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Jon Tester Montana Politics

Senator Tester Stands for Women’s Health

Good for Senator Tester, better for women:

For the past five years, grants to local affiliates of Planned Parenthood have been an important part of Planned Parenthood’s work to protect women from breast cancer. Komen funding for Planned Parenthood has provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and resulted in 6,400 referrals for mammograms. In 2011 alone, grants from Komen provided Planned Parenthood with roughly $650,000 in funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education. According to a recent statement by Komen, “In some areas of the U.S., our affiliates have determined a Planned Parenthood clinic to be the best or only local place where women can receive breast health care.”
It would be tragic if any woman —let alone thousands of women — lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack.
We earnestly hope that you will put women’s health before partisan politics and reconsider this decision for the sake of the women who depend on both your organizations for access to the health care they need.
The letter is signed by Senators Lautenberg, Murray, Mikulski, Boxer, Cantwell, Gillibrand, Menendez, Wyden, Blumenthal, Shaheen, Begich, merkley, Tester, Akaka, Sanders, (Sherrod) Brown, Leahy, Baucus, Cardin, Feinstein, Franken, and Kerry.

That relatively conservative senators like Begich and Tester signed the letter is testament to how broad the opposition to this decision has really become.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • This is a great example of why its important to continue to elect those who share our views, even if in terms of legislation the results are not obvious. The media focuses intensely on politicians, and politicians have a great deal of influence over the public discourse on issues, which has effects well beyond what the government does directly. Even if Tester and Rehberg voted the same (which they really, truly do not), I'd rather have a senator standing up for woman's health and publicly opposing Citizen's United than one who spends his time and media attention denouncing Pell grants and treatment for AIDS patients.

    • But … but, Rehberg saved Jesus!

      There have been calls over the Montana Intertubes for someone, anyone, to list Rehberg's accomplishments over his decade plus spent in Washington DC. So far, crickets, save his saving the savior through a land swap. Just as many on the right were gravely concerned about Jon Tester's silence about the important issue of a concrete statue, I am gravely concerned about Dennis keeping mum concerning a threat to the health options for more than half of Montana's population.

  • It's also time to revisit who among our state legislators led the attack on Planned Parenthood here during the last session.
    The Komen fiasco is just part of the nationwide attack on women's health that is coordinated by the GOP.

  • It's always smart to accentuate the positive in politics. Predictability provides comfort. Those really big, complex issues are so hard. Base to base, come in please. You copy?

    • It's always so easy to assume that politicians never do anything positive once you've decided that the entire system is broken. As useful as your position is, I'll ask you the same thing I always ask Tokarski without receiving an answer.

      How would you fix what you perceive as an entirely broken system? I don't really mean what you'd replace it with, but how you'd get it changed? is your position just bitter resignation or do you have a plan of action to get the American people to fix the system?

      As for me, standing up for the health of women, especially when that probably wasn't a popular position for a lot of Montana voters, is the kind of thing I want my Senator to do.

      • I have answered you time and again. You just don't like the answer. It isn't Democrats, it is ground-level non-party organizing. The purpose of the Democratic Party, as I see it, is to absorb good energy, which you have in quantity, and scatter it to the wind.

        OWS is a start. Anonymous is maturing and is doing good work, stepping in where Wikileaks got shut down. It is very hard in this country because the media keeps the population dumbed down, and survival keeps them preoccupied. They have very little time for politics, and what spare time they have is taken up by sports and entertainment. So once every two years they pay a brief amount of attention to 30-second ads, meant to manipulate them without conveying information, and based on that, vote. Most don't bother, to their credit.

        I read once where the makeup of the non-voting adult population in this country looks very much like that of the British Labor Party.We have two right wing parties, and none that represent working people, and you continually tell us that someday it will pay off, somehow. You're asking cancer to heal itself.

        I ask you now, has Tester conveyed useful information here, or has he merely manipulated you?

        • "has Tester conveyed useful information here"

          In being part of a successful movement to restore funding to an organization involved in keeping people healthy, Tester has indeed conveyed useful information.

          "the makeup of the non-voting adult population in this country looks very much like that of the British Labor Party."

          So, if everyone like you voted, we could some day elect Tony Blair? What a huge win for progressives everywhere!

