My Kryptonite

Reading through the various blog entries here in Montana and elsewhere, I am once again struck by what I can only characterize as willful stupidity. It simply amazes me that in the so called “information age”, that people would choose to be so ignorant. It really doesn’t matter what the subject matter is - Education, Health Care, Patriotism, Our Representatives… it all attracts those that seem to be bound and determined to be willfully, adamently, forcefully, and undeniably stupid.

Under normal circumstances, I really try to ignore these people. I have structured my life – in part – so that I don’t have to deal with most of these people. You see, these people are like my Kryptonite.

I don’t mean that these people will kill me or take away my superpowers (though one could argue that enough stupid people in large groups will be the downfall of us all). It is just that I can’t simply ignore them. It is like that sore tooth that your toungue keep worrying at when your attention wanes.

I know better.. I really do. Trying to argue with these people is a lesson in futility. They can’t be convinced that what they are saying is stupid and they certainly won’t see reason even if you grab them by the back of the head and submerge their head in reasonable argument until they drown. Moreover, they breed. First there is one stupid person, then another, and then you find yourself drowning in stupid people.

Now I honestly believe that the majority of the American Population isn’t stupid (or at least tries not to be). Sadly, these really stupid people seem to lower the IQ of those that aren’t stupid, though. Case in point. I got into a discussion with an old friend that I KNOW isn’t stupid. This young man has accomplished a lot for someone his age. He reasons well, he is capable of thinking for himself and he is a genuinely good person. Sadly, he has chosen to listen to the wrong people.

What we were discussing is moot. The fact is, though, that shortly after starting this reasonable and intellegent discussion, the stupids came out in force. Not just people who disagreed with me or him… I am talking the willfully stupid, ignorant type of people that blather incomprehensable arguments based on what they gleaned from Glenn Beck and Faux News. It was like a plague of stupid.

Any chance for reasonable discussion disappeared. The conversation rapidly devolved into this real idiot making completely unsupportable claims and insulting anyone that would care to point out his stupidity. In short, the conversation was over for all intents and purposes. This is where the “kryptonite” comes in.

I couldn’t let it go. It was like there was the internal directive that compelled me to attempt to educate this moron. Yes, yes, I know.. that isn’t possible, but it was like the knowledge that it wasn’t possible got shoved aside by the desire to reach through my screen and strangle the living shit out of this idiot. I was taken over by my baser instincts and wanted to crush this oozing pestule of slime. I quoted facts, statistics, even news stories from his own beloved Faux News – to no avail. Then it dawned on me (as it should have from the very beginning) – Nothing I say will change this idiot.

I honestly believe you can fix just about anything… except willful stupidity. There is no cure for that. It is a terminal disease. I need to keep telling myself that you can’t fix stupid and ignore these people. I need some lead shielding to protect me from my Kryptonite.

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Jumping off the Cliff

In the last couple of weeks, I have been using a phrase on Facebook that many people wanted me to clarify. The simple fact that people are unaware of the financial cliff we are facing is more concerning to me than having to explain it.

To make a long story short, unless major things happen in Congress between now and December 31st of this year, we will be faced with a financial crash that will make the recession of 2008 look like a picnic. In fact, many economists are predicting an outright depression if something isn’t done soon.

To preface this explanation, I suggest you read this. I will wait…. It isn’t a complete explanation of all the processes that will result in a major financial meltdown, but it covers the main points (except one which I will get to later).

For those that didn’t read that link, (Shame on you…), let me break it down as concisely as I can – something very difficult for me.

The Six Kisses of Death -

1) The Bush Tax cuts and several temporary tax breaks expire.
On Dec 31, 2012, the Bush era Tax Cuts will expire. In the long run, this is actually a good thing. The Bush Tax Cuts gutted our government’s revenue and is the single largest contributing factor to the current debt crisis we have now. Understand, I am not blaming President Bush the Second, though I think he was the worst President this country has ever had. No, the problem was Congress. They passed that abortion, effectively setting our country up for bankruptcy. The President cannot initiate Tax Cuts. Those have to be done in Congress. Failure to let those tax cuts to expire will increase our national debt by over 5 TRILLION dollars over the next 7 years. On the other hand, letting them expire will increase the tax burden on everyone and those that are NOT in the top 5% of the nation financially, cannot handle that burden at this point because the average American Citizen has LOST over 40% of their net worth since 2007.

