Governor Bullock made front page news today for running the Boston Marathon. We’re sure glad the Governor is staying in shape and taking some time for himself while the Legislature is in the home stretch of budget negotiations.

The Legislature is in the last 10 days of the 90 day session and budget negotiations are coming down to the wire. This is where the so-called rubber meets the road – and we’re not talking about the Governor’s tennis shoes hitting the Massachusetts pavement. Bullock has been consistently threatening to veto the budget or bring the Legislature back into a special session, and that all depends on how the budget negotiations pan out. This is arguably the most important week of the 2015 Legislature, and the governor missing in action, forgoing his job to go for a run on the East Coast.

We all know the governor frequently ditches Helena to raise dark money for his Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) buddies and for his re-election campaign. We can only assume that he’ll schedule some fundraising during his time on the East Coast.

So, who is the governor sending in his place to negotiate our state’s $10 billion budget while he gets some exercise in Boston? With so much on the line, we can only hope he’s got his best people on it. We thought that this was important enough that he would want to be part of it, so the news that he’s across the country is doubly shocking.

If Bullock was as serious about his job and budget negotiations as he was his fitness passions, couldn’t he have waited five more days to run in Clinton Montana’s 10K Cougar Chase?

While it was a long day in the Montana House of Representatives yesterday some good did come of it. Our highlight was Representative Daniel Zolnikov blasting the Uber bill (SB396) onto the house floor with a rousing speech, leading to its ultimate passing of the house for second reading. The bill enjoyed bi-partisan support gaining a supporting speech from Representative Ellie Hill. Members from both parties were mixed on their yes and no votes.

It remains a curiosity why the no-voters pressed the button they did — especially the Republicans. Taxi services have been operating as a government shielded monopoly in Montana for some time, leading to a lack of drivers and generally poor service when compared to larger cities. It seems almost absurd to vote against this bill when you include the opportunity to reduce drunk driving Montana’s high DUI rates

…. aren’t Republicans supposed to be for smaller government?

No (34)
Moffie Funk (N)
Margaret (Margie) MacDonald (N)
Frank Garner (N)
Edward Greef (N)
Tom Berry (N)
Edith (Edie) McClafferty (N)
Denise Hayman (N)
Daniel Salomon (N)
Greg Hertz (N)
Robert (Bob) Mehlhoff (N)
Casey Schreiner (N)
Christy Clark (N)
Mike Miller (N)
Rob Cook (N)
Roy Hollandsworth (N)
Bridget Smith (N)
David (Doc) Moore (N)
Chuck Hunter (N)
Willis Curdy (N)
Kathy Swanson (N)
Geraldine Custer (N)
Pat Noonan (N)
Mitch Tropila (N)
George Kipp (N)
Susan Webber (N)
Jeffrey Welborn (N)
Rae Peppers (N)
Mike Lang (N)
Kathleen Williams (N)
Nancy Wilson (N)
Steve Lavin (N)
Gordon Pierson (N)
Ed Lieser (N)
Ryan Lynch (N)

Bullock prefers overspending and has promised to call a special session to make it happen.

The expected revenue for the next two years is much lower than what Bullock wants to spend. What does he do? He forces the legislatures estimate for expected revenues over the next two years to be compromised with the Governor’s budget office’s inflated revenue estimate. This creates a larger “expected” amount of revenue which means he can spend more money.

His goal? Infrastructure projects across the state, so throughout his reelection he can go from town to town toting how he helped each community out. This political bribery is pathetic.

Although the Senate increased the already 3% per year budget increase, this likely won’t be enough for Bullock. The threat is that an expensive and unnecessary special session will be called in to spend even more money. The worst part is that if he is as wrong as the legislative fiscal experts predict, an expensive special legislative session will have to be called in the next year to adjust and cut the budget to ensure the state doesn’t go into the red.

