Troy Carter. Man. Only something epically terrible like the use of rape to score political points could bring me out of my blogging slumber.

So a kid, who happens to have the last name of some famous people, gets accused of rape. He pleads not-guilty.

The Bozeman Daily, “Hey, let’s run his court evidence in a story! That’ll play out great if this goes to trial. I’ve never even seen Making a Murderer. Prosecution ala media? I don’t even know what that is! Oh! Look my Google Alert set to “Koch” just pinged. You know what? Let’s run it again because, his employer is a conservative group. Don’t forget to put it on a ‘blog’ so we don’t confuse it with real reporting.”

Now I know, to a liberal, the Koch brothers are the embodiment of the devil. And they just can’t get enough stories about them. But who cares who his employer is? It literally has nothing to do with the case or even politics in Montana. The only reason is to get search hits on “Koch”.

Or more nefariously, Carter is trying to make some connection?

Why else write these stories? In all five, (FIVE!) Times the Chronicle has written about Even Koch. No one has given a rationale for why it matters that Americans for Prosperity or Turning Point USA are his employers.

Meanwhile a kid— Troy’s political football— has to have his name drug around with this accusation. Just because he has a name that pings well.

This is a real human, who (should) have the presumption of innocence in our jurisprudence. There is a real accusation of rape here, a (potential) victim who shouldn’t have her story brought up repeatedly to the public because Troy Cater has a political axe to grind.


This kind of journalism plays a crucial role in the decline of our politic culture. It is human beings as political cannon balls. It is shameful.

Some things should be off limits Troy. I hope you live forever.

This week we are starting a new “Fact-Check” column, which will serve to keep tabs on the BS too often thrown around #mtpol. Featuring controversial recent claims on twitter, our Fact-Check will not just serve to debunk the myths, but also to clarify the truth. So without further ado, here is our first feature’s big claim.

  1. Montana’s economy stands to lose 11,000 jobs from climate change

Recent news articles have featured a study commissioned by The Montana Wildlife Federation, a liberal dark money group, that claims that Montana’s average temperatures will rise 4-5 degrees by 2050 and the climate change will cost our outdoor economy 11,000 jobs and $281 million in labor earnings.

There are some fundamental problems with this claim. First, we need to consider the source. The company that ran the study, Power Consulting, consists of two long time liberal environmentalists. Both have a deep interest in backing up the Obama agenda, like opposing US energy independence and supporting the EPA’s disastrous CPP plan, because they get paid by left-wing dark money groups like MWF to do these studies.

Second, their base assumption that the climate will inevitably warm 4-5 degrees by 2055 is quite the stretch. The climate assessment this study is based on shows a 4-5 degree change as only a maximum, absolute worst case scenario of increased carbon emissions. However, there is no evidence to suggest that scenario would ever actually happen. In fact, US emissions have already dropped sharply over the past few years, and are projected to continue dropping well into the 21st century! So what this study actually does is use doomsday projections and carefully concealed timelines to fool Montanans into their false premise for alarmism.

But let’s say we take this questionable study and its dark money backers at their word, that Montana faces a huge economic decline to the tune of 11,000 jobs if climate change rises 5 degrees. Can our economy be saved if we adopt their radical agenda?

Not surprisingly, the answer is no. In fact, anti-use policies supported by influential left wing environmental groups have already put Montana’s outdoor economy in a stranglehold. Montana’s forest industry has lost already lost 4,000 jobs just since 1990. Liberal policies like the CPP, proposed by president Obama and lobbied for by organizations like the ones who commissioned this study, will cost even more with studies showing a potential 7,000 jobs lost if it is implemented. That’s a total of 11,000 jobs, as much as this study projected would be lost from climate change in the first place!

So not only has this radical environmental agenda hurt thousands of hard working Montanans already economically, these liberal policies actually contribute to global warming and threaten Montana’s climate future. Numerous studies show that economically prosperous countries have cleaner environments. The more our economy is damaged the less capable we will be at addressing climate change.

Additionally, current forest management, influenced for decades by powerful environmental interests, has failed. Between the ever increasing forest fires, massive beetle infestations and continued decline of forest health, our forests are dying because of liberal policies. Dead and dying forests release carbon gases into our atmosphere, contributing further to greenhouse gases.

Verdict: Here at Copper Commando we don’t buy into the right-wing climate “denier” rhetoric. We think that it’s fairly clear that the climate may be changing and human activity may even have influenced the change. We just take a rational approach to making our environment better instead of getting pulled into the scare-tactics of radical liberal climate activists. Sure, theoretically severe climate change could negatively affect Montana’s economy. But the facts show that the radical climate alarmists pushing this narrative of inevitable doom have twisted the numbers to fit their agenda, not tell the truth. Powerful special interests who oppose economic prosperity and effective environmental policy, like the Montana Wildlife Federation, are more of a real threat to Montana than climate change will ever be.

Among the usual leftwing cadre of enviro-statist lobbyist hacks, bored school teachers and literal lunatics, there has been a new voice on #mtpol recently, representing the Democratic east-coast establishment: Jason Pitt.

As far as twitter can tell, Jason only started caring about Montana about the same time he was hired by the Montana Democrats to do their communications.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Jason is a transient Democratic staffer that’s been kicked around from state to state with a career of uncertainty and no real long-term stable employment. After being pushed out of his cushy mid-western communications gig at the Democratic National Committee, he had no choice to but to accept a job in Montana. We can only assume he must have pissed somebody off at the DNC.

Before working for there, Jason worked as the communications director for gaffe-prone California Congresswomen Julia Brownley and for the shady dark money group OFA.

Simply looking at his resume, Jason sure seems like he cares more about his grabbing his next paycheck than any type of connection to Montana. But that’s not surprising given how out of touch the Democratic Party is with average people in this state.

So just to reiterate: The Democrats hired a Pennsylvanian, who has never worked in Montana, to tweet about how other people “don’t represent Montana values”.

Such hypocrisy, but no surprises.

As the Mclean-Bullock scandal unfolds the Democrats should be looking for chances to prove to Montanans that they somehow have their best interests at heart. Hiring an out of touch east-coaster sure won’t help.

If you haven’t seen Bozeman Daily Chronicle reporter Troy Carter’s new “406 Politics” blog, check it out.

Carter recently wrote that Montana Governor Steve Bullock has tapped an East Coast liberal political operative to run his campaign.

Eric Hyers, who led Democrat Gina Raimondo to a 2014 gubernatorial victory in Rhode Island, will head Bullock’s reelection effort. Hyers also managed two winning campaigns for Congressman David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, in 2010 and 2012.

A quick scroll through Hyers’ Twitter account revealed a couple interesting things, including that he’s obsessed with cats and that he hasn’t updated his profile yet.

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It also revealed that he hates Second Amendment rights and would take away Montanans’ guns if given the chance.

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By “assault weapons” and “military-style weapons,” what he’s really referring to are popular hunting and sporting rifles that are usually semi-automatic and “look scary,” even though they’re less powerful than the average bolt action hunting rifle.

“Banning” these types of rifles would of course mean confiscating the thousands of these weapons owned by law abiding, responsible Montana gun owners. It would also mean shutting down the Montana businesses who employ hundreds of our hard working neighbors and are making some of the best rifles on the market.

You would think Montana Democrats would have learned from their experience with Amanda Curtis last election cycle, the crazy gun-hating communist who was thrown up as a sacrificial lamb against Steve Daines following John Walsh’s disgraceful fall during the campaign.

Instead, it looks like anti-gun candidates and staffers are becoming the new norm in the Montana Democrat Party.

Bullock will have explaining to do if he wants to win the votes of Montana gun owners (read: most of the electorate).

