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Archives 2012 January – March

26 March 2012

GOP County Commissioner candidates wants to arrest domestic terrorists


Cal Scott is one of eight men running for the Republican nomination for county commissioner for the northern end of the Flathead. In a full page ad on the back page of Section A of today’s InterLake, he offers a three-plank platform:

…read the rest
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24 March 2012

Next year’s county commission — short on experience, perhaps long on mistakes

Come January, 2013, the Flathead County Commission’s senior member will be Pam Holmquist, elected just two years ago. A greenhorn will replace six-year veteran Dale Lauman, and the man replacing Jim Dupont, who served four years before his untimely death, will have at best just over six month’s experience.

It’s not supposed to work that way.

…read the rest
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23 March 2012

Will the candidate favored by the majority win in June?

Not necessarily. Candidates disfavored by the majority could win a number of elections this year in Montana. In Flathead County, for example, a Republican candidate for county commissioner could be elected with just over 12.5 percent of the vote.

Montana employs a plurality wins electoral system. When only two candidates appear on the ballot, there are no write-ins, and no option for “none of the above,” a plurality becomes a majority. But when the ballot for an office or nomination contains three or more candidates (or combination of candidates and options), and there is no provision for a runoff between the two candidates receiving the most votes, the election’s winner can receive well under a majority.

In other words, a zealot or crackpot who would be the last choice of most voters could win the election, or throw the election to a candidate who would lose in a two-way race.

…read the rest


17 March 2012

Saint Slushies Day


Montana’s Libertarian Party has earned a Senate primary

There may be a Libertarian primary in Montana — two Libertarians, Jerry McConnell and Dan Cox, filed for the U.S. Senate — and state and local election administrators already are kvetching about the cost, and considering a dangerous solution.

…read the rest


16 March 2012

Diane Smith goes negative on fellow Democrats

Wondering why Dave Strohmaier issued a statement accusing an unnamed Democratic candidate of making campaign contributions to Republicans? I’m betting he received a copy of a recent oped by Diane Smith criticizing her primary opponents as nice people without imagination:

…read the rest


15 March 2012

Dave Strohmaier practices political hit-and-run

Candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress Dave Strohmaier today released a statement issuing a:

…read the rest


13 March 2012

Flathead legislative summary

Filing for the 2012 election closed yesterday, with some last minute surprises. I've provided links to the candidates’s websites I could find. I’ll update the page as more information becomes available.

…read the rest


11 March 2012


Chuck Baldwin to GOP State Senator Bruce Tutvedt:
“What in Hades are you doing in public office?”

That’s probably a question that Tutvedt, a certifiable conservative, never expected to hear from a pastor who thinks Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy’s big kahunas were not racists. But he’s hearing it now, and hearing it piano fortissimo: “This neocon is the bane of liberty and constitutional government.”

…read the rest


9 March 2012

Tim Baldwin files for HD-4 GOP primary

Updated. Now we know why Dr. Rollan Roberts II withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination for House District 4 and decided to challenge incumbent Republican State Senator Bruce Tutvedt in Senate District 3. Roberts was clearing the field for Tim Baldwin, son of Preacher Chuck, and attorney for the Liberty Defense League. Baldwin filed for HD-4 today.

Filing closes at 1700 MDT on Monday, 12 March. It’s possible that more Baldwinites will throw their hats in the ring.

Note. Baldwin, incidentally, did not swap districts with Dr. Rollan Roberts II, initial indications to the contrary. Roberts did file for, then withdraw from, HD-4, but there was no coordination between Roberts and Baldwin. And while Tim Baldwin is indeed the son of colorful preacher Chuck Baldwin, I have the distinct impression that Tim Baldwin is his own man, and is no more the puppet of Chuck Baldwin than John F. Kennedy was the puppet of Joe Kennedy, the elder Kennedy’s attempts to pull strings notwithstanding.

Thoughts on why Bullock chose Walsh


Steve Bullock’s choice for Lt. Governor, retired Brigadier General John Walsh, looks more like a topkick than a one-star. That’s no handicap in Montana, especially in our blue-collar precincts. Neither is his service as a career national guard officer. He’s a capable guy.

