Montana Politics

Fools rush in…

By now, everyone has heard that the Senate Republicans’ “repeal and replace” is dead, or at least in hospice care.

Let’s take a ride in the Daines-Zinke pimpmobile to see how they handled the situation.

Daines offered up an amendment to the health-care bill advancing single-payer. He hates single-payer but ahead of the 2018 elections, particularly Montana’s, he wanted to flush out “socialists” who might support the idea. Playing politics instead of representing Montanans seems to be Daines’ strong suit. Pogreba has the replay here. Also, here’s a great exchange between Daines and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Game, set, match: Bernie.

But unfortunately, Sen. Jon Tester wasn’t on the same page as most Democrats in the Senate and voted ‘no’ along with three other Democrats, an Independent and all the Republicans. The 43 other Dems voted ‘present’. Here’s the Flathead Memo’s take.

For the final “skinny repeal” vote held Thursday, trained SEAL and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke phoned Alaska’s senators and threatened to halt projects in the Last Frontier if they didn’t vote ‘yes’. What role the Department of the Interior has in the health care debate is a reasonable question. It was a bumbling move, as the Washington Post points out:

This demonstrated the degree to which Zinke’s ham-handed phone call was political malpractice. The secretary, or whoever at the White House ordered him to make the calls, clearly doesn’t understand the awesome power that comes with being the chairman of a Senate committee. Only an amateur would threaten the person who has oversight over his agency! If she wants, Murkowski can make Zinke’s life so unbelievably miserable. He has no idea. (The Interior Department did not respond to requests for comment.)

One might wonder where Daines and Zinke fall in the following quote:

“Some would say a whore don’t have no expectation of Heaven. I’d say, if she gives value for cash, she’s got a better shot at God’s blessing than your average banker. Jesus loved Mary Magdalene. He kicked over tables when He met a moneylender.” Elizabeth Bear in Karen Memory

Montanans should be embarrassed that we’ve allowed Daines and Zinke to advance this far in politics.

UPDATE: I was taken to task for my “whore” reference, and rightfully so, but let me explain. My apologies to female and male prostitutes everywhere. I meant no “slut shaming.” Those folks ended up in the trade because of abuse. addiction and other demeaning factors. There’s no excuse for the path Daines and Zinke have taken, and I thought the quote from a noted, award-winning female author summed it up. Replace “banker” with Daines or Zinke, and you get my gist, I hope.

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  • Zinke is a snake! He accomplished nothing while representing us in the House. Daines can now be considered Pro Choice as he doesn’t support live children so he must not want them born.

  • There is Daines, Zinke however, you missed one. We should be embarrassed of Greg Gianforte as well.

      • Maybe that’ll make a good campaign ad in 2018. Strandberg got 18% of the vote. I’m sure a lot of Montana voters will care. Maybe it’ll help turn the state blue, a campaign message like that.

        I notice when I make a comment on this site, the response is usually to point out my poor election results, or that I sell books. I’ve got no problem with that, but I’m not sure how that’s going to help candidates win in 2018 or 2020 or 2022 or 2024. I’m not sure how it’ll take the legislature in 2019 or 2021 or 2023.

        For a Party that sure seems to get the label of soul searching and message changing, you guys don’t really take a lot of opposing views into play. Democrats aren’t losing at the statewide level because of anything I say or do. They’re losing because their message sucks.

        Surely there are some issues that Hi-Line and eastern Montana voters will care about when Dems are pushing them. How about the near-zero cost of living increases for Social Security, our constant wars and the money they cost, as well as the crummy economy that forces so many young people to move away.

        I’m sure there are other issues that will resonate. I do know that the issues the Dems push now aren’t resonating. That’s clear from the fact that they haven’t had the legislature since 1991, they don’t have a single seat on the PSC, and they have just one statewide office and just one of three national offices.

        That’s pretty crummy, if you ask me. I’d like to see that change. I hope we can see and hear some ideas on how that might happen.