2) The Debt Ceiling fight.
Once again, John Boner (House Speaker) has promised a tough fight if the Republican demands are not met. This is no different than the last time Congress fought over the Debt Ceiling – a fight which cost American investors over $6 Trillion dollars in investments and resulted in the first time ever US credit downgrade.  This is shear insanity. If a tough fight ensues, the American Economy will tank – AGAIN – and it is completely avoidable if only these stuffed suits in Congress would work together instead of working against each other. Personally, I think Boner should be hung on the Capital Building Steps as a Traitor to his country, along with every other stuffed suit in Congress that thinks our economic well-being is a bargaining chip for political gain.

3) Mandatory Spending Cuts.
One of the ways that Congress has operated in the last year is that our economic welfare has been held hostage to partisan posturing. One of the results of those partisan battles was agreements to MASSIVE spending cuts – usually targeting policies and agencies that benefit the middle and lower classes – while leaving the policies and agencies that benefit corporations and the wealthy alone. When these were passed, almost every major economist in the US said that these cuts – as written – would not only impede the recovery from the recession of 2008, they were likely to cause a “double dip” recession. The agreements were still made and the first large cut goes into effect January 1, 2013 to the tune of over $1 Trillion dollars. This will entail large scale cuts in services and public employees, making an already overburdened unemployment rate even worse and reducing the level at which the government is in a position to help those unemployed people. A recession is the least of our worries and this is likely to result in a full scale Depression.

4) The Social Security Holiday and the extended Unemployment benefits expire.
One of the moves Congress made in an attempt to stem the harshest part of the recession was to pass a Social Security Holiday – reducing the amount of money taken out of a wage earner’s paycheck for Social Security. Congress also – grudgingly – passed a number of measures to extend unemployment benefits for those trying to get back to work but were unable to find a job in a rapidly shrinking job market. Both of those measure will expire December 31st, decreasing the take home pay of those actually working and removing the lifeline to those that have not been able to find a job. Once again, this will hit middle to low income people the hardest and since they are ones already hurting, a recession is inevitable.

5) No working Budget.
This is the issue that was NOT brought up in the CNN article (though why they left it out is beyond me given the situation). As of this post, no full budget has been passed in over 2 years. Instead, continuing resolutions have been passed, giving the Government temporary authority to spend money with certain restrictions. If I read the last one passed correctly, the current temporary budget is set to expire this year. Each time this has been done, there was always a lengthy battle in Congress, followed by a last minute agreement – usually involving spending cuts that effect the lower and middle classes while holding the upper class and defense budget “holy”. There is no reason to believe that this won’t happen again this year – at the very least until after the elections on Nov 6th.

6) The Average Person is 40% poorer than they were in 2007.
You read that right… the average net worth of the American Citizen is now 40% less than it was in 2007. In fact, the average wage has DROPPED since 2007, so people are actually making less now than they were before the recession. These are hard numbers. Given this simple fact, any one of the 5 situations above could result in a “double dip” recession. If all five occur at once, a recession will be the least of our worries. Our economy will, quite literally, go over a cliff with no foreseeable bottom.

Conclusion -

Given that no substantive move is likely to occur on ANY of these issues until after the election in November, it is reasonable to assume that one or more of these economy damaging events will occur. In fact, given the track record of the current Congress, it is likely that they all will occur at the same time and the result of any compromise – if a compromise is reached at all – is going to be a measure punting the issue down the road to the new Congress after the first of the year. At the very least, we are likely to see another downgrade in our credit rating, a partisan fueled bloodletting that accomplishes nothing in Congress, a probable volatile Stock market (and likely, a stock market crash) and a further erosion of the wages and net worth of anyone making less than $1 million dollars. Further, we are likely to see an even larger decline in public employment at both the Federal level and at the State level – adding to an already taxed unemployment problem.

Given the likely outcome of this situation, I have no idea why anyone would want to be President of the United States. I certainly would not want to be known as the man at the wheel when the American Economy crashed.

Does this all sound gloomy? Of course it does. It is also as real as it gets. The Fed is out of tools to stop another recession from happening. Congress seems incapable or unwilling to do what it needs to do to fix the problem and people are too focused on the upcoming to elections to realise the trouble we are heading for at light speed. There is little good to be seen here even for an optimist like me.

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Malesich at it again

In a previous post, I described a situation where a former City Councilman approached me about reporting on the actions of the Dillon City Government. At the time I was understandably confused given the history of my blog reporting on the City Council, but things have come to my attention that begin to explain why I was approached.

