Montana Special Election Open Thread

by William Skink

Tomorrow is the last day to vote in Montana’s Special Election. With time ticking away, and leading in the polls, all Gianforte has to do is not assault a reporter from the Guardian.

Montana’s Special Election has just entered the last 24 hours, and tomorrow is sure to be a cacophony of political noise. The accusation from the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs that Gianforte body-slammed him to the ground is erupting across social media.

And yet, somehow, even with this alleged violent outburst, I still don’t think Rob Quist is going to pull this off.

UPDATE: Eye witness account reporting the assault as more than just a body slam:

During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of “I’m sick and tired of this!”

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Some Lives Matter, Some Lives Don’t

by William Skink

True equality has never, and will never, exist. There is no level playing field. Some lives matter more than others. That’s just the way it is.

Many liberal-leaning people will no doubt recoil at such a brazen assertion. But it’s true. And we are all guilty.

Take, for example, the victims of the Manchester bombing, which targeted attendees of an Ariana Grande concert. Those victims matter immensely because their deaths feed a warped narrative of western victimization that is packaged and sold by corporate media for beneficial political effect.

Unfortunately critical context is often lacking. The perpetrator of the Manchester bombing is alleged to be a Libyan refugee. Libya is a mess because Neoliberals like Clinton and Obama exploited a supposed humanitarian crisis to enact regime change. The resulting chaos has turned Libya into a failed state.

The people dying in Libya don’t carry the same weight as western casualties. After Gaddafi was sodomized with a bayonet, then executed, interest in Libya disappeared. That doesn’t mean the country isn’t descending deeper into disarray.

If you are a liberal supporter of Democrats in America, Libya is probably a distant memory. And because the New York Times isn’t telling you what’s happening in Libya, you would have no clue that a recent bloodbath is pushing Libya closer to outright civil war.

But if you read the Moon of Alabama blog, you would know that the situation in Libya is quickly deteriorating:

(Cairo) Nobody has their eye on Libya with all “western” media preoccupied with DC machinations, Russiaphobia and the first overseas trip of President Trump.

What about the implosion we are on the brink of seeing in Libya following the murder of all LNA Air Force personnel at the Brak al-Shati AFB?

The death toll in the attack of a Libyan National Army airbase, in south Libya, rose to over 140, a spokesman for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday.

Remarkably it was militia (called ‘the third force’) of the UN unelected Government of National Accord (GNA) under Faez Serraj that attacked and executed the unarmed men in the Brak al-Shati Air base. There were allegedly foreigners among the attackers possibly aligned with al-Qaeda.

This death toll in Libya means nothing to western audiences. Neoliberal complicity in these deaths also means nothing. The result of this reckless blindspot could have dire consequences down the road.

I hope I’m wrong.

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Central Committee

by William Skink

I would like to dedicate this video to the Rob Quist campaigned who texted me on a beautiful Sunday as I am trying to get things done before starting another work week.

Please give my regards to the Central Committee. Thank you.

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What the ISIS Smear Signals About Democrats

by William Skink

I was thinking that maybe I would try to repress my gag reflex and vote for Rob Quist. That thought had been building, but it quickly disappeared when I saw the latest stupid desperate smear of Greg Gianforte, financial backer of ISIS.

Here is Don Pogreba regurgitating this dumb swill from Huffington Post:

A Republican congressional candidate owns a stake in a French-Swiss cement company accused of making payments to the Islamic State militant group in Syria, according to financial disclosures HuffPost reviewed.

Greg Gianforte, the millionaire GOP contender for Montana’s open seat in the House, reported owning $47,066 worth of shares in LafargeHolcim as recently as December. The shares are in an individual retirement account at TWP, a brokerage firm and private wealth manager, on which he and his wife, Susan Gianforte, are listed as trustees.

Narrow-minded partisans taking desperate swipes at larger forces they maintain a willful ignorance towards is hard to watch. Here is the awkward truth: ISIS is a product of US imperialism, nurtured and armed by our Arab allies, like Saudi Arabia, to keep Iran’s influence in check.

But that reality won’t help partisans elect their cowboy poet, so instead we get one of the most pathetic attempts to smear a candidate I’ve seen since, well, the last attempt to smear Gianforte by trying to insinuate he’s some Russian stooge because his investment portfolio has some loot invested in Russian businesses.

