Montana Politics

Republicans Invent Senate Committee, Battle Gas

Remember when the Republicans in the Legislature tried to invent a state that hadn’t passed a constitution in 1972? When they tried to invent a militia for themselves to go play Army and defend us against the threatening horde of Canadians who threaten our sovereignty at every moment?

Well, they’re continuing to invent new tasks for themselves, having apparently fabricated a Senate Committee for themselves to advance their peculiar agenda, which includes not teaching science in public schools:

Publicly funded schools should be free from progressive social agendas such as climate change, gay “rights,” or political correctness.

Senator Jason Priest from Red Lodge appears  to have taken the lead in this bold undertaking, having written an editorial to the Billings Gazette in which he described himself as someone who “chairs the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Committee and is a member of the Montana Senate Policy Committee.”

Other members include Rick Hill’s running mate Jon Sonju, failed gubernatorial candidate Jeff Essman, fabulist Verdell Jackson, and stream-closing, anti-fishing Debby Barrett.

To their credit, at least these bold patriots are honest about personal problems, as this powerful photo and caption from the site illustrate:


Concerns about flatulence aside, I’d be interested to know who paid for the development of this site and organization, as there is no listing for a “Senate Policy Committee” with the Commissioner of Political Practices, the e-mail address associated with the site is registered to a Jason Priest from New York City, and the site itself resolves to a web host in New Jersey.

Perhaps these champions of conservative principles would be better served studying Montana’s constitution and their duties as members of the Legislature rather than inventing a committee with a name far more impressive than the ideas it espouses.

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.


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  • In order to really understand where these crazy wacks are coming from, I suggest listening to what I call christian hate radio, or the AFR American Family Radio channel, 91.5 here in Great Falls. I can only take it in small doses because it is so repulsive. But one only needs a small dose, for they hammer home the same topics over and over again. Besides abortion (their biggie), they attack gays, democrats, the president, and now, multiculturalism in the form of anything Muslim! The hate is palpable! And kinda scary when you realize that people are listening to this all day long. And they endlessly propose a kind of christofascist state. Check it out. It makes these guys much easier to understand.

  • Larry, you seem to be confused. The site for spewing forth hate is Montana Cowgirl. This blog is reserved for intelligent discourse, whether contented or discontented.

    You are missing the inside story on this Senate Policy Committee. It started as a brain child of Jeff Essman, Jason Priest and Art Wittich in order to counter the “moderates” among Senate Republicans like Jim Peterson, Bruce Tutvedt and Taylor Brown. We are talking about the right end of the spectrum if those two are labeled as moderates or RINO’s. (Every lobbyist in Helena knows this.)

    The goal of the founding troika seems to be to educate and back up staunch conservatives with policy research and data, in order to push for harder line policies, particularly on the budget. But this committee is not an electioneering effort, it seems to be a genuine policy mini think tank, hence the reason it hasn’t been involved in campaigning and is not registered with the Commissioner of Political Practices. If you aren’t electioneering or lobbying, you don’t need to register with CPP.

    Priest is a sharp guy and is not full of the evil intentions you guys ascribe to him. I’m not so sure about Essman on either count. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get a good deal on my dry cleaning, but I’m not sure he is the intellectual powerhouse that is going to solve Montana’s problems. Wittich is neither evil nor brilliant, he is just angry.

    Here is the big issue they all miss: the Governor. Rick Hill will be the Governor of Montana, and his agenda will be the one the Senate Republicans are pushing through. Like the Army, that always seems to train to fight the last war, they built a committee to overcome the problems of the last session, a divided caucus facing a hostile Governor who outmaneuvered them. That is not going to happen.

    Of course, on the off chance that Bullock wins, Priest and Co. will be able to take out their policy committee for a spin. But give these guys some credit. The Legislature has been taking it in the shorts ever since term limits took effect, and Schweitzer has truly made them into an unequal branch. The legislative leaders on both sides need to get serious about being taken seriously. If this group can generate some good ideas and not lay down for the Governor to drive the truck over them, I say go for it.