First, when we received our monthly mortgage bill around the first of the year, we were understandably concerned about an almost $50.00 increase in our monthly payment.
For months we have been trying to figure out why our mortgage payments increased by that amount (totalling nearly $600 a year). We checked to make sure our mortgage insurance didn’t go up (it had but not by $50.00 a month), we checked to make sure our property value didn’t go up (property values have slightly decreased in the Dillon area) and then we started looking into our actual annual taxes. That is where we found where the majority of the increase came from. Unfortunately, getting information about your taxes – where they come from, where they are going and who is levying them – is like pulling teeth.

Then, today I happened to pick up the front section of the weekly Dillon Tribune to read on the porch while I smoked my morning cigarette. Lo and behold, things became crystal clear…

History -

About four years ago, Dillon Mayor Marty Malesich tried to pull an end run and pass an SID to repair Glendale Street near Downtown Dillon. This street was badly constructed in the first place – it was paved on concrete and annually develops massive potholes, it is graded incorrectly so runoff doesn’t work the way it is suppose to, and it has been a problem for years. Unfortunately, this street is lightly populated with a combination of businesses, churches, a school and a few private property owners. An SID (Special Improvement District) would have dropped the $800,000 cost of the street repair on those few residents, businesses and schools. Needless to say, the people occupying that street flatly protested the project and, under the law, were more than able to halt the idea of an SID.

It was proposed that the City Council put a vote to the people of Dillon to raise a bond for the project but this idea was flatly refused by Malesich. It had to his way, or it wasn’t going to happen. Sadly, he found another way around the problem that denied the citizens of Dillon a voice in the decision.

Last year, during the budget process, Malesich proposed a massive hike in the Street Maintenance Tax – from 80 cents a linear foot to $1.60 a linear foot. This tax is levied on all property owners in Dillon and it is specifically for doing annual street maintenance and snow removal. There are specific rules to the usage of these funds as well.

The Situation Now -

Imagine my surprise when I open up the paper to see a front page story about Malesich declaring that the Glendale Street Project is a go and will begin work shortly. Huh?!?!?!

It appears that this $800,000+ project is going to be funded from the Street Maintenance Fund. With the added $238.000 generated by the increased Street Maintenance Tax this year, the Street Maintenance Fund now sits at $870,000. Further, when the Glendale project is completed, Malesich is going to work a block of Walnut Street (something not included in the original project).

House Purchase -

In addition to the Street Repair that is taking place on Malesich’s say so, it appears that the City of Dillon has also purchased a home on Thompson Avenue. This was done so that the City of Dillon can extend Walnut street all the way to Thompson Avenue. JS Turner, the City Director of Operations claims this project (not including the purchase of the home) will cost approximately $80,000. The article does not indicate where the funds for the purchase of the property came from or where the funds for the street extension will come from though the context is that it came from the Street Maintenance Fund.

The Kicker -

You knew there had to be a kicker if I am writing about, right? Well, of course there is…..

All this was done without City Council approval. Yep, if the author of the story in the Dillon Tribune got it right, all of this was done on Malesich’s say-so, not the duly elected representatives of the City of Dillon.

Here is where things go south rapidly. According to the City Charter, the City of Dillon cannot enter into a contract without the expressed approval of the City Council. Therefore, the purchase of the property, any contract for street replacement or repair, any contract for engineering services etc could NOT be legally made without City Council approval.  The Mayor’s response – The City Council approved the projects by approving the budget. This is utter and complete horseshit. There is no other word that fits.

The REAL kicker -

This story actually has an even deeper kicker to it. The City Council of Dillon is in a VERY tricky situation. If they pursue the idea that Malesich did these things without City Council approval, they implicitly admit that Former Mayor George Warner and Former City Councilman Martin Breneche were correct in their denial of having a remote water meter installed on their property. They both contended that the water meter project was never explicitly approved by the Dillon City Council (a contention that they have backed up with evidence) and the City’s reply was that the water meter project was “approved” because the City Council budgeted for it. On the other hand, if the City Council allows Malesich to bypass them in seeming violation with the City Charter, then Malesich has effectively minimized the duly elected City Council – the representatives of the citizens of Dillon. This is a lose/lose situation and sadly, the ones that will REALLY lose are the tax payers of Dillon as they shell out tax money for Malesich’s pet projects.

Update -

In discussing this situation with another City resident, he asked the question “Well don’t you think Glendale Street should be fixed?”. This is a valid question and one that should be answered.

