Best Montana Political Blog Posts of 2013

Political blogging, always a strange beast, tends to get even stranger in political off-years. Hell, Republican AstroTurf blogs don’t even try those years. It seems like arguments get magnified, posting diminishes, and tempers flare a bit more often. That being said, there was some excellent writing in Montana blogs in 2013, and I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the writing I found most interesting.

Hopefully, it will encourage you to read some of these sites–and maybe even start your own blog.

James Conner’s Flathead Memo continues to have some of the best coverage of political issues in the state, with a depth of coverage and dispassionate tone not always seen in other media and blog reports. And the guy can make some charts! A few standouts from his site in 2013 include:

The Cowgirl blog, despite the incessant wailing of Republicans, is still going strong, offering the best insider coverage of Montana politics in the state. Some of its best 2013 posts include:

We don’t always (or often) find ourselves agreeing these days, but 4and20 blackbirds consistently offers a critique from the portion of the left that’s not covered in the press and rarely seen in other blogs. Some of their highlights from 2013 include:

What I appreciate most about D Gregory Smith’s From Eternity to Here is that it combines passionate advocacy for justice with an equally powerful dose of compassion. While these may stretch the definition of political just a bit, they are great pieces of writing. Some of my favorite posts from the site in 2013 include:

MT Streetfigher says that it’s about “politics with a punch” and the site often lives up to its tag line, with hard-hitting pieces about Republican hypocrisy and venality.

If you aren’t reading the Barrett for SD47, you’re missing out on some of the most insightful commentary available on economic issues facing Montana.

You may be more familiar with Mike Jopek from his writing in the Flathead Beacon, but I have really enjoyed following his blog, which contains those pieces and more.

The Western Word, by Jackie Brown, represents the perspective of Republicans when they weren’t overrun by the TEA Party. I don’t always agree with his point of view, but almost always enjoy his writing.

Left in the West, the blog that really putted Montana blogs on the map, is still going strong, on software I’m surprised still runs.

The Button Valley Bugle might be from the last best imaginary place, but  I wouldn’t mind teaching for the Fighting Pikas one day.

The Montanafesto blog doesn’t seem to be active at the moment, but I sure enjoyed their coverage of the Olsens in Billings.


I know I am leaving some blogs and some excellent posts out. Some formerly political blogs seem to have shifted focus or even vanished, and there are new blogs I probably haven’t run across this year. I just managed to notice yesterday that Moorcat was blogging again, for instance. Please let me know in the comments if I missed an especially interesting, provoking, or just plain unusual post.

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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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  • Thank you for the link, Don. I am blogging again, because it is cathartic for me to do so. I stepped away from it for a while because of personal family issues but now that those are working themselves out, I need to focus on clearing my head and getting back to what I enjoy doing – one of which is blogging.

    Some of the other offerings you linked are great articles. While I disagree with you about Cowgirl, they do – rarely – post interesting information as long as it doesn’t get lost in the insanity of the comment section.

    2014 will shape up to be an interesting year given the hotly contested elections this year.

    I do want to lament the lose of a blog, though. The Electric City Weblog used to be one of the better right leaning blogs in the state. I know that, as a right leaning blog, they posted positions that were counter to the beliefs of most of your commenters but they were a step above most of the other right leaning blogs in this state. Any political party needs informed debate and a counter viewpoint to ensure that they don’t become an echo chamber (this was one of the major failings of the Republican Party in their 2012 presidential campaign) and without a rational, reasonable counter point of view, the Democratic blogs in this state could easily fall into the same trap. I will miss ECW and specifically, Gregg’s insightful posts.

    • Moorcat, I’m glad you have turned the corner on your personal challenges and have re-entered the blog world. You do have a “middle of the road” perspective that is blessed with substance. I acknowledge our personal conflicts but I wish you great success with your blog and businesses.

      • Thank you, Craig. We haven’t always disagreed, either. You just took the same road I did over at Cowgirl – we got caught up in the toxic debate over there.