As for Hyers, “Welcome to Montana. Now please go home.”

a, b, c, d, e, f, g ……

Some information needs to be memorized: words, basic mathematic principals, etc. Many other forms forms of memorization are rapidly becoming unnecessary. When was the battle of little big horn? What day did Lewis & Clark make it to the Pacific? Questions a five second Google search could answer, yet too often menial factoids are used as the basis for identifying a persons intelligence. Standardized tests rely on memorization; for students to be successful in the current system they must memorize and regurgitate. Can the act of learning itself suffice for the student and the system? Or must the student show competency through a standardized methodology? If a standardized methodology must be used, can it be tailored to the multiple identified learning styles students use? To what end does wrote memorization accomplish?

Right now humanity has unprecedented access to knowledge on a global scale — beyond anything it has known before. If students can leverage ideas, understand concepts, and critically think; are these skills not more important than the myopic memorization of common knowledge? As it stands, memorizable knowledge is readily accessible from a few taps on a smartphone keyboard. Soon typing will even seem archaic; in the near future knowledge will become more integrated and accessible to humans though voice and bionic circuits; it isn’t beyond imagination that within the next decade humans will be able to search and learn from a device embedded within their mind. While it’s arguable if computers can think better than humans, they can provably perform simple calculations; store, access, and retrieve information; and a myriad of programmable tasks better than humans.

Humans exceed at critical thinking.  Why, then, do we as a society train humans to do menial tasks computers can do infinitely better?

You go to school, you get a good job and raise a family, you retire, you die. Abbreviated, this is the lifestyle prescribed to the baby boomer generation. It worked for them. Little box houses sprouted around cities and towns each declaring the lifestyle success of its occupant. Two point five children were born per house, one point seven televisions watched, and the inflation adjusted median wage of the house sat around fifty-thousand dollars. And when the two point five children grew up, they were expected to go to college. Why? Because it worked for the previous generation.

I can tell you though, it most certainly isn’t working for the current generation. The restaurant across from where I work has mediocre food. I shouldn’t be suprised, though. My meal was prepared by a history major and delivered by a girl who claims the major “Film Studies”. Neither have been to cooking school beyond their mothers kitchen; both were grossly mislead on the value and necessity of their degree as evidenced by their current job. My meal was disappointing, but its failure pales in comparison to the failure of modern education.

There are many instances of teachers, classes, etc. who break the mold. Almost everyone has “that one life changing teacher.” This discussion isn’t meant to demean their work, rather the system they must break free from. Par in education, with education arguably being the most important aspect of a civilization, is an abysmally low standard when compared to what our students could be.

Over the next few weeks I hope to highlight specific issues within the education system. These posts should not be taken as pot-shots at teachers, nor should they be dismissed out of deferrence to an emotionally protected industry. The hope is to spur healthy discussion on where our education system stands, and what it could be, as preparing our future population is arguably the most important task our society faces today.

“Checking Your Premise” is the concept that contradictions are not possible in rational discourse. To unpack this idea a little, if I believe a thing is both true and its opposite is also true then I need to rethink these ideas because I’m in a contradiction. Contradictions do not exist.

“Checking your privilege” is the idea that social rules can benefit or disadvantage a group I belong to and those benefits and/or disadvantages color my perspective. The implication is that if I believe something is true (in part) it is because of the social rules and the groups that I belong to. Therefore I ought to realign my priorities and/or truth values along the lines of my privilege.

Side note: checking your privilege has become a meme. An invention with some roots in women’s studies departments but tends to be used colloquially in a diverse ways. To some, it literally seems to mean racial or class guilt and oppressor status. To others, it is introspection and a sensitivity to the context of other people. I am deeply opposed to the former use because it confuses the concept of justice. I am very supportive of the latter because it is an illustration of righteous humility. I think the position of the supposed coiner of the term, Peggy MacIntosh, is someplace in-between those two positions. It is both that our culture is systematically racist, sexist, homophobic and that I ought to come to this conclusion by internal reflection about my privilege or lack thereof. In this post I’m attempting to formulate the way I see the meme used to shut down debate and while it touches on MacIntosh’s points; I’m not interested in directly confronting them here.

Back to contrasting these two approaches, I hope you are still with me. Checking a premise is the process by which you and I investigate the underlying components that get me to my conclusion. Checking my privilege is to say that my status of class, race, gender, affects my perception of that truth or falseness of a premise. It informs my priorities. Hence why black feminists are telling white feminists to check their privilege because black feminists see mainstream feminism as dealing mostly with the problems of whites.

The very nature of this blog as an anonymous medium is illustrative of the dilemma of checking privilege. If I say that the evidence suggests childhood vaccination is a net benefit to society, is this conclusion true to me, or is it simply true or false? Not knowing if I’m as privileged, white and well-educated as Greg Strandberg or if I am even more overly educated and melanin deprived. Would it matter? Shouldn’t opinion arise from sound premises and valid reasoning rather than my status?

What I don’t like about the concept of checking privilege (in this formulation) is what it does to truth and as a consequence, what it does to discourse. By checking privilege we are saying our norms can’t be challenged without reference to our persons. If we are arguing about truth, then we can get somewhere. I can make a claim, and then give you my rational for that conclusion. We can investigate the truth of these rationalities, and how they chain together in a logically valid argument.

On the other hand if you assert X to be true, and I can say, well that’s because you belong to Y group. We are at a non-starter, with no meaning to discourse except that we belong to systems which set us apart. If I have to start off a point like this I belong to X race, Y sexuality, and… then we have lost something fundamental. It says our experience is who we are, not our rationality and the interpretation of that experience.

Yes experience matters, yes my world is shaded by my color, sex and sexual preference. But it is not the whole of me, to say so is the best definition of bigot I’ve ever seen. And to say it acutally changes the truth-value of a given premise is what nerds call Polylogism. Scientific racism and eugenics had the same conclusion, that genetic race determined behavior. Marxism similarly believed that class determined the logic of economics, social order and morality. We rejected these ideas not just because of the systems they produced but because they are contradictory to the nature of truth seeking.

Again, when used to stir self-reflection and when there are tangible cultural bias to point to, I understand and appreciate at least part of the “Check your Privilege” point of view. But those components should not be used to shut down debate the way it is used so often in today’s climate. A great example here. Starts off great, self- reflection check, humility, and getting over yourself— check I like it. Then jumps to conclusions like “racism is impossible if you are dis-privileged” (albeit a post-modern bait and switch redefinition) and “political correctness is only offensive to privileged people”.

Now I want you to note, this whole article has been done in compliance with my first political identity article. Where identity and politics have been separated. I have not once addressed the question that, even if systems of white, male, hetro, cis, able and age privilege exist, what are we going to do about it?

I’m not a big fan of identity politics. To me, it is often a fight endemic with areas that make assumptions about social ordering that I find cloud areas where reasonable people ought to agree. For example, the relative performance of X group in an outcome as expressed in data is, in my view, a problem that is unlikely to be solved by governments but that’s debatable. It is rare to see both the argument about outcomes and the argument about government’s role discussed as separate matters. My overall point is that we should differentiate what is a social phenomenon from what a government can do about it. I am fine with either debate, when it is framed in a way that does not include unsaid and presumed principles.

A great example is the gender pay gap. Here I will grant that the gap results from the sexism of employers even though I think this is likely a dubious claim. Even if it were though, I would ask, what is the solution and/or what is government’s role in that solution?

One, there is already a law against pay discrimination on the basis of sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and later the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009) forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in hiring, promotion, pay and other conditions of employment. And yet it has had no measurable effect in changing the outcomes for women. Why? Well there are lots of reasons but the increase in the supply of women to the workforce is likely a more powerful dictator of prices than a government edict. Also, the choices of most women are not designed for an ideal aggregate outcome but rather individual outcomes along lines of preferences that are subjective.

