Friday, December 7, 2012

How to Regroup at the Gates of Mordor

Two days ago I attended a Legislative Summit in Helena put on by a long list of Montana groups concerned about the makeup and direction of our upcoming Tea Party-infested 2013 Legislature. AARP, American Cancer Society, MEA/MFT, Montana Conservation Voters, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Montana Human Rights Network, Western Native Voice and Montana Small Business Alliance are just a sampling of the advocacy groups who sponsored the summit and who will be fighting a defensive battle to retain YOUR rights that will be under a full-court, well-funded attack by this rogue legislature (*). We all need to first of all pay close attention and second of all be prepared to give of our time, money and efforts to go to Helena and support YOUR allies in person. It’s going to be bad for them, and they will need you. Also, given the ATP-rigged make-up of the House and Senate, a governor’s veto of bad bills will be much harder to sustain than it was last session. Here’s my first attempt to help you in the former, and inspire you to participate in the latter. I’m talking car pools to Helena and rally organizing etc. Of course phone calls, emails, letters etc. are also essential:
But this session they need to see as many of us face-to-face as often as we can personally manage. Please start the process of considering what you can give. This looks like it’s going to be a nasty session. Right now most of the declared bills don’t have text yet, so the specifics are yet to come. Be prepared for ugly surprises and I’ll try to provide details as I get them.
Here’s a partial recap of what I found out and networked on last Tuesday:
·         Bitterrooters: Know that Family Planning will probably come under attack again, probably under the gigantic budget bill, which makes it harder to see. Please consider attending House and Senate Taxation Committee hearings, even if you don’t have all the numbers in your heads. This is how they get away with their defunding/privatization schemes. They confuse us and plow ahead with their ALEC-written corporate agenda (**)  Show up and let them see your face, hear your voice, even on seemingly arcane issues, let them know that you know what these discussions mean to programs you care about and that you are paying attention. Don’t let them bully you with numbers.
o   This state-wide attack on Family Planning will probably be accompanied with another attack on our local program by our commissioners, either during or right after the legislative session. Get angry and get ready.
·         “Revising education laws” looks like the main topic of draft bills currently in the hopper. This is bad, bad news for parents and educators. Look for ALEC –written Creationism bills (euphemistically-dubbed “Intelligent design” and school privatization bills (euphemistically-dubbed “school choice”, “charter schools” and “vouchers”) They’re surfacing as I write. Our local legislator, Nancy Balance, has submitted at least one of them so far, and will surely be involved.
·         Fringe Militia tenets such as county-Supremacy (euphemistically-dubbed “Coordination”), anti-govt./ secessionist screeds such as state sovereignty (10th Amendment canards) and going back to the gold standard are already in the hopper as well. Wording  for 10th amendment/Coordination bills introduced in past sessions have come boiler-plate straight from ALEC’s “model bill” fashion plates they serve up to our private (not “public”) servants with their steak and lobster bribes.
o   This is important to remember: much the official jibber-jabber you’re going to hear about “constitutional principles” , “freedom” and “2nd Amendment solutions” can be traced straight back to mutli-national corporations, including money from Saudi Arabia and Dubai, through ALEC.
§  Really??? Really.
·         LGBT issues will be assuredly attacked, and any local and state gains will be retained by fighting for them. Expect no new gains. Anticipate losses. Federal gains will be challenged under “10th Amendment” bills. Look for creative variations and downright fights.
·         Under the federal expansion of Medicaid, Montana has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure tens of thousands of citizens have health care. This will also bring tens of millions of dollars into the state and create tens of thousands of jobs, as well as help assure there’s a healthy workforce to take advantage of those jobs. This expansion, as well as the Affordable
Care Act, with similar clear benefits to the state and its citizenry, will be under extreme attack on many fronts, including the disingenuous (and frankly seditious) interpretation of the Constitution in general, and the 10th Amendment specifically (***).
·         Again: many horrible bills were successfully vetoed last session. That’s because Schweitzer had enough votes in the legislature to sustain those vetoes. Two things here:
o   We need at least half a dozen Republican legislators on each and every horrible bill who will help sustain vetoes from the governor’s office this session. Think “personhood”, “creationism”, privatizing schools, “coordination”, the “gold standard” and the flock of other ugly issues you don’t want to see codified into law by these corporate stooges (*). Plan on showing your face or plan on being the laughing-stock of the country.
o   The end-run around democracy used in the last session was the resolution to put a bill on the ballot as a referendum. This only requires a simple majority vote, which the extremists have, and avoids the governor’s desk all together. ALL of their referenda passed this last election, and it is certain they will do this again. We may see a ballot in 2014 with as many as 20 extreme initiatives on it, sustaining that national laugh at our painful expense. Mitigation of this certainty calls for rallies and other “getting-out-on-the-street” activities, such as Wisconsin saw in 2011.
§  Really??? Really.
The above are my educated predictions. I’ve been researching for the sake of folks in the Bitterroot who are gonna need as much info as they can get on the doings of the likes of Thomas and Ballance, and I’ll do my best to be accurate. If something doesn’t jibe, please let me know and I’ll pass it along. I think most of my underpinnings are correct, and a lot of what I’m warning about will come true. can prove me wrong by getting seriously involved. I don't mind eating crow, but it's best eaten served up warm. That’s all I ask. Don’t let ‘em mainstream their roadkill agenda til the crow gets cold. I’ll be right by then,  and then I won’t eat it.                               
*My personal analysis, but look at how much money was pumped into Ravalli Co. Republican primary races last Spring by ATP, look at Fred Thomas’ picture on the MT Legislative website, and please prove me wrong.
**In a nutshell, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is energy-billionaire Koch Brothers’ corporate vehicle for secretly-buying state legislatures with junkets and other trinkets in exchange for corporate-written policies that undermine democracy and have the ultimate goal of privatizing our country’s every function, including education, prisons, state and federal legislatures. These huge corporations, of course, in many if not most cases, are either trans-national or not even based in the United States.
*** To simplify: Militia-corporate style interpretations of the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution claim that any rights or duties that weren’t SPECIFICALLY spelled out in the Constitution, any rights or duties that have been interpreted over 200 years of case law are null and void, and therefore those rights and duties revert back to the states. Hence the term “nullification”. In the past as well as the present, the cause of “Nullification” has been taken up by such groups as the Montana Freemen, Posse Comitatus, Oathkeepers, and various other gun-bristling outfits whose philosophies pretty much trace back to pre-Civil War “Bloody Kansas”, the training grounds for the likes of Quantrill’s Raiders, the James Gang and the Younger brothers. Pseudo-legal 10th Amendment/nullification canards were a major component of the “paper terrorism” strategy these violent militia groups used in threatening and harassing local officials. Up until this last Tea Party spectacle, “nullification” was considered so extreme no serious politician would dare mention it. Now, we’re getting corporate bills underwritten by out-of-country money promoting it and being proudly introduced by our “patriot” legislators. Really??? Really.