        • 2014 presents a tabula rasa. Let’s begin anew. I’m done with CG as well for the most part. I may clear up Norma’s falsehoods as I just did.

  • Thank you for your generous assessment of my work at Flathead Memo.

    I’d add Rich Buley at, who writes with zest and conviction.

    I’d also add a name you were too self-efacing to add: Don Pogreba, at Intelligent Discontent, a writer with a keen sense of social justice and an enviable knack for writing clear prose.

      • Craig, thanks for your generous comments. I’m trying to find a system for automatically posting comments that automatically rejects anonymous comments and commenters posting under pen names.

        • I have no issue using my real name, James and I think it might add some value if you did use comments. I heavily moderate comments on my blog and it hasn’t caused it’s demise yet…

          • I do allow comments. All people have to do is hit the feedback button at the top left. Once in a while, someone does that.

            I’m looking at the Facebook system, and perhaps I’ll give that a try.

            But I’m never going to allow comments by people who don’t write under their real names, and I’m not going to allow the kind of unrestrained commentary that stinks-up so many blogs and comments sections on newspaper websites.

            • So maybe just don’t allow any comments at all, which is what your current article is set at? I mean, that makes it real easy to ensure there’s no dissenting viewpoints or lack of restraint.

              I’d check out Blogger and see if you can get your site set up so comments can go through them.

              There are lots of other options as well, and you might be able to get some plugins and such so you don’t have to reconfigure your site a lot.

              • As I noted above, I allow comments. I’ll look at Blogger; thanks for the tip.

                FIY, Flathead Memo does not use canned software. It’s entirely hand-coded by me to web standards. I do things my way.

      • Buley is a succinct writer on lefty issues and a good foil to Michael Bennett, the conservative writer at the Political Montana site.

        Unfortunately, the site itself is a disaster (I should know, I wrote for it for awhile). Launched by the Missoulian, it has never been adequately promoted and is difficult to find on the Missoulian’s website. Comments don’t get posted for days, if at all — not because of moderation, I’m afraid, but sheer laziness. And I was never able to get any stats from management, so I have no idea if anyone ever looks at the blog. It seemed to me to be a half-asses experiment by the mainstream media to compete with blogs like this one.

        Sorry to throw a curve into this comment thread but I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time.

        • Well, you’ve got two parties full of old, rich men – how the hell are they going to put up a website that people want to visit? Or sorry, let me put that another way, that the future of this state wants to look at.

          Frankly I’m not sure where Montanans learned to make websites – most I see are jokes, and people pay me to look at websites.

          • That’s pretty funny, James. There was talk of some remuneration. Had it materialized, I might have been able to put up with the other crap.

    • Oh come on, kailey. You still butt hurtin’? Bout what, dude, that a woman kiks your hieney regularly? Kinda sad. Ego is a terrible thing to waste, ain’t it? You’re living proof!

      • p.s. You picked a fight you can’t win, and now you don’t know what to do! I find it all very hilarious. I don’t really understand why you just don’t give it up and the REST of us a break. Pretty immature the endless tit for tat. Norma yanks your chain and you simply must react. Hmm. WHO’S the organ grinder’s monkey on this one? Have you REALLY no insight into issues that supersedes your petty fight with a girl??
        You and Norma should really take it outside, for now you two are simply an annoying spectacle, a veritable bloggy food fight!

        • Speaking of getting a rest, I think the blogosphere needs a rest from you….and epically Norma. At least you can be funny every now and then, not so much for Norma though. And her willingness to resort to name calling, false accusations and flat out cyber stalking the moment she is challenged speaks volumes.

            • Missy, why don’t you NOT give it a rest? You see, I would gladly step aside when folks like your yourself step up! But I learned log ago that there aren’t that many people out there willing to step up! You see, in all my years of fighting for environmental causes, I don’t recall ever seeing you anywhere, nor the other posters here. So, when the left actually DOES step, I will stand down. But I don’t see that happening. Don stepped up, and he’s the best thing to happen in a long time. Why aren’t there FIFTY such blogs out there? Care to start one? I never asked to do what I do, but SOME one has to call the bad guys out. I’ll retire as soon as I can. Hope this helps.

              p.s. Are you from the Eden Rd. Lorangs south of GF? I’ve none some over the years. Good people.

              p.s.s. For those who STILL don’t understand my record of achievement in the enviro field, please contact the bad guys, like John Fitzpatrick and Bill Snoddy, old enemies from the mining days. Or maybe contact Jim Jensen at MEIC. I show up. Do YOU??? That is the question!

