Donald Trump Environment Greg Gianforte Ryan Zinke

Wednesday short takes: Gianforte, Zinke, and Trump v. Hurricane Harvey


A fundraising email today from Rep. Greg Gianforte:

Just weeks after our historic victory in the Montana Congressional Special Election race to succeed now Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, we already have Democrats leveling their 2018 challenges against me.

That’s right, Pete. A Billings attorney is the first Democrat to declare, but certainly will not be the last leftist Democrat lining up to take me on next year. And unlike every other member of Congress running for reelection, we are just coming off a bruising campaign and we must immediately face another race.

First, if May’s special election was a “historic victory,” then his loss last November to Gov. Steve Bullock must be considered a “historic defeat.” That aside, his mention of a Billings attorney (John Heenan) who announced he’ll run against Gianforte in 2018 is interesting. It’s nine months before the primary and there’s bound to be additional candidates filing, perhaps in both parties, but it did give Gianforte the opportunity to use the words “leftist Democrat.”

Here’s some background on Heenan.

In other word usage, “bruising” was an ironic choice. Consider, for instance, that the reporter he bruised, Ben Jacobs of the Guardian, is not pleased that Gianforte hasn’t granted the interview promised during court proceedings in June. “I look forward to sitting down with you,” Gianforte said. From a story by Lee’s Jayme Fraser:

“In refusing to do the promised on-the-record interview with me, Congressman Gianforte continues his pattern of avoiding responsibility for his actions and refusing to live up to the statements made in what I had thought was a sincere apology,” Jacobs wrote in an email to Gianforte Communication Director Travis Hall that he later posted to Twitter. “He has refused to explain why he slandered me, he unsuccessfully tried to avoid pleading guilty to a physical attack against me and he also unsuccessfully fought a legal battle to avoid the mild inconvenience of having a mugshot taken.”

Gianforte’s email continues:

Pete, millions were spent in the first half of 2017 to defeat me, but Nancy Pelosi and liberals from D.C. failed. They are going to do whatever they can this year and next to make sure they don’t fail again.

But with one of the most targeted races in the nation last year, we had to spend our campaign war chest to fight back against the left’s attacks.

There’s that “Nancy Pelosi” dog whistle, again. It appears in every conservative fundraising email I get, and I get about one a day. Some polling of Republicans must have taken place that gave Pelosi an approval rating similar to Karl Marx and Fidel Castro. And I don’t believe that Gianforte’s gubernatorial run last year — although an outrageous amount of money was spent by both candidates — was “one of the most targeted races in the nation.” Anyway, he says he’s short the unusual amount of $5,325 for the upcoming reporting period, and would I please chip in.

Zinke stiffs taxpayers

I must have been off the grid when this story broke three weeks ago, but it’s worth repeating. As fires rage and hurricanes strike, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is keeping it cheap and easy for the fossil fuel industry to continue drilling and mining. He’s scrapping a rule that ensures taxpayers fair royalties on oil, gas and coal development. From U.S. News and World Report:

On Monday (Aug. 7, 2017), Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the full repeal of a rule aimed at preventing companies from undervaluing oil, gas and coal developed on federal lands. The goal of the rule was to provide taxpayers with increased royalty revenues based on prices closer to the fair market value of the resource; the result of repeal will cost taxpayers up to $75 million annually.

As other cabinet members are beginning to question the president’s edicts, Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis for example, Zinke is staying the course and doing the bidding of his boss and the fossil fuel industry, ignoring the concerns of American citizens.

Trump’s shock doctrine

Recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation will be well-worth watching. Will there be a rollback of labor laws, numerous no-bid contracts to corporate friends, an end of safety and environmental regulations? Naomi Klein had a prescient take on this way before the hurricane struck. It’s a roadmap to how Trump/Pence and the Republican Congress might respond. Particularly, keep an eye on Vice President Mike Pence:

(There was a) central, if little-recalled role played by the man who is now the U.S. vice president, Mike Pence. At the time Katrina hit New Orleans, Pence was chairman of the powerful and highly ideological Republican Study Committee. On September 13, 2005 — just 14 days after the levees were breached and with parts of New Orleans still underwater — the RSC convened a fateful meeting at the offices of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Under Pence’s leadership, the group came up with a list of “Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices” — 32 policies in all, each one straight out of the disaster capitalism playbook.

Some other tough questions need to be asked. It’s difficult for climate scientists to pinpoint the effect climate change had on the intensity of Hurricane Harvey but, from the LA Times:

 …it certainly makes such storms stronger, more unpredictable and quicker to intensify. Experts — there’s that word again — say that warmer air temperatures mean more evaporation of moisture from the seas to the skies, and thus more rainfall from storms. Warmer seas — including the Gulf of Mexico — intensify storms, from their size to their wind speeds, and amplify storm surges.

There is also the question of lax zoning regulations in Houston that contributed to the flooding. And finally, Trump’s rollback of flood protections could lead to further property destruction as hurricanes and flooding become more prevalent.

Still, my heart goes out to the hurricane victims along the Texas/Louisiana Coast.



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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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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