Weekend recaps: single payer, fires, Daines, 2018 congressional race, Miss Montana USA

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The winds of change

Former Senator/Ambassador Max Baucus and current Sen. Jon Tester have said single-payer health care is something “we should start looking at.”

This is a reversal from both of these Montanans’ earlier stands. So why the change of heart? It could be that after Senate Democrats (with the help of three Republicans) were able to hold off the right’s dismantling of Obamacare, things have evolved. Tester said as much at a meeting with Missoula Democrats in July. From an earlier post:

Health care was a heady topic and an audience member asked about advancing a single-payer plan. Tester responded that keeping the ACA (Obamacare) in tact was a big enough battle — single payer was off the table.

Now, according to Tester, it’s back on the table. As for Baucus, after he took single payer “off the table” during the 2009 health care hearings, he might be seeing the light (and he doesn’t have to fundraise for an election).

What’s also possible is that the American public is beginning to see the light, plus single payer is a simpler thing to grasp than the complicated ACA (Obamacare) or AHCA (Trumpcare) that has been offered up. From WaPo:

In conversations this week, several Democrats said that a lesson from the 2016 campaign, applicable to health care, was that voters favored an idea they could quickly understand over an idea that was means-tested (ACA) but overly complicated.

Implementing single payer also won’t be that simple but it’s where we’re headed — maybe start with a government option and move forward from there.

Let it rain

When the predicted precipitation begins falling later this week, reducing smoke and fires, let us not forget how miserable the past few weeks have been.

Some in-depth reporting on fire behavior would be welcome. Right now, it seems to be mostly gadflies and pundits telling us what’s what — picking up where Montana Republican leadership left off — with more logging and less litigation the meme making the Letter-to-the-Editor rounds.

So, what’s the reality? Did the fires burn in areas already logged or in virgin stands? In places where forests were thinned, was the spread of fire lessened? Are prescribed burns the answer? What’s the role of climate change in our increasingly intense fire season?

Some real science applied to these questions and reported in Montana’s media would be a welcome change although a good place to start for some background, suggests Last Best News, is Red Lodge author Gary Ferguson’s “Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West.”

One letter that bucked the trend of blaming “environmental extremists” and also put a smile on my face is in today’s Missoulian:

This morning we breathed smoke, ate breakfast, listened to reports of unprecedented coastal devastation by Harvey and Irma and wondered why Montana’s epic fires aren’t getting national coverage. Perhaps it would help to give them catchy names and, to give credit where it’s due, name them after our politicians who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of climate change.

The toxic hot gasses generated by the Lolo Peak fire make it a candidate for the “Trump Complex.” The athletic sprint of the Lodgepole Complex reminds us of macho Commander Zinke. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, well-practiced at choking people, deserves an honorific, as does U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, whose fundraising letters are masterpieces of inflammatory rhetoric.

Daines “inflammatory rhetoric,” continued

To commemorate the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center 16 years ago, Sen. Steve Daines sent out an email to his constituents. This is a solemn occasion, no doubt, and worthy of remembrance. Of course, Daines took the opportunity to get political, beat a dead horse and pander to his base:

We also remember the American lives lost in the September 11, 2012, terror attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. We still push for answers on what happened that tragic day.

Benghazi, really? Then there was his plug for a flag-burning amendment. I personally find burning the American flag abhorrent but a Constitutional Amendment? One that trumps the First Amendment, you know, the one about free speech?

At the end of September 11, 2001, and every day since, the Stars and Stripes has still flown high. I have introduced a Constitutional Amendment to give Congress the authority to prohibit burning the American flag because I believe this symbol of hope and freedom ought to be respected and set apart as a protected symbol worthy of honor.

Continue your irrelevance, Senator.

U.S. House wannabes

Four names are being bandied about for for the 2018 Democratic congressional primary. More are sure to follow since Republican Representative Greg Gianforte’s mug shot should figure prominently in the November general election. The fact that he hasn’t held a town hall meeting with constituents, even during the August recess, doesn’t bode well for the incumbent.

Grant Kier of Missoula’s Five Valleys Land Trust is showing interest. He was glad-handing delegates at the Democrats’ convention last month. He’s a political neophyte but is known for working well with both sides of the aisle when it comes to land conservation issues in Western Montana.

Bozemanian Tom Woods, a three-term member of the Montana House, is exploring a run. What’s holding him back, he says, is the “absurd” sum of money he’d have to raise to be competitive. I can certainly respect that. Big money is the name of the game in politics these days.

Lynda Moss of Billings, who served two terms in the Montana Senate, is interested, according to Logicosity: “Moss has been reaching out to those within her network to determine how much support she might expect if she were to jump in.” At this point, she has the most name recognition, at least in Montana’s largest city.