  1. Bill - I fear you are right about the coming Legislature. The last one was bad enough, but now the unhinged are energized and think that Gov. Bullock will be a pushover. We will all need to be vigilant and keep a close eye on bills. For starters HB 30 will close voter registration 30 days before election day, effectively nullifying same day voter registration. Or SB 24 which will apparently allow a gravel pit next to my zoned property. And then inevitably, our good friend Dave Lewis, who has sucked on the public tit his whole life, through LC0044 wants the US to get a divorce from the United Nations.

    It'll only get worse. I hope Schweitzer leaves those veto brands in his office for Bullock.

  2. Thank you, Bill, for your thorough and thoughtful comments. Many of us in Sanders County are very concerned about these things as well. I am grateful to Mtcowgirl for bringing your site to my attention. I look forward to using your site to help us keep up with the flurry of legislative travesties this session, and to know when we can help.

  3. Don't get angry--Get informed!
    Publicize your concerns/questions to your legislator by sending them to the local newspapers/media.
    Watch State legislative procedures on Montana Public TV.

  4. Thanks for all your efforts in this regard Bill. As a secularist, my main concerns are bills that covertly introduce religious dogma into public policy, but many of our concerns still overlap. The Secular Coalition of America (SCA) is forming state chapters ( I am part of the SC of Montana chapter. Let's stay in touch on these issues and maybe we can coordinate trips on specific legislation.

    p.s.) I imagine you have heard about an "Intelligent Design" bill being drafted by Clayton Fiscus -

  5. Bill,

    This my first read of your blog. You present a wide range of issues both local and state-wide. I think it is critical to expose the ALEC origins of so many of the proposed bills.

    Can you give us a way to demonstrate the genesis of this stuff before it gets swept up in party-line thinking and voting.

    Similarly, how can the regular folks marginalize these hard right bullies until they can be replaced? There must be sane republicans out there who will oppose this craziness.

  6. This legislative session is going to be...interesting. Fred Thomas has been in the legislature before, so it will be interesting to see if he takes a leadership role this session. What's strange to me is that Thomas used to be what was considered a far right Republican - but with the advent of the TEA Party there are now many more legislators even further right than him.

  7. Keep up the great work, we've got to organize, not just agonize. Citizens need to TESTIFY occasionally in person
    before these imposters and flood the legislative hotlines, and easy to do, leave message for all on a committee and we keep 'em on the run and expose their lunacy again.