          But seriously Mark, that's why you are part of the problem – because millions of people like you don't vote, because thousands of people like you are constantly telling them not to. Don't you see that you are part of the brokenness of the system? You've got Republicans representing the far right, leading the charge rightward, Democrats absorbing those people who can't stomach Republican madness but are unwilling to strive for systemic change, and then you have people like you, who play a very important role – trying to keep truly progressive people from voting. If all those labor-party types actually voted, Republicans would never win an election, Democrats would have no excuse for their moderation (and, with Republicans a non-factor, Democratic voters would feel safer fielding more liberal candidates), and the country could move left for once.

          But no, people like you and thousands, perhaps millions, like you can't give up the smug satisfaction of being too enlightened to vote for anyone, and moreover, with no less irony than an evangelizing atheist, see fit to convince others of the superiority of not voting. You claim to be in favor of Democracy and yet only endorse deeply unpopular movements like anonymous and occupy wall street. Your contempt for the concerns of the majority of Americans is sickening, but far worse is your de facto support of a system where a full third of the population voluntarily chooses not to influence elections.

          • The Polish Wolf, with experience behind me and all respect for your effort here, you will not get through to him. At best, you will offer him fodder for posting at his own website how he had a serious conversation with you that he didn't take serious at all.

            For the record, I like your refutation. You are direct and to the point.

          • This is really pointless. I'll quote a man I admire, circa 1999: "Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something that is true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune."

            Here's how it looks up here on Neptune: voting does not affect policy. People in power do not care about ordinary people. You never know what you are getting with a Democrat, like with Obama, who turns out to be a con man. Tester has not been a progressive since 2006, but he's had a recent conversion, and is now saying things like the words that inspired this post. What, pray tell, changed him? Why has he come back to us?

            I vote when I think we have a real choice. Do you realize that campaigns are without substance, so that anyone can be packaged? The one with the most money usually wins because s/he can buy more TV time. They poll the public, find the hot buttons (abortion, guns, immigration, mosques), reduce them to two or three word slogans, run 30-second TV ads, win, forget it all and go back to work for the people who paid for their ads. In five years, they'll rinse and repeat.

            Election year rhetoric has no content.

            Do not tell me that this system can change things. Money is the problem, and you cannot ask money to get money out of politics when money owns politics. That is why I said that cancer will not heal itself.

            Kailey, you think conventional thoughts and speak conventional duckspeak, but think that you are both thoughtful and original. You are neither. Please go away.

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  • Step by step. Perhaps we can agree that an awareness that the system is broken is the first necessary step in any meaningful attempt to fix it. I, however, sense some hedging when you use words like "perceive" and "entirely" in the same sentence. Now, if we don't agree that the system is sufficiently broken to work together to make the American people generallly aware of that, well then, that is where continued action is most needed. One step at a time. Whatever we may think of "Occupy," it has successfully redirected attention toward Wall Street greed, which is where it belongs right now in my opinion. Now that is the small thing I believe I can contribute as an ordinary citizen today. Any senator playing the system for all it's worth, and talking trash, will never again get my vote.

  • Answer, part II.
    Now, a senator has real power and can do way more than play Yankee Doodle Dandy on his dog-whistle to his base. A senator can hold the stage long enough to explain what's broken, why it's broken, and at least lay down a vision of what a rebuilt (vs. "replace it") system that works would look like. And if you want the icing on the cake too, senators could easily explain how a rebuilt system might function. I'm not hearing any of that right now. I know it's risky, but this is the kind of thing I want my senator to do. I'm expecting a lot, I know. Too much? Apparently.

    • You still avoid the question. What do you see a "rebuilt system" looking like, and how do you go about 'rebuilding it'? Expecting Senators, the most broken part of the system, to answer these questions for you is a bit of a waste of time.

    • I just don't get this level of passivity. I'm not trying to be combative, but I just don't get it. If the system is as broken as it seems you believe, why in the world are you waiting for a Senator to lay out a replacement?

      I suspect we're closer than you think about how we perceive the system as it is now, but I do have faith that the solution does lie in making better electoral choices.

      Between OWS and what you guys are arguing for, I guess I feel a bit lost about how we can ever get people to fight for a better future than no one seems able or willing to define.