Another Billings resident, John Heenan, has been the most aggressive candidate of the four. He has formally announced and even has a TV spot out. Here’s the one-minute version. He’s a political newcomer but is making the rounds and has actively courted the progressive wing of the party.

It’s still, relatively, early and The Montana Post will keep you updated.

She had a good run

On Sunday, a friend and compatriot ran for the title of Miss Montana USA.

I don’t ordinarily promote pageants but Anita Green is an LGBTQ activist and political progressive who I’ve worked alongside on candidate and issue campaigns. She’s also the first transgender woman to compete in the Montana pageant.

I’ve learned firsthand from her and her friends about the struggles — the discrimination and even violence — they’ve faced in Montana. I love how she’s shaking up the status quo (and, hopefully, giving Jeff Laszloffy and fellow travelers at the Montana Family Foundation, conniptions).

Two national publications took an interest: Cosmopolitan and People.

Anita broke new ground and was a gracious competitor. From her Facebook page:

In case people didn’t hear the news yet, Dani Walker won the title of Miss Montana USA 2018. I’m honestly very happy for her! I don’t think any of the other contestants invested anywhere near as much time as her into the pageant industry. Congratulations Dani! You really did earn it!

As for me, I didn’t place. Was it for political reasons? Was now just not the time for a transgender woman to win a state title? Or did I genuinely not perform as well as the other contestants? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.

I’m glad I took advantage of this opportunity and I certainly learned a lot, but I think this was a one time thing for me. Who knows what the future has in store for me though? For now, I’m just going to catch up on some much-needed sleep!

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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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Pat Dawson
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Pat Dawson

Pete — Heenan assured early supporters that he vetted his intention with “all the usual suspects,” and came away convinced he could be solo in the Primary. So why are these others muddying the waters? It’s their right, of course, but why? Nothing like fragmenting the Democratic party even more…..

dpogreba
Guest

I am entirely opposed to the idea of someone being able to clear the field and get assurance that he won’t face a primary. That certainly hasn’t worked for Dems in the past.

Let’s have a heated primary and vet these candidates. I want an old-fashioned ’06 Tester-Morrison throw down.

JC
Guest

’06 Tester-Morrison-Richards. We vetted Tester just fine back then and found him to be a lying, double dealing SOB.

James Conner
Guest

“Heenan assured early supporters that he vetted his intention with “all the usual suspects,” and came away convinced he could be solo in the Primary.” If he believed that, if he believed the fix was in, and provided early supporters with assurances that the field had been cleared for himself, he was thinking like Hillary Clinton, who believed she’d cleared the field, and was entitled to clear the field, and thus was enraged when Bernie Sanders exercised his right to seek the nomination. Primaries do not fragment political parties. They vet candidates, and teach the winners how to campaign. Let… Read more »

Patrick Dawson
Guest
Patrick Dawson

The idea, it appears, is to try to eliminate Progressive Heenan with a DLC-style “moderate” when we truly need someone to stand up and kick some ass!

Matthew Koehler
Guest
Matthew Koehler

RE: “Some in-depth reporting on fire behavior would be welcome.” Totally agree Pete. Maybe that will happen down the road, but up until this point it sure seems like the majority in the Montana news media are content to give Montana politicians, especially the GOP, free reign to just blame all the wildfires on ‘radical’ ‘fringe’ ‘extremist’ environmentalists. That’s why this interview featuring Philip Higuera, a professor of fire ecology at the University of Montana, was so refreshing: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2017/09/the-west-is-on-fire-get-used-to-it/539352/ Hopefully people like Dr. Higuera are given more opportunities to share their knowledge and facts about wildfires in general Montana news… Read more »

Matthew Koehler
Guest
Matthew Koehler

Here’s another interesting tidbit about wildfires in the United States year-to-date.

According to today’s September 12 Incident Management Situation Report from the National Interagency Coordination Center (https://www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf)….

Year-to-date the Southern Area of the United States has had 19,393 MORE wildfires that burned 397,654 MORE acres than what has burned in the Northern Rockies.

Specially, the Southern Area has had a total of 22,260 wildfires which burned 1,634,883 acres, compare with the Northern Rockies area, which has had a total of 2,867 wildfires that burned 1,237,229 acres.