There isn’t a fiscal bone in Bullock’s body, only a political motive and a bully pulpit. Placing the blame on a fiscally reasonable legislature and calling legislators back is as meaningless as his motives. The worst part of “his plan” is placing blame on the legislature for not finishing their work, when in reality the legislature has done exactly what it has been elected to do. It has provided a functional, fiscally responsible budget that will not bankrupt Montana.

Democratic Minority Leader Hunter has changed the rules with 51 votes, although the rules clearly state that 2/3rds of the House needs to vote in order to change the rules. The rules did not matter to him.

Democratic Minority Leader Hunter has lied about his gentleman’s agreement with Speaker Knudsen. He said that the Democrats will not oppose legislation going to appropriations. And then he admitted on the House Floor that he had changed his mind and would not send Medicaid Expansion (SB 405) to the House appropriations committee. In the end, his word meant nothing.

So far during the 2015 session, the Democrats have cut enough deals with a handful of liberal Republicans to get everything the Democrats have wanted. Just enough Republicans played the game and sold their votes for their own gain.

Democratic Minority Leader Hunter is now threatening Austin Knudsen, who is the Speaker of the House, and the rest of the Republican leadership team. The Democrats have cut enough deals with the 11 liberal Republicans to replace Speaker Knudsen if the Water Compact does not go their way. When is enough, enough? And just how far will the 11 liberal Republicans go cutting deals with the Democrats?

We expect these antics when watching House of Cards, or in Washington, D.C. Is this what Montana politics have become?

Apparently rules, promises, and Medicaid expansion aren’t enough. Now the Democrats have resorted to threatening Speaker Knudsen, the one man who has kept his word and has worked to prevent the House from becoming a circus. The real question is, what won’t the Democrats do to get their way?

In this post, I want to look at foreign policy. This blog is about Montana politics and policy in every aspect, and as a member state in the United States of America, foreign policies from Washington, D.C. affect us profoundly. I believe that Montana has a unique voice on the issue. So from time to time we may engage here on a topic of international relevance.

While this video from TruthRevolt would have you believe that the Middle East is simple–that it is a 1940s cowboy movie complete with black and white hats to denote who the good and bad guys are—I believe anyone smarter than a potato can see through the absurdity. The video would lead a person to believe that there is disagreement in Washington D.C. about foreign policy. As someone who has spent some time there and a lot of time thinking about my experience on “The Hill,” let me assure you: there is no such disagreement. There are two “sides” to a consensus of Washington, D.C. foreign policy period, end of story. Dissension will not be tolerated, you isolationist.

As it is with all things D.C. There is a “left” and “right” to the sides, but on this topic they pretty much only disagree in motivation and rhetoric; their actions and assumptions are exactly the same. The foreign policy neoconservatives, as represented here by TruthRevolt, somehow appear to believe that conflict in the Middle East started in 2008 (10 seconds into the video) and Iran became a country with no historical context whatsoever in 1979 (See here Ben Shapirio’s, “Obama’s Faith in Iran”). They engage in a history selection bias to craft a media narrative that is scaled to give you the impression that all our Middle Eastern woes are because of Democrats. Never mind that Democrats do exactly the same thing in the power seat while they are in office.

In a way, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been “progressive” since Wilson administration. But this version of progressivism is completely unlike the progressivism that most leftist activists, peace-loving liberals, and your average workaday union member believe in. D.C. Progressivism believes in the same core principles as the Neoconservatives and it shows when you look at their decisions in the last 25 years. We could go back much further but let us start there. The same rationale and assumption of America’s role as hegemonic power undergirds the decision to invade Iraq as it does the decision to stay in Afghanistan, as the decision to maintain troops in Saudi Arabia after gulf war 1, to bomb Kosovo, to draw a red line on chemical weapons, and to push for war and/or arms for rebels in Syria. You get the idea.

(1 Minute into the TR video) Maybe “attacking our enemies” did not work out as planned? No serious observer can deny that we really have 3 options for how to deal with Iraq at the beginning of the 2000s. Our options were:

1. Saddaam Hussein running the geographic area of Iraq, the U.S. playing a role insolating and containing him if he doesn’t play by the rules.

