company’s health care plans, calling them “notorious for failing
      to provide health benefits” and “substandard.”

      But a Washington Examiner comparison of the two health insurance programs found that Walmart’s
      plan is more affordable and provides significantly better access to high-quality medical care
      than Obamacare.

      Independent insurance agents affiliated with the National Association of Health Underwriters and
      health policy experts compared the two at the request of the Examiner.

      Walmart furnished employee benefit information to the Examiner. Neither Obamacare advocate
      Families USA nor the United Food and Commercial Workers, which backs anti-Walmart campaigns,
      responded to Examiner requests for comment…

      For a monthly premium as low as roughly $40, an individual who is a Walmart HRA plan enrollee
      can obtain full-service coverage through a Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider
      organization. A family can get coverage for about $160 per month.

      Unlike Obamacare, there are no income eligibility requirements. Age and gender do not alter
      premium rates. The company plan is the same for all of Walmart’s 1.1 million enrolled employees
      and their dependents, from its cashiers to its CEO.

      A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis from September showed that unsubsidized
      Obamacare enrollees will face monthly premiums that are five to nine times higher than Walmart
      premiums.

      • Without reading the link you’ve provided (on my phone now), if the premise is true, doesn’t it suggest there’s no reason not to mandate that all employers provide similar coverage?

        If I am to believe that Wal-Mart can provide this level of care without consequence, doesn’t it follow that the nation can offer insurance to everyone through employer mandate or relatively modest government payments?

        • Don, I agree that there are beater alternatives. How much depends on a number of factors such as, but limited to, longevity, breadth, and depth of coverage. There is also the age factor for existing and retired employees. Actuaries using the law of large numbers factor all these aspects in determining the premium. The article points to the access to doctors and facilities. Many are limiting new medicaid and medicare patients. People are waking up to this new world of higher cost and reduced choice healthcare. It’s reflected in the polls.

        • Regardless of the merits of Craigs claim I thought walmart’s trick was to keep everyone 99% of staff under 30 hours so they didn’t have to qualify them as ‘full time’ and offer the benefits. Then when the workers starve they encourage their fellow employees to have a food drive for them.

      • Craig, I strongly urge that you set out to disprove that statement, which is all over the news right now even as it has not been peer-reviewed. It’s not that you might find it to be wrong, but rather that if it is correct, you’ll be more firmly grounded in reality. As it is, you are merely repeating feel-good news from a favored source.

        • Mark, I’m sure there is a counterpoint. I’ll await the response of those more knowledgeable than I to wade with their analysis.

          • Shorter Craig, got my opinion, sticking to it? The method is not mine, but highly recommended for all of us, as it forces us to rigor in our reading. This is not “point-counterpoint” but rather part of the process of thinking. Before you jump on me, remember, I say “we” and “us”.

      • Watch North Dakota and Arizona. Two conservative, red states, looked at their numbers — and especially their Native American population — have already decided to expand Medicaid. If the program works in those two states, then other states with large native populations, might join the party. But if not, there is always the possibility that Indian Country could be treated as a 51st state. (The Affordable Care Act even begins that consideration by allowing a beta test of sorts for the Navajo Nation.)

        Mark Trahant, Shoshone Bannock.

        • Abe, perhaps Walmart has rethought its “pair-of-dimes” strategy. forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/09/25/wal-mart-returning-to-full-time-workers-obamacare-not-such-a-job-killer-after-all/

          Mark, as to “we,” repeat 3 times like the little piggy and you will find your home. Or just close your eyes, click your heels, repeat several times “we” and heel click and you will leave a puddle in your shoes.

    • Stuck in moderation again. Here it is again slightly modified.

      Seems to be that Democrats are going to have a tuff time not only explaining to Indian Nations but the people of our entire nation just how poorly Obmacare compares to Walmart’s healthcare plan. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/surprise-walmart-health-plan-is-cheaper-offers-more-coverage-than-obamacare/article/2541670#null

      New Obamacare health insurance enrollees may feel a pang of envy when they eye the coverage plans offered by Walmart to its employees.

      For many years, the giant discount retailer has been the target of unions and liberal activists
      who have harshly criticized the company’s health care plans, calling them “notorious for failing
      to provide health benefits” and “substandard.”

      But a Washington Examiner comparison of the two health insurance programs found that Walmart’s plan is more affordable and provides significantly better access to high-quality medical care than Obamacare.

      Independent insurance agents affiliated with the National Association of Health Underwriters and health policy experts compared the two at the request of the Examiner.

