Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Lewis Offers Pragmatic Energy Policy, Zinke Offers Slogans. Oh, and Flip Flops

Yesterday, Democrat John Lewis released a detailed energy plan to “make Montana an energy leader” and Ryan Zinke issued a childish response that was as factually-challenged as it was simplistic.

To start with, both men support the Keystone XL pipeline. A key difference is that Lewis would legislatively mandate protections for landowners and that highly-skilled American workers would use high-quality materials to build the pipeline.

Now, as I said before, I don’t support the Keystone XL pipeline and have concerns about relying on coal to power the nation and Montana’s future economy. Those caveats aside, Lewis’s proposal recognizes political reality in the United States: the most viable energy policy in the short-term is to use fossil fuel resources to fund the transition to cleaner energy. It might feel good to demand an immediate shift and ignore the need to transition our economy, but Lewis is offering a pragmatic solution that suggests some real thought.

Critically, Lewis called for an end to the ethanol mandate, a political boondoggle, environmental disaster, and financial sinkhole that Congress passed in the 1970s. That Lewis is calling instead for cellulosic ethanol shows that he’s actually studied the issue, as cellulosic offers substantial benefits in the long-term.  Professor Charles Wyman wrote in 2007 that cellulosic ethanol offers a path to real energy independence for the US:

A sustainable alternative is vital to overcome this dangerous dependence, and biomass is the only known, large-scale, renewable resource that can be converted into the liquid fuels that are so well suited to transportation. Cellulosic ethanol is particularly promising because it can capitalize on the power of biotechnology to dramatically reduce costs, is derived from low cost and plentiful feedstocks, can achieve the high yields vital to success, has high octane and other desirable fuel properties, and is environmentally friendly Although we can hope for a miracle cure for our addiction, we cannot count on one; and prudence dictates the rapid development and deployment of cellulosic ethanol.

In his proposal, Lewis also calls for expanding Montana’s renewable energy standard to the nation and developing Montana as a hub for energy research and development.

In response, his opponent former State Senator Ryan Zinke offered slogans, telling the IR State Bureau:

“His plan is dropping the subsidies for ethanol and then changing it for a subsidy for biofuels,” Zinke said. “I am not for a subsidy across the board. You don’t subsidize wind, ethanol or biofuel. You go to a free market.”

Zinke said the United States has the opportunity to become energy independent, create jobs and attract U.S. manufacturing companies that moved overseas. The energy for that will come primarily from the fossil fuel sector — oil, gas and coal, the former state senator from Whitefish said.

Zinke’s argument is nothing more than a fact-free diatribe Republicans have used for decades to stall the development and use of renewable energy. To argue that energy sources need to “go to a free market” and oppose subsidies is to ignore the billions of dollars of annual subsidies given to oil and coal companies right now. The lowest estimate for annual subsidies for fossil fuel companies in the US is $10 billion annually, which rises to $52 billion if you rightly include the costs of defending pipelines and shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, something Zinke himself recognized in 2009.

Zinke’s call for free market solutions also inconveniently contradicts positions he’s taken earlier. It turns out he was right in 2009, when he wrote of American energy policy that “Our policy should be to improve efficiency, fund research, store nuclear fuel safely, and build new wind, solar, and biomass facilities.”

I suspect this will be a common pattern in the 2014 Congressional race. Lewis will offer detailed proposals that are subject to scrutiny and reflect the real world, while Senator Zinke will issue catchphrases while striding through fields of wheat telling us what an “American” he is—while contradicting positions he held as recently as a year ago.

We need to demand more of our political leaders than catchphrases and American energy policy is an excellent place to start demanding those answers.

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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  • So then, as I understand this, no matter who we vote for, we get Keystone. I take that to mean that the Keystone decision was already made above the level of political, and that voting does not matter. 

    You take it to mean that a Democrat Keystone is better than a Republican Keystone.

    I gotcha. I will be watching ID with great interesting in the coming days. Lewis appears to be Baucus redux.

  • MarkTokarski I know in fantasy of ideological purity it’s easy to win every issues, because you don’t have to even make a passing reference to reality, but this is so typically Tokarskian that I’ll respond.

    Actually, a Democratic Keystone is marginally better. I’m sure we’ll get better environmental and labor protections from Democrats.

    Secondly, and this is where it will probably make your brain hurt a little bit, Lewis, as I note, is offering a specific set of proposals that will certainly not make everyone happy. That’s what responsible governance is about. I know how emotionally satisfying it must be to view every political and policy question from the safe confines of your smug condescension, but I’d prefer a candidate who’s willing to articulate a policy.

    The truth is, you should come back to Montana and vote for Zinke. All bluster and no substance? He sounds like your kind of candidate.

  • The big question for me: is the Keystone XL pipeline a defining issue?  Would enough labor Democrats and Independents not vote for Lewis (and Walsh, if these two came out against the pipeline) to make a difference in the election?  