        • Larry, part of what makes you so charming is that you create your reality as you go along, your only expectation being that no one else can read or understand anything. Of course they’ll never understand you, Larry, what you rant isn’t about reality save in your head.

  • thanks for the mention, Don.

    I’ve asked j-girl if she knows anyone who wants to contribute to 4&20 because I think some new voices/perspectives are needed. I’ll echo Moorcat’s sentiment toward the loss of ECW and the need for some counter weight to all our lovely, left-leaning noise.

    oh, and by the looks of this thread, you may need some disinfectant. it looks like mad-cow disease may be spreading.

    • No, dude, your site went to the doggerels looong ago! I personally think that you need even more, maybe something like Leaves of Crap! Hey, it might work for a little outta stater like you! Ya never know!

      BTW, your opinion is just so valuable in the lefty sphere, as is rob’s. Two guys I have NEVER seen at any public forum nor working in any group for any cause. I’m thinkin’ that you guys are workin’ for your own reality show on FOX, maybe sumthin’ like The Quack Dynasty! Like it? Me too.

      You see, little outta state dude, folks who have to attack other lefties are really pretty pathetic. Why can’t you save your venom for the bad guys? No guts? GO to a public forum some time and let’em have it! Norma and I do. Why can’t you???? Computer screen brave hearts are really kinda sad.

      • You and Norma present us with a paradox: to criticize invites another juvenile or stupid response which, and if we respond, we are thereby engaged in juvenile and stupid dialogue. Since you both comment in rat-a-tat fashion, thereafter follows the spectacle that we see at Cowgirl, hundreds of comments, 80% by you two, and everyone but you two feeling violated.

        • You REALLY “speak for everyone” now? Geez, that’s just real funny, dude. Grow a set, dude. You don’t HAVE to feel “violated”. Just don’t read my posts!

          BTW, you’re welcome! You take the works I recommend and use them as your own, and in fact, you’ve now taken to plagiarizing what I write. That’s real sad.

          Just stick with me, little fella, and I’ll make you a player. There’s lots more where JFK and the Unspeakable came from! But I don’t mind you using my resources as if you’ve discovered them, for I’m not that petty. You are!

          • That condescending tone you adopt when under attack is a fine defense, not because it works, but because it encases you in impenetrable glass. It allows you to prattle on feigning indifference to legitimate criticism. It even indicates a modicum of self-awareness in your boozy existence.

            It ends here. I’m done. Pray no one else does what I just did or the meshuggener Kraljy owns this place.

                • It’s all about word choice, Norma. You see, tokey spent all his education in the business school, NEVER in the English wing. Thus, his writing is funny and ineffective. Like Jack Gladstone’s old song, tokey is dying for a metaphor!….one that works anyway.

                • p.s. For lizard. Dude, I’m not much of a poet myself, but I can be effective. Before the start of the Iraq war, I wrote a poem and submitted it to David Crisp’s newspaper in Billings. At first, Dave rejected it as maybe to political and too graphic, as we were in a patriotic frenzy to the lead up of Georgie’s Orgy of Slaughter. I asked him again to please print it, and he did.

                  Now, here’s where it gets weird. The head of the VFW in Texas saw the poem, and READ it in front of the state meeting of the VFW! Sumbitch! The freakin’ VFW!He wrote me an e-mail afterward about the experience. He said he read it, and the room went dead silent. NOTHING! Can you even imagine?! In Bush’s own state, he read my poem to a room full of patriotic vets, an anti-war poem! I loved it!