      Walmart furnished employee benefit information to the Examiner. Neither Obamacare advocate Families USA nor the United Food and Commercial Workers, which backs anti-Walmart campaigns, responded to Examiner requests for comment…

      For a monthly premium as low as roughly $40, an individual who is a Walmart HRA plan enrollee
      can obtain full-service coverage through a Blue Cross Blue Shield preferred provider organization. A family can get coverage for about $160 per month.

      Unlike Obamacare, there are no income eligibility requirements. Age and gender do not alter
      premium rates. The company plan is the same for all of Walmart’s 1.1 million enrolled employees and their dependents, from its cashiers to its CEO.

      A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis from September showed that unsubsidized Obamacare enrollees will face monthly premiums that are five to nine times higher than Walmart premiums.

  • Steve Daines is going 2have an impossible time explaining to Indian nations in MT why he voted repeatedly against critical health services

    — Matt Canter (@mattcanter) January 6, 2014

  • Congressmen /women and Senators will respond and change positions on certain issues if letters/phone calls/ emails etc from constituents reach a certain critical mass that they believe it will harm their electoral / money raising prospects. AIPAC for example is quite effective at mobilizing constituents to target individual lawmakers with these sort of campaigns that have had proven results in votes. Its just a matter of whether its one lone nut in a Unabomber cabin in the woods writing or a mass of motivated ones.

  • I mostly agree with Abe. I don’t have a difficulty getting a response from Jon Tester’s office, but I’m certain that’s because I was a midlin’ to large local contributer back in 2006. If I’m realistic, that was probably money I couldn’t afford, but K Sarah Sarah. Mark is absolutely correct with his consistent admonishment that politicians pay attention to money. Yet Abe makes a terrific point: the smart ones will understand that they have to follow the moneys, but the vote follows appeal. Where I part ways with Mark is that, though it is not a complete mystery, there is still no good science for putting a price tag on appeal. If it were that good, Burns and Rehberg might still have their jobs.

    That’s why Kenneth’s point is so absolutely spot on. It doesn’t matter if Republicants question Daines’ involvement or even his integrity. They’ll vote for the guy unless Democrats (or others) can offer someone more ‘appealing’. Warning, I’m going all cynical here again, but I truly believe that’s what Democrats (especially in Montana) and progressives (no, they aren’t the same) have lost sight of. On the entire spectrum of the left, we’ve forgotten that appeal gets votes, something that should be terribly clear to those of us in Montana. We got our pet issues, which surprisingly number one seems to be how *bad* those other guys are, but I frankly don’t see causes and rock throwing getting us all anywhere. We can run the most eco-friendly, GBLT loving, pro-choice, pro-worker’s rights candidates ever known and they will lose consistently if they can’t appeal to at least some of those folks who are willing to hold their noses and darken that oval for disingenuous Daines. That’s how Schweitzer got elected. Tester too. Al (comedic pause) Al Franken. Elizabeth Warren. A better example: Harry Ried, a guy with all the appeal of a raw liver sandwich got reelected not by doubling the spending of his wingnut opponent, but by knowing how to spend, when to throw rocks and when to look more appealing. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I leave to the reader. The end point is still very simple. No matter how ‘disingenuous’ Daines may look to his Republicants, we’re still in a pickle if we can’t offer them something better. (Hint, slightly to the side-like. That doesn’t mean attacking them on our pet issues: stop the FJRA!, Hold the Bench! Men hates the Wimmens! Or even sloppily denigrating the candidates they’ve already invested in by voting for, calling them silly names and such. Yep, I’m defimnately guilty of that one. My bad.)

      • Rob is really quite a good writer when his hard on for Norma doesn’t block his vision! That sucker is HUGIE! I don’t understand that one myself, but then again, I’m not a psychologist!

      • I appreciate your opinion, Mr. Kurtz, but I know a football fans (divorced from reality as we are) who would disagree with you.

        Kralj, it is completely unsurprising anymore that you thoroughly miss the point of any comment left anywhere. My comment above is a very simple and very clear explanation for why abNorma is the problem, you somewhat as well. You have the advantage of pretending to be a comedian, making your off-topic and often incomprehensible comments easy to skip for folks. You don’t pretend to take yourself seriously, so it’s no danger to anyone if they don’t take you seriously either.
        Now, abNorma, she pretends to be a politician, a states-person, and she demands that others take her very seriously indeed. Where you save your satire and wit mostly for those who truly deserve it, she unleashes her petulance at any who dare to disagree with her at all. She is a danger, if to herself I couldn’t care less. What she is a danger to others for is that her presence, her presentation both online and in person, her overall appearance to those voters who otherwise might be sympathetic to the issues we on the left hold dear – well, put simply it stinks. This is where, in some respects, I agree with Mark. He claims that Democrats are the problem for failing to look for the mote in their own eye. I hold that the problem for Democrats are people like abNorma who are that ‘mote’, encouraging blindness with flailing petty attacks against anyone who does not acknowledge that she/they and her/their beliefs are DEMOCRATS personified. The commenter Abe Froman summed it up very well. In a Republicant heavy district (which happens to be a county) in which Barack Obama is thoroughly reviled, the President still got 4% more of the vote than abNorma did. Do you think she was productive to fostering good outcomes on that day?