    • Generate some good ideas??? bwhahahahahahahaa! God, joey, you made me spit my morning coffee through my NOSE on that one, dude! These guys are Burchsh*t crazy wacks, dude. Nothing more, nothing less. Read their site. Fascist crappola and Chamber Pot of Commerce nonsense. Now, Joey, before criticizing me, READ the site and find those ideas that you find good! They ain’t hidin’ nuthin’! It’s anti-American CRAZY talk! Need proof?

      “Post-secondary education should enable academic achievement, respect for the American Experiment and individualism, and intellectual freedom and be free from leftist indoctrination and political coercion.”

      Now THAT’S a great idea, right, Crazy? But hey, HERE’S a little task for you, Joe. Sumthin’ that you can actually DO to help these morons. We don’t want no lefty stuff in college, so HELP these dudes by making a list of all the great rightwing writers and artists out there! bhwhahahahahahahahahahaha! I’ll wait. And I’ll even start you off!

      1. Aynus Rant and Asses Plugged
      2. A. Hitler, Mein Kampf

      Your turn, crazy! (too funny)

        • And p.s. Joey, what “hatred” do you see at Cowgirl’s site? Be specific. For I really want to know. Why is the by FAR most popular site in the state, or ANY state for that matter, hateful to you? I see no hate there. The only hate is the racist morons that show up, like max putz! You see, joe, guys like you simply spout than pout! You’re a spouter and a pouter! That’s all. Poor way to debate, dude.

    • A very “mini” think tank, I’d say.

      What’s the distinction between electioneering and thinking? At this point, it seems like it’s nothing more than promotional material for self-styled intellectuals.

  • It is indeed troubling to see low-IQ anti-science drones attack the education system, but that system is so long in disrepair that it can hardly be made worse. Kids come out of high school having studied factually engineered history, and with no ability to resist military indoctrination and so are easy targets for enlistment in the most current of our never ending wars. They have no basic knowledge of business math, and so are easily taken in by credit card companies. They have no advertising resistance, and so are prepped to be good consumers. Critical thinking skills are nonexistent.

    And these are the good students. there is some hope for the bad ones, as they might self-educate later if they miss the primary indoctrination system. But bad science … if that were all it was about, would indeed be a concern.

    • “And these are the good students. there is some hope for the bad ones, as they might self-educate later if they miss the primary indoctrination system. But bad science … if that were all it was about, would indeed be a concern.”

      While I agree that there are deep problems with the curriculum, especially in history, right now you are showing your lack of familiarity with students. Students who are ‘good’ interact with and ultimately challenge the curriculum; those who truly value education (as opposed to those who are merely trying to gain the label as ‘educated’) often rise above the curriculum and challenge it, and teachers interested in educating encourage that. I remember when I took American History at Helena High, our teacher included Howard Zinn among our regular reading materials. Far from leaving with no ability to resist indoctrination, I can pinpoint that year as the point where I reached my peak disdain for American militarism, a position that was reinforced by my education up to the year I spent in Poland.

      It is people who share your disdain for expertise, but lack your desire for self-education, that fall into the militant consumerist patterns you describe. They either accept the currently fashionable curriculum – a politically correct re-telling of the same jingoistic historical narrative as before, or they reject it in favor of…what was your term? The way the world appears to work.

      But the way the world appears to work to them is often heavily unprogressive, anti-immigration, pre-scientific, racist, homophobic, materialist, and sexist. I observe it every day – the rejection of intellectualism or academics leading to an acceptance of the a readily available alternative narrative – that espoused by country songs and racist grandparents and the ‘news’ on TV, or the equally destructive narrative of rap music, MTV, racist (in a different direction) grandparents and the ‘news’ on Facebook. Students pick up this pattern from their parents or peers; our education system, though imperfect, still offers a more nuanced and accurate understanding of the world than most students get without it.