        • Greg,

          The reason I respond so dismissively to you is that your commentary is so often petty and unmoored to reality. Your fixation on the total reasonable salaries paid to people who work their asses off at the MDP is a good example. Should the party be run by volunteers who wander in once in awhile? I have zero complaints with the pay received by the people who work at the party and your focus on that seems driven by some weird, petty animosity.

          And, often as you rail against the lack of vision from the party, you don’t have any answers other than muttering about identity politics. The truth is that the identity of the MDP is that of a party that cares about the disadvantaged in society. If the party, as you occasionally seem to advise, threw off its support for the LGBTQ community, they’d lose not only votes but their moral core.

          Oh, and you post obscenely anti-Semitic and misogynistic crap.

          That’s why I find your comments less than enlightening and, I suspect, why your neighbors weren’t interested in voting for you.

          • Who, pray tell, are the gays going to vote for if the Dems ‘stop caring about them’? The GOP? I doubt it. They’ll vote D no matter what. And what is that…about 6% of the electorate?

            It doesn’t really matter what I say or do. Dems will continue the same losing strategy in 2018, 2019, and 2020 that they’ve employed for years. And, honestly, it really has no effect on me. What Democrats do has very little effect on most people in this state. I’d say the biggest determiner on your quality of life is if you choose to work or not. That has a much bigger bearing on my life than anything that’s happened since the election.

            Really, I can’t think of anything that’s change in my life since Nov. 2016, and well before. Politics, no matter how much we like to think it does, really doesn’t create many changes in our lives.

            What has changed in your life since Trump was elected, or Dems got routed in Montana 9 months ago?

            Probably not much.

            • So what do you do for health care, Greg? If the “repeal and replace” or even the “skinny repeal” goes through, at least 16 million Americans will lose their insurance. I know that I’ll lose the subsidy I get that makes my health care reasonably affordable. So, putting aside your myopic view of the world, yes, things can change dramatically under Trump and the Republicans. Health care is just one example.

              • You go with Single Payer, an idea Wall Street Democrat Jon Tester – like most of his Party – has abandoned.

                Bernie did the math on Single Payer a short time ago, and his 6.7% payroll tax and 2.2% income tax would still have left us $600 billion short. We spend $1.3 trillion on healthcare each year, you see, so where do we get that extra money?

                Well, we know the Pentagon had a budget of $598 billion in 2015, so we can get some there. Increasing my taxes by $20 every two weeks would also help. Since 227 million Americans are working, that comes out to $108 billion a year.

                As you can see, when you begin to break out the calculators and comb through the budgets, you can find the money. I sincerely wish you’d do this on this site more.

                Currently we know that 60% of Americans want government to be responsible for healthcare, and 33% want Single Payer. That comes to us from Pew Research.


                Those numbers are up since the election.

                Mostly, though, we know that the bought-and-paid for congressmen like Tester, Daines, and Gianforte will never support this. They’re paid not to (campaign contributions…which are nothing more than legal bribes).

                But you ignore this, just focusing on the R’s and not Tester. I mean, the guy voted against cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. Then he gets $5,000 from Pfizer via his Treasure State PAC, laundered through Montanans for Tester PAC.

                But really…why am I wasting my time?

                I figure the only thing this site will want to talk about for the next few days or weeks is Matt Rosendale, and his quest for Tester’s seat.

                And of course by making that remark at the end of this long comment, you’ll ignore everything else in the comment.

                It’s better for you that way, better for your set-in-your-ways viewpoints.

                I’ll wish you and the Dems good luck. I really do think you need it.

            • Do you think things might have changed in Montana if Greg Gianforte had been elected governor? It would have.

              That Donald Trump is too incompetent to pass much of his agenda is hardly an argument against resisting Republicans.

              And, fun fact: not everyone measures policy only in terms of how they are personally affected. Maybe that works for the author of Black Walnut, but most of us, I’d like to believe, are concerned about others.