“But!” claim leftist activists, “That law depends on a woman to file a lawsuit with a standard of evidence for gender discrimination.” Implied in this objection is that there are some folks who don’t want to have to prove if the employer is a sexist with evidence and a trial. They just want to be able to have an outcome that looks right in the data, which is why the Paycheck Fairness Act requires government to collect information on works pay by race and sex. Then an agency can actively police the outcomes to get the results we want. This I find to be a very patriarchal argument but we are getting off track.

Point two, a pay equality law would not do what it intends to do. For every sexist who is reined in, you will have a well-meaning employer forced to pay a poor performer more, or a hard worker less, than they otherwise would. Regardless of the sex of these various people in the hypothetical, we ought to look at both the law and the costs of implementation. This would remove the meritocracy from wage employment. It would send a signal to all wage employees that what they do does not matter for how much they are paid. Laws ought to be judged by the potential result they produce not the intentions of the lawmaker.

Lastly, no one argues that the law will change the inner evil at play. If a person is forced to hide their sexism because of a law, he or she is no less a sexist. Hypothetically some women will get paid more because of the law, but they then have no way to differentiate the bigot employer from the egalitarian. Either they are paid a market wage as subjectively understood from the negotiations of wages or they do not. Some will object that this places the burden on women to call out sexism when they see it. Some will argue that the federal government needs to come save women from this burden. I think these arguments assume both a premise of weakness in women to stand up for themselves and the power of government to fix all evils in the world.

On every front this law fails to solve the problem and yet leftist-activists will continue to argue that “we need to do something.” Often seen in anti-gun activists, the social justice folks tend to the same habit, to this argument action matters more then what costs those actions create. The underlying premise to this argument is that government can solve all problems. There is a world of difference between claiming government can, in some cases, be a mechanism for justice and claiming that government is capable of providing justice in all circumstances. 

This does not suggest that the aggregate outcome in question is not a real problem. That it is not an injustice or that it demands interested action from third parties. It only means that maybe a law might not be the solution.  Underneath this discussion about the role of government is the debate about social norms. Where do they come from? How do they affect individual behavior? For example, I do not think equal pay advocates would condemn a woman for choosing a poorer paying career path because she enjoys the job more than a potentially higher paying one. But approximately 20% of the pay gap, according to some studies, is explained by that sort of decision making.

The difference in worldview highlighted here is the difference between believing that individual behaviors spontaneously create social norms and believing government can guide or create those norms. Ironically, this is one of the areas in which radical leftists and big government conservatives tend to unite in disagreement. Rick Santorum wants to prohibit gay marriage in order to centrally plan morality. So did Hillary, but she’s “evolved” past that. Nice to have you on board, Hill. But today she wants to centrally plan freedom of association and religious expression norms. As long as it bans what they find to be yucky and as long as you can’t use that freedom in a way they disagree with, Hill and Rick are cool with your liberty.

To be generous to these two, it is an easy trap to fall into. It’s a gut reaction. I don’t like X; therefore, lets have the guys with all the guns ban it. One can be at any place in the political spectrum and forget to see the bottom up knowledge created by the spontaneous ordering of norms that in individual action create culture. This view of the world that splits the voluntary mass civil society from the coercive elite society is seen all over. Everything from drug laws (glad to see Glen Beck seeing the light) and gun laws (progressives) illustrates this point. Despite massive spending to end drug use or to ban guns people continue to use drugs and find guns to own. And before you engage in, “well government has to do something,” note that the US banned sanctioned murder decades before dueling disappeared. Culture, spontaneous ordering for norms and values are upstream of politics and legislation. They are the Laws of social order, you #mtleg folks are the legislators; the difference is subtle but crucial.

My advice for you, dear reader, is to check your premise. That’s the subject of my next Identity Politics post.

One of the many mysteries that seems to pervade the state political landscape is the existence of MTCowgirl, a shrill anonymous blog run by state employees who’ve been involved and working in Helena for at least the last decade or more.  Many people have tried to figure out this mysterious person behind the persona who seems to have a nasty habit of leaking politically expedient information and call everyone they don’t agree with names.  Many prominent Democrats have used the anonymous forum to spout talking points about their political opponents, never once pausing to wonder why they seem to need to use anonymous attack blogs to spout their opinions about anonymous speech in politics.

[Editor’s note: a quick list of known or likely Cowgirl writers appears at the bottom of this post]

I’ve never been particularly enamored with the blog, since I’ve often found the writing to be riddled more with hyperbole and personal shots than real substance.  If you actually research the history of claims made, many of them have turned out to be patently wrong and based on nothing more than speculation and a need to fuel political fires in the state and direct the conversations of their leftist base and the media to their chosen narrative.  (Cowgirl told me Steve Daines wasn’t even going to run for Senate because things were so bad for him!)

However, one recent article on Salon did spark my interest.  More on that in a moment.

If you had to guess the characteristics of the person who’s running Cowgirl, what are some traits you’d list?



Does this seem like an avatar that any self-respecting feminist or woman in general would choose for themselves? It meets almost every caricature of a woman that most modern feminists hate.  Blonde hair.  Blue eyes.  Pink earrings/hat/belt. Huge boobs.  Unrealistically tiny waist with midriff showing.  This is basically Adolf Hitler’s wet dream of a woman, and yet for some reason we’re supposed to believe that a woman decided this was to be her vision of herself to the world.  No, this caricature could have only come from the mind of a man.

Almost certainly government employee, at least since Brian Schweitzer was governor.
In one of the only pursuits of Cowgirl, it was found that they were accessing state computer systems through an open network with an IP address linked back to the Department of Administration.  An article in Politico and carried widely at the time even quotes Brian Schweitzer’s “senior counselor” Eric Stern as denying any knowledge of the blogger.  The time period in question also corresponds almost exactly with the time Governor Schweitzer was elected and sworn into office, along with his trusted advisor.  In addition, having access to the Capitol gives Cowgirl a paid gig to go back and do oppo research on political opponents through access to government documents from before 2004.

Fierce loyalty to Brian Schweitzer
One thing that also came out of the debacle involving the exposure of the pseudonym using taxpayer resources was also the mystery of how documents sensitive to political opponents of Schweitzer suddenly started appearing in public.  The Associated Press at the time indicated Mr. Stern had committed several ethics violations in related to documents in a COPP complaint against Governor Schweitzer, and other media outlets at the time noted that Stern wasn’t even licensed to practice law in the state when all the complaints against the governor were being investigated.  The Bozeman Daily Chronicle characterizes MTCowgirl’s fierce pattern of defending Schweitzer and using the site to attack his critics thusly:

“It’s not the first time the anonymous Montana Cowgirl — an ardent backer of Gov. Brian Schweitzer — has raised suspicion. The blogger has refused to reveal his or her identity.

Past posts by the blogger have even released on the Internet potentially incriminating Department of Labor enforcement documents sent to one of Schweitzer’s political critics — even before one of those letters was received by the businessman being investigated. The Labor Department said those documents were never released to a member of the news media or public.

The blogger also has arduously defended the governor, and lampooned even those fellow Democrats whom Schweitzer has been at odds with — such as senior U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.

Eric Stern, senior counselor to the governor, said the governor’s office knows nothing about the identity of a blogger who was promised anonymity by his or her former hosts at the liberal Left In The West blog.”