Not everyone is going along with this sad, desperate attempt from a sinking campaign in the waning days of Montana’s special election. Here is James Conner:

This is neither a BFD nor a LFD, neither a tempest in a teapot nor a squall in a saucer. It’s just an attempt to smear Gianforte, who has not displayed conspicuous enthusiasm for settling Syrian refugees in Montana, as a funder of terrorists who have beheaded Americans.

It’s dirty politics, opposition research run wild.

Almost everyone with a diversified investments portfolio owns a piece of something that stinks. That’s the price of fiscal prudence. Neither Gianforte nor anyone else orders his investments banker to buy stocks in slimy corporations that bribe foreign officials and finance lunatic insurgencies.

This is the second time Montana’s Democrats have tried to question Gianforte’s patriotism by flagging a dubious stock in his investments portfolio. A few weeks ago, the MDP tried to tie him to the Russians because he owned Russian stocks.

Give it a rest, Democrats. Gianforte’s problem with wealth is not the stocks that he owns. It’s that like Mitt Romney, he’s lost touch with the middle class.

And here is Dan Brooks weighing in:

Montana’s special election is one week away, and the Rob Quist campaign is starting to look like a series of unforced errors. Let us begin with his nomination. Quist was handpicked by the Democratic Party, not by the usual primary system. Somehow, no one in that august political body thought to run a credit check. Pretty much the first story that came out was about the liens filed against their candidate for unpaid property taxes in 2011 and the bill for which he stiffed a contractor in 2001. I can see such problems haunting a popular favorite, but the Democrats chose Quist for his electability. Surely there was some other Democrat in the state who lacked not just political experience but also a debt trail.

Fortunately, the Quist campaign is staffed by experienced operatives from the state party. These old hands know the voters of Montana well enough to find sure ways to distinguish Quist from his opponent—for example, by running the exact same campaign ads. That’s how you win as a Democrat: by acting like a Republican. This principle explains why Quist downplayed his support for single-payer health care and emphasized his support for guns. It also explains why Hillary Clinton is president now. It does not explain why campaign manager Les Braswell accidentally tweeted as The Montana Cowgirl from the Quist campaign account, but we can’t explain everything. He probably got hacked.

Anyway, the Democratic Party is incompetent, even in the last best place. Facing an opponent who just lost a statewide election for governor in which he underperformed the top of his ticket by 20 points, they appear to be headed for defeat. Now is the time to reflect on deep questions. My deepest: In the present economic climate, how is being rich not the biggest obstacle a candidate can face?

This country desperately needs a real opposition party fighting against the rigged economy that never recovered for the vast majority of Americans. Instead, we get worthless Democrats who can’t even muster enough vetting to do a credit check on the cowboy hat they selected to run against a rich guy who just lost his gubernatorial race last year.

Pathetic.

While partisans like Pogreba use ISIS to smear their enemy, Trump is about to arrive in Saudi Arabia, the country that produced the majority of terrorists that supposedly attacked America on 9/11. Then Trump will visit Israel, a country that no one will ever investigate for their meddling in US elections. Then Trump will visit the Vatican.

I can only imagine what will be discussed behind closed doors. Maybe Trump is making sure these religious power centers are ready to kick off Armageddon. What will probably be announced in Saudi Arabia is a massive arms deal that will make American weapons manufactures billions of dollars.

There might be some outrage over this from the fake opposition we call Democrats, but conveniently ignored will be how good Obama was for weapons sales (Mother Jones):

The Obama years have been a boom time for America’s weapons makers. Since 2009, the United States has approved arms deals worth some $200 billion—more than under any other presidency. The deals include sending Apache helicopters to Qatar, “bunker buster” bombs and cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, and Hellfire missiles all over the place. Predicting an increase in weapons sales fueled by the war against ISIS, an unnamed American weapons manufacturing executive told Reuters last year: “Everyone in the region is talking about building up supplies for 5 to 10 years. This is going to be a long fight. It’s a huge growth area for us.”

Fucking Democrats. You aren’t the resistance, you are major part of the problem and your party needs to be destroyed.

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On Trying In Spite Of It All

by William Skink

Bombardment. Overload. When I get the Comey comatosee out of my system, it’s the too-much-of-it-all I keep coming back to. And it pisses me off.

There is no time between scandal to take a breath, to pause. I don’t believe for a second that’s by accident. Just keep the populace reeling, from punch to punch.