                • “This is tiresome.”

                  Ah, and the debate teacher in you comes out once again. I hope your students decide to enter politics. I can’t imagine how they’ll be able to win an argument or sway people’s minds when they throw up their hands and walk away, complaining about how their opponents’ words are ‘tiresome.’ Very sad.

                • You’re right. My students could never defeat an anti-Semitic, sexist troll whose entire repertoire of argumentation is a series of vapid absolutist observations. They’d be trembling in fear.

                • If they’re being taught by you, they probably aren’t trembling in fear, they just have a sense of false confidence. Many times when people comment here, and in a nice way but in a way that offers a differing opinion, one of your first reactions is to attack that person. It’s not just with me; I see you do it a lot. Pete will actually discuss the issues a bit, but you seem hell-bent on attacking all the time.

                  I just don’t think these character attacks are what people want, but that seems to be the only thing in the Dem playbook. We see it on Cowgirl and Logicosity with what James Conner pointed out the other day, another attack on Stapleton’s height. We saw it in the election with the early idea that attacking Trump’s hair would somehow work. I remember when anonymous MT Dems were mocking my mustache with its own fake account.

                  I just don’t think people care about that. Many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, have no hope at retirement, have no benefits, and our health insurance is lousy. No matter how hard we work, we can’t seem to get ahead.

                  Bernie had that message, and people loved it. They don’t much care for continuous attacks on people that are serious about discussing the issues, any issues anytime.

                • You raise a fair point. I often ask myself how I can behave better. I don’t, however, find myself compelled to learn from someone who posts Anti-Semitic screeds or who calls women the c-word.

                  I feel absolutely no reason to treat you with respect. Your behavior, your tone, and your content are all objectionable. Quit lecturing other people about how to improve society and do something yourself to make it better.

    • Actually the real embarrassment is the continued Rebublican bashing by this site before and after the election with literally no effect on the MT voter.

  • Here’s a guy that doesn’t write books and didn’t get 18% of the vote.

    How can we bash him and his ideas? I mean…he’s speaking out against Democrats. Clearly he must be a bad guy. Let’s attack him.

    “It’s certainly not news that the Democrats seem far more intent on bashing Trump than actually getting anything done for the nation. Bashing Republicans has been their modus operandi for many years, culminating in the losing candidacy of Hillary Clinton last November. But here’s the real tragedy — even though Trump has the lowest approval of any recent president at this point in his term, Hillary Clinton has even lower approval ratings.”

    • You, sir, are not George Ochenski. I’ve seen your rants in City Council chambers and at you site. Really constructive stuff. Ochenski hasn’t called anyone “fat, drunk and stupid” in his column. And he has some valid points about Democratic leadership. I’ve seldom seen or heard reasonable suggestions from you.

      • I’m impressed that Mayor Engen is looking so good. It’s amazing what happens when you stop drinking each day at noon (work days included) and decide to clean up your live.

        That still doesn’t excuse the 12 years of fat, drunk and stupid we got from the idiot. Missoulians recognize what this looks like – 95% tax increases over 12 years, a city that’s $250 million in debt, and an economy that mostly adds service industry jobs.

        Then local Dems like Sue Malek blame Trump for our terrible local economy, when the Missoula Current runs a story showing us job numbers from 2011-2016…all of which happened during Obama’s tenure.

        But he was a Democrat, so we don’t put blame there.

        Guys, keep up the good work here on the site. I love reading your ‘rants.’

        • First, Greg, many of the increases in Missoula property taxes were due to bonds placed on the municipal ballot. The majority of Missoulians voted for those bonds. You can hardly blame the mayor for that.

          And a super majority of Missoulians have voted for the “fat, drunk and stupid” mayor in the last two elections, but you’re savvier than all of them, right?

          Finally, can you give me a link on the 95% increase in taxes over the past 12 years? I can’t seem to find that stat anywhere.

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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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