As I stated up above, Glendale Street is a mess. Of course I think it should be fixed. I was one of the people supporting a bond issue to address the problem. These are my reasons -

1) Barring an SID (that would have put the cost on a relatively small group of businesses, Churches and residents), the bond issue is the right way to fund a repair of this nature. This isn’t simple annual maintenance (what the Street Maintenance Fund was designed for) and as a major City center street, it should be something that the entire city population funds. A bond issue is the most responsible way to address it. People would hedge and complain about it, but in the end they would step up and approve it just like the bond issue to fund the Police Retirement Fund.

2) By allowing Malesich to bypass the rules, we are yet again allowing him and his administration to break the rules without consequences. The only reason he continues to do this is because no one has been able to prevent him from doing it (or more accurately, the people that should be doing it are refusing to do so). Malesich and his pet hit attorney will continue to get away with anything they want to do until someone stops him. When he had me arrested, not one… NOT ONE… City official stepped up to denounce his actions.
Why should he stop acting like King Malesich the First? Until the duly elected city officials grow a set of balls and step up to the plate, King Malesich will continue to do pretty much whatever the hell he wants to do – on the taxpayer dime.

Posted in Local, Politics | 2 Comments

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Store

Brittany and I had to go to the local Supermarket to pick up some stuff I needed for work around the house. We had no sooner gotten out of our van before an Ex Dillon City Councilman floored me by saying “We really need to you to start blogging and recording City Council Meetings again”.

Hey… What?!?!?!?!?!?

To say I was floored would be an understatement. I really had no idea how to reply to that statement – or the person making it. Let’s see if I can explain -

History -

When we first moved back to Montana in 2005, I quickly reconnected with my Brother, Wulfgar. We were pretty much inseparable while we were growing up and our relationship had become very estranged during the time I was in the service and the two decades after that while I lived on the coast. I can’t speak for him, but I always looked up to my younger brother and it hurt a lot that we had grown so far apart. It was amazing how much we have in common and we were able to bury the hard feelings enough to become best friends again.

I was really impressed with Wulfgar’s life here in Montana and even more so with his success at political blogging. He was a huge influence in me starting to blog. I took a little different tact with blogging than he did, though. I focused primarily on local politics. Goddess knows, there was plenty enough shenanigans here in Dillon to provide me with TONS of articles. Our local Mayor and his pet hit attorney are pieces of work….

My blog was called “Pragmatic Revolt” and it rapidly became the bane of the local City Council and Mayor Malesich. By the beginning of 2006, I was attending all the city council meetings (and recording them) and much of their monkey business found it’s way to the pages of my blog – often with video attached. I was threatened repeatedly by the Mayor and his hit attorney, Wilber Gilbert III (mustn’t forget the III). They both made it abundantly clear how much they hated my presence at meetings and multiple efforts were made to silence me. Eventually, my ISP dropped me without warning and all I could get from them was “an attorney contacted them and threatened to sue”. I wonder who that was?

Things went from bad to worse when my wife decided to run for City Council. The person she was running against was one of the Mayor’s “boys” – constantly supporting the less than above board crap the mayor was doing. That, coupled with the two attempts to recall the mayor I was involved in, must have tipped the scales. Mayor Malesich had me investigated (he claims that the Mayor is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the city and he has the right). When he found out I had a suspended licence, he and the City Councilman my wife was running against worked together to have me arrested. This made the news locally and was even reported on by the Butte newspaper.

Interestingly enough, not a single city councilman spoke out against this blatant abuse of authority by the mayor – including the very same City Councilman that said I should be recording and blogging about the misdeeds being done right now. Not one. After the election that year where Malesich was able to win re-election with less than a majority because two people ran against him, thus splitting the votes, I was done blogging about the City’s dirty laundry.

What makes this situation even more ironic is that the man who approached me about blogging the current fiasco claimed that one of the major ways Malesich was bypassing the public of Dillon was that he was arranging special council meetings during the work day to decide important issues so that the public couldn’t comment. This is ironic because when I was blogging about the antics of the city council, one of my primary complaints with the specific councilman in question was that he was scheduling meetings during the work day.

I won’t go back to blogging about local politics except in a general way. I won’t go back to spending 40 hours a week researching issues, attending meetings, recording video, composing posts, and generally working my butt off for a public that simply doesn’t give a crap about how they are being screwed over by the Mayor and his pet attorney. Moreover, if no one will speak out about his abuse of power in having a critic ARRESTED, I won’t put my butt on the line again for these people. They can deal with this crap. I will exercise my right to vote against him and leave it at that.

Posted in Local, Politics | 4 Comments

The Buffett Rule fails – or did it?