                  He said that he did receive a few comments afterward about just why he read it. None about the poem itself, for it was true. He was a really nice guy who had been to war and understood war.

                  Well sir, that is all a true story. I’ve lost the poem somewhere, and I can’t find it, otherwise I’d post it. That is my only claim to fame as a poet, but I think it’s a good one.

                  Oh yeah, and some other guy put it to music and they used to sing it down there in some bar in Billings. He contacted me too. So, while I’m a lousy poet, I can be effective.

    • No one who writes about those issues expects recognition. Quite the opposite. But I admire your scholarly habits in pursuit of truth, Swede. The other 99.8% of your behaviors interfere, I suppose.

      Here’s an exercise I recommend to you and everyone: Rather than presuming you have the answers to the issues of our day, take what you believe to be true and attempt to disprove it. Look at all of the counter-evidence. Be your own devil’s advocate.

      It can be unsettling. That’s why we are all engaged in confirmation bias. It is comforting.

        • This will blow you away, but I tend to agree, though I doubt you’ve examined anything more than the Heritage viewpoint. I’ve also come around to the other side on peak oil and even comprehend why serious people thought it vital for the sake of the nation to murder JFK. (I don’t think it was necessary or moral, but do see their motives as higher minded than most who know it was a state crime.) I even agree that giving people unearned money (cash, not food, housing and health care) is corruptive. I see an underbelly of poor people who are their own worst problem. I think unregulated immigration is destructive of our standard of living.

          We agree on more than you know, but I don’t believe in your intellectual abilities and see no willingness on your part to leave your comfort zone. So I don’t take you seriously.

            • I don’t see why I should waste my time writing about what other people write about. If I wanted to do that, I’d even promote my blog, which I don’t. It’s an acquired taste. As to what people “care” about in a thought-controlled society, very hard to know. They are not free to think, and do not. Crimestop, it’s called. Look it up on Conservapedia and you will find your photo.

              I’d rather deal with a few inquisitive people than a thousand pasty-faced ones.

            • I would very much appreciate you telling us all what the people care about.

              I’d argue that exposing the anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-human, anti-science policies of the GOP aligns nicely with what the people care about.

              I could be wrong, though. Maybe I should focus on the War on Christmas.

              • I provided a link with “real” people’s concerns.

                How’s this adm. doing on putting people back to work Don?

                And Gore’s book (Inconvenient Truth) is a $1.29 used on Amazon.

                • While I disagree almost universally with Ingi’s comments most of the time, his point is semi-valid. The greatest concerns of the majority of people in the US are not being addressed by either the Democrats of the Republicans. The rest is just window dressing. The question is how to get the powers that be to actually start addressing the real concerns.

                • You should have looked at the list. Healthcare is actually number 8 on the list from the top. I am certainly not minimizing it’s importance, but it was not the top of the list by a longshot for most Americans.

  • “and even comprehend why serious people thought it vital for the sake of the nation to murder JFK. (I don’t think it was necessary or moral, but do see their motives as higher minded than most who know it was a state crime.)”

    What a load of crap. WHAT might the higher minded motives of killing JFK have been? These guys like the Dulles brothers, the Kockh brothers, the Bushes were Nazi lovers of the highest order. Criminals. That’s all. Criminals who did NOT believe in the rule of law nor democracy. Nuthin’ high minded about that. But do, please explain these “high minded motives”!

    It was simply a rightwing coup, just as in Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, etc. Wherever one wants to look! THAT is not democracy!

  • ’ Democrats’ history is hardly stellar ‘ totally agree Larry, History also tells us they learned from their mistakes. they haven’t corrected all of them yet. but at least they are changing for the betterment of the people amd the countryside enviromentally.

    Likely a better scenario than the republicans who have yet to get past the 60’s anytime soon. and hate the colors of blue and green, which is the colors of breathing fresh air!

    • Your passion for peace and justice should be inspiration for us all, Norma: plough on and don’t let the bastardos wear you down.