        Another prescient example. Look back at this very website concerning the primary Laslovich v. Bucy. What the website author(s) brought was a call to debate which candidate might be more electable and better if elected, obviously favoring Laslovich. The Bucy supporters brought some arguments, if they could be filtered through the Ad Hominem attacks. There were accusations of sexism, DINOism, personal bias (what the hell is a vote based on anyway?) and, more specific to my point, general disdain for those from the right who were favoring any candidate other than the TeaPeep Fox. We will never know who would have won between Fox and Laslovich, but I think it’s a pretty good bet that at least some people failed to blacken that oval for Bucy because of the crap coming from the cult of the GOOD DEMOCRATS. I voted for Bucy, but I’d be lying if I said that I felt good about it. And in a year in which Democrats otherwise swept statewide offices against the TeaPeeps, we did lose one. A secessionist federal nullifier is now our Attorney General. Yay, Democrats.

        So you go on attacking them Naaazis, and discussing my hardon for abNorma (thank you for that disgusting visual that will put me off sex for a year. I don’t have a slug fetish). abNorma will keep on using “Agree with me or F**k off and get a life!” as a Democratic campaign slogan. I will keep pointing out that the way to influence policy and issues (Control the bench!) is to win elections, and you don’t do that by acting like a moron.

        • Robert, that was spot on. What many don’t get as well is the maturing or the Montana voter. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research, at the University of Montana, has found that more 26 to 31 year are leaving the state than coming here to live. Montana is headed to become one of the oldest generation states. The urban dictionary, hipster, arrogant nastiness doesn’t play well with the seasoned folks who know what they know and believe what they believe through a lifetime of living.

          • My brain.like my heart, seems to skip a few beats more often than I like these days. correction s/b 26 to 31 year olds.

            • I left in 2008 when I was 26 and came back in 2013 when I was 31.

              I left because it would have been nearly impossible for me to find a decent job, and now that I’m back I see it’s much the same. If I were to try and find a job locally, I’m sure my income would go down. What’s been going on here for 5 years?

              • Greg, I think your employment challenge was nationwide. That’s why you went to China, I believe. Montana actually survived the recession better than most. But to understand the problem think of building a house. It starts with a strong foundation. Montana depends on agriculture; energy, resource development, and tourism. We are seeing a blip of “other” from Bozeman becoming a software center and Helena with Boeing. As to wind power, that is debatable as we see the San Diego utility trying to void it’s contracts. What I find fascinating is to see people of your generation complain about jobs and not see how they get behind the very movements that kill the prospects. It’s not a binary world. It’s not about either or, but how.

                • Greg, don’t know how handy you are with tools but there are construction jobs in the Flathead. Last fall I was at the Cabelas grand opening by accident. Won a hat standing in line. Didn’t want the hoopla just a few items. Anyway as I was standing in line I began to talk to a couple of young fellows. I learned they were in the construction business. Given the snow that was falling that day and screwing up all sorts of things, they came as well to the opening. They said they were having a hard time finding people willing to work. They pointed to the work ethic of today’s young people. They said many contractors were having similar staffing problems. Just a suggestion as to where you might look.

                • Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind, but if I’m moving anywhere I’m sure it would be up to my wife, and then it would be Chicago. 🙁

                  Thankfully I do alright as a writer. Besides, if I were to move I wouldn’t be able to file for HD 98 tomorrow.

  • Craig, what movements are you referring to?

    What I find fascinating is to see people of your generation complain about jobs and not see how they get behind the very movements that kill the prospects.

    what I find fascinating is that people still can’t seem to understand that it’s a bipartisan consensus of accumulated wealth that successfully exploited the economic crisis to suck more money into their sphere than they know what to do with.

    • lizard, you exhibit the very behavior I was talking about. No clue whatsoever about cause and effect, consequence and result. Like walking the yellow brick road, you are just going to have to experience the journey to understand.

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