As reported on CNN, the Republicans in the Senate were able to force a 60 vote rule on the vote for the  Paying a Fair Share Act,” (The so-called Buffett Rule), and because the Democrats were unable to muster the necessary 60 votes, the actual vote on the new law won’t be taken. Republicans, both Nationally and Statewide are celebrating. They are, therefore Idiots.

I realise that this is a small part of American Government that seems to get forgotten during elections like this, but those stupid, sad sacks of crap have one job – and one job only – to REPRESENT THE PEOPLE THEY ARE ELECTED TO REPRESENT.

If you are a politician or even thinking about being a politician or even thinking about voting for a politician, read that damn line a second time. Now read it a third time. By now, you should have it memorized.

Fact is, the majority of the electorate (that means voters for those who didn’t pass US government) WANTED the Buffett rule. Munch on that simple fact for a second. THE VOTERS WANTED THE BUFFETT RULE TO PASS. Every single one of those stuffed suits that voted against the Buffett Rule broke their promise to “faithfully represent the good people of (Insert State Name Here)”. Every Representative in the US House that advocated voting against the Buffett rule was breaking their commitment to doing their damn job.

The idiots that voted against this legislation are probably doing a happy dance right now and celebrating their “Victory against the damn socialist Democrats”. Sadly for them, they now have to face the 72% of the voters that wanted that damn bill to pass. Might be a bit uncomfortable for them come next November.

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Thoughts on the Jefferson Dinner

I want to get this down while it is still relatively fresh in my head. These are my impressions of the Candidates I met at the Jefferson-Jackson Democratic Dinner here in Dillon.

I want to preface this by saying that I am not going to make any sweeping endorsements (with one notable exception). My purpose in going to this dinner was to meet these candidates and form my initial impressions of them – before I start researching their record, their campaign or their issue stances. I have spent a lot of time focusing on the Presidential election but now it is time to start focusing on the elections closer to home.

My overall impression of the evening was that the Beaverhead Democrats did a wonderful job arranging the get-together. It was well attended (for Dillon) and the overall evening was noticeably friendly and upbeat – even between rival candidates. Some of the candidates made small, hidden digs at their opponents, but these were VERY understated and there was also a lot of respect expressed for their opponents. I was happy to have attended tonight and I actually look forward to getting a better look at most of these candidates.

All that said – here is my take on the evening…

The get-together before the dinner was informal and I was able to speak personally with all but two of the candidates. I was able to speak to the other two after the presentations, so I actually got to speak personally with all the candidates by the end of the evening. This is important because it is one thing to read about a candidate’s resume or issue position, it is quite another to shake their hand, look them in the eye and ask them a question. I did a lot of that – asking questions – and I got some surprising answers.

The Dinner was excellent. I had the Chicken Breast and it was tender and tasty. According to my wife, the prime rib was equally excellent. The service was great and I have no complaints. We were also lucky enough to get a seat at the same table as Monica Lindeen and her husband. They are both wonderful people.

The first speaker was the Democratic State Party Chairman, Jim Elliot. I make no bones about it, I did NOT like his predecessor McDonnald – not one bit. He came across as a used car salesman and that is the quickest way to turn me off in politics there is. Jim Elliot is just the opposite. He seems personable, reasonable, and approachable. Moreover, when you talk to him, he is REALLY talking to you, not as a potential voter, but as a Human Being. In short, I liked him. He also has a natural humor that came out pretty strong tonight.

The Keynote speaker was Senior Senator, Max Baucus. This is a tough one for me. Max was the very first Montana Representative I voted for when I reached voting age. I used to love to hear the idealistic and passionate younger Max talk. He did things, he kicked butt and he took names. I continued to vote for Max for many years.

The Max Baucus I saw tonight was somewhat of a disappointment. He seems disorganized and made a lot of sweeping statements I know to be factually incorrect. I also had a problem with him taking credit for the incredible things Jon Tester has done for Veterans. Yes, he waxed eloquent about Jon and his dedication to veterans and voters in Montana, but he also took joint credit for them.

Part of the reason I wanted to hear Max talk was I wanted to know if he was here tonight to drum up support for the Democratic Candidates running or if he was actually here to campaign for himself. Sadly, the answer was both. He actually spent more time tonight talking about himself and his own accomplishments than he spent convincing us to support the candidates who were actively running for an office.

Next, a letter from Jon Tester was read, and while it was a nice letter (and I do understand that Sen Tester has other commitments), it would have been nice to see him and hear him speak for himself. I don’t think even he realises just how much support he has in the area due to his unfailing fight for the rights of Veterans. I really hope that Sen Tester makes it to Dillon at some point.