That notwithstanding, he’s an unusual choice for Lt. Governor. When I learned Bullock had tapped him, my first thoughts were of Vice Admiral James Stockdale, Medal of Honor recipient and Ross Perot’s running mate in 1992, and General Curtis LeMay, former chief of the Strategic Air Command and George Wallace’s running mate in 1968.

…read the rest


8 March 2007

Libertarian senate candidate is good news for Tester

Senator Jon Tester received some good news today: Jerry McConnell filed for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian. In 2006, Stan Jones, another Libertarian, probably drew enough votes from Conrad Burns to let Tester win by approximately 3,000 votes. If McConnell cuts into Rehberg’s support, Tester could again win with less than 50 percent of the vote.

2006 Official Returns





Krueger hunts for votes in MDFWP parking lot

Tim Tebow, the Christian quarterback, spoke at the Flathead County Fairgrounds last night. And a “Krueger Commissioner” sign, orders of magnitude bigger than a bumpersticker, was just across the street, in the bed of a pickup truck parked at the Kalispell headquarters of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

I don’t mind if Krueger parks his campaign truck on private property — that’s between him and the owner of the property — but parking it on government property can suggest that the government, or the agency, or someone at the agency, is backing him. That’s not something government should be doing.

I suspect this probably was a case of “I’ll beg for forgiveness, but I won’t ask for permission.” If so, that attitude goes to Krueger’s character.

…read the rest


3 March 2012

Image of the day: backyard lichens


Prediction: Judge Cebull will receive reprimand, but won’t resign; nor should he

And after a decent interval, the 67-year-old jurist with a 17-year-old’s sense of humor, will retire.

Should he apologize? He did, although one wonders whether he’s genuinely remorseful or just eating a plateful to save his job. If I were Obama, I’d reject the apology but speak of second chances, the opportunity for redemption, and the possibility of amnesty.

Should he resign, as outraged Democrats are demanding? Not in my opinion. In my book, sharing a mean and witless joke with friends is not a hanging offense. I worry far less about that kind of humor than I do about men who have no sense of humor at all.

Montana’s Office of Political Practices: depressingly and hopelessly politicized

Flathead Beacon columnist Dave Skinner suspended his column and applied for the position of Commissioner of Political Practices. He survived the experience, but, figuratively speaking, needed live steam and high phosphate soap to feel clean again. Give him a read. He makes some good points.

Montana’s southern border won’t be guarded by Wyoming’s aircraft carrier

That’s because the doomsday bill failed in the Wyoming legislature. The Button Valley Bugle has the details, presented in the droll prose the story requires. The bill’s demise may be due in part to a denial of global warming. If the seas are not expected to rise to the level of Jackson Lake, Wyoming’s needs for coastal defenses are limited. Not to worry, however: Wyoming still has Warren Air Force Base.

Baucus’ political friends step over the line — way over it

Politico reported the story first. Certain Democrats are not playing beanbag. Campaign contributions to Rep. Denny Rehberg will not be forgotten when the contributors come to the Senate begging for tax breaks:

Lobbyists are getting that message from allies of powerful Democrats such as Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is closely watching support for Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Baucus supporters fear that if Rehberg ousts Tester, Baucus could be next to face a serious Republican challenge in the state.

Then M. Storin (probably a nom de plume), an Intelligent Discontent writer who promotes bluish-dog Democrats, posted an essay, Baucus, ‘I’ve got your back, Jon,’ praising the threats to use the tax code to punish political opposition:

Whether it’s bundling money for Democratic candidates in the state or using “hardball” tactics to protect Senator Tester from a tsunami of K Street money, one thing is clear: Sen. Baucus will go to bat for Montana’s Democrats. And that should be applauded.

Hardball? Hardball’s a brushback pitch. This is back alley thuggery: a promise that beanballs and a blackjacking await he who fails to strike out looking. And now it’s the subject of a complaint to the Senate’s ethics committee.

It’s nothing to applaud.



2 March 2012

Roberts abandons HD-4, takes aim at fellow Republican Bruce Tutvedt

Dr. Rollan Roberts II increased his political ambition yesterday, withdrawing his candidacy for the GOP nomination for House District 4 and filing for the GOP nomination for Senate District 3.

SD-3, which comprises House Districts 5 & 6, is currently represented by Bruce Tutvedt (R-Kalispell), who filed for re-election on 12 January, the day filing opened.