    The pipeline is almost a defining issue for me — although I will unenthusiastically vote for Lewis and Walsh because Zinke and Daines are reprobates.

    This is a tough one for me, Don.  In the U.S. Senate primary, Dirk Adams, the only one of the three Democratic candidates to come out against the Keystone XL placed third.  I think that had a lot more to do with his campaign (too little, too late) but it got me wondering.  So, I appreciate Lewis’ stand on the pipeline but still …  It’s a terrible idea.  

    James Conner over at Flathead Memo thinks we should cut Lewis and Walsh slack on Keystone XL because it could drive a wedge between the candidates and organized labor.  Organized labor in Montana is now mostly made up of the public sector: teachers, cops and fire fighters, for example.  There just aren’t enough union pipe-fitters and steel workers, etc., to make that much difference in elections anymore, IMHO.

    So I guess my real question is: when does a candidate make a principled stand instead of an expedient stand?  Strong environmental ethics in Montana may be for losers in the short term but will be vindicated in the long term.  (One also has to wonder if the paltry Democratic turn out in the primary — Republicans out-voted us 2-1 — might have to do with a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Democratic electorate because of such milquetoast stands on the issues.)

  • Pete Talbot I think your comments are very thoughtful.  But yes – XL is a defining issue.  You are right that not that many people will actually be employed as Pipefitters, etc. but the vast majority of Montanans relate to the XL in some way or another.  We need people like Lewis and Walsh and Tester who support the XL, but with stipulations… stipulations the GOP would not put in place.

    I also think it’s great that Lewis has put Zinke on his heels.

  • Pete Talbot I think it’s complicated for me because Keystone XL is far more symbolically significant than it is practically significant. That oil is going to get moved if we don’t build the pipeline, so those who attempt to link KXL to the collapse of human civilization are overreaching. 

    I think building it is the wrong decision, but I also suspect that Lewis and Walsh aren’t supporting it for purely political reasons. I think they believe it’s good for the state, even if I disagree with them.

  • dpogreba MarkTokarski I don’t hurt for substance. And it’s not that you don’t win get everything you want or win every issue. It’s that you don’t know how to fight.

    Your notion that “we’ll get better environmental and labor protections from Democrats” is without substance, and is a faith-based notionThe only difference between Democrats and Republicans is campaign rhetoric. That’s all you’re harping on here, rhetoric. It means knotting, especially knowing as I do that if Lewis Si elected, you will not hold him accountable anyway. You are not only a faith-based voter, but also a fear based one. You will always support a Democrats out of fear of a Republican.

    What you have given us here is nothing but an expression of faith, your own confirmation bias hard at work looking for every reason to support a Democrat and oppose a Republican. Your support for Lewis is as predictable as sunrise, knee jerk and automatic, so much so that I often wonder if you get paid to do this.

  • dpogreba Pete Talbot I agree that opposing KXL is more symbolically significant than practically significant.  But symbols are important.  And the environmental havoc created by tar sands extraction, plus our continued reliance on carbon-based fuels, plus the fact that the oil needs to be transported 2000 miles across Middle-America so it can be shipped to other countries, plus the really small employment numbers after the pipeline is built, plus … well, you get my drift.

    Really, anything that can be done to slow the extraction of tar sands oil is a win, in my book.

  • MarkTokarski 
    “Your notion that “we’ll get better environmental and labor protections from Democrats” is without substance, and is a faith-based notion”
    We get that neither are up to your snuff in terms of desired environmental protections.
    Even given worst case scenarios, One is worse than the other. One side gives us mandated logging and paltry wilderness designations, the other, gives us the Roadless Area Release Act and the Death of public lands via transfer to the states.
    One is worse than the other. Unless you are using the word “same” in a way in which we typically would not use the word in any other instance, they are not even close to the “same”.

  • namelessrange MarkTokarski Of course one is worse than the other, but the key is that no matter who wins, we lose.
    I maintain, and I know smart people disagree, that we are better off with Republicans in office, because then at least you Democrats are awake and paying attention, and we can stop some of this stuff. 
    Have you contacted your governor about putting up five million acres of roadless land for development? What? You haven’t? Why not? Will you help vote him out of office? What, you won’t? You say that no matter how bad he is, he’s better than the other party? Are you sure about that?

    See the problem?

  • RobKailey MarkTokarski I was espeically impressed with the way Tester was transparent, letting everyboyd know in 2006 what he intended for our roadless lands. 
    Oh, wait. He didn’t say anything. That was a big surprise. He needed the progressive vote, and so ran as a cloaked timber lobby guy.

    Voting for or against him had no impact on the matter. There are other cooler heads in the senate who think mandated logging is bad public policy. Montana Democrats and Republicans disagree.

