Senator John Walsh (D-Mont.) is currently dealing with the largest Montana political scandal since his corrupt appointment to his seat after the New York Times broke the story that he blatantly plagiarized his 14-page Army College master’s thesis.

Walsh’s egregious academic violation made it onto the front page of every major Montana newspaper on Thursday, and he has been the centerpiece of dozens of national news articles and TV programs.

To put it lightly, Walsh’s actions since the story broke have been an embarrassment to Montana. The Atlantic wrote an entire story about how our junior senator is similar to a plagiarizing 12-year-old. Walsh made it on the front page of Plagiarism Today. He’s getting thrashed on Reddit. The Washington Post editorial board said “Walsh should stop making excuses for his actions.”

It would be one thing if he only “borrowed” others’ academic works without giving them credit, but that is not the case.

Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, called Walsh’s thesis a “piece of s**t in a Washington Post column.”

Having read Walsh’s thesis, it’s not just that it’s only 14 pages of text; it’s that even if you ignore the plagiarism, it’s a pretty bad 14 pages.  The thesis is ostensibly about whether the United States should prioritize democracy promotion in U.S. grand strategy.  If I was supervising this thesis — and I’ve supervised a fair number them for my day job — then this is what I’d have e-mailed Walsh if he’d handed this in to me:  

‘John, this is an intriguing topic, and you’ve got the bare bones of an interesting thesis topic here, but you’re going to need to do a lot more work before handing in the final draft…’

Even if I didn’t detect the plagiarism, there is no way this passes muster for an M.A. thesis.  No. Way. 

So here’s my question to the Army War College, an institution that I have heretofore admired greatly — how in the hell did this piece of s**t result in the awarding of an M.A. degree?”

If you aren’t already familiar with Walsh’s multiple contradicting versions of if and why he plagiarized, you can read this article by the Washington Post, titled: “Sen. John Walsh, and how not to respond to a political scandal.”

Despite Walsh’s indefensible plagiarism and poor message management by his campaign communications team, loyal Democrats are still rushing to defend him.

Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) predictably offered up “[Walsh is] not an academic” as a weak defense, as if that excuses a 47-year-old graduate student from violating basic writing standards taught in middle school.

Montana Cowgirl made the claim that Walsh was not attempting to use his alleged PTSD as an excuse. However, Montana veterans disagree with that verdict, and are not happy about it, telling the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

“I feel like it’s a slap in the face to people who have obviously been through more than he has. I just don’t see how if you have a PTSD issue it’s going to cause you to plagiarize a paper.” —Brian Rudolph, 31, Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran, Great Falls.

Cowgirl then suggests that Republicans are the ones making a big deal out of the scandal. I don’t know what internet she uses to do her research, but it’s sure not the internet used by everyone else. The Steve Daines campaign hasn’t said a word about the scandal. Neither really has the Montana Republican Party.

However, the list of organizations participating in the “outrage” include such bastions of conservative bias as: Slate, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Bloomberg, Salon, Gawker, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, and the BBC.

If you’re looking for an unbiased source of information upon which to judge the scale of Walsh’s scandal, look no farther than the Army War College itself, the institution from which Walsh received his degree, or this quote in the New York Times:

“It’s clear there is indeed strong reason to believe this is plagiarism,” said the War College’s provost, Lance Betros, a retired brigadier general. “We are initiating academic review procedures.”

Don Pogreba over at Intelligent Discontent asserted basically the same things as Cowgirl and wrote off the scandal as not a big deal. FiveThirtyEight sees it differently, saying “Plagiarism Scandal Moves Democrat’s Odds in Montana From Slim to Almost Zero.” Roll Call changed their rating of the Montana Senate race from “Tossup/Tilts Republican” to “Leans Republican.”

Rob Saldin, a University of Montana political science professor, said it “totally undermines his credibility.”

What about the opinion of students?

“I think it does affect his credibility and it affects the Democratic Party.” –Dan Deming, MSU student.