  • While I do have some concerns about our “modern” education system, I hardly find it the conspiritorial system that Moron Mark describes it as. I do find it interesting that he comes to a blog written primarily by a teacher to trash on the education system though… Troll…

    • Listen, Kenny: I endure many attacks from the likes of you, and should be more patient than I am – read Chomsky below on establishment opinion formation as you exhibit. But just as I don’t seek out expertise on military matter from former soldiers (you have been compartmentalized and indoctrinated), so too do I avoid expertise on education from people within the educate establishment. They would be the last to see what is going on.

        • Interesting how it works. I don’t look to ignorance, but I do look outside the professions. Economists know very little about how economies work, dietitians know little about how the body functions or how to lose weight or what constitutes a healthy diet.

          You have to exercise critical thinking, Rod.

            • Nah – this is your authoritarian mindset – looking to experts in formation of your opinions rather than relying on your own judgment.

              Indeed there are experts out there that I rely on – our insurance man, the doctor who did my physical, tech guy who painted our house and the guy who is going to weld my garbage trailer, for example.

              Our mechanic, eye doctor and dentist, I am not so sure about.

              But the ones I mentioned – soldiers, economists, dieticians, are three professions that I do not look to for expertise – soldiers, for the reason mentioned above, and economists and dieticians because what they say is at odds with how the world appears to work. Economists cannot explain the past or present nor predict the future, and dieticians don’t seem to know why people get fat.

              Critical thinking – that’s how it works.

              • Mark, if one has the ability to think critically (an ability I question in you) then one doesn’t look to experts to “form” their opinions for them. One looks to expertise for input, and then applies critical thinking to form opinions. Your display of how critical thinking “works”, really isn’t. What you have displayed is an intellectually twisted circular defense of the common Ad Hominem. Soldier’s opinions and insights are not to be trusted because they are ‘indoctrinated’. Educators views on education are suspect because they are ‘in the system’.

                Simply put Mark, you don’t see validity to the critical thoughts of others because you’ve given yourself a handy excuse not to look for them.

  • Here’s Chomsky on being asked uninformed or apparently stupid questions after talks on college campuses:

    “There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith’s phrase, “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.” A lot of the educational system is designed for that, if you think about it, it’s designed for obedience and passivity. From childhood, a lot of it is designed to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you’re independent-minded in school, you’re probably going to get into trouble very early on. That’s not the trait that’s being preferred or cultivated. When people live through all this stuff, plus corporate propaganda, plus television, plus the press and the whole mass, the deluge of ideological distortion that goes on, they ask questions that from another point of view are completely reasonable….”

      • You can’t see how the non-authoritarian mind works, can you. Chomsky is very, very good, so I read him, along with many others whose judgment and expertise I trust. No doubt he is wrong about many things, and I leave it to you to point out to me those areas where he is wrong, knowing you’ve read him in depth. (You haven’t but are going to say you have, so let’s jump to the chase.)

  • Fascinating conversation. I just reviewed Chomsky’s model of propaganda with my class today. We spent three days covering what I could back in the fall with them.

    • It is unfortunate, Don, that a discussion of the American education system happens on a post from a guy who is trying his best to do a good job. So is my son. He’s not so much in teaching right now, and probably won’t go back to it, not that he doesn’t like kids but rather that all of the extra time it takes to be good at it is unpaid. I’ll stop there as I’ll be putting words in his mouth.

      It is very important that kids know that they are not being educated so much as programmed. I attended classes for seventeen years (before graduating eighth grade), and only once, in year 17, did I encounter Chomsky (his essay on the duties of intellectuals appeared (but was not assigned reading) in an anthology on American intellectual tradition). That you are intorducing kids to him at a young age is wonderful. It’s not “him”, per se, but the ideas he brings to the forefront, that is important. They are counter-cultural, and will create disharmony and doubt in kids mind, and that will be the beginning of education.

      This discussion was not meant to demean or belittle you in any way.

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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.

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