Those who say the saga that started with Comey’s firing has yet to reach the high water mark of Watergate don’t appreciate the media landscape that exists, and our voluntary enslavement to its every push and jingle.

Paul Craig Roberts has gone several steps beyond apoplectic. He’s convinced China and Russia increasingly believe America is preparing a nuclear first strike:

On April 26 – 16 days ago – Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznihir, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, stated at the Moscow International Security Conference that the Operations Command of the Russian General Staff has concluded that Washington is preparing a nuclear first strike on Russia.

The Times-Gazett in Ashland, Ohio, was the only US print media that a Google search could turn up that reported this most alarming of all announcements. A Google search turned up no reports on US TV, and none on Canadian, Australian, European, or any other media except RT and Internet sites.

I have been unable to find any report that any US Senator or Representative or any European, Canadian, or Australian politician has raised a voice of concern.

No one in Washington got on the telephone to tell Putin that this was all a mistake, that the US was not preparing a nuclear first strike on Russia, or ask Putin how this serious situation could be defused.

Whatever may or may not exist in regards to provable collusion between Team Trump and the tentacles of the Kremlin, the Russia angle is not the only avenue to impeachment the resistance to Trump can take. But it seems to be the sole path being pursued by an equally reckless fusion of neoliberals and neoconservatives hell-bent on using Trump as a springboard to a military confrontation that could end us all.

Is the public capable of tracking this insanity? If not, why?

Bombardment, overload…who can honestly keep up with it all? And even if you could, would you want to?

Being back on the front lines of need can be overwhelming at times. The systems we depend on literally grind people down.

Broken health care system, broken criminal justice system. People can’t get the housing they need. They can’t get the medicine they need. And they are treading water in an ocean filled with sharks. Sometimes the sharks are lawyers, sometimes they are property management companies.

Sometimes they are your own family members.

For me, the personal contrast is stark. I’m comfortable. I’m blessed. I no longer scoff at sayings like there but for the grace of God go I.

It’s a weird place to be as this polarizing atmosphere keeps choking us with fear and rage. On Sundays I go to church. And at night I try to reassemble the horrors of the day I hear through my headset and read on my stupid smart phone.

I don’t know what to make of it all. Part of me is above it, protected by privilege. Part of me is in it, working directly with people who need help. Part of me needs to keep it together for the people who depend on me.

And part of me is trying to understand why it all seems to be falling apart.

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Comey Not My Homie

by William Skink

My reaction to the news of the last 9 days is to ryhme Comey with words like Homie and Bologna. I use images like Sean Spicer dressed as a bunny, and George Bush hugging a person dressed as a bunny, and a picture of a girl holding a bunny I found at the Antique Mall downtown.

Because why not?

There’s some Lynch, some Nixon, and some stone cold lovin’.

Enjoy!

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My Wasteland My Missoula

by William Skink

Working on some sounds, I decided to bring in T.S. Eliot for some content. This is what happened:

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The Ugly of Medicaid in Montana

by William Skink

Medicaid in Montana is a multi-headed beast targeting different populations, expanded under the ACA. No one really knows everything there is to know about the various programs, even the institutions that should know, like the Office of Public Assistance.

I even suspect supporters of Medicaid expansion are somewhat ignorant as to how those dollars get used.

There are a few informed critics, like James Conner at Flathead Memo. I greatly appreciated this post questioning the Medicaid snatch and switch scheme by Bullock to fund pre-school education. And I agree whole-heartedly with this statement:

Medicaid money should be used to pay for Medicaid services and nothing else, and all of it should be spent. A state government that runs a Medicaid surplus isn’t helping as many people as it could.

I hope an advocacy group for Medicaid sues to stop this if the bill passes and Bullock signs it into law.

One of the most critical needs that continues to be underfunded is long term care services in Montana. There is a significant waitlist for aging Montanans who can’t afford the cost of in-home care, the kind of services needed to keep someone in their home instead of a nursing home.

Unless you have had direct experience, you probably don’t know how cruel Medicaid is for people who need these services. You don’t know the harsh income requirements, like how over $2,000 in savings and more than $640ish a month means you get too much to qualify for Medicaid.

With that reality in mind, this Missoula Current piece about Consumer Direct opening its 23 million dollar national headquarters in Missoula requires a little scrutiny. Why? Because they are sad they aren’t getting more of the Medicaid pie:

Despite the company’s rapid growth and its future plans in Missoula, Woody said he considered several other states when looking to establish a national headquarters, including Boise and Denver.