One of the authors Walsh plagiarized basically said the only reason he’s letting the senator off the hook easy is because he’s “a loyal Democrat.” The author did note, however, that his worked was outdated in 2007–the year Walsh copied it. Add that to the list of problems with Walsh’s thesis, in addition to it promoting Bush doctrine, interventionist foreign policy and only being 14 pages long (which has earned it considerable scorn from commenters online).

Governor Steve Bullock (D-Mont.) understandably tried to put some distance between himself and the scandal, considering that it’s his fault Walsh is in the Senate in the first place. Whether Bullock ultimately suffers more harm to his 2016 campaign from his role in handing Walsh a Senate seat, or benefits more by having Walsh off his reelection ticket, remains to be seen.

This story is still developing, and it will be very interesting to see what the Army War College ultimately decides to do about it. My prediction is that they will have to revoke Walsh’s degree in order to save face as an institution after having so much criticism thrown at them by the national media. If that happens, Walsh is toast beyond a shadow of a doubt.

At this point, Walsh has two options:

1. Stay in the race, keep denying any wrongdoing, and continue to embarrass our state until the November election (then be embarrassed himself by Daines’ margin of victory), or:

2. Apologize to the authors he plagiarized (which he still hasn’t, yikes) and drop out of the race, retaining whatever dignity he and the Montana Democratic Party have left, and hope the War College is merciful.

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(P.S. I did try to make sure I thoroughly cited all of my sources, and, yes, this post probably contains more original content than Walsh’s master’s thesis).

John Walsh is a liar, a cheater, and unethical; I suppose this qualifies him to be a politician. Yet somehow I wish we as Montanans held our elected officials to a higher standard, beyond that of a stereotypical ‘politician’. It was found that John Walsh plagiarized his Masters Thesis [ed: a paper required for his Masters Thesis as defined by the original article]  allowing him to move up the ranks of the military and society. When initially confronted his reply was a half-hearted platitude asserting his lack of knowledge regarding the subject. The most significant irony of this entire drama is HIS PAPER WAS ON DEMOCRACY AS A LONG TERM NATIONAL STRATEGY. Yes, John Walsh’s entire Senate qualifications and career position are predicated on a poorly plagiarized paper.

We at the Copper Commando want to better the Republican party, but more so, we want to better politics as a whole. Name calling, pandering, cornering politicians into extremist positions — these things don’t solve politics. But we can’t even reach a point where we debate well reasoned arguments until the people we champion people who adhere to basic ethics. Prior to this realization I wasn’t that worried about the upcoming Senate election. Walsh or Daines, they both seemed to have Montana’s values at heart. I hold this sentiment no longer. I now compare Steve Daines, a person who has successfully built a company and created jobs in Montana through his hard work, to a second rate politician who can’t even write a Masters thesis without cheating. I have my disagreements with the party and elected officials, but that is the beauty of living in a federal constitutional republic — the power (ed: supposedly) resides in the people and they get to choose who they vote for. I choose to not support John Walsh because he has proven himself to be a liar and a cheat whose ethics are highly questionable at best. I only hope the fervent left comes to this same conclusion.


[ed: Well that was fast.  Pogie is already rushing to John Walsh’s defense, the post goes as far as calling John Walsh a “principled man“.  A teacher and academic rushing to defend a plagiarist because he’s in the same political party?  Either Pogie is a paid political hack or bad at looking up words in the dictionary.  In either case we worry for his students.]

Disease: Some people are purely greedy and care nothing about others.

Cure: Capitalism limits how much money people can make. [ed: depending on your style of capitalism we guess]

Imagine the greediest person you know. For this story’s purpose, his name is John. If John carried a gun and there were no laws, John would rob everyone they came across in order to acquire all the wealth he could possibly amass. In an economic system where the government has control over how the economy operates, John could form an alliance with government officials who could pass rules to force people, or entice people, to purchase items only from him. He would be able to use force, with the help of government, to give himself an advantage over other citizens.