…read the rest


27 February 2012

Roberts and — the “the craigslist (sic) for guns”

The more you look, the more you find. The good Dr. Roberts is sniffing gunsmoke. Among his enterprises, or at least internet presences, is, which he describes as “the craigslist (sic) of guns.”


My questions for Dr. Roberts: (1) is this bullseye politics, or just bull?; and (2) now that you know about caching on Google, will you bother trying to scrub the gunpowder off the ‘net?

Roberts takes down collection website — still cached on Google

Removing a tattoo can be easier than removing a website from the internet. After Flathead Memo revealed that House District 4 (Whitefish) Republican candidate Dr. Rollan Roberts II ran the Internal Recovery Service, an outfit collecting medical debts, Roberts took down the Internal Recovery website.

Google, however, cached it. So it’s still on the internet, but in a different place. All that Roberts accomplished by trying to hide his collection business was proving he is not all that proud of how he makes some of his living.



23 February 2012

Rehberg tells drunken boater joke

The key characters in the story were Ole and Sven, and given the audience it probably got a laugh. But when Rehberg tells a story using the words “boat” and “drunk,” some will be reminded of a drunken boat ride on Flathead Lake that was no joke, and that put Denny in the hospital for surgical repairs. Talking Points Memo has the story.

U.S. Supreme Court sides with dam owners on streambed issue.

jhwygirl has the story and analysis at 4and20 Blackbirds. The Supreme Court’s website has the slip opinion in PPL Montana, LLC v Montana. The unanimous decision was written by Justice Kennedy. Montana’s supreme court may have claimed a home court advantage to which it was not entitled. Nevertheless, the outcome is disappointing.

Meet the Preacher’s Kid who seeks to replace Derek Skees in HD-4

Updated. Derek Skees, the pro-nullification Republican representing Whitefish centered House District 4, is leaving the legislature to run for state auditor — but a Republican hoping to succeed him — Dr. Rollan Roberts II — may prove to be equally colorful.

…read the rest


17 February 2010

Can anyone see this Whitefish sign in time to read it?


Yes — if you’re looking for it, you’re not behind the wheel, you’re only doing 20 mph, and you’re using binoculars. Otherwise, you’re likely to miss it. Especially if you’re behind the wheel, chatting on your smart phone, and tooling along at the speed limit.

Take a look at the photographs after the jump. At the intersection of Highway 93 and Greenwood, where I made the shot below, a newcomer to Whitefish would have no idea what that little sign was for, provided he could even see it (if he’s using the inside lane and a big truck is to his right, he won’t see it).

…read the rest


10 February 2012

Update: Obama bows down to Catholic Church on contraception

The New York Times has the story. So do other newspapers, television news operations, and a million bloggers.

This was a tempest in a communion cup. It would have blown over in a week or two, especially if the President had had the wit and steel to deliver a speech defending his policy and denouncing the bishops as reactionaries who hurt women. Instead, again subordinating principle to a pathological need not to be criticized, he Tebowed to the celibates and said, “Forgive me fathers, for I have sinned. I repent. I recant. Please, now, love me, love me, love me (but not as you would love choir boys).”

Bishops’ contraception tantrum is a tempest in a communion cup

Men sworn to celibacy (except, it seems, when choir boys are available) have little claim to wisdom on issues of human reproduction. That’s why 98 percent of Catholic women ignore their church’s doctrine that artificial means of contraception violate God’s law. On this issue, American Catholics have kicked Pope, bishop, and parish priest out of their bedrooms.

Now the bishops are kicking back…

…read the rest


9 February 2012

Senator Jon Tester wants to curtail my freedom of speech

I’m not rich, but I have enough money to buy a couple of 30-second television advertisements supporting a political candidate. Jon Tester, for example.

But Tester doesn’t want me to do that.

…read the rest


8 February 2012

Let the House candidates speak at the Democrat’s Mansfield-Metcalf dinner

Here’s how a political party can undercut its candidates for an important office: don’t let them speak at an important party dinner, in this case the Democrat’s Mansfield-Metcalf dinner in Helena on 10 March ($50 for a ticket).

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Be careful reading the Flathead Beacon’s story on drug testing

Flathead Beacon reporter’s Dillon Tabish’s story More Flathead Employees Failing Drug Tests invites readers to conclude that the rate of positive test results is on the rise. That would be a mistake.