JC
Guest

Jon Tester, quoted in last week’s The Hill: “Maybe it’s something we should, quite frankly, take a solid look at.” Then Bernie Sanders introduces his Universal Healthcare, single-payer bill. Here’s what Jon Tester was quoted yesterday in The Hill: “Tester told reporters he won’t be supporting Sanders’s legislation. ‘I support fixing what we got because I think that’s more likely to happen.’ Tester is up for reelection in 2018 in what’s likely to be a tight race.” Classic flip-flop. What changed, besides his opportunistic use of the word “maybe” in the first quote? An honest weighing of “more likely to… Read more »

Matthew Koehler
Guest
Matthew Koehler

RE: “Some in-depth reporting on fire behavior would be welcome” Part 2 Yet a few more national media outlets are somehow able to write about Montana wildfires and find actual, real-life Montana-based fire ecologist, researcher and/or scientific experts to interview and offer their knowledgeable opinion. There’s this piece in today’s NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/climate/yellowstone-western-fires-in-two-forests.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0 And this piece from Megan Molteni in the latest WIRED is very much worth a read. It’s titled “The Science of Fighting Wildfires Gets a Satellite Boost” and you can read the entire article here: https://www.wired.com/story/the-science-of-fighting-wildfires-gets-a-satellite-boost/ These paragraphs SNIPPED below were very interesting, especially since Zinke, Daines,… Read more »

mtcreels
Guest
mtcreels

@JC: given the despicable September 11 truther garbage on your blog, you’re not in any position to be giving sanctimonious lectures about integrity.

JC
Guest

I suppose you believe the official government conspiracy theory — you know the one that has led us to perennial war, 10’s of thousands dead across the middle east in countries having nothing to do with 9/11, loss of civil rights, rampant surveillance by burgeoning intelligence services (all 27 of them), police militarization, ballooning debt to finance the military-industrial-complex running our foreign policy, etc. etc. Then again, ever the retreat to ad hominem around here to fend off the facts surrounding a corrupt politician. And people wonder why democrats have lost independents and much of the left. It’s this circling… Read more »

claudius
Guest
claudius

@JC – As I said earlier, given the tone of your remarks, “If you’re agin’ him, I’m fer him.”

I would recommend extra care on your part when you brush your teeth. If you happen to bite yourself, you’ll probably end up in the ER getting anti-venom treatments.

mtcreels
Guest
mtcreels

oh but legitimate criticism it certainly is. If this is your example of free thinking, if this is the standard you’re setting, you are the problem. As said on stonekettle, you want a better country, be a better citizen. You can’t choose to be a man of the conspiracy theorists on one site and expect to be taken seriously in your criticism of a ‘corrupt’ politician on another. Maybe the corruption lies in the integrity of your rationale? Or maybe you’re just a victim of ad hominem. That would be a lot easier wouldn’t it? Being a better citizen isn’t… Read more »

JC
Guest

Keep working on winning them votes!

Don Pogreba
Admin

You’re probably right. Democrats should focus all of their energy on getting your vote. You seem very persuadable. And, given that Tester has won without you twice, you represent a critical demographic.

JC
Guest

Actually, I voted for Tester, and worked on his campaign in 2006. But as you might remember (I know you hate remembering, much less thinking about this), Paul Richards was the third candidate in the race, and Paul thought Jon had a better chance of beating Conrad Burns than John Morrison did, and after coming up with a series of agreements, and a gentleman’s handshake, he threw his support to Jon. And Paul encouraged his supporters and campaign workers to vote for Jon and work on his campaign. So we did. And then after winning Jon broke several of his… Read more »

dpogreba
Guest

Let’s not leave out the other part of this tired debate which does some damage to your credibility. You’ve repeatedly claimed that this deal was the moment that won the primary for Tester, even though Richards was never really a factor in the race. It’s fascinating that you believe that, given your apparent expertise in every subject from (apparently) the temperature at which steel beams melt to Russian intelligence. Simple math, logic, research make the claim laughable. But let’s pretend for a moment that this secret Tester-Richards handshake deal took place. Get over it. I’m sure Matt Rosendale or Troy… Read more »

JC
Guest

Classy. Calling Paul a liar. This is why democrats in montana really have lost a lot of support and can’t win elections any more, despicable actions like this. Nice of you to reinforce that image. If you even knew Paul or his heritage, you’d shut your pie hole.

Oh, and your red herrings… your fantasies about things I’ve said is pretty hilarious. Don’t think I’ve ever made a statement about the melting point of steel beams. But run with it, whenever you can. You’re such a smart guy.

*Eric
Guest
*Eric

“Four names are being bandied about for for the 2018 Democratic congressional primary. More are sure to follow since Republican Representative Greg Gianforte’s mug shot should figure prominently in the November general election. The fact that he hasn’t held a town hall meeting with constituents, even during the August recess, doesn’t bode well for the incumbent.” Don’t bet the farm on that assumption Pete. You have picked up on something I thought only I noticed, that the Dem powers-that-be are hoping if they can put Greg Gianforte’s mugshot in front of the voters that the public who just elected him… Read more »

William Skink
Guest

I guess some off-topic comments from anonymous commenters are allowed…if it smears the right people and distracts from legitimate criticism of Tester, right?

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