Now place John into a capitalist system where individuals are free to produce and consume as they choose and where private property rights are protected by law (John can’t use a gun!). In a capitalist system the government will not step in to help John acquire his wealth by establishing an advantage over others. Since John can’t rob people to acquire wealth and since he can’t have government officials move him to the front line, how will he satisfy is greedy impulses?

In a capitalist system where the only exchanges are voluntary exchanges, John can satisfy his greed-demon only one way: He needs to find something he can make and sell that enough people want to buy so that he can amass a fortune. The beautiful part is that even though John is rotten on the inside, every dollar he generates comes from someone buying something he sold them that they needed or wanted.

The engine of capitalism that creates wealth and opportunity for all is driven by the purpose of each and every individual. Some may be greedy, some may wish only to help, some may be hedonists and some may have no particular agenda at all. Whatever their motivations, whatever their purpose, in a capitalist system the only way they can fulfill their purpose is to produce or provide something that someone else wants to have. Capitalism establishes a system where an evil person cannot gain an advantage over a decent person. Capitalism neutralizes the disease of greed within a society by not permitting the greedy person to gain an advantage over decent, caring people.

Over the past few days there has been some speculation about who is running and writing for Copper Commando.

James Conner over at the Flathead Memo associated us with Montana Floodlight and the “Responsible Republicans.” Thanks for welcoming us to the Montana political blogosphere and including us on your blogroll James!

Don Pogreba said we were an operation of the so-called MT GOP Young Guns.

In light of all the curiosity, please allow us to provide some insight.  Copper Commando is an extremely anonymous blog, more so than other blogs in the state. Writers submit content via a watered-down, WikiLeaks-style pastebin. Anyone who knows where to find the bin and submission link can submit completely anonymous content—not even the site moderators know who submitted any given post unless explicitly told by the author(s).

It is ultimately up to the moderators to decide what goes on this site (sorry Pogie, Cowgirl, Hilltop, etc, we won’t publish left-wing hackery), but the purpose of Copper Commando is to provide a platform for discussion of any ideas, news, or commentary from any of the Montana Republican “factions.” [ed: as long as it is well written]

Pogie is correct in saying that Copper Commando is associated with the MT GOP Young Guns. I know some of us have already posted here, but there is no way for the moderators to know the age of the writer when they submit a post. The site was not created by the “Responsible Republicans” as James Connor guessed; there is nothing preventing them from posting as well, as long as they know where to paste their article. Considering the requisite posting info has been shared with numerous Montana Republicans, and continues to become more widespread, I have no doubt that someone will submit a “Responsible Republican” post down the road.

I cannot tell you how many of us there are because the structure of the site makes it impossible for me to know that information. I know who I am. I know who one other poster is, and can speculate on a couple of the others. Beyond that, Copper Commando is the Montana Republican Party of all stripes, shapes, sizes, colors, campaigns, religious beliefs, gender orientations, power factions, interest groups, activists, trolls, introverts, extroverts, rich, poor, females, males…………… get the point.

We are focused on ideas, news, and issues. We are not concerned with our own egos or name ID.

[ed: We will also at times post opposing viewpoints.  The party is not homogenous and there is no reason to deprive our audience of different approaches to a subject.]

It seems we have ruffled the liberal feathers of Dan Pogreba (henceforth lovingly referred to as “Pogie”) with our recent writings. Initially we planned on adhering to the advice in Mark Twain’s quote “never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference”*, but we felt it necessary to call out some of the more egregious assertions of dear Pogie.