I have no clue when they first met, but Schweitzer and Stern have a lot in common and work well together, from a political standpoint.  Both share interests in environmental matters ranging from coal in Montana to preserving the outdoors.  When Schweitzer was finally term-limited out, Stern ended up as the Deputy Secretary of State under Linda McCullouch, along with Schweitzer’s daughter, Katrina. Both are still listed as employees on the Secretary of State’s office directory.  One would have to argue pretty hard to imagine they were both given these positions exclusively because of their qualifications, and not because of any political connections they both have to the elder Schweitzer.  But then again, what would happen if you just appointed people as favors and not based upon qualification, right?  It’s not like basing hiring decisions on favoritism would do anything drastic, like cause the entire Secretary of State’s website to crash on Election Night, right? Oh…

For a bit of history, Stern also plays prominently in several Schweitzer blowups we’ve seen in the past few years.  Let’s explore that to better understand the relationship and where Stern/Cowgirl fits in.

Brian Schweitzer calls out Mitt Romney’s “polygamous” past

Because it’s one thing you can always count on with Schweitzer, a lack of class, in 2012 Brian Schweitzer was quoted by a reporter saying he thinks that Romney’s Mormon faith, and in particular, his father’s links to a polygamous Mormon commune in Mexico could hurt his presidential chances.  Schweitzer was doing his part by making an assertion and innuendo to get into the media consciousness. Once it blew up in the national media that Schweitzer was again running his mouth off again to smear a political opponent, Stern et. al had to do some damage control.

It’s worth noting here that Cowgirl runs a post on the exact same day that the Daily Beast runs the story of Schweitzer’s quotes.
Let me take a line from that post:

Schweitzer also made a somewhat unusual point: that Romney, who has degraded and insulted hispanics during his Republican primary, will be unable to discuss his personal Mexican heritage as a way of making himself more palatable to Latino voters.”

Note, at this point, the media was only covering what Schweitzer had said about his father’s background on a polygamous commune.  They got what they wanted.  An outrageous claim, via Schweitzer.  It was Cowgirl who on the very same day was reminding people that the reason point here was not the polygamous commune, but Romney’s struggle to sell himself to Hispanic voters because of his earlier offensive immigration positions.  The very next day, when the media wanted “clarification,” did Stern suddenly start sending out press releases to let everyone know that they got it all wrong, what he really meant was what was posted on the anonymous blog the day before you media dummies!  Romney’s immigration stances were what was so bad, not the polygamy!

It’s interesting to note one thing, and that is the change in Stern’s response to various media outlets, of which Politico took notice.  Here’s the initial statement that was given to The Daily Beast, the same outlet that originally ran Schweitzer’s comments:

“The governor believes exactly what he said: that Romney is in a pickle. He’s in serious trouble with Hispanics because he took a crazy, extreme position on immigration during the primary (deport even those who may have come here illegally 50 years ago who have children and grandchildren who are naturalized citizens)…Romney will probably not choose to highlight his own family’s connection to Mexico as a way of reaching out to Hispanics, because that history involves a polygamy colony, which is something that Romney doesn’t like to discuss.”

However, someone realizes this might be a tad harsh of a statement to make on a national stage, so it changes to:

“The governor meant what he said, precisely. It has nothing to do with Mr. Romney’s faith or the Mormon church, both of which the governor knows reject polygamy,” Schweitzer adviser Eric Stern said in a statement to POLITICO.  “Rather, Mr. Schweitzer was describing a strategic problem that Romney faces, politically speaking: that Romney is in serious trouble with Hispanic voters because [he] took an ultra right-wing position on immigration during the primary; that to reach out to Hispanic voters Romney would probably like to be able to discuss the fact that his father was born in Mexico; but, that this is awkward for Romney to discuss, because it requires discussing, as well, the fact that his father was born into a polygamy colony.”

For the record, here’s what The Daily Beast actually reported Schweitzer saying the same day Cowgirl was praising his “unusual point” which is never actually in the article:

While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic. Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”

So Stern twice puts out statements saying that Schweitzer both “believes exactly what he said,” and “meant what he said, precisely.” However, if you read the above paragraph, he never was quoted as saying that at all.  The only place that point existed until Eric Stern and Brian Schweitzer started doing damage control was on an anonymous blog linking to the original Daily Beast piece.

So let’s establish a timeline.

April 19th, 2012:

~Schweitzer tells Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast Romney will have a tall order ahead of him, and gives 3 more quotes about the polygamous commune.  Not one mention anywhere of Romney’s immigration stance.
~That same day MTCowgirl publishes an article the same day, and claims Schweitzer highlighted an unusual point about Romney’s immigration stance being unpalatable to voters, although if you read the article Cowgirl actually links to, this point isn’t made anywhere.  From the headline to the lede to the long quotes from Schweitzer, there is only one mention of him doing poorly with Hispanics, and that is in the context of the polygamy issue.  Romney’s stances during the primary coming back to haunt him don’t appear in the article anywhere at this point, only on the Cowgirl blog.

April 20th, 2012:

~National media wants clarification, so “special counselor” to Governor Schweitzer Eric Stern sends out strongly worded press releases telling the media they totally missed the point!  It was all about the immigration stances, not the commune! I mean, the commune was icing, but it was the immigration stances, dummies! Official stance of governor Schweitzer then changes and softens several times, depending on which outlet contacts Stern.

This is all documented.  One would have to think pretty hard to find some sort of explanation in which Cowgirl posts a link to the Daily Beast article summarizing it with talking points on immigration stances that aren’t in the story, then Stern comes out the next day and corrects all relevant media to the original talking points posted anonymously the day before.  I find it hard to believe this is all just some coincidence, considering the timeline.

Side note on Schweitzer/Stern forming relationships with “news” entities

One thing I’d like to note is the relationship between Stern/Schweitzer/Cowgirl et al and particular “news” outlets.  It’s pretty widely known among the Montana press corps that while Schweitzer was in office they loved to pick and choose which journalists got the scoops and phone calls back from the Governor.  When Schweitzer originally gave the interview in which he called out Romney for his “polygamous” past, it was Daily Beast who got the scoop.  When it came time to calm the media firestorm the first outlet to get the first draft of Stern’s redirection about Romney’s primary problems was the same media outlet, The Daily Beast.

Then, when a reporter wanted a free trip to Montana to follow Brian around his property doing manly things and calling gay men gay and women whores, it was National Journal who got the scoop.  Now it’s 2015 and when Schweitzer/Bullock/Stern/MTCowgirl and company need a vaguely reputable sounding “news” agency to report their oppo research, guess where it comes from?  For example, on April 10th MTCowgirl links to a public document Gianforte submitted to the Bozeman City Commission opposing the NDO on issues of religious freedom proclaiming it’s really a secret Crusade on Hallowen.  On April 13th guess who does a speculative profile of Gianforte citing the exact same email?  If you guessed National Journal, give yourself a bell!

Brian Schweitzer stays in the media with Senate/Presidential Speculation

Between leaving office in 2013 and his National Journal article in June of 2014, Schweitzer did not stay silent.  In spring of 2013 when Sen. Max Baucus retired, almost all the press turned to Schweitzer and waited like salivating wolves for Schweitzer’s announcement to run for Baucus’ seat.  In some ways, it’s feasible to imagine that Schweitzer helped force Baucus out.  As early as June 2011 Cowgirl was putting out meat for the base showing Schweitzer beating Baucus by 20 points in a primary matchup.  Cowgirl continued hammering Baucus in the twilight of Schweitzer’s term for his pocketing of evil Koch dollars.  A month after Schweitzer vacates the governor’s mansion he’s still putting up polling for the base showing Baucus going down in a primary and speculates,

“my take has always been that such a matchup will never occur.  Baucus will either run uncontested with Schweitzer moving on to another career; or, if Schweitzer does decide to jump in, Baucus will jump out.  A third scenario is that Baucus jumps out even without Schweitzer running, to take a job as a judge or ambassador.”