  • Original Q: "I don't really mean what you'd replace it with, but how you'd get it changed? is your position just bitter resignation or do you have a plan of action to get the American people to fix the system?"
    Answer: See above.
    Now, you either misunderstand the answer, or just don't like it. I am neither waiting for a senator to do anything, nor want to replace the system. There are no viable electoral choices that don't lead down the same corrupt, corporate path to serfdom for the masses. The system is broken. You are either unaware, or in denial. Step one: There is no "we" until there is agreement the system is corrupt and broken. So, perhaps we disagree before getting to step one. Don't sweat it, there are millions already modilizing to rebuild a democracy for the people based on justice and freedom for all. Overcoming the current electoral system dominated by Democrats and Republicans won't be easy, but I believe it must happen. Sorry, but both parties had plenty of chances, and blew it.

  • I hardly think of it as "passivity." I am reminded of the old story of the man searching for his keys under a light post. Even though he lost them on the other side of the street, the light was better there. What I hear said here by PW and Don, in my own words, sounds like "If not this, then what?"

    If voting does not change things, what does? "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

    Change is a slow process that extends beyond our individual lifetimes, but in mine I have seen improvements in race relations, better treatment of women, higher awareness of the environmental impacts of our industrial lifestyles, and active and open protest world-wide to wars of aggression. On the other side of the coin, our wars still go on, the environment is still imploding, and it is OK to openly hate Muslims, the race of choice now for bigots. (Scientific American also reminds us that there are now more human slaves in the world than existed in 1860. Add to that sweatshop workers, only one small rung above, and what improvement have we?)

    So what satisfaction do I get? Not much. And that is what I see playing out here – winning an election with a candidate of choice, like having your team win a football game. If offers personal validation in a country where there is not much of that to be had by other means. It's another form of arena sports.

    So you might say that Ladybug and I are realists, and are content with pessimism of the intellect coupled with optimism of the spirit. I am not speaking for him – but I am content to do what I do. Things are getting better, but like a forest growing, it's hard to be far enough away and around long enough to see it happen. What I do know, and my 61 years offer testimony to this, is that what change has happened in my lifetime was not brought about by the American voting public. It happened because of small groups of thoughtful committed citizens.

    • Scientific American also reminds us that there are now more human slaves in the world than existed in 1860. Add to that sweatshop workers, only one small rung above, and what improvement have we?

      And what, five times as many people? I looked for the article, but I can't get it without paying for it. I imagine, however, they are using official figures from 1860, and the best estimates for the world today. All of the kinds of slavery that exist today existed previously, but they weren't considered or even seen as unusual. If you're going to try to convince us that things haven't gotten better, your going to have to argue with humans living longer, suffering fewer violent deaths per capita than ever before, and enjoying a higher rates of education.

      "What I do know, and my 61 years offer testimony to this, is that what change has happened in my lifetime was not brought about by the American voting public. It happened because of small groups of thoughtful committed citizens."

      Really? Because when the American voting public elected George Bush, a lot of things changed. Our surplus became a deficit, we started an unprovoked war, and ruined our international standing. Now, thanks to millions people voting, we have ended that war and begun to improve our international standing. The deficits caused by Bush's tax cuts haven't been eliminated yet, but if you expect that to happen if we stop voting for Obama and hack the FBI instead, good luck . You, ladybug, and David Hume can live your lives refusing to accept any connection between causation and correlation. The rest of us will continue voting for the imperfect politicians who nonetheless don't destroy our country as fast as they possibly can

      • Scientific American merely pointed out the existence of slavery in greater numbers today than 1860. You ran with it. You oddly justified it. It speaks for itself?

        I did not say things have not gotten better.I merely highlighted complexity in a paragraph that highlighted things that have gotten better. It's a cacophony of data, some favorable, some not. Nuance, Kailey's deficit, seems to plague you as well?

        The impetus of American politics is rightward, so that Bush encounters little resistance. Democrats take office and act as a ratchet, sealing previous gains, and carrying forward under a cloud of rhetoric in election years designed to impress us with the illusion that things have changed. What has changed? Are you under the illusion that Libya differs from Iraq, that Iran s not a target just as before? The Bushies named seven countries after 9/11 that they intended to enforce regime change upon. Obama is going down the list, one by one. He's a neocon. If you support him, so are you.

        I'm happy for you that you support slow destruction rather than accelerated. Every form of refuge has its price. Yours is intellectual integrity.

        • Just to be clear, you opened with a critique of PW's inability to see nuance before opening into a diatribe about how President Obama and President Bush are following the same agenda?

          • I am dealing in factual matters unclouded by ideological illusions. It does take a little bit of mental clarity to see through the veneer of party politics into the reality of American foreign policy. It proceeds on a straight line, uninhibited by electoral changes. There has been no difference between Bush and Obama, the same objectives are pursued with only a change in titular head of state.