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7 February 2012

Liberal magazine turns Romney into Wolfman Mitt

The New Republic placed a very tight crop of an “enhanced” mug shot of Mitt Romney on the cover of its 16 February 2012 issue (below). The tight crop doesn’t bother me. The so-called enhancement does.

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A Commissioner of Political Practices who sets
aside personal partisanship is a happy accident

Governor Brian Schweitzer appointed a new Commissioner of Political Practices yesterday: Jim Murry, the retired labor leader, and a Democrat. Murry may come to be regarded as a gray eminence. I hope so. He certainly has the administrative and interpersonal skills to restore harmony to the office of political practices. In time I think the staff will come to like working with him. All of that is good.

But his appointment is partisan. Under OPP’s current structure, a nonpartisan appointment is not a political possibility. If Murry sets aside his personal partisanship for the greater good, a distinct possibility, his appointment, although partisan, will be benignly partisan. That could happen, although the odds that Republicans would acknowledge it are hardly better than the odds of winning the lottery.

And that’s what cripples the OPP. A commissioner who sets aside personal partisanship is a happy accident. It is not the desired outcome of the governor making the appointment.



6 February 2012

Memo to Albertson’s employees: Be smart — STAY UNION!

Union employees at Albertsons in Kalispell will soon vote on whether to stick with union representation or give it the heave-ho and as individuals take their chances with management. I’m told that a group of younger employees who resent paying union dues think they’ll have more disposable income by going it alone.

…continue reading

Diane Smith beats Rehberg for highest “Information Requested” percentage

An Associated Press investigation found that Rep. Denny Rehberg under-reported contributions from lobbyists. According to AP reporter Matt Gouras,

…the Rehberg campaign did not list the occupation on 189 contributions for the first nine months of 2011. That’s 13 percent of the 1,400 donations received by the campaign over that time frame.

Democrat Diane Smith was late getting started raising money for her campaign for the nomination for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House, so we only have reports from the last quarter of 2011. But 42 of the 86 contributions in that report, filed with the Federal Elections Commission, list “Information Requested” for the donor’s occupation. That occupation missing rate of 49 percent almost makes Rehberg look like a choir boy.

…read the rest


5 February 2012

Bye Bye Facebook

A few minutes ago I deactivated my Facebook account. I would also have deactivated my Twitter account, but fortunately I never had one.

You might be wondering why anyone would take such a step in the age of social networking. I have my reasons. Here are a few:

  • The clutter drives me crazy.
  • I can think of no way in which Facebook has made my life better.
  • Facebook has the potential to play considerable hell with my life. In fact, it might have already.

I might be able to put up with the clutter — calming pharmaceuticals are available, even in the age of the pill police, and good bourbon is still sold — and even ignore the sense of no positive impact on my life, but the potential for harm is just too high for my comfort.


1 February 2012

If you don’t pray to the Big Mountain Jesus, it’s not a religious shrine

Updated. Hard to believe? Doesn’t pass the laugh test? Have faith. Really. There’s an official opinion that it’s not a shrine. Just try not to spit out your coffee when you read it.

…read the rest


30 January 2012

Guy Fawkes mask sullies Occupy Kalispell’s honk-n-wave

At least a dozen of Occupy Kalispell’s hardy advocates for reducing income inequality maintain their good natured vigil near Depot Park Saturday, cold and clouds notwithstanding.

There were two new developments, one good, one bad.

…read the rest


27 January 2012

Kalispell Regional Medical Center after sundown

Left, the new surgical tower under construction. Right, the hospital in deep twilight in early May, 2010.


26 January 2012

Issues pages of Steve Daines & Rob Stutz have best readability scores

The worst readability scores belong to Dave Strohmaier and Diane Smith, but that could change: I have yet to analyze Sam Rankin’s page. If he files, I’ll test his prose. And when Jason Ward, who has filed, opens his website, I’ll check its readability.

Before discussing the numbers, a caveat or two:

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22 January 2012

Fanning and Baldwin squirt perfume on a skunk lawsuit

Bob Fanning and Chuck Baldwin are taking the wrong approach to increasing Montana’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. They’ve joined an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the State of Louisiana’s challenge to the U.S. Census Bureau’s method of counting the population for apportioning the U.S. House.