Despite campaigns to ‘Draft Brian Schweitzer’ for the US Senate, (hey Montana liberals, ever wonder where all that money you donated for Brian’s Senate campaign ended up?) and most belief among Democrats and the media that he would get in, Schweitzer bowed out literally hours before he was set to announce a run for Baucus’ seat.  While only some will know the exact reason Schweitzer ended up choosing not to run, he and Stern essentially had two choices.  The last time Brian had run for a Senate seat against Burns in 2000, he had lost.  Now he was anticipating running in a off-year election, already tough for Democrats, and he was going up against a National Media and Republican Opposition Research team that was going to be much harder on him than the state media had ever been.  And he still had the presidency in 2016 to run for!

(As an aside, I don’t know why any Democrats would still support Stern/Schweitzer at this point.  He’d already had spats with Tester, the man who took the Senate seat away from Burns he couldn’t quite wrestle in 2000, and now he basically forced out a strong incumbent who was a fundraising powerhouse for the state political machine so he could…back out at the last minute and leave the party with no bench, no strong candidates and no more Baucus DC Rolodex to help divert money back to Montana Democrats.  If you want to know why John Walsh’s name eventually got scratched off a plaque at the Army war college and trace it back far enough, you can easily blame Schweitzer.  If you want to know why the state just hired a woman who lived in DC 11 of the past 13 years, that DC Rolodex void left by Baucus is a good start.)

Schweitzer bows out of Senate race, kills Presidential dreams with foot-in-mouth disease

So Schweitzer chose the latter.  He set up a TV studio to be a television pundit in the meantime and raise his national profile.  He said folksy things to everyone who would listen, and generally put himself in a position that one might want to be in for a Democratic primary.  While some in the base would question his positions on things like the 2nd Amendment, coal etc. he also started publicly attacking Obama and Clinton as corporatists and in bed with Wall Street.  Let me say here that in this regard, Schweitzer was right.  For one, the base is way more in love with people like Elizabeth Warren than Hillary, and we’ll see the desire of the Democratic base to not be handed again yet another “palatable” candidate by their overlords play out over the next 6-9 months.  Second, the first primaries are not in ultra-liberal states.  Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are not liberal like California, New York and Illinois are liberal.  Republicans can still win in those states and have huge rural populations, so a Democrat like Brian Schweitzer probably has a better chance in those early states than some might want to give him.

And what was Brian supposed to think? He was getting plenty of great press, more TV time etc. by filling in the populist, anti-Hillary narrative the media loved.  Time did a profile of Brian in which he laid out his qualifications and made some comments about the corporate nature of people like Hillary and Obama.  But then came National Journal piece, and it was just a bit too much for the base.  In the profile Schweitzer said he had his “gaydar” pinged by Eric Cantor and that southern men tended to be effeminate.  He also referred to Sen. Dianne Feinstein as a sex worker for her hypocrisy on NSA spying.  His comments later became reprinted as calling Feinstein a whore, and he was forced to “deeply apologize” for the insensitive remarks.

‘Feminist’ blog Cowgirl/Schweitzer surrogate defends calling Actual Feminist Icon a “Whore”

One thing that stands out is MTCowgirl’s take on the situation a few days later.  Let me quote provide a few quotes. “Not Schweitzer’s finest moment and comments that must here, on a feminist blog, be condemned.” “I do suppose calling a politician a whore is a unisex thing too:”  What self-described feminist liberal female would ever defend calling Sen. Feinstein a whore?!?  These are the same politicians who went to the New York Times proclaiming a dress code asking for sensitivity to cleavage and skirt length was Republicans declaring a War on Women and wanting to drag women back to the 1950s and Mad Men days!

This wholly affirms my belief that the chief author of the blog is a MALE Stern, and not at all female.  Much in the same way no self-respecting feminist, liberal female would choose a blonde-haired, blue eyes, large breasted, small-waisted, mid-riffed avatar for themselves, no self-respecting liberal feminist would do anything but wholly denounce characterizing feminist icon Diane Feinstein as a sex worker. For reference, Dianne Feinstein is held up as a saint of 2nd wave feminism since she courageously stood in front of live television cameras and announced to the world the death of gay rights icon Harvey Milk.  No one who describes themselves as a feminist female would ever try to defend Schweitzer’s words here.  No, this spin can only come from the Schweitzer camp itself, and the man who until a few days prior was helping steer the gravy train to Iowa and might have still held out hope for a presidential run and was doing damage control.

Eric Stern as author and media commentator

Deputy Secretary of State Stern has quite a prolific online life aside from managing and writing Cowgirl, just ask himself through his Wikipedia profile. (According to the Wikipedia page edits, while some edits have come from California and long-deleted Wikipedia user profiles, the traceable IP addresses that do the largest amount of editing oddly enough go to Helena, Montana.)  On his Facebook page, he regularly promotes his gigs at, MSNBC… oh I’ll just let him tell it himself via his Wikipedia.  “He has also written as a guest columnist for the New York Times[5]and Salon Magazine[6][7] and has been a political commentator on MSNBC, CNN, the Larry King show Larry King Show[1] and Bloomberg TV andRadio.[8]He is a former Clinton Administration aide and a graduate of Columbia Law School and Connecticut College. He led Mexico’s 2003–04 effort to acquire a Major League Baseball franchise.[9][10] Stern’s father is David Stern, former Commissioner of the National Basketball Association.”

Unfortunately as Cowgirl found out in 2010, having a prolific online life can sometimes come back to haunt you.  Writing style, subjects and “facts” that you often include actually can be very helpful in acting like an online fingerprint.  Mr. Stern as both personas has a handful of things that he writes about regularly in many forums.  These include his Jewish heritage, his hatred of the Koch Bros and Americans for Prosperity, and debunking Sean Hannity and evil right wingers.

Commonalities between Stern and Cowgirl

Before I go into specifics, I want to comment on some things both Cowgirl and Stern have in common.  One is a tendency to act very vitriolically and condescendingly in their writings.  Both are filled with name-calling including the same jibes at “wingnuts,” “nutjobs,” “imbeciles,” “idiots” etc.  Tea partiers are particularly evil to both, being often called stupid and racist no matter which persona or outlet Stern chooses to pen for.  Second, an obsession with the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity.  I don’t even think this one needs explaining.  He’s even gotten to help Schweitzer write columns for state newspaper accusing them of hypocrisy.

Stern’s Salon pieces display many similarities and obscure references only shared by Cowgirl

On Tuesday, April 21st Stern penned another column for Salon entitled, “Kochs Defeated in Montana: 6 lessons the country can learn from this rural Western State.” The article includes the normal Stern/Cowgirl anti-AFP/Koch hate, but one tidbit struck out at me, this line:

 “Next they brought in a man who was once part of a religious cult whose members all descended into a bunker on March 15, 1990, believing that the world would end that very day.”

Huh?  Who in their right mind would ever know so much about another person as to know that they belonged to a cult that descended into a bunker in 1990 thinking the world would end?  I’m so glad you asked.

I didn’t know what that statement meant.  It was so niche, so obscure, so inside, that you really would have to know what Stern is talking about to understand the reference.  It took some Googling, but I finally found this Syracuse University Political Science Dissertation that gave me the reference.  It refers to the Church Universal and Triumphant, a quasi-religious group near Gardiner whom apparently former AFP director Henry Kriegel used to be a member of.