Let us start with the post titled “Oh Look! Another Dying Anonymous Conservative Montana Blog (Or Two)“. The authors drivel begins with the assertion we are “anonymous, fact-free, and likely short-lived” going on to state “these young guns are more interested in protecting the privacy of their cell phones than the privacy of women seeking medical care should come as no surprise.”. We can ignore the opening potshot against our blog; its the non sequitur comment on women seeking medical care which baffles us. We have never written on women’s health nor was it topical to the post — yet somehow Pogie found cause to make this an issue. Perhaps he’s also angry at us not writing about how underfunded mental health is, or the Billings NDO ordinance being pushed by Hilltop Public Solutions, or our thoughts on a top two primary (wait, we have written on this), or … we ran out of examples as the next few pages of Pogie’s blog turn into a Zinke-hating, John Lewis Bromance. Our point is, Pogie’s non sequitur made no sense, and we commented on his blog saying the following: “Regarding our comment on privacy, we’re simply asking that there be an option for Montana citizens to operate in the 21st century while still being afforded the societal respect of privacy. Your following comment regarding women’s (or do you prefer to spell it womyn?) rights isn’t really germane to our post. We aren’t really saying it isn’t important, but it is shoddy commentary that works to distract the reader and create a talking point where there doesn’t need to be.”

We thought the scuffle might end there but it seems Pogie found the energy to write an essay for a blog he earlier (and prematurely) called dead.  We’re going to post a section of his writing and our thoughts while doing our best to not insult Pogie’s lack of journalistic research skills.

There’s been nothing more amusing in recent American politics than the effort of some Republicans to position themselves as champions of privacy. Only after the deeply unpopular revelations about the NSA became public, and during the Obama Administration, not before, did Republicans decide that privacy, something often mocked as not worthy of constitutional protection by the GOP, was an issue they believed in.

Privacy isn’t a recent revelation for the party.  Representative Daniel Zolnikov presented an excellent, albeit ambitious, bill to add privacy protections for Montana Citizens.  Please note that Representative Zolnikov introduced the bill text on 02/06/2013, whereas Edword Snowden hadn’t leaked any documents until 06/05/2013.

The truth, unfortunately, is that these calls for privacy reflect the privileged worldview of a party not interested in the rights of women and others they’re not concerned about.

First, that these “young guns” are in a party that doesn’t believe people should be able to enter into private relationships with the person they love or that racial profiling is immoral seems not to trouble these privacy champions, who are more concerned that they have the right to Snapchat than protecting liberties that are threatened every day in communities they just don’t care about. Want to defend the right to privacy in America? Instead of worrying about the NSA intercepting information about your next Young Guns meeting, real advocates of privacy should spend their energy fighting for privacy rights that are often literally questions of life and death.+

Grab a pitchfork, for the pretty prose is a pile of bullshit waiting to be moved.

Starting form the top; Advocating for privacy makes us privileged?  Privacy is included in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  We as Americans have a constitutional right to privacy.  Privacy is seen as a basic human right and we advocate for ALL humans right to live their life free from unnecessary intrusion.  Why do you keep saying we don’t care about the “rights of women and others”?  Don’t you feel a tad presumptuous, pretentious, and/or pompous for your wrong and generalized statements?  We ask these questions rhetorically because we know you cannot answer with substantive answers, only shrill rhetoric.

It’s early in your post, but at this point we’d like to call you out for having arguments all over the place.  If you’re going to attack someone at least lay your thoughts out logically so we can write an accurate response.  In one sentence you attack us as if we embodied the worst portions of our party  (see Big Tent Politics). You cover: gay marriage, racial profiling, and assume we hate on “communities”.  Pick a topic.

Most troublingly, they repeatedly diminish the importance of privacy rights on the health of women.

What?  We looked at our blog and couldn’t find the words women, woman, or womyn anywhere. Also, now you’re a fan of privacy?  Earlier you called us “privileged” for advocating for universal privacy and now suddenly you’re the hero of women’s privacy?  Let us slip on some flip flops.