  • Mark. He didn’t “put up” 5 million acres for development. Per the farm bill, he “recommended” 5 million acres for beetle kill cleanup/mitigation/prevention. Most of which hopefully will probably never be logged. You overgeneralize with hyperbole.
    But yes , I have been vocal on the Internet,in public, and in letters to my representatives regarding the use of The new categorical exclusion in areas that certainly don’t need it. Especially doing this mitigation and inventoried roadless areas And areas near the proposed NREPA electric peak and haystack wilderness areas
    Will I vote him out of the office? If a pragmatic other option exists certainly. But if it comes down to him versus someone who doesn’t think public land should exist at all,or someone who wants to release all roadless areas to development – actual development. – I will vote for Bullock.
    There’s the real world and the world you wish we lived in. I think you’re confused about which one has consequences.

  • I’m angry that the Dems have so readily accepted all of TransCanada’s talking points.  I’m also angry with the AFL/CIO (who are evidently in bed with TransCanada) for bullying the party into accepting these talking points.

    Don, you’re minimizing the negative impact of Keystone XL. It is, as the VP, says “a big fucking deal.”

    Global warming is the most serious issue facing us.  No other issue approaches it in importance.  To support, or even go along with, Keystone XL is to commit a crime against humanity. 

    I don’t know if I’m going to vote this time.  I can’t vote for Daines and Zinke.  But that doesn’t mean I have to vote for their alternatives.

  • You’re just a bit evasive here, as what he did is not what you say, but rather something much worse: he bypassed any public input and move 5 million acres onto the assembly line. Because he’s a Democrat you’re minimizing, making excuses for him. If he were a Republican doing the same thing, you might be incensed. THIS is the problem, the way you cover for these people. I do hope you’re right that these areas will never be logged, but then, he did open that door, right?
    .Would you vote him out of office? No. That’s all you said. No. He’s a Democrat. I know how to read Democratbabble.
    You, then are the problem. Democrat in office. You’re asleep at the wheel. When he gets caught in the act, you make excuses, minimize. You’re an enabler.

  • “although I will unenthusiastically vote for Lewis and Walsh because Zinke and Daines are reprobates.”
    Need anymore be said? You are a fear-based voter, and you are the problem. You allow Democrats to get away with anything because Republicans are “reprobates.”
    Good lord this is insane!

  • MarkTokarski You are partially correct, Mark.  Some of my voting is fear based.  I fear that Republicans will roll back advances made for women, minorities, gays; I fear that creationism will be taught in schools (Daines); that social security will become privatized; that the minor reforms we’ve seen in health care will be repealed; etc., ad nauseam. 

    Do I get everything I want from the Democrats?  Hell no.  There may not be as big a difference in the parties as you’d like to see but there is a difference.  Let me know how your work is coming along on that third party movement.

  • Pete Talbot MarkTokarski The last serious threat to Social Security came form Bill Clinton, only thwarted by the Monica scandal. I fear Democrats more than Republicans in this matter, as your party members will not take note when the privatization effort is spearheaded by your own leaders.I suspect Obama is fostering privatization efforts now in secret, just as Clinton did.

    Advances were not made “FOR” women, minorities, gays, by BY them, and not by Democrats. That was movement politics, now dead, but which once forced both parties to roll over. 

    Your “minor reforms” in health care include enslaving us under the private insurance regime, the overall thrust being to stop the single payer movement in its tracks. Nice work.

    I don’t care what they teach in the shcools. If they would teach critical thinking skills, none of it would be a threat.I’d like to see our kids freed from our schools, given more time to think. I cannot imagine anything worse tam eh tedium awe vista on them, teaching them to hold still, regurgitate, be passive citizens and good employees. Yuck. .

    “Do I get everything I want form the Democrats” is the non-battle cry of your class of pundits. You are passive, cowering in fear, and blind to the fact that not only are you not “getting everything,” but that Democrats get away with more because you are focused on eh other party. It’s a nice scam. Obama gave away net neutrality last week. Has he attacked any new countries this week? I cannot wait until he attacks Social Security just to hear you say :”Yeah, but Republicans would be even worse.”

  • MarkTokarski Pete Talbot I’m really not sure why I’m getting sucked into this discussion, Mark.  I’ve read your comments many times over the years and they haven’t changed an iota, so I doubt what I write will have any sway with you.

    I take offense, though, at the, “You are passive, cowering in fear … ” comment.  I should probably spend less time posting comments and more time as an activist but I obviously am more committed than you.  You just seem to whine a lot.  I work hard to get the most progressive candidates elected in primary and general elections, particularly at the local and regional level.  You ignore the fact that there are city councilors, state legislators and even a few state-wide elected officials who aren’t bought and paid for by big oil, big health care, big … well, you name it. 

    But let’s take a look at some of your statements above:

    “I suspect Obama is fostering privatization efforts now in secret, just as Clinton did.”

    Must be nice to be an insider in the Obama administration.

    “I cannot wait until he (Obama) attacks Social Security just to hear you say: ‘Yeah, but Republicans would be even worse.'” 