If you Google search Henry Kriegel and various combinations of “CUT/Church Universal” etc., very little comes up.  One is an original article in the LA Times, which is where I assumed Stern found the information originally.  There is also one other small mention in an MHRN newsletter from 2011, a little after a year after Cowgirl first reported the mention.  However, aside from Stern pulling up this tucked away fun fact last week for his Salon piece, there are almost no other mentions of this fact, aside from Cowgirl’s website.  And it’s not as if Cowgirl just casually mentioned it once.  “Henry Kriegel” is one of the tags that comes up so often that there is a 2nd page of articles with the tag.  Cowgirl includes the Kriegel/Cut tie over,and over, and over, and over, and over, and over.

If it’s one thing that Democrats and liberals hate, it’s minorities who identify as conservative.  Democrats routinely lecture everyone on how they and their policies are the only ones who really care about women/blacks/Hispanics/gays/Jews etc.  Which explains why a liberal New Jersey transplanted Jew who’s wrote in the New York Times about the Jewish experience in Montana might seem a bit… obsessed with a conservative New York transplanted Jew who works for Republicans and headed an organization he LOATHES and spends significant portions of his time under both monikers attacking.  Once you realize that Stern is no longer just attacking evil, stupid Tea party Republicans, but another man of his faith, who also chose Montana as his home, who is also a Koch puppet evil, stupid Tea party Republican, then you can understand why the tag “Henry Kriegel” is one of the only topics on MTCowgirl that has been written about so much it requires multiple pages of search results for the tag.

Similarities in writing

Now, I want to get into some more actual substance that I believe prove Stern is the primary author and mastermind of the Cowgirl blog.  I suppose if you were trying the case, it would be very easy to just say it’s entirely coincidence that anti-Koch pieces suddenly show up in Montana newspapers by Schweitzer, show up on Cowgirl and then also show up in Stern’s pieces in Salon.

One thing that has emerged in the last several years in more and more use is the assistance of computer technology to analyze writing samples.  While primarily used in academia to prevent plagiarism and fraud among students (ask John Walsh), they can also be used to compare writing styles, sentence structure, use of words and such for authors.  In testing my theory I took several samples of Cowgirl’s writing and ran them through programs like University of Texas – Austin’s stylometry software, among others.  When I did, among a half dozen samples, every time I was given scores of 80-92% confidence that Cowgirl and Stern’s writing was one in the same.  I don’t suppose you have to believe me, but try it out for yourself if you wish.

Stern uses “Nutjob Bill” lists for public and anonymous personas

In addition to the commonality of use of insults, special inside knowledge of Stern press releases before they are released to the public, special attention to other Jews he believes are evil traitors for having different political philosophies etc., Stern’s public pieces and passions match up almost exactly.  Let’s compare:

Stern does a piece for Salon in February citing the “10 truly bizarre Tea Party Bills.”
One week later Cowgirl does a “Nutjob Bills in the Montana Legislature” piece.
Let’s compare the bills:

Stern in Salon:
1) Prepare for National Ammunition shortage (SB 122). (same as Cowgirl)
2) Establish Armed Militias in Every Town (SB 130) (same as Cowgirl)
3) Require that nipples and areolae be fully concealed; prohibit “simulated genitalia” (HB 365) (same as Cowgirl)
4) Montana Legislative Dress Code. (not same)
5) “Encourage Critical Thinking in the Classroom” HB 321 (not same)
6) Allow Concealed Weapons in Bars, Banks, and on Campuses (HB 371, SB 143). (same as Cowgirl)
7) Ban “Foreign or Religious Law” From American Courts (SB 199). (same as Cowgirl)
8) Return All Federal Lands to State Ownership (LC 1758 et al) (same as Cowgirl)
9) Nullify All Federal Gun Laws (HB 203). (same as Cowgirl)
10) Allow Hunting With Silencers (HB 250). (same as Cowgirl)

1. Exempt political ads by churches from campaign finance laws by classifying them as news reports. LC 1942 by David Howard (R-TEA Park City)
2. Require federalism training for state employees. LC 1760 by Jennifer Fielder (TEA-Noxon)
3. Create a state militia and outfit them with uniforms. SB 130 by Roger Webb (R-TEA Billings)
4. Ban Sharia law from Montana courts. SB 199 by Janna Taylor (R-TEA Datyon)
5. Force the secession of all federal public lands within MT borders from the United States government. SB 274 by Jennifer Fielder (TEA-Noxon)
6. Prohibit the state Board of Education from establishing math and reading standards. HB 376by Debra Lamm (TEA-Livingston) and rescind any math and reading standards the state may already have established. HB 377 by same.
7. Prohibiting the use of technology for controlling human activity and outlaw the indoctrination of children for global citizenship. HB 583 by Randall Pinocci (TEA-Sun River)
8. Eliminate the ability of law enforcement to use animal shelter staff to assist in the rescue and sheltering of animals in cases of alleged animal cruelty and abuse, because animal shelter staff are probably terrorists.  HB 179  by Theresa Manzella (TEA-Ravalli County)
9. Allow hunting with silencers. HB 250 by Kirk Wagoner (R-TEA Jackson Creek)
10. Allow hunting of mountain lions and wolves with silencers. HB 450 by Kirk Wagoner (R-TEA Jackson Creek)
11. Legalize even more hunting with silencers SB 295. by Mark Blasdel (R-TEA Kalispell)
12. Legalize guns and rifles in school parking lots. HB 320 by Carl Glimm (R-TEA Ashley Lake)
13. Legalize guns and rifles in office parking lots. HB 505 the official title of which is “establish employee safe travel to work laws”, by Matthew Monforton (TEA-Bozeman)
14. Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, parks, and schools. HB 371 by Rep. Kerry White (TEA-Bozeman)
15. Legalize guns on college campuses. by Rep. Cary Smith SB 143 (R-TEA Billings)
16. Allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon. HB 298   Bill Harris (R-Winnett)
17. Nullify all federal gun laws. HB 203 by Rep. Art Wittich (R-TEA Bozeman)
18. Encourage the manufacturing of ammunition to prevent a national shortage. HB 122 by Matthew Rosedale (R-TEA Glendive)
19. Allow anyone to refuse to vaccinate their children for any reason.  Amendment to HB 158 by Rep. Greg Hertz (R-TEA Polson)
20. Make it illegal to don a costume that would make it appear you might be naked or which includes a prosthetic anus. HB 365 by David “Doc” Moore (R-Missoula)
21. Prohibit the use of drones to spy on hunters or interfere with “post-hunting activities.” HB 278 by Jeff Essmann (R-TEA Billings)

How much cross-over? Out of the 10 mentioned by Stern in Salon, 8 of them are also duplicated on Cowgirl. (Though, to be fair, the Montana Dress Code was never technically a bill.)  Obviously someone as intelligent as Stern wouldn’t make the pieces word for word, but the substance here is close to being identical.

“Crazy Bill” lists are actually not a recent feature of Cowgirl.  Cowgirl compiled a list for the 2013 session, and the 2011 session.

Stern uses identical Cowgirl “Nutjob Bill” content in Tedx Whitefish talk

Here’s where it gets very interesting and Stern may have failed to properly cover his tracks.  In addition to all the fame Mr. Stern has seen through his columns at Salon, New York Times yadda yadda yadda, he applied and was accepted to give aTedx talk in Whitefish in 2014.  The subject of the talk was “Montana and America’s Energy Future.”  Here he is on stage giving his talk:

While most of the presentation is smart information on coal and renewable energy sources, one thing stood out to me, a slide about bills in the Montana legislature, pictured behind him.  Why is this even in a “non-partisan” presentation about energy?  Stern can’t help himself except to wink and nod to the audience the “crazy” bills all come from one party (not his).

Let’s see the slide behind him a bit better.