While there are benefits to locating in Montana, he said, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services – and Montana’s partisan politics – continue to challenge the company’s potential for growth within the state.

Among the issues, Woody named state cuts to caregiver wages and a low reimbursement rate for skilled nursing services. The later prompted the company to cancel a contract for skilled nursing services for people with developmental disabilities in Montana.

“We’re not reimbursed enough through Medicaid to find caregivers or nurses,” Woody said. “I seriously considered moving it (headquarters) to another state that’s more business friendly. With regard to Health and Human Services, it’s not the best state. It’s one of our weaker performers.”

“But at the end of the day, we all live here and we’ve got the momentum,” Woody added. “We’re here because we like Montana, not because it’s the best place to run a business. Montana needs to work on that, very hard.”

I’m not sure a company opening a 23 million dollar headquarters should be panhandling the State of Montana for more Medicaid dollars for their caregivers. If you can’t find labor at the price you are willing to pay, Consumer Direct, then maybe you should consider offering your workforce better wages for the difficult work they do.

Medicaid dollars shouldn’t be a part of state funding shenanigans, but they are. And companies that can toast a multi-million dollar headquarters grand opening shouldn’t immediately try to use their economic leverage to shake down Montana’s state government for more Medicaid loot.

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Another Dem Bites The Dust?

by William Skink

Had Montana Democrats not fucked up another congressional campaign, this state could have sent an exhilarating jolt to the resistance against Trump. I still don’t think Amanda Curtis would have won had she been selected, but her camp appeared to be where the energy and passion wanted to go.

The Facebook chatter amongst my FB “friends” does not bode well for Quist. There is no enthusiasm or excitement, just teeth-gritting acknowledgment that at least Quist is not a wealthy, creationist, Trump-loving monster like Gianforte.

The latest story about the barn/apartments is particularly bad for Quist. While plenty of ballots have already been marked and mailed, the fact Quist’s deception was exposed probably won’t inspire the fence-sitters to make the effort.

This whole campaign has been about who can claim authenticity as a Montanan, at least that was the main thrust of the Democratic strategy to elect Quist. Look at his Cowboy hat and relatable medical debt–he’s just like us!

But little discrepancies, like forgetting to disclose around $50,000 in income, started undermining the folksy caricature the partisan minions had cultivated for Quist. Then this barn story emerges, and Quist is caught in another awkward situation where his claims don’t seem to jive with reality:

Montana’s Democratic U.S. House candidate, Rob Quist has ties to a rental property not listed on state tax rolls, public records show.

Quist acknowledged the apartments Tuesday in an interview with The Gazette, but denied renting out the units. Advertising records and leasing contracts suggest otherwise.

“My son’s living there, so that’s not a rental property. It’s just something that’s kind of family-owned,” Quist said.

Quist is lying when he says the barn is not rental property. It is a rental property, says the Billings Gazette:

The Gazette identified four people who have rented from Quist in recent years. None wanted to be drawn into the politics of Montana’s U.S. House race by commenting on their relationship with the Quists, although two former renters provided leases active in 2015 and 2016 which put the monthly rent, paid to Bonni Quist, at $695 for one unit and $950 for another.

It’s hard to understand how Quist’s myriad financial problems weren’t vetted before his selection. Now Montana Democrats are facing, once again, a campaign imploding before their stupid partisan eyes.

When Quist loses, Democrats can blame the media, and they can point out the lack of national support for their candidate. Maybe there will even be some cosmetic reshuffling of the political hierarchy.

What won’t happen is an honest, critical analysis by party leaders regarding how they keep fucking these campaigns up so badly, election cycle after election cycle.

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James Comey, You’re Fired!

by William Skink

The firing of James Comey will be good for non-stop news coverage for the next couple of news cycles. Does anyone actually believe the reason Comey was fired was because of how he handled Hillary’s email scandal?

Democrats who blame Comey for Hillary’s loss won’t be celebrating this surprising move because the stated rationale is so obviously not the real rationale. Instead, the Russophobia is going to be ramped up even more.

So, what will come of this move? Will an independent prosecutor take over the investigation into Russian ties to Trump associates? Will the news cycle have any room for, say, the “serious situation” at the Washington nuclear facility in Hanford?

I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to our distraction devices for the latest update. Maybe that’s the point of this political charade.

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