2. Topple the Hussain regime and commit to perpetual American troop deployments to Iraq, a 100 year commitment (according to Dick, McCain and so on).

3. Topple the stabilizing regime and allow the rise of militias who form Islamofascist (rather than secular fascists) governments when America either pulls out due to war weariness or financial ruin.

Neoconservatives and D.C. Progressives believe that number 2 was the best choice. Everyone else on the planet thinks number 1 was the best choice and we got number 3. Hooray for compromise, right?

The exact opposite is true in the case of Egypt, Syria and Libya. Neoconservatives think we should back the strong man, secular dictators and not attack an “ally” with rhetoric supportive of democratic regime change. Then they criticize Obama for doing the exact same thing they advocated for in 2002.

The Surge, oh wow. The misinformation on the surge is so massive it is staggering. The most serious data driven study on why the surge “worked” was done by a guy named Robert Pape (video presentation here), and the DOD’s own findings of the surge suggest that success was the overall reduction of troops from Iraq at the time. If this sentence blows your mind you might want to note, we were not the only country in Iraq. The surge was an inadequate backfill of the holes left over when other nations fled the country. That is why a surge “worked” in Iraq but failed miserably in Afghanistan. I have never seen an actual accounting of this difference from a D.C. foreign policy expert. Mr. Klaven then skips over how the Washington consensus at the time decided to give arms and armament to Syrian groups who turned out to be ISIS. Maybe because this was backed by so called “conservatives” like McCain and other hawks.

I am a fan of TruthRevolt’s work on domestic policy. I even like a lot of what David Horowitz has to say about modern liberalism and exposing the ideological underpinnings of the left. Horowtiz’s “Freedom Center” backs TruthRevolt, or at least its video segments.

America can oppose radical Islam and protect itself from radical Islamists while not taking the posture illustrated in TruthRevolt’s videos. America cannot and should not plan the collective security of the world. The Sykes-Picot Agreement lines are not handed down by God. They were drawn by regimes TruthRevolt would naturally find completely intolerable. Why would the U.S. commit 100 years of blood and chaos to lines drawn by men on a map for the spoils of an unneeded Victorian-era war? Those are the questions TruthRevolt should be asking, not, “How dumb is Obama’s foreign policy?”

Thanks, Buzzfeed, for inspiring this post.

Democrats during the 2015 session. 



The Potoo bird’s expressions really seem to represent Montana’s Senate and House Democrats for the 2015 session. A picture is worth a 1000 words, plus we want to make sure our Public School Monopoly friends are able to understand this post. If they were just a little more literate, they may have been able to teach themselves simple things like their government “free money” actually comes from taxpayers and that passing more laws doesn’t fix everything. Enjoy!

6 Silver Bullets! Wait, what is this adverse committee report you speak of???



HB 5. Pork infrastructure bills the Governor can use for re-election? Nope. 



HB 2. 2 Days of attempting amendments. NO AMENDMENTS! 



Successfully Move and Pass Campaign Finance/Dark Money Bill (as in Steve Bullock’s corporate cash). Realize that the bills language is more confusing than common core math. #Lawsuit



Blasted Saturday Session. What Dies in Appropriations, Stays in Appropriations. 



Bills that protect gun rights and force Bullock to take a stance on the Second Amendment? OH NO!!


Tax cuts for Montanans? NO, NO, NO!


And lastly, a picture of Governor Bullock when he thinks about Greg Gianforte’s pending campaign.


What does it mean to “look beyond ideology”?

This is a common tactic of statist-Republicans. Accuse the opposition of committing the great sin of “ideology” so you don’t have to actually reveal your own government worshipping ideas on the topic. Let’s look at this statement. What is an ideology? The relevant Webster’s dictionary definition is, “the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program.”