There’s something fishy here.  If you compare the bills listed in the slides where Stern acknowledges he’s not supposed to be political in a Ted talk, but does so anywhere, they look very familiar, almost identical in some cases. Look back at his recap of the 2011 session.

Here’s the same graphic, with the bills almost in the same order, much of the text copied WORD for WORD from the Cowgirl post to Stern’s.  Text that matches the Cowgirl list is circled in red.


Here’s the original post from Cowgirl showing the first 5 entries matching word for word:


Notice how almost everything from the wording, the spacing, the hypens, the Capitalization, the order of the crazy bills etc match.  Interestingly enough, of the 3 “Crazy Bills” that don’t match the Cowgirl post, at least one is mentioned in the comments of the same “Nutjob Bills” post by Cowgirl.

Stern signs Tedx legal release form claiming authorship over material identical to Cowgirl post

Well… Stern just loves his alter-ego so much he probably just copy and pasted the list, you say!  No.  You can’t say that.  Eric Stern is a graduate of Columbia University law school.  His own self-written Wikipedia page touts him as the personal legal advisor to Schweitzer.

Tedx is a pretty widespread thing now and several have been hosted in Montana.  One requirement of all Tedx speakers no matter where the conference is held is the signing of a release form that is standard for all speakers.  Here’s part of that release form:

“You affirm that: (i) you have the full power and authority to grant the rights and releases set forth in this Release; (ii) you are the sole author of the Presentation;”

Yes, that’s correct.  Eric Stern, Columbia law school graduate (although, maybe not an actual lawyer in Montana?) and senior advisor to Schweitzer signed a public document stating every word and slide that of Tedx speech is his own original work. Not copy and pasted from a blog, but his own original work, which just happens to match word for word anonymous Cowgirl blog.  Even the language wasn’t changed that much.  In going from Cowgirl to Tedx he just changed the title from “Nutjob Bills” to “Crazy Bills,” although the deragatory language standard with all Cowgirl/Stern writing still remains intact.

There is one more part to that release:

“If any third party claims that the use of the Presentation violates its rights, you agree to cooperate fully with TEDx__ and TED to defend against or otherwise respond to such claim.”

You want to guess when Cowgirl is going to come forth and claim copyrights on his own work being plagiarized by Stern? Don’t hold your breath too long…

I also wonder about the reputation of Tedx.  Tedx is like a cultural wet dream for liberals.  What would the international organization think of one of their presenters besmearching their goood name? Would the larger Tedx organization need to do a full investigation to see why Mr. Stern’s content matches exactly an anonymous attack blog run from Helena with taxpayer dollars?  One would hope they would be just as eager to investigate this discrepancy as those in politics.


Let’s recap the connections, shall we?

1) Cowgirl is written by a “female” writer who has no trouble using one of the most stereotypical sexist avatars in existence and is also a liberal feminist who defends Schweitzer’s use of whore in describing a feminist icon.  As a side note, I also don’t think that Cowgirl is gay.  Gay rights organizers in the state have previously called out Cowgirl for homophobic posts attacking Republicans’ masculinity.  Additionally, Cowgirl has attacked Baucus for his Koch connections, but hasn’t attacked Baucus for his anti-gay ads in the 2002 Senate race, even praising the homophobic attacks against Mike Taylor because he is married to Republican legislator Janna Taylor.  People who identify as women or gay (or even liberal) generally don’t generally show such callous disregard for flippant instances of attacks on minorities, especially if they actually identify with that group themselves.

2) Stern has long history of government employment under Schweitzer and now McCulloch/Bullock.  Has access to numerous government documents to do research on political opponents on taxpayer dime.

3) With such a small state there are really only a handful of people with as extensive and in-depth knowledge of the Montana political landscape.  Stern has a legal background, and serves as Deputy Secretary of State.  Cowgirl accuses “tea partiers” of breaking very specific Election Laws very few people outside of lawyers and SoS staff would even be familiar with, much less know the ins and outs, histories etc. of such a broad range of political figures in the state.  Very few people would also have the means to immediately research such topics without working in Helena.

4) Stern has history of going after political opponents and improperly contacting judges in COPP complaints regarding Schweitzer’s activities.

5) MTCowgirl and Eric Stern both write extensively about the same subjects.  ie AFP, Koch Brothers.

6) Stern article from April 21st contains obscure reference written about almost no where else, but documented thoroughly and repeatedly on MTCowgirl site.  Similar upbringings on the East Coast, Jewish heritage, political interest etc. further solidify links between Kriegel/Cowgirl/Stern.  (Next time you see Cowgirl qualifying every mention of Greg Gianforte as a “right wing billionaire transplant from New Jersey,” remember that Stern also grew up in New Jersey)

7) The same day Schweitzer’s article about Romney’s polygamy appears in National Journal, Cowgirl writes a post praising Schweitzer for an “unusual point” about Romney’s immigration position in the primary being off-putting to Hispanic voters.  This “unusual point” doesn’t actually appear in the article, but does appear the next day when Stern sends off frantic press releases to national media clarifying what Schweitzer really meant.

8) Stern and Cowgirl show more fierce loyalty to Schweitzer in media speculation while Schweitzer is leaving office and stays in the press bashing Baucus until his retirement, during speculation he will run for Senate, buildup of Senate announcement, eventual drop-out, and then from time Schweitzer continues speculation on presidential run until Feinstein comments.  Cowgirl tries to defend Schweitzer to base after large outcry over Schweitzer’s comments, and uses blog to help further speculation on Schweitzer’s political plans and get opponents out of the way.

9) Cowgirl is almost outed when in 2010 his IP address is able to be traced to the Department of State Administration in Helena.  Eric Sterns goes on record saying the governor’s office doesn’t know the identity of the blogger, but confirmation is had that state systems are being used for the blog.  Many state employees also now bring personal laptops to work to avoid their activity being traced through FOIA requests or IP traces.

10) Stern has written publicly attacking the same issues and people in Salon and other outlets.  Stylometry analysis of various pieces put 80-90% confidence in the authors being the same.  Consistent use of same attacks on people, organizations and totally obscure facts also puts same fingerprint on the “two” writers.

11) Cowgirl has written 3 periodic “Nutjob Bills” pieces from the 2011, 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions.  Pieces from the 2015 session that also mirrored Stern’s public pieces on Salon contain over 80% of the same information from the piece on Cowgirl.

12) Stern gives Tedx Whitefish talk in May 2014 and signs legal release stating all information in his speech and slideshow are by his own exclusive hand.  Large portions (80% total) of the list match word for word, space for space, punctuation for punctuation, sequence for sequence, exactly to a 2011 piece by Cowgirl.

13) Interestingly enough, almost everyone I’ve asked about this subject names Eric Stern as the author of Cowgirl, although several authors believe he has help.  Art Wittich has even named him on his Twitter as the author.  I also find it strange that this “anonymous” author is able to get so many people, including Democratic legislators and officials to write guest pieces for the blog.  The more I researched this piece, the less I got that it was a “secret” of any sort that Stern was writing as Cowgirl, and more that it would take an outright admission by Stern for it to matter.

I think the information I’ve compiled is thorough enough that Stern needs to start answering questions about specific instances.  Specifically things like 1) Why did Cowgirl have information that was released to the press a day after Schweitzer’s Mitt Romney interview that wasn’t contained in the original interview?  and 2) Why would you sign a release to the Tedx organization stating you are the sole author of your presentation when it’s so easily traced back to a 3 year old piece by Cowgirl?  3) How does Stern explain writing obscure information about Kriegel’s past when that information is found no where else, but is referenced often on Cowgirl’s blog?  These 3 specific instances go far beyond the plausibility of mere coincidence and show a direct link between Stern and the Cowgirl blog.


What happens now?  Well I suppose it depends on a couple of things.

#1 How much will the press do their job?

Conservatives have been rightly angry about the bias displayed by the mainstream media in Montana and how much scrutiny is given to Republican candidates vs. Democrats.  But at the same time, this is a juicy story and one that deserves to be investigated.  For a political crony of Brian Schweitzer to not only be using state time and resources to run anonymous attacks on his political opponents (of both parties, I might add), but for him to be kept on in McCulloch’s office at the Secretary of State in the same political favoritism job that was also given to Schweitzer’s daughter is most likely criminal.  Whether Bullock or McCulloch owed Schweitzer, kept Stern and his daughter on as a favor or thought it was good politically to keep him on the payroll to continue using his taxpayer salary, benefits and pension to go after Republicans is something that needs to be answered.  I would love to know how the press would treat a Republican administration if it was allowing state employees to bring personal laptops to work to conduct state business in a way that can’t be traced or subject to FOIA requests.  How would the press respond it if were a governor Martz or Hill using state positions and cash to do off the books attacks on political opponents?

#2 How much could this feed into Republican’s narratives of corruption in 2016?

The Schweitzer/Stern machine is done, with the latest foot-in-mouth episode ruining their Disney presidential dreams.  But Bullock is still very much alive and kicking in the governor’s mansion, and may face a strong, well-funded opponent if Gianforte or another heavy-weight like Hill or Rehberg get in the race.  The GOP was very effective in 2014 in tying charges of cronyism around Bullock’s neck in his appointment of Walsh to Baucus’ Senate seat without any public input.  Walsh’s history of being reprimanded for personal gain in his role as Adjudant General and later having to resign his campaign in disgrace when it came to light he plagiarized his master’s thesis at the Army War college give the GOP something any smart political operative is going to run with and tie back to Bullock and his judgment of who he appoints around him.  Does Bullock really want to sit by and defend a has-been he appointed as a favor to Schweitzer in hopes it might help him?  On balance, I doubt the benefits Stern provides through his government job used to research opposition and post it anonymously on a shrill blog only read by political wonks outweigh the noose that could be hefted upon Bullock’s neck as more incidents of political cronyism come to light and pile on to his public image.  With Bullock being a #1 target nationally of groups like the Republican Governor’s Association, they might prefer he keep Stern around so they have more to throw on TV and mail next year.  Only time will tell…

Other authors

In addition to Stern, many believe other people, perhaps as many as a dozen, have at one time been Cowgirl writers, especially considering the “evolution” of the blog since Schweitzer left office. Here are a few of the other hypothesized authors:

Jessica Rhoades. She worked with Stern under Schweitzer and is supposedly Stern’s girlfriend.  One reporter stated they were able to get someone with a female voice on the phone to claim to be Cowgirl. Rhoades was also connected to the IP address scandal, reported here in the Bozeman Chronicle and here by one of Montana’s top political reporters, John Adams.

The Department of Administration, provided with detail on the IP address of some posts, was able to identify that the blogger had been accessing — all day long at times — the state wireless guest system through a hookup in the Office of Public Instruction using an Apple Macintosh laptop.

The agency spokeswoman at the time, Jessica Rhoades, said it was not coming from the agency.

Rhoades, who recently went to work for the governor’s office, said the agency’s information technology found at that time the wireless system could theoretically be accessed by someone sitting in the parking lot.

If Stern’s girlfriend, another public employee, is also using her position to attack people anonymously, it will only feed into the evidence that Bullock and the Democrats are stacking more people into state government for the purposes of attacking Republicans with taxpayer dollars and using state positions as rewards for allies.

Jesse Laslovich. Former state legislator and Democrat candidate for state offices. Someone with higher political ambitions should be grilled on the campaign trail about connections to anonymous blog that has repeatedly abused state resources to attack political opponents.

Jayson O’Neill. Was Schweitzer’s communications director and has bounced around working for multiple state agencies.

Vivian Hammill. Schweitzer’s chief of staff who has been tied to at least one political retribution scandal.

My last post about foreign policy was a fairly big picture; it laid out the rough sketch of my worldview. The DC consensus pretty much agrees on the basics, while the rest of America operates on a completely different worldview. Luckily we’ve had a kick-up on foreign policy because Rand Paul appears to be flushing out Neoconservative side of the Washington, D.C. foreign policy consensus. But to be honest, I expected that and was not really interested in writing another piece until this video about Neoconservativism popped up in response to another Rand Paul interview. Note: “establishment,” “statist,” “liberal,” “RINO,” “neocon,” and “progressive Republican.” A lot of these words get thrown around. I prefer statist myself generally but will often in foreign policy describe a warmongering interventionist a Neocon, for short.

Krauthammer starts out claiming that there are no neoconservatives. That they don’t exist unless Rand Paul names them one by one. That and the word is now an “Ad Hominem attack,” aka an attack against the opponent’s person rather than an argument, which is absurd. Any dufus with 30 seconds, a google machine and an internet connection can find out what neoconservativism is in broad, diffused sense.

As this video highlights, why is neoconservativism hard to define? Because it is a political philosophy that eschews political philosophies. They don’t describe themselves as having a philosophy of government, rather they have a “tendency” to view government a certain way.  You can point to thinkers, but not systematic thought, because it is not something that can be categorized that easily. Typically the list goes like this: William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, and Paul Wolfowitz are all modern political actors in DC who are neoconservatives. Oh yeah, you are too Krauthammer, I don’t think your cohost said it without a reason, some are cited below.

But how do you know that they are a neoconservative you ask? Well, Mr. Krauthammer gives us a great example of the difference between a conservative and a neoconservative. What Mr. Krauthammer says about 7:35 seconds in “[Libertarianism] is not a governing philosophy… I think you cannot govern a country, an advanced industrial society of 300 million people of incredibility complex social relations without a strong central government. That has sort of been the rule for 70 years… [Rand Paul] has a lot of good ideas on domestic reforms but it’s the foreign policy stuff…”

Now if you believe in spontaneous order, as Ronald Reagan did, this sentence makes zero sense to anyone steeped in conservativism post-Reagan era. Why would Krauthammer, a professed conservative, say it? Because he’s not a Reagan conservative. Even as he says he likes Rand Paul’s domestic policy, he really does not understand it. Neocons of this type are perfectly ok with big government everywhere as long as they are running it. Others are only ok with government as long as it’s in foreign policy.

Former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, claims he’s a libertarian (on domestic policy) and claims that libertarians who question the Iraq invasion are defending Saddaam Hussain. He doesn’t’ appear to care how Iraq got from 2002 to 2014 but only that now we have to “do something now”. He defines “American interest” as American oil access and power hegemony. I don’t think he really feels the need to be consistent at all simply because he continues to get more interviews regardless of his constant moving on the issue.

The difference between Krauthammer and Bolton is only that Krauthammer is consistent enough to apply his foreign policy principles of centrally planning the security of the world, to centrally planning the lives of Americans. Watch how Krauthammer frames his conservativism.

Conservativism is…liberalism that wants to be solvent? There are no ideas here about the civil society, spontaneous order or freedom that defines the rhetoric of Reagan conservatives like Mark Levin and Glenn Beck but not Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

Krauthammer wrote back in 2002 that disarmament was the goal of the war in Iraq and in 2003 that it now wasn’t the goal and, “The war is not just to disarm Saddam. It is to reform a whole part of the world”. A direct quote of the policy goals of the neoconservatives of the 1990’s. This is how I define modern neoconservative foreign policy. It is to advance the idea that the world can be made in America’s image from Washington, D.C. That it is the proper role of the DOD to plan the security of the entire world to ensure American hegemony in the short term.