General John Walsh spoke next. It is obvious how much support he has in Dillon based on his support of the Montana Youth Challenge Program. You can also tell he is – at his core – a military man by the way he speaks. I was pretty impressed by him and I think that his selection by Bullock was genius. Steve Bullock is an intelligent man with an impressive record of standing up for the rights of Montanans but – so far – he has the appeal of watching paint dry. General Walsh is very charismatic and speaks from the heart. They will make a wonderful team for the Governor’s office. I don’t need to endorse this pair as that election is all but over. Bullock and Walsh will destroy Hill in the General.

Next came the candidates for the US House. Some impressed me, some not so much. I won’t comment too much on those races as I have done ZERO research on the candidates other than to say that both Franke Wilmer and Diane Smith impressed me with their passion and commitment to serving the people of Montana. Count on more impressions on this primary race as I learn more about the candidates. If I do end up voting in the Democratic Primary, it will be because of this race.

Pam Bucy and Jesse Laslovich – both candidates for the Montana Attorney General’s office – were in attendance. On line, the supporters for these two candidates have had some heated and sometimes nasty exchanges. I did not see that in the two candidates themselves. They are certainly different. Bucy appears competent and well qualified but her presentation was stiff and somewhat contrived. Laslovich was passionate, eloquent and personable but I am not sure he has the background that Bucy has. I will have to do a LOT more research into this race. Both would do the job better than the Republican Candidate wanting the position, so for me, it will come down to which one of the two Democrats I like better in the primary.

One of my distinct pleasures of the evening was seeing Monica Lindeen. I have devoted a LOT of pixels to our current  Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (State Auditor). I have met few political representatives that I would – without question – support. Lindeen and Tester are such representatives. She is personable, knowledgeable, hard working, smart and she has served the people of Montana faithfully in every public endeavor she has taken on. Her office has seen the return of quite literally millions of dollars from fraudulent security scams and denied insurance claims. Monica Lindeen has my complete endorsement.

Next came the two Demcratic Candidates for the Montana PSC District 3 – Mark Sweeney and John Vincent. I have to admit that early on in the evening, Mark Sweeney kind of pissed me off. As I said, I wanted to ask certain candidates a few very pointed questions about concerns I had about the positions they were running for. One of those questions was for the PSC candidates. I wanted to know if either candidate had an answer for the ongoing destructive behavior of certain members of the current PSC (if you don’t know what I am talking about, I will explain it in the upcoming post about the race). I had no idea how either candidate would respond but I wanted to see if either one would even admit that the problem existed. Mark Sweeney knew exactly what I was referring to but his response was canned, seemed insincere, and contrived. Worse, in the middle of his response to me, he started another conversation with someone standing at the counter next to us. In short, it pissed me off.

His presentation to the assemblage did little to convince me that he was any more sincere about representing us. He did the usual resume thing and the entire time, he sounded like a used car salesman. I won’t go so far as to say I wouldn’t vote for him but he certainly didn’t impress me. John Vincent, on the other hand, did. He wasn’t as polished as Sweeney, but he talked at length about the importance of what had to be done. He talked about working with the legislature to give the PSC actual “teeth” to protect the citizens of the state.

My impression of John Vincent only increased when I was able to get him one on one after the presentations. I asked him the same question I asked Mark Sweeney, and without missing a beat, he said that the only way a situation like what is going on now could be resolved is if Montana were to work the PSC like quite a few others states – an appointed board. He was clear that he was not advocating such a move (it would be difficult to turn the PSC into an appointed position) but it would certainly prevent a situation like what we have now. My appreciation for John Vincent increased further when – to my surprise – I found that he was more than willing to talk about some non-traditional energy production methods – including Nuclear Power. He said that we have to address the energy problem with all the tools we have available to us – even if it means exploring new technologies or technologies that have traditionally been ignored as difficult or unpopular.

Richard Turner (running for State Senator for Senate District 36) and Norma Duffy (running for State Legislature District 72) both gave presentations. Neither were polished like many of the other candidates but both spoke openly and honestly. One of the biggest laughs of the night was when Richard announced that he was running against Debby Barrett because “she pissed [him] off”. I loved it (in part because her wing nuttery has pissed me off too).

I am glad I went and I look forward to learning more about the Candidates for all the local, state, and national offices I will have to choose from.

Posted in Federal, Local, Politics, State | 6 Comments

The Anchor around his neck

Romney kicked off his campaign before a group assembled by the NRA, and true to form, he went immediately on the attack. This is Romney’s style and it is why he is considered to be so unlikable by a significant majority of the electorate.