            Lack of "nuance" in Kailey's case means that he takes everything at face value without any feeling for tone. Nothing is subtle with him. If Obama says the sky is green, he will go to great lengths to show the meaning of green and hammer me with it, trying to corner me with demands that I go look up some definition of green that he likes. I don't see much difference with you other than you are a better writer and have a kinder and gentler nature.

            • Given that you see every political issue in exactly the same way, you might want to revisit that whole "unclouded by ideological illusions" bit.

              • I could say as much. I do see an overarching issue that fogs all others – concentrated weath. All have to take notice. If Goldman Sachs is Obama's largest donor, that should not be ignored.

  • Something good might have come from the Komen-funding flip flop: more people might google that non-profit and discover that Susan G.'s sister is CEO and is an ardent Republican…having donated generously to the Geo. W. Bush campaign. So, when M&M's or Yoplait or heaven-knows-what product packages in pink and promises a future cure, they might also be sending thousands to their death in Iraq. Consider donating to another foundation, please.

  • Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran. Afghanistan was already done, North Korea cannot be toppled because it is well-armed.

    Libya is a quagmire now, unreported, with the new rebel government turning out to be a more violent form of the old.

    Your idea that the regime in Washington, regardless of party in power, is concerned about being "friendly, especially democratic…" is as far from reality as you can travel without a spaceship. I once asked Chomsky via email the meaning of "neoliberal", and he answered that Clinton was neither "new" nor "liberal." "Neoconservative" has a different feel about it, harsh and unforgiving, but oddly, the only difference between Clinton and Bush is that Bush was unrestrained by public opinion in his aggression due to 9/11. Clinton killed a half-million kids in Iraq, meant to soften the target in preparation for the inevitable invasion. There was no change in policy towards Iraq, 1990 to 2003, and Obama has now fulfilled the Bush SOFA, only reluctantly, as Iraq, strengthened by anti-American resolve throughout the population, would only allow out troops there if they could be held accountable for crimes. No way, said Obama.

    Neolib, neocon, Tweedledee, Tweedledum. The idea that you find certain regimes repugnant is interesting, as repugnant regimes happen to be the ones the War Department wants toppled. Other regimes, hardly less repugnant, even more so in the cases of Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Israel, for example, those you don't know about? Your focus seems to agree with the people in power. Stop with the self-adulatory prose, take a hard look around you.

    BTW – your triumphalism regarding Libya may be a bit premature, as was the parading and displays of hyper-nationalism post-Iraq, mission accomplished and all of that. I invite to you leave the American media and look for other reporting on what is going on there. RT.copm offers alternative views. The US, acting through NATO, was never concerned about human rights or democracy. Qaddafi was trading his oil in non-dollar currencies and was attempting to shake down the oil companies working there … a no-no. Did you stumble upon such matters in your actual study of international relations?

  • C'mon Don, even your younger students aren't that naive. Jon Tester signed the letter because he was told to if he expected any money for his re-election campaign. You must know how these protection rackets work. Of course he is for woman's good health, just as we all are. Do you professors still use questions in the form of two assertions with the answers to include True, True but Unrelated? Your response seems to fit the last.

    • No, it's pretty clear that many people are actually against women's health when it conflicts with their ideological viewpoints. I'd suggest someone who seems to think that the largest health care provider for women is some sort of "protection racket" probabl;y fits in that category.

      In a conservative state, it would have been much more sensible for Senator Tester to stay quiet on this issue. That he didn't is a sign that he won't put politics ahead of vital health care services. If only the same could be said of many politicians.

      • "In a conservative state, it would have been much more sensible for Senator Tester to stay quiet on this issue." Of course, and the more reasonable explanation is that he was threatened by the powers that be that he wouldn't get much financial backing from them if he didn't immediately sign up. C'mon Don, "vital health care services"! What a laugh. Just skip over the HuffPo propaganda once in awhile.

        • I'm crazy enough to think that breast cancer screenings are pretty important. I'm also crazy enough to think that access to information about contraception is critical to health, too. So is information about and treatment of STIs.

          You probably listen to a little too much Fox News if you don't understand the vital role Planned Parenthood plays.

          But hey, why listen to me? How about the fact that teen pregnancy AND abortion rates are at a 40-year low in the United States?

          Way to go, Planned Parenthood

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