      • I really like Norma. She’s good people. I can’t understand why the buttinskis of the world must harass her. But I will tell you this. I wouldn’t pick a fight with Norma! In the old days, we used to say that if you wanted to fight me, you’d better pack a lunch, for it will be an all day job! But if you pick a fight with a Norma, you’d best be a MORMOM with a six month supply of food! She ain’t backin’ down any time soon.

        • Are you dense or just willfully dishonest about who picks the fights? In her 2012 election bid she managed just 25.4% of the vote. 74.6% didn’t share your opinion. How about you keep your foreplay, hero worship, and irrelevant senseless nonsense over at CG. I’m sure you understand since just today you took it upon yourself to tell Mark to go away at CG. In that spirit please lead by example.

            • So there were 4% of the total of Beaverhead County voters who went Obama and they STILL could not hold their nose enough to vote for Norma. Wow, that’s really saying something. So Obama got a higher % than Norma in whitebread Beaverhead county.

                • Although I will add that anyone who runs as a Democrat for political office in Beaverhead County should be thanked.

                • Not to be combative, but why is that, Pete? Beaverhead County is seriously conservative. A Democratic candidate – especially one that is not a moderate – would not be representing the people of the county. We can do the whole wish fulfillment thing but it doesn’t change the reality of Beaverhead County. I would be much more likely to “thank” a moderate conservative for running because someone like that is far more likely to represent the majority of this county.

                  When did partisanship override the whole idea of a representative actually representing the people they are elected to represent?

                  Further, I judge a candidate as a person, not as a member of a political party. I would thank any politician that ran if they were honest, and were willing to faithfully represent the people they were elected to represent.

                  I am not going to bend over backwards to thank someone that runs for a position to use that position to further their own needs/agenda.

                • I think he is probably just saying they should be thanked from the perspective of democrats for keeping the flag flying for the party in the face of a near certain loss. Of course it takes a truly talented democrat to poll even less votes in Beaverhead County than President B.O.

                • Moorcat, it’s a pragmatic, logistical thing. Never give a Republican a walk. Democrats challenging Republicans anywhere means that GOP resources will have to be spent on that race. And maybe even some issues will be raised and people will have an option.
                  I appreciate your candor on supporting the person, not the party. In my experience, though, I have way more respect for the progressives I have known, worked with and supported. When a reasonable, moderate Republican is you

                • Damn. I’m an analogue guy in a digital world — trying out my wife’s Ipad with limited results. In closing, Moorcat, I hope you can do better in the future than a moderate Republican.

        • Norma may not back down, but she brings nothing of substance to the argument. Just talking points and a need to cyber stalk. She melts down quicker than a teabagger at an LGBT wedding reception.

    • COMMENT REMOVED. You can accomplish everything you intended to do in this comment without behaving like this. It’s also generally poor form to engage in a personal attack immediately after the host of the site has intervened, asking for people to focus on issues.

      Questions about the commenting policy? View it here:

  • For Lizard. Chris Hedges is the best.

    “We, like those in all emergent totalitarian states, have been mentally damaged by a carefully orchestrated historical amnesia, a state-induced stupidity. We increasingly do not remember what it means to be free. And because we do not remember, we do not react with appropriate ferocity when it is revealed that our freedom has been taken from us. The structures of the corporate state must be torn down. Its security apparatus must be destroyed. And those who defend corporate totalitarianism, including the leaders of the two major political parties, fatuous academics, pundits and a bankrupt press, must be driven from the temples of power. Mass street protests and prolonged civil disobedience are our only hope. A failure to rise up—which is what the corporate state is counting upon—will see us enslaved.”

    © 2013

    • Thoughts of our betters on the illusion of freedom:

      “How rarely I meet with a man who can be free, even in thought! We all live according to rule. Some men are bedridden; all are world-ridden.”
      Henry David Thoreau

      “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
      Denis Diderot

      “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have these three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence to practice neither.”
      Mark Twain

      “I have come to realize that men are not born to be free. Liberty is a need felt by a small class of people whom nature has endowed with nobler minds than the mass of men.”
      Napoleon Bonaparte (who also noticed that men will die for ribbons.)

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