What will sink his campaign in the end, though, is this -

Romneycare and Romney’s wishy washy attitude about it will end up sinking him with the majority of the electorate. The screaming will be hot and heavy (Romney tends to overwhelm his opposition with negative attack ads) but in the end, people will realise that this idiot is just another stuffed suit playing whatever tune  he thinks his voters want him to play. America simply doesn’t need another one of those.

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I Told You So

Usually I start off with the phrase “I hate saying this” but this time, not so much. I Told You So.

Rick Santorum has “suspended” his campaign. It isn’t so much that he has done it, but more along the lines of “Why the hell did it take so long?”. Jim Wright over at StoneKettle Station has a wonderful take on this (and Jim Wright is likely the best political blogger I have ever had the pleasure to encounter). Go ahead and read it. I will wait….

The only thing I will add to Jim’s wonderful take on the matter is that the reason candidates like Santorum “suspend” their campaigns is money. Nothing more, nothing less. Anyone want to take any bets that Santorum will run again in 2016?

This isn’t what I am referring to, though, when I say again – “I Told You So”. It was inevitable and only the most gullible people believed otherwise. Mittens Romney will be the Republican Candidate to face President Obama in the General Election in November. Again, I could say I told you so, but again, it was inevitable. This was written on the wall back in 2011 when there were 8 or 9 “Candidates”. The vast majority of them were wingnuts or publicity seekers and the only one that made any sense was Romney.

But now we get to the part where I really mean “I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO”. Back in 2011, when I was saying to everyone that Romney would be the candidate for the Republicans, I was also saying that a heated, contentious primary would only work against the Republican and get President Obama re-elected. Pundits (both in Montana and on the National stage) responded with a variety of comments that basically boiled down to “you are wrong”. -

“A tough primary fight will energize the base”.
“Having so many choices will result in a better candidate”.
“The Debates will make the final candidate appreciate the issues that we want addressed”.
“The hard primary fight will show how Obama is ruining the country”.
“A heated primary fight is good for the party”.
“Negative campaigning has always been used and it strengthens the Candidates”.

Well to all those Pundits (both professional and amateur), I respectfully thumb my nose at you and call you idiots.

The tough primary fight has effectively undermined support for the Republicans nationally and in Montana. The Tea Party is now viewed by the majority of Americans as the joke it has become. Idiot Candidates like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Santorum have proven that the Republican Party has jumped the rails and is unlikely to find their way back. Moreover, the heated Primary Debates and Ads have completely undermined any hope that Romney can A) win the General and B) aid in the election of the downticket Republicans.

Don’t take my word for it. Read what the very same pundits are now saying (you know, the ones that said a tough primary fight was a good thing).

CNN political Analysts Dana Bash and Alan Silverleib – Romney Still Faces Challenges Rallying the Right. The money quote -

Like other conservative leaders, Scheffler said the issue isn’t so much whether conservatives already going to vote will check the box for Romney over President Obama. The issue is whether people are going to get out and work for him — providing critical grass roots energy fueled by the kind of passion that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Let’s think about that for a second. Romney has about as much appeal as watching paint dry. He is not very charismatic, his “business creds” are basically buying companies to take them apart and make bucketloads of cash, as a Governor, he was a moderate Republican that pushed for and enacted a fairly decent piece of legislation on Health Care that has a lot of resemblances to the ACA.. I just don’t see Romney “energizing the base” at all.

The article goes on to say that, for Romney to win, he has to energize the Tea party patriots and evangelical vote. The articles lists a number of suggestions on how he should go about it, but the authors miss a VERY important point.

For Romney to energize his party, he has to go farther to the right than he did in his campaign to date. This is actually saying something, since he has already moved lightyears to the right since his days as a moderate Governor. Hell, he is already being called wishy washy and insincere and those labels will only be proven right if he goes any farther to the right.

Make no mistake, the Tea Party Patriots and Christian evangelicals will vote for Romney no matter what he does. The question is whether they go to the polls at all. This article (as well as many others) suggest that Romney will not be able to get “butts in the seat” unless he embraces these special interests in his campaign.

What the authors miss (and actually have been missing for a while now), is the insane dicotomy in that idea. Romney is already having problems with Independent Voters and Moderates. His flip flop from the more moderate stances he had as Governor have already made him somewhat unappealing. If he goes even more to the right to satisfy the evangelicals and Tea Party crowd, he will lose even more moderates and independents.