…read the rest


21 January 2012

Break up political practices, move campaign finance to SecState

When news of Dave Gallik’s departure as Montana’s Commissioner of political practices broke, I favored keeping political practices in a single operation, but led by a commissioner, such as a professor of law, without close partisan ties.

That would help, but my thinking has evolved over the past week. I now believe that CPP should not exist as a single agency; that its functions should be split between Montana’s Secretary of State and Montana’s Attorney General.

…read the rest


20 January 2012

Montana’s blogosphere should focus on fixing political practices

Erstwhile Commissioner of Political Practices Dave Gallik has his friends, and some are making themselves heard on Montana’s progressive blogs. They argue, without presenting convincing evidence, that CPP staffer Mary Baker is a Republican who set out to get rid of Gallik.

…read the rest


18 January 2012

The Political Practices mess

Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, former Democratic legislator and PAC man Dave Gallik, resigned yesterday following accusations by the agency’s four permanent employees that he was misusing state resources and not spending enough time on the job. Intelligent Discontent and 4and20blackbirds are following the story and have extensive comment threads worth reading.

Gallik, some may remember, was treasurer of the Democratic Legislators Alumni Association back in 2010, an outfit accused of dubious contributions. Reported the Flathead Beacon’s Dan Testa:

…continue reading

Improving Montana’s commission on political practices.

Political Practices keeps track of campaign finance reports, and investigates complaints that Montana’s laws governing political campaigns were violated.

In my opinion, tracing campaign finance reports is more important than investigating complaints — and the current finance reporting system is an abomination. Yes, we can obtain online copies of the C-5 reports of contributions and expenditures, but those reports are graphic images in a PDF container. It’s a paper system. Digitizing the data and converting them to a database so that they can be analyzed is a labor intensive process, slow and as a practical matter out of reach of virtually everyone.

…read the rest


16 January 2012

Making bad arguments on behalf of a good cause

Is a vote against the Whitefish school bond a vote against education? Whitefish High School Principal Dave Carlson sure thinks so. Attempting to make a case for approving a new high school for Whitefish, Carlson told the Daily InterLake:

…read the rest


14 January 2012

Sixth Democrat seeks nomination for MT’s seat in U.S. House

Jason Ward of Hardin, a 34-year-old construction project manager for the Crow tribe, and biodiesel farmer, filed yesterday for the Democratic nomination for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

…read the rest


11 January 2012

Whitefish opts for winter ballot by mail school bond election

Whitefish’s school district is going for a $14 million school bond — and it’s not even waiting for spring. According to the Flathead Beacon, a mail ballot election will start on 28 February, when ballots are mailed to voters, and conclude on 15 March, a month in advance of the deadline for filing income tax returns.

…read the rest


10 January 2012

Whitefish high school bond likely to fail in June

Whitefish probably needs a new high school. But a new school is unlikely to be built any time soon if the school district puts a bond issue to the voters in the primary election in June. There’s a better chance, although still not a very good one, that a bond issue could pass in the general election in November, and that’s the election date the district should be considering.

…read the rest


9 January 2011

Flathead County’s IT department can’t walk and chew gum at the same time

That’s the only possible explanation for the County Commission’s decision to deny the county’ health department’s request to buy Apple iPads, state-of-the-art tablet computers that are increasingly popular in medicine in places like Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Chicago; places with lots of smart people.

…read the rest

Why I don’t travel by bus

Two dead, 33 injured when a Rimrock Stages bus crashes east of Missoula. According to the Missoulian, the bus was tooling along at 65 mph on black ice when the driver lost control. The bus rolled, landed on its side, ejecting several passengers.

…read the rest


4 January 2012

Iowa — swan song of the Bachmann-Perry Underdrive

Politicians whose good looks are their chief asset should smile, not speak. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry learned that the hard way last night in the Iowa Republican Caucuses, finishing with five and 10 percent of the vote respectively. Both will fold their tents by the end of the week.

Perry’s chief misstep was trying to debate. Oops. He found too late that it helps to know the subject matter and to have the ability to articulate it. Bachmann floated serenely from fact-free statement to fact-free statement, in the end making Aimee Semple McPherson look like a Rachel Maddowesque polymath.

Neither will be missed.


1 January 2012