So Senator Buttrey has no “sociopolitical program”. He has no cohesive view of government, humanity, morality—his agenda as a politician is just floating in space, random and ungrounded. So how does he decide which bills to vote for? Which ones to introduce? Which ones to carry for the governor?

“I think the voters here are pretty middle-of-the-road, and they’re interested in people who are interested in finding solutions, rather than being hard-core partisans,” said Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls. “I think we’re just reflective of the community.”

More fully dipping their hand, the statist Republicans have revealed that reelection is their ideology. In other words their ideology is to stay in political power, not to defend the Constitution or the Republic. Power is their purpose, meagre and petty as it is.

“We are not from an area that gets the big growth or gets the big (economic) boom,” added Buttrey. “So we are always looking for solutions. … We’re from a traditionally more moderate area.”

They want to do whatever it takes to stay in political power, the Republic be damned. They want to “stimulate” their districts with federal dollars and programs. These all sound like “progressive” ideas, so why not run in the “Progressive” party then? I think we have one of those in Montana.

No person is without ideology and it is just more often than not an unstated and uninvestigated collage of principles. Senator Buttrey and his ilk are more than just what is wrong with the MTGOP; they are what is wrong with this state, our civil society, and the United States. They are more concerned with interest than principle. They concerned with power not the Republic.

We can do this better. We can have a debate about Medicaid expansion that includes our actual principles but that means being honest about what we believe in. As long as we continue to divide ourselves by our interest rather than debating the actualization of our common principles, this age of petty political fights will continue and the average Montanan will continue to be left holding the bill.

“If you don’t want to serve everyone, perhaps you shouldn’t be in business?”

The idea quoted above has popped up innumerable times in the media. It’s on Twitter, Facebook and other areas, even being posted by many in the media industry.  The quote attempts to be a rhetorical question aimed at shaming business owners who don’t agree with the individual positing the question. It shows a significant cultural misunderstanding about ownership, conscience, and rights in America. I would like to to advance a radical idea for the benefit of the people who live in the various coastal states; and perhaps also for the enlightenment of the liberals in Montana who don’t connect much with actual Montanans. It’s something they might not understand but it is something that the rest of us deal with regularly.  The idea is part of our culture, it is multi-dimensional and cuts across the political parties. Let me describe it.

When starting a business the owner have a tendency to believe that they own it…because they do. This is a hard concept for people who have never owned a business or worked in the private sector to wrap their minds around. The feeling is that when someone pours their sleep, blood, sweat and tears into a product or service, it is something more than “just a business”. It’s more than sandwiches, or auto-repair; it’s more than pizza, cakes and flowers. It is a persons identify revealed in an object for consumption. Life, your energy, and moral conscience are all wrapped up in the product. This feeling isn’t required for small business ownership but it is a common component most small business owners feel. With this feeling of right to ownership comes a belief.  A belief that  the owner can use what they build to exercise their conscience in the world.  The idea that “what I make is me”, in some important manner, and the owner may choose how they impact the world.

Most people support noncontroversial uses of this right of ownership. They support the right of small business owners to expel a rude customer.  They support the right of small business owners to defend against thieves. However, when a small business owner exercises their conscience though act or policy that is disagreeable to a portion of the population, it seems suddenly people who disagree with the specific policy want to remove any ability of the owner to exercise their conscience.  The proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. It is in supporting things you personally find repugnant which proves your true commitment to this principle of ownership and conscience. I don’t like the Westboro Baptists, if they disappeared from public life tomorrow, nary a tear would I shed. But I support their right to peacefully assemble in public spaces to express their conscience to the community. I personally could not imagine denying my services to someone based on their sexual preference but I support the right of anyone to deny service for any reason. Because I hold creation, ownership, speech and association as a sacred and fundamental human right.

A quick side note, throughout the 20th century liberals rightly stood up to for rights of speech and association for communists. Many conservatives wrongly accused those liberals of being communists themselves if they did so. Liberals should resist the temptation to make the same mistake in characterizing any effort to publicly recognize this right as an implicit endorsement of such activities.