    I’ll be the first to say you were right and I was wrong, if this happens.  It will not, though. 

    “Advances were not made “FOR” women, minorities, gays, by BY them, and not by Democrats. That was movement politics, now dead, but which once forced both parties to roll over.” 

    Of course, all social movements are started BY the people but it was the Democrats that advanced the legislation — sometimes too little, too late; the wheels of government grind slowly — but advance it they did.

    “Your ‘minor reforms’  in health care include enslaving us under the private insurance regime, the overall thrust being to stop the single payer movement in its tracks. Nice work. You give us defeat, call it victory. Please stop helping us.”

    No one wants a single-payer system more than I.  My wife, however, is now able to get insurance (she had a pre-existing condition) and our premiums are about a third of what they used to be.  Hardly a perfect system but while you wait for that perfect system and bemoan the current, I will continue to help recruit, support and advance candidates who will (slowly, I’m sure) help our health care system evolve into a single payer. 

    By the way, you never answered my query: Let me know how your work is coming along on that third party movement.  I was involved in a third-party movement nearly two decades ago.  It was promising but in the end, couldn’t make the leap to the national stage.  But at least I tried, and am still trying to advance progressive policy, albeit through the Democratic Party now — for the time being.  I’d probably be involved with the Working Families Party if I lived in New York.

    I believe the biggest challenge facing the electorate (well, besides climate change — if we don’t get a handle on that, everything else will be meaningless) is campaign finance reform.  We need to get the huge sums of money out of politics and level the playing field so that real change can occur.

    Again, Democrats seem to be advancing campaign finance reform.  Republicans, not so much.

  • MarkTokarski Pete Talbot You keep bringing up that Lewinsky-SS-Clinton thing.  I mean, it’s always been one of the twelve or so things you think you know because you read it in a book that re-confirms your worldview, but it got me thinking – you’ve said that you believe (and it is a reasonable belief) that these sorts of ‘scandals’ occur all the time, but they only become actual public scandals when a politician gets out of line and needs to be neutralized.
    Now, privatizing social security is worth billions, if not trillions, of dollars to some very influential people – indeed, the sheer magnitude of the  potential profit dwarfs almost any other possible government action.  So, if this shady oligarchical ‘deep state’ is responsible for the creation of scandals and the derailment of political careers, why in God’s name would they derail a politician who was about to make them untold billions of dollars?

  • I continually hear from Johhny-one-note-all-Democrats-all-the-time people like you that I am repetitive. I don’t think that is true.on my blog, which you avoid, I write about a wide variety of issues (tomorrow, Gore Vidal) but when I come to the one-note Democrats-good-Republicans-bad blogs, you guys are always talking about the same thing. It ain’t me that repeats, it’s you, buddy. If you guys ever broadened your horizons a little, you’d be more interesting too.
    Yes, I get it that third party politics cannot succeed in an oligarchy where the financial hurdles make challenging either of the money parties impossible. In fact, as Tester showed us last time around, the money parties will actually use third parties to advance their own candidates, making third party politics counterproductive. Can’t win in the system, can’t win outside the system.
    Glad you’re backing minor candidates down where money doesn’t rule, or does it. At least we agree the up-ticket candidates are third-rate people not worthy of our time.
    How I know that Obama is talking SS privatization: 1) they are always talking about it, and only wait for the right opportunity, 2) the market us up; 3) it has to be done before the next crash, which is imminent, 4) this is exactly what Clinton was doing in 1998, 3) the same people are in power now as then. Ergo, they are talking about it now. It is not a partisan issue. both parties hate SS. Democrats are more dangerous.
    It only takes a little deductive thinking ability.
    Your fear of republicans is not something you admit to, but rather something that you unknowingly reveal. The “reprobate” comment was the tell. You can see that in the other party but not your own, and yet they are essentially the same people. Ergo your thought processes are clouded … By fear?
    Giving us minor improvements in the health care system at enormous cost is still called losing. For your wife to be able to get insurance, the rest if us have to subsidize the insurance companies. Again, stop helping is.
    You’ll find if you check the record that most of the progressive legislation signed as a result of the ‘sixties’ (65-75) was signed by either Nixon or Ford, and because they had no choice, just as LBJ had no choice with the 64 Civil rights. It is not who is in power, but the power of movements that determined those outcomes. FDR was nothing without labor unions behind him, cloud have signed nothing.
    Yes, campaign finance reform would be nice, as is electoral reform, election accountability, adding a few more states and senators (California alone should be at least three states) and representatives – how long we been stuck at 435?, elimination of party primaries to open the system to all comers, regulation of advertising, which is so horribly manipulative, having. Real debates without journalists protecting the candidates… none of which can possibly be achieved when the two oligarchical parties are the beneficiaries of the current corrupt system. Good luck.
    Gonna take a movement.

  • At last you ask a good question, show some genuine curiosity. First, the book reported a conference at Harvard in which the participants in charge of privatization admitted their roles. It was not meant for public consumption. It was a slip-up where inside baseball accidentally became public. Ergo, Robin Blackburn merely did what real journalists do, reporting back to us about what powerful people were doing.
    Many things were going on at that time, so SS privatization was shelved, as breaking up the Balkans and attacking Iraq appear to be the top ticket times at that time. In the end, because Clinton was paralyzed by the Monica scandal, Gore took over that aspect of foreign policy and oversaw the attack on Serbia. (Speaking of unintended consequences, that attack gave us the rise to power of Putin, who saw his Russia unable to respond to naked aggression, leading to his rise to power and a newly invigorated Russian Federation.)
    Iraq had to wait until 2003, as the rollout of the attack in 98 flailed. Policies do not change, but are adapted and implemented as circumstances permit. SS privatization is always on the table. Always, and it is bipartisan, as is foreign policy.

  • MarkTokarski That just doesn’t  make sens – Clinton was getting us involved in the Balkans well before Lewinsky.  He moved in Kosovo faster than Bosnia, sure, but I fail to see how speeding up the action in Kosovo could be prioritized over social security privatization – I see where it appeals to both Democrats and Republicans in that it is just such a boon to the right people – a nearly three trillion dollar infusion into Wall Street, at a predictable (to those on the inside) date?

    And I don’t think it’s reasonable to conclude that only the extreme popularity of Social Security saves it – it’s clear that some influential policy makers are also on board.Take chained CPI – the majority of Americans never heard of it, much less understood.  But in elite Dem circles, it was a huge deal, with House Dems and influential opinion makers like Paul Krugman urging Obama not to do it- successfully.  While it’s clear presidents from either party will face pressure to privatize social security – the pot is too big to resist – on the Democratic side there are also highly placed, influential individuals who believe in it.

  • I agree it is complicated, as there are factions. But you overlook the power of the brain trust around Clinton. They realized that they needed to build a coalition to save his presidency, and so scrapped privatization plans and made him the champion of the program, the origins of the “lock box” advertising ploy. It worked. It did not hurt that most people didn’t care about his private affairs. He overcame the attack.
    The “he” that moved in Kosovo was not Clinton, who resisted doing anything there and Iraq. The Kosovo aggression, when it finally played out, was done over his resistance, and the whole point of the Monica affair was to paralyze him. You seem to think it is simple, presidents are in charge, scandals real. Not hardly. The office has power, but the people and factions around it have more. When those factions agree and the president doesn’t, bad shit happens. “Scandals” can hit anyone, as they are all dirty. That process is highly targeted.
    Learn that, my work here is done.
    (“There’s a secret government, inside the government…and I don’t control it.”…Bill Clinton…)

  • MarkTokarski You’re stepping back from your original claim, Mark.  It’s one thing to say its complicated and that there are factions in the Democratic party that support privatizing social security – no doubt about that – and another to say that the two parties are equally hostile to the very concept.  There is no one in the Republican party comparable to the pro-Social Security parts of the Democratic party.  And as much as you hate that the ACA straps the middle class into private insurance plans, it also constitutes an enormous expansion of the Great Society for low income people and families – a truly radical expansion before Justice Roberts got a hold of it.

  • I don’t get it……Prime Minister Harper of Canada has stated that the Canadian crude from the Keystone XL will be exported to Asia as crude and now Congress is working to end our US ban on exporting US crude and people want to export our natural gas……so, how does exporting all of north America’s RAW natural resources make us energy independent? 

    Exporting our raw natural resources will only raise our fuel prices and keep us forever dependent on OPEC. High fuel prices will cause higher manufacturing costs, higher heating bills, higher food costs, higher shipping costs, a higher cost of living. 

    Exporting our raw natural resources (like a third-world country) will forever kill US manufacturing jobs, kill the US economy and kill off the middle class forever.

  • No, you are dissembling. Of course there are factions in the Democratic Party, and unfortunately your progressive wing is a small majority and has no power. The only thing that keeps SS alive is its third rail nature, that touching it awakens the sleeping giant. That’s why Clinton operated in secrecy, planning to shitcan it on his way out of office along with his pardons. That’s why it is a safe bet that Obama is doing as much, working for his true constituency, the financiers. Republicans attack in the open and weaken it, democrats use stealth. It is always so.
    I don’t want to talk about ACA, as I’ve seen no demonstration that you know much about it. I’ll wait until you write something. Since I am not a Pollyanna, I don’t have any illusions that the decision by the mullahs was either a surprise or unwelcome,.

  • MarkTokarski RobKailey Mark, I do believe you smart enough to see the points you are willfully avoiding.

    1)  Deceiving the enviro-progressives may have worked to help him in 2006, but obviously had nothing to do with Tester’s reelection in 2012.  Ahh, but then he had the backing of his corporate masters.  Right?
    2)  Since, by your own profession, Tester and the overwhelming majority of Senators only hold office at the will of the corporate Illuminati, it stands to reason that the FJRA didn’t even easily pass out of committee because it is problematic for the corporate control structures.  There are several reasons this could be.
    A)  The timber and extraction factions aren’t nearly as powerful as many (most) enviro-progressives caterwaul them being.  Other more powerful concerns must find certain things in the FJRA, shall we say, problematic.  So, it is very possible, that the FJRA is not the environment disaster that yourself and others purport it to be.
    B)  Since the corporate Illuminati doesn’t seem concerned about passing the FJRA, it and most other environmental concerns for Montanans remain nothing but wedge issues, equally as deserving of your disdain and dismissal as gun control, women’s rights, blah blah blah.  Yet somehow, you seem to think that this should convince Democrats that their peeps are the same as the Republican peeps and that they should revile Tester for that wedge and yet not applaud him for his support of other ‘sedges’.  ‘Bit inconsistent on your part, don’t you think?  Of course, if it is a wedge issue then who’s being manipulated?  The public which doesn’t really care about it or the corporate donors who have little hope of seeing a return on their investment for backing it?

    Given the enormous number of bytes and hours you have spent telling everyone else what and how to think, perhaps you’d best think this through.  It is almost hypocritical for you to bring up “cooler heads in the Senate” who are concerned with “bad public policy”.  That stands at extreme odds with everything else you’ve penned about absolute corporate control of voting and policy, the weak and useless will of the electorate, and your overwhelming (and arrogant) disdain for the personal concerns of others.  If nothing else, Mark, you should at least drop the idea that you have more concern or understanding of “democracy” than anyone else.

  • RobKailey MarkTokarski For the record, Rob, I have never used the term “Illuminati” in my writings. That is a smear tactic, as I see it. 
    1) There is no need to ‘conspire’ when people think alike, as do most the activist factions within our oligarchy.0
    2) Montana is a backward resource colony, so that its senators don’t always get what they want. 
    3) in the grand gray scheme of things, the battle over access to the commons is one of attrition on the part of environmentalists. Tester proved ineffective. Walsh or Daines will likely pick up the ball he dropped. Finally,
     4) there is often disagreement among the wealthy factions who place these third-rate people in office.However, a man can be bought and be caught between competing factions, so that on the surface it appears that he is resisting his overlords. Not hardly.

    Montana roadless lands issues are not “wedge,” as Tester didn’t talk about them when he ran. Ergo, the issue is not used to create false divisions and solidity bases. Powerful people really are offended when candidates advoate for preservation of the commons. Candidates are not free to make promises i those areas.

    Tester did lose the environmentalist vote, he did stab them in the back and did indeed have to run to other sources for backing to get reelected with 48% of the vote. The source of that dark money is still unknown, but this much is known: It was used to solidity control over him. He owes someone for his reelection, big time.

    What you have done here is put on display your black/white impulse when addressing complicated issues.It must be all this – that Tester could not get his bill passed means that he is not a Timber Lobby boy? Is tat what you are saying? You’re wrong. They wrote the bill, he carried it, fell on his face. That’s all it means.Tester ain’t all that effective.

    I don’t tell people how to vote. That’s your bailiwick. I tell people voting does not matter. My logic is unassailable: Follow the money. Have you ever done that?

  • MarkTokarski RobKailey 
    I don’t know Mark.
    Your definition of “wedge issue” seems terribly ex post facto. Anything discussed during a campaign can simply be dismissed as a wedge issue and is solely purposed as a dividing line to solidify bases? That may be true sometimes, but even so is a useless observation. If two individuals have opposing views on an issue, and they communicate those views, they have highlighted their differences. Would you rather they didn’t discuss anything? Perhaps you can distribute your list of “Things Mark Defines as Wedge Issues That Don’t Matter To Mark Despite The Fact That They Deeply Matter To Others”
    The simplest explanation doesn’t require mind manipulation in every move.
    Oh, and a quick google search shows Tester DID discuss roadless lands in his 2006 campaign. You have been wedged.(not wedgied)
    Replace “illuminati” with “deep state” or “oligarchy” or whatever hyper rational, perfectly organized, Omni-powerful collective contingent you think has its fingers into everything, (never actually leaving fingerprints-but you can explain that away everytime), and the point remains.
    Is Montana a “backward resource colony so that it’s senators don’t always get what they want”? According to you, they don’t really want anything other than what they have been told to want,as corruption is a necessary attribute of those given the power by the “deep state”.
    Skeptical people do follow the money. The problem is how far? Until it satisfies your priors? All the way to the consumer? Because in instances where big money opposes one another in terms of long term goals – diametrically- you then defer to the omni-powerful escape clause.
    It’s inconsistent and self-serving.

  • MarkTokarski RobKailey Nameless Range says this much more eloquently than I do, but this should be obvious:  Everytime, Mark, someone applies the simple logic of cause-effect you dismiss it with the unfounded pejorative of “black/white” thinking, without ever establishing a more consistent reasoning than cause and effect.  You are simply hiding from the implications of your own mythology.  That’s ineffective, Mark, just as ineffective  as claiming you don’t hold to an established and willful cadre of controlling oligarchs just because you don’t use the perfectly appropriate term, Illuminati.

    We are in Tester’s 8th year of service in the Senate, and you would have Montanans remain terrified of his corporate masters calling in the marker for his election.  After a lifetime of politicians loudly telling me what I should be afraid of, I’m most certainly not going to switch gears and listen to your campfire story, especially given it’s inconsistency.  First it’s political betrayal from campaign lies … told to hyper sensitive partisans who weren’t really interested in listening to what was actually said, or the opinion of any of their fellows.  Then it was the dread FJRA, which never passed.  And now it is some future trigger applied to Jon Tester the Montana Manchurian which will surely cause me grief and woe.

    You continually tell me this in a period of time where many things I want are improving, and your only conclusion given your bizarre understanding of cause and effect is that I’m not smart enough to understand that what I want is not really what I want, or make decisions about what those things really are.  Black/white thinking is this:  “What I want is right and anything else is wrong”.  That logic describes one of us pretty well, and it certainly isn’t me.  This is why discussions with you are rarely if ever productive in anyway.  You proceed from the assumption that disagreement equates to delusion, mis-comprehension, ignorance or plain stupidity (which is itself a delusion on your part.)  You begin every discussion with black/white thinking, not about issues, but about the person who would engage you.  As indicated, this is why responding to you is of next to no value, save as catharsis for the responder or your own need to be “right” (hence the self-serving part NR mentions.)  You join the oligarchs, just offering a different set of fears that serve you, knowing full well that theirs is better marketed.  That is black/white thinking, a deeply disrespectful to your fellow human beings.

  • I am clear on wedge politics. These are issues that are emotional and so draw voters out and split up natural allies. Importantly, however, the issues do not affect powerful people. Abortion is a perfect example, as that service is available to all with power and always will be. Gun control another, as the power of the state arsenal over the population is unimaginable. Gay marriage? Nobody hurt by it. Please. Immigration? Talk all you want, as nothing changes. Business wants cheap labor. Period. End of action, but the beginning of endless discussion.
    Maybe I should also add that these issues, while being wedges, also substitute for real issues. It is important, if we are going to have fake elections, to have fake issues. Here’s a real issue: Keystone XL. Not being discussed. Why? (Candidates are in agreement, it was decided above their pay grade.)
    You’re right about Tester. he did talk about roadless lands. he promised to protect them. He was lying.
    You’ve taken the concept of “follow the money” to absurd extremes. It is only necessary to go one or two steps with it, perhaps three with Tester’s 2012 rescue. Why do we act as if money is not an issue? Why do we allow Goldman Sachs to be Obama’s top sponsor, and act as if he is not their servant? Private wealth should not be used to finance campaigns. That only happens in oligarchical societies.
    “Deep state” is a term that refers to individual, moles perhaps, in key positions of power in media, business and government, to orchestrate events, prevent responses. Clinton referred to it as the “secret government,” saying it existed and that he did not control it. It’s existence is apparent to any sentient observer in the absence of an investigation of the JFK assassination and the absence of a response to the alleged hijackings on 9/11. A sentient observer would be one who has looked at the evidence.
    “Illuminati” gives a mystical appearance to deep state and secret government, implying superstition, one step away from mental illness. It’s a handy deflection mechanism, that’s all. You’re really asking me to define power, and it is indeed difficult, but I do see it on display, especially In the fear I encounter when ordinary people are afraid to be skeptical about JFK or 9/11. That is omnipresent and oppressive power, controlling your thoughts as you walk. You are in prison and do not know it, and worse yet, have a key to get out and do not use it. Power.
    We are an empire. We are crawling with sycophants. We are indoctrinated from birth in our own exceptionalism. We are taught not to be skeptical critical thinkers, or to be incredulous about official truth. Me are considered smart to the degree we do not use our brains.
    You might rightly ask what I think to be the source of the immense power we see manifested before us. It is there and on display, and present as you reflexively winced when I mentioned JFK and 9/11. That’s a fair question. Andrzej ?obaczewski, who lived though it in Poland and saw it on display in the USSR, calls it “Pathocracy,” or rule by sociopaths. But a necessary precursor to such pathocracy is concentrated wealth, which has exploded in our era of tax cuts. We have been infected with cancer, it has killed our republic, we are not a free country, we do,live in delusion and denial. It appears that the door was opened after WEII with the importation of much of the Third Reich here, to South America, and especially in the merging of SS and OSS and creation of CIA and NSA, unaccountable agencies. From there a cancer spread, scared Ike I to giving his silly beware the Military Industrial Complex, his word for deep,state and secret government. It announced its presence in a big way, just,like Alien popping from a belly, on 11/22/63.
    more answer than you sought, I know. I find your inquiries to be thoughtful and incisive, no slight to others, but your attacks are a little harder to parry than most.

  • MarkTokarski …but the Democrats have a progressive faction, that protects not only the general outline of social security but also it’s specific  benefits.  Republicans?  No such thing.  And when Obama moved to alter just the way the benefits were calculated, he came under attack from Democratic wonks (certainly no ‘movement’, because CPI is far to complex for a movement to understand).  Your point about Social Security is moot.  And you brought up the ACA –  but now you’re stepping back, maybe because you’re realized how incredibly pompous it is to complain about sullying your middle class, iPad- tapping fingers with private insurance when that same program has expanded the Great Society to include millions more low income families?

  • The progressive faction, the caucus, is small and impotent. Chained CPI was news, the base was agitated, he backed off. I’ll leave it to you to explain why the head of your party is attacking the program and you are defending your party for defending the program. You’re humor is subtle, your arguments layered and complex.
    ACA was written by AHIP, by a committee comprised of insurance executives headed by Liz Fowler. It was presented to Baucus as fait accompli. He was told to pass the damned thing. The bill they wrote is the bill that passed. Everything between introduction and passage was a scripted Kabuki Dance.
    Fowler then moved to the White House where she oversaw implementation. Once done there, she went back to her real job, her job all along which she never really left, industry executive.
    In other words, this was an industry bill, and Democrats fronted for them. The question is, why then? Why 2009? And I think the answer obvious, the Saskatchewan threat: if one state passes single payer, the rest fall like dominoes. CA and VT were doing so. They had to be stopped. So your party rescued AHIP while claiming to be helping us. You screwed us over, stopped single layer in its tracks, and now claim you’ve done us a big favor. God what hubris!
    And delusion.
    OK? I also know the details of ACA, the massive subsidy to AHIP that you say you did for us. if you want to talk turkey, write something cogent. After your foray into international affairs, backing a fascist coup d’état in Ukraine and pretending your a freedom guy, I can hardly wait.
    You’re an American, you get your information from American sources, you lack breadth and depth. Nothing wrong with any of that if you simply show a little humility. But a young person who has no clue to the depth of his own ignorance is hard to take. People get annoyed with you.

  • That’s fairly incoherent, hard to follow. It is a simple betrayal: Tester ran for office promising to protect roadless lands. He then attacked them when elected. He was cloaked. He used a few compromised former green groups for political cover. He tried his best, he failed. It was the Burns agenda, he picked up the Burns flag, he dropped it. You seem to take comfort in his failure and ignore his betrayal, and continue to support him. You do not hold him accountable.
    Since he lost his progressive support, and was losing to Rehberg in a referendum euphemistically called a “choice,” he had to be bailed out by trickery, and a million dollars floated in from nowhere and rescued his sorry fat ass. You call that an election victory, imagining 48% and dark money to be validation?
    You sit on easy received wisdom, the vital center of which says that our elections represent informed choices, money has no influence, and candidates are not swayed by the organized power of carefully directed money, and that news and entertainment provide adequate information so that we are well-informed. You seem to imagine that a million dollars from nowhere does not compromise a man. You seem to think the average man on the street has wisdom.
    I was a Tester man in 2006. I was an Obama man in 2008. But I have moved forward by hard work and constant self-examination. I freely admitted in December of 2008 that Obama had conned me. I understood Tester when he attacked Koehler to be uncloaked, and realized that he too had conned me. That’s what politicians do.
    I suggest you step it up now by asking yourself the hard questions I asked myself, and facing reality. Tester turned out to be a Timber Lobby man in disguise. Obama is Bush III. To face these facts is one thing, and a smart man will attempt to put those behaviors in a larger framework. It’s not even hard. All you need do to understand behavior is follow the money. It’s but a short step beyond that that people who work for financiers while,pretending to honor voters are third-rate humans. The system only allows such defective people to succeed.
    Everything else for which I am attacked, ridiculed and dismissed, I defend with vigor and lots of hard, cold evidence. I have that at my disposal. Your Illuminati attack on me is a product of dismissive ignorance, and only tells me that even at this late date, you are yet to confront evidence. That is a product of what I regard as the hypnotic power of our television media, to put you in a trance of sorts within which you have firm and unshakable views of events that are indefensible when given close examination. That is the American condition.
    In other words, either talk turkey or remain quiet. “Illuminati” attacks are cheap weaponry to disguise your inability to confront evidence.

  • The Libertarian Candidate must the only House candidate opposing the pipeline for protection of private property rights. Ryan Zinke supported HB 198 in the 2011 legislature that gave an out of country corporation the right to use condemnation on private property. We should end all subsidies to Energy companies including oil and coal.

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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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