The result is a choice Romney will have to make. To win the election, he has to do two things that are simply incompatible. He either has to cater to the independents and moderates (costing him votes because the Tea Party Crowd and Evangelicals might stay home) or he has to cater to the Tea Party Crowd and Evangelicals costing him the general election in November. The only advantage to Romney to catering to the hard right is that it would probably help the Republican downticket races, but I just can’t see Romney making the choice to “Take one for the team”. His ego wouldn’t allow it.

The Obama Camp is not unaware of the situation, either. They are already capitalizing on it. A video was released shortly after Santorum made the announcement that he was suppending his candidacy. I invite you to watch it.

In this video, the Obama camp points out all the wingnut, hardright stances Romney has already taken during the primary battles. They want everyone to remember just how far to the right Romney has already gone. In subsequent videos, ads and campaign literature, they will either Juxtapose these hard right stances with his more moderate stances as Governor (or they will allow the Tea Party/Evangelicals to do it for them) or they will use these wingnut stances to bury Romney with the moderates and independents. Either way, the Primary Campaign will bite Romney in the ass and he will be lucky to exit the Campaign with any ass left.

So I told you so. Romney tanked himself during the Primary Campaign, and the acramony of the primary campaign did not make him stronger, energize the base or aid the Republicans in defeating President Obama. Just remember, you heard it here first.

UPDATE :

Today, CNN posted two more opinion peices questioning Romney’s ability to win in November. Both are interesting reads and one raises some of the same questions I raised  in my post. The other explores the difficulty Romney will have with the evangelical voters because of his faith.

Posted in Federal, Politics | Leave a comment

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Today I picked up tickets for my wife and I to attend the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner hosted by the Beaverhead County Democratic Party. The dinner is scheduled for Friday night, April 13th at the Dillon Elk’s Lodge.

I make it a point to try to be as informed on my choices of Candidates as I can be and since Democrats don’t visit Beaverhead County all that often, we decided to spring the money for the tickets.

The Keynote speaker will be Montana’s Senior Senator, Max Baucus. It is unclear at this point whether he is there to aid the other Democratic Candidates raise money/campaign or whether he is already campaigning for his 2014 bid to stay Montana’s Senior Senator. He is likely to be challenged both in the Primary and in the General so it might be a little of both.

Also to be in attendance are -
General John Walsh, the candidate for Lt Governor (running with Steve Bullock as the Democratic Candidate for Governor),
Denise Juneau running for re-election to the office of State Supt. of Schools,
Monica Lindeen running for re-election to the office of State Auditor,
Linda McCulloch running for re-election to the office of Secretary of State,
Franke Wilmer candidate for US House of Representatives,
Dave Strohmaier candidate for US House of Representatives,
Rob Stutz candidate for US House of Representatives,
Jesse Laslovich candidate for State Attorney General,
Pam Bucy candidate for State Attorney General,
John Vincent candidate for Public Service Commission,
Richard Turner candidate for State Senate Dist 36 
Norma Duffy candidate for State Legislature House Dist 72.

This will be a golden oppurtunity to get a look at many of the Democratic Candidates we will have to choose from. Since I am still undecided which primary I am going to vote in (I am currently leaning toward voting in the Democratic Primary since there are some races there that I would like to weigh in on), it behooves me to meet these candidates.

I have already decided on a few races. I will definitely vote for Jon Tester for Senate. I will definitely vote for Monica Lindeen for State Auditor. These incumbants have already convinced me through their actions that I should support them.

The rest will have to be determined by more research and part of that research is looking a candidate in the eye. No amount of TV/Radio ad time can ever replace actually meeting and talking to a candidate asking for your support.

Posted in Federal, Local, Politics, State | Leave a comment

Under Construction

While this could easily refer to the ongoing work we are doing to our house and my shop, this time, it actually refers to things I am doing both with this blog and my website. As anyone that has been to my website can attest, I have been woefully neglecting the site (as well as this blog).

On my website, you will be seeing this image as I build the new webpages. It will larger than the current web and will also include my updated business sites. With luck, I should have most of the major structure done pretty quickly and content will added as I get to it.

Understand this is a pretty major project as I will be going through the literally gigabits of information I have stored over a period of years to develop the various areas on the web. This is no small undertaking for me and it is long past due.

As far as this blog is concerned, there won’t be a lot of changes. I like the layout and it is easy to read and manage. The only major change will be that I will be taking down my previous blogs and “archiving” some of my old posts to those blogs here. There will be some small changes to the subject matter that I post here (I was unsuccessful in trying to get out of political blogging), but this site will continue to have posts covering a variety of subjects.

Hope you all enjoy the changes.

Posted in Blogging, General | Leave a comment