Consider this. When I called out the latest manifestation of anonymous Republican bloggery for its failure to consider the rights of women, I received this response:

women’s (or do you prefer to spell it womyn?) rights isn’t really germane to our post. We aren’t really saying it isn’t important, but it is shoddy commentary that works to distract the reader and create a talking point where there doesn’t need to be.
It takes a stunning degree of self-important privilege to argue that privacy rights for women seeking access to healthcare is a “talking point” less deserving of protection than the right of a conservative to use his GPS to plan his next trip to a frat party. To discuss the rights of women is not a distraction, not a talking point, but critically important, as those rights are under siege in the United States today: mainstream Republican candidates for President questioned the Griswold decision that allowed women to access birth control; Republican Congressmen and legislators are working to make contraception methods illegal and criminalize miscarriages; Montana Republican legislators are pushing for laws to mandate invasive ultrasounds before women can seek abortions. Hell, they’re celebrating a Supreme Court decision that lets massive corporations decide what medication and health services a woman should be able to access with her insurance.

Seriously Pogie, you keep jumping to privacy rights for women when we were talking about technology privacy, a la illegal NSA surveillance.  We have never written anything about a woman’s right to privacy for or against. Saying something isn’t germane is not equivalent to saying it is unimportant.  You seem to jump at any opportunity to expel liberal diatribe.  As for our spelling of woman, you got us, we were making fun of you using the feminist spelling.

We’re skipping a few sections as it seems Pogie just likes repeating himself.  [ed: Dear God I hope this last comment isn’t seen as “making woman’s privacy issues second” or “Now we’re ignoring the issue”]

Bro, it’s really upsetting that some communities might put up traffic cameras to stop speeding. I agree with you about that. But to argue that the core battle over privacy in the United States over the past forty years isn’t important or worthy of discussion is simply meant to camouflage the truth: the so-called champions of privacy in the Montana Republican Party don’t believe in autonomy for Montana’s women—and certainly don’t believe in their right to privacy.

Broseph Stalin, it’s really upsetting that you’re an emotional political hack. Thanks Pogie for letting us know how much you care about women’s privacy.  We do too.  We also care that our government is illegally spying on US citizens domestically.  We wrote on the latter and you chose to make it a commentary on the former.  Next time you write on Zinke, as you’re prone to do, we’ll pick a related yet arbitrary topic and have another go with you.  In the meanwhile our only request is that you walk over to a history class and take a seat.  It seems you have an issue preferring self invented generalizations versus researched facts.
* It was a tossup between dropping some Twain or getting biblical up in here. For those who prefer scripture references please see Proverbs 26:4

A prevailing thought [ed: not for long] in the #MTGOP exists where people believe that a loud group of fringe politics can force all participants to their cause. A recent example is the loyalty oath put forth by the Ravalli County RCC who struck a line in the sand between those who support the established Republican platform and those who simply support a limited government. This line is one which currently favors the established party and hopes to force those who have much more moderate or libertarian views to the fringe. This is a line that will soon be crossed.

The 2014 GOP State Convention is a perfect example of the Maginot Line dividing the party. A division vote was requested when a member of the convention called to replace the Republican platform with the text of the constitution. The vote, which required a 2/3 majority due to the way it was called, got an exact 50/50 split in votes. While ultimately unsuccessful the vote tally shows the tectonic shift in the fundamental politics of those forming the #MTGOP. It shows a change to a rational and constitutionally based party grounded in sound political theory.

Unfortunately, Ravalli County RCC’s actions have become what people expect from Republicans. We see a forced party march to an idealistic yet unrealistic goal. This represents the former Republican party. A new party, understanding of the Constitution and the Republican platform pre-1972, stands to reset politics from its current partisan division.

Privacy is quickly becoming a significant topic in the 21st century.  As humans evolve to use more technology in their everyday life they also invite a cadre of new watchmen.  Humans simply don’t want to be forced to give up privacy rights to use that technology.  A great example is the cellphone; should the citizens of Montana make a choice between using their cellphone, thus giving Verizon (and the NSA) their GPS location / conversations / etc., or being a Luddite who has a modicum of privacy?  The Montana constitution has a provision stating citizens have a right to privacy — it’s time we enacted laws enforcing our constitutional right.