The Fat Man Has Sung

Image[1]We’ve all had the good fortune of reading Senator Llew Jones’s editorial as it’s traveled across Montana in the company rags.  Llew is all set to ‘tighten the government’s purse strings’ in the fashion he already started with his now executed SB 261.  And to read his words as he wrote them you would think this all just came to be in the last few months.  Jones seems to have a short view of history, not even back to 2005 when he first plopped down into a creaky wooden chair in the House chambers for the first time.  But it’s not uncommon for legislators to shrug off sessions they weren’t a part of when it suits their needs.  In this case, it was just one session before in 2003 that Jones should be taking into consideration.

If you were to believe his view of Montana you’d believe that most Montanan’s are out wrangling cattle, raising crops or pulling up the shades on the general store on Main Street.  Certainly, the commodities have suffered and there is no doubt the stability of those markets does have an impact on Montana’s economy.  It’s also important to remember that Montana has a diverse economy that is doing better than Jones would have you believe.  The majority of Montanan’s live in far more urban areas of the state than Conrad.  In fact, it’s safe to say that most Montanan’s primary contact with wheat and beef is when they take a bite out of a cheeseburger.

Those forms of revenue that Jones laid out do indeed matter.  However, there is another and more long term story playing out that Jones and his gang are casually ignoring.  A guest post in Montana Cowgirl spells out the history of what Jones neglects to mention or even acknowledge.  Reductions in business taxes and personal income taxes of the highest earners has finally come home to roost.  Back then in 2003 even former budget director and long time legislator Dave Lewis called it a ‘black hole’ and coming from a guy like Lewis, that’s saying something.

So back to Big Llew.  His last few sessions have been a good run for him with plenty of thick steaks and whiskey.  He’s built himself a fine perch in the political arena of


I’m fuckin’ Llew!

Montana.  For the moderates, he’s in the lead and kept close by the far right.  For the not so far left he’s obviously gained their trust and confidence.  If you don’t believe that only have a look at the final House vote of his now famed and session ending SB 261.  But don’t be too harsh on the D’s, it was their way home.  And then there’s organized labor who see him as their ‘go to guy’ to help move legislation and carry a little water.  In some circles he’s even been called a ‘colossus’. The same colossus who now encourages the Governor to have union members pack up their desks and ultimately stop paying dues.

Jones’s SB 261 was merely a precursor to where we have landed today with far deeper budget cuts that will not just end the careers and livelihoods of state employees butwhite-pat-on-the-head-men-s-tees-men-s-t-shirt[1] campus, county and city workers as well.  When Jones talks about  a ‘…main street businessman who’s customers will have little money to spend…’ he is also referring to the spending power of those now out of work government folks.  But take heart you government workers, Jones and his ilk know you are ‘good people hired to do a job’.  Feel better?

If you’ve spent even a small amount of time around Big Llew during his now 12 years in the Legislature then you’ve heard him talk about ‘tightening our belts’ more than once.  Perhaps this helps redefine irony yet again: A 350 pound middle aged white man in suspenders lecturing about belt tightening.  Go figure.

King Henry VIII eating


‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’


Does This Ass Make My City Look Stupid?

The Billings mayoral race is generating some attention lately with ballots out in the mail to narrow the field down to the final two candidates on a November 7 ballot.  ‘Mayor of Billings’ may sound like a big deal with the title, an office and an annual salary of less than $10,000 year.  OK, so maybe it’s more presence than influence considering the City has a City Manager and a City Council.  It’s not like it’s Missoula and taking down Mountain Water or even Helena with Jim Smith who has…wait, what does Jim Smith do?  Back to Billings, it is Montana’s largest city after all.

One candidate in particular has big plans for the office and believes he’s got the assmanleadership experience to make that happen.  Termed out Representative Jeff Essmann is spending a lot of time and a lot of money in his efforts to land a new job in government, albeit elected, but still on the dole.  Essman has gone so far as to announce that he will ‘…get to work on infrastructure projects while avoiding new taxes.’  Think about that, which old taxes will be used and which services of the City of Billings will no longer be offered. Add to that Essmann’s failure to exert his ‘leadership’ to increase revenues or pass an infrastructure bill in not one session, but two.  Hell, let’s go all the way back to his entrance into the legislature in 2005.

So on that 2017 session that Essmann used his experience in, Essmann would proudly say the feather in his cap was blocking legislation that would have allowed counties to save tens of thousands of dollars by using a mail ballot in a special election.  A special election that ultimately sent his good friend, and now convicted body slammer, Greg Gianforte to Congress.  Aside from that, Essmann snuck away from his duties at the Capitol for a few days to watch his hero, Donald Trump, take the oath as President.  Oh and he spends a lot of time on twitter simply retweeting with the occasional snarky comment.  He’s very good at it.  The best.  Really.

FullSizeRender (1)If you were to believe Essmann’s own account of his leadership skills you would believe he not only kept his own party intact, but that he also reached across the isle constantly to move important legislation that positively impacts Montana.  If you were to believe that you would be wrong.  State Senator Jen Gross called Essmann out for his failures in the 2017 session with her recent letter in the Billings Gazette.  Then came an odd tweet exchange with former Representative Mike Miller who clearly shows no support or confidence in Essmann.  Then again, it’s a little dicey to take Miller’s word for it, given his conviction for campaign practices, to include being banned from running for office.

Gross didn’t come right out and say it, but come on Billings, you can do better than this.Essmann   appears to be one of those termed out legislators who desperately needs a place to land.  Given his career of being in the way, he doesn’t know the meaning of ‘get out of the way’ or how to make a graceful exit.  Then again, it could be that Essmann is in search of another government health plan now that he’ll get kicked off the state health insurance plan. At least he’ll get to keep his government pension with a defined benefit.  Wait!  Does that make Essmann a socialist?


‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’


While you were sleeping…

Or debating the civil war…or waiting for rain…or posting eclipse selfies…the Montana Department of Labor and Industry has been quietly sidling through rural Montana closing Job Service offices.  Tuesday of this week employees got the ax in Lewistown. closed-out-of-business[1] From there