This isn’t a radical idea.  However there is a culture, mostly on the coasts, that tends to undervalue work, ownership and entrepreneurship (with a few exceptions). Thankfully there are many who understand what it means to own a business.  It means that the government local, state or federal; or the People or the collective; do not own your business. The business owners conscience and identity is in their service, and they can no more separate it for the “collective will” than a gay person can separate his or her love for their partner on the alter of political expediency.

Joseph Sanders, better known as the infamous “Captain Hash”, is just an average Missoula County Democrat. That is all about to change as he looks poised to sweep his party’s nomination for the race to defeat Congressman Ryan Zinke in 2016.



Mr. Hash, the clear front runner for the 2016 race, has all of the right qualifications that make him probably the most electable candidate the Democrats have put forward in several years.

With a prestigious educational background like Amanda Curtis, Democrats would be introducing a true intellectual into the race. He also has a long, illustrious military career like John Walsh, formerly serving in the United States Army.

While he’s not officially a farmer like Senator Jon Tester, we’re pretty sure he grows some plants.



With the full spread of the usual credentials from Democratic candidates, I’m surprised Hilltop hasn’t recruited him already!

An accomplished singer/songwriter and self-employed poet since 2002, Mr. Hash is the embodiment of the “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” spirit that Democrats so often lack.

And he’s super patriotic, and has his own youtube channel where he sings odes to his beloved home state.

He’s an experienced and passionate public speaker, more than Amanda Curtis can say.

Already heavily involved with the fight for marijuana legalization, Hash has the connections and experience to go the distance once in DC.




I don’t want to jump the gun, but I think it’s pretty safe to call the MT-AL race for Hash 2016!

This week the Senate passed Senator Buttrey’s SB405, Medicaid expansion, after it was blasted to the floor from the Finance and Claims committee before it could be voted on last Friday. Why? The bill would have missed transmittal to the house and been D.O.A. Lucky for Buttrey his oversight was saved by moderate Republican friends and Democrats in the Senate; the same friends who supported SB289 in stealing a part of your first amendment. The bill was then heard and subsequently passed, accepting zero amendments. Buttrey himself stated there were amendments but they would be stuffed into HB2 due to cost. AKA hiding the fiscal impact in a much larger budget bill. His idea of transparency wouldn’t past muster in even Clinton’s administration.

SB405 expands Medicaid to just over half of the Governors’ 70K people for roughly the same cost. So what gives? Who knows, devils in the details. The bill pays for work force development that takes from TANF funding and gives coverage to able bodied adults in an attempt to train them to work. This training is optional. Buttrey care has those on the plan paying a monthly premium and if they miss a payment it’s taken from their tax return. At $16,000 per year or less you will have a hard time making premiums, let alone get a tax return and be penalized for not paying — this means those premiums won’t ever be collected. Buttrey calls this “Skin in the game,” which Republicans generally would be happy to support. Buttrycare’s provisions, however, are impossible to enforce and thus meaningless . By the end of 5 years it is projected this bill will cover just over 40k people with the Feds picking up 90% of the tab, down from 100% the first year. What happens if Federal funds dry up? The premium payer pays more, which they can’t afford, or the taxpayers pick up the tab. We all know that no politician will take away an entitlement. All of this doesn’t even mention that hospitals are still only getting 40 cents on the dollar, yet clambering to support SB405. It is inevitable that in future sessions hospitals and Democrats will come back asking for the other 60 cents. “When you’re starving, half a loaf of bread is better than none” said one hospital executive during the Governors bill hearing.

The bottom line is Buttrey Care is a farce, an extension of Obama Care as defined in the Federal bill, and required for full implementation of the Federal Act. SB405 gives moderates cover as being able to compromise, the Governor what he wants in the bill, and Democrats a win in 2016 or Buttrey et all. What’s the difference really?