Updates: Planned Parenthood, Big Sky Rising, astroturf and trains

I’d like to know how this went

I keep an eye on right-wing Facebook and Twitter accounts, and subscribe to email notifications from the likes of Trump, Daines and Gianforte.

This was in my inbox from Trump/Spence:

Join fellow Trump supporters to Gather for Gorsuch on Thursday, April 6th at 12:00 noon. Once there, you can join others to call on Senator Tester to oppose a filibuster and vote YES for Gorsuch, and voice your support for Gorsuch to the media. State Capitol Building, 1301 E 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601

Tester has said he would support the filibuster and vote “no” on the Gorsuch nomination, and the trigger has already been pulled on the “nuclear option,” so it’s rather a moot point.

But what’s more interesting is the email I got from Planned Parenthood weeks ago:

Join Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana in Helena for a Day of Action on Thursday, April 6th, from 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM!  (Supporters to gather at the Capitol at noon.)

I’ll bet Trump’s pro-Gorsuch folks had no idea Planned Parenthood was holding a rally on the same date, and at the same time and place. Since the PP folks have a much better grassroots network, I’m also betting they outnumbered Gorsuch supporters by a factor of ten. I wish I could have been in Helena to see the expression on the faces of the Trump/Gorsuch folks when there was no room for them in the rotunda. I hope the media covered it.

“Dark money grassroots”

Isn’t that an oxymoron? The quote comes from the Montana GOP website. It refers to Big Sky Rising, a homegrown Montana network of concerned citizens. Here’s the copy from the anti-Quist post the GOP put up about an event hosted by Big Sky Rising and Flathead Valley Democrats:

Big Sky Rising, a liberal dark money grassroots organization, is hosting a “very adult” cabaret fundraiser event for Democratic Congressional Candidate, Rob Quist. Again, is this who we want to represent us, Montana? http://bit.ly/2mMggnC

The link in the above quote is to an astroturf site railing against the “very adult” fundraising event. I wish I could attend — looks like fun.

Having been to a couple of Big Sky Rising meetings, I can assure you that it’s about as far from a dark money organization as you can get. At least this GOP post provided some humor for members of Big Sky Rising. A few comments from that site:

I’m thinking dark money is spare change in the bottom of purses and pockets.

Ha,ha,ha,ha! Hey Big Sky Risers, we have money?

Wow, what color is the sky on their planet?

Ha-ha, nice to know I belong to a “dark money” group. I must be a millionaire and not know it, right?

Speaking of astroturf

I stumbled across this site the other day, Montana Political Review, which is anything but a political review. It started last month and has seven posts, six of them targeting Quist. The ‘about’ tab says, “News and Commentary aimed at breaking the Helena bubble.” That’s it — no author bios or any other background.

It isn’t difficult to figure out who’s behind it.

Planes, trains and …

The Trump budget is going after Essential Air Service. It’s been reported before, here. Apparently, rural rail service could also get the axe. Montana towns like Shelby, Cut Bank, Whitefish and Wolf Point; and Glacier National Park are on the chopping block, according to the National Association of Rail Passengers.

The White House budget would lead to a nightmare scenario for people who depend on passenger rail, transit, commuter rail, and even regional air service in the United States, from Wall Street to Main Street. The proposal cuts $2.4 billion from transportation, a 13 percent reduction of last year’s funding, and includes (the) elimination of all federal funding for Amtrak’s national network trains, which provides the only national network service to 23 states, and the only nearby Amtrak service for 144.6 million Americans.

The plan threatens the Empire Builder that serves Montana’s northern tier towns and is the state’s only passenger train service.

“It’s ironic that President Trump’s first budget proposal undermines the very communities whose economic hardship and sense of isolation from the rest of the country helped propel him into office,” said NARP President Jim Mathews. “These working class communities were tired of being treated like ‘flyover country.’ But by proposing the elimination of Amtrak’s long distance trains, the Trump Administration does them one worse, cutting a vital service that connects these small town economies to the rest of the U.S. These hard working, small town Americans don’t have airports or Uber to turn to; they depend on these trains.”

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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About the author

Pete Talbot

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


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  • Speaking of trains….You’d think more attention would be paid to this issue in Montana. Do Tester, Bullock and/or Quist have a position on these fracking, oil and gas ‘bomb’ trains?


    Inspectors find 24,000 defects in oil train tracks nationwide

    “Government inspections of railroads that haul volatile crude oil across the United States have uncovered almost 24,000 safety defects, including problems similar to those blamed in derailments that triggered massive fires or oil spills in Oregon, Virginia, Montana and elsewhere, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.”

  • Gravis Marketing just released the first official poll on the Congressional race:

    Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, conducted a random survey of 1,222 individuals across Montana. The poll has a margin of error of ±2.9%. The total may not round to 100% because of rounding. The poll was conducted using interactive voice responses and internet responses of cell phone users, with the results weighted by demographic characteristics.

    6) If the special election for Congress were held today and the candidates were Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist, Libertarian Mark Wicks, and Green Thomas Breck, who would you vote for?

    Gianforte 50%
    Quist 38%
    Wicks 3%
    Breck 2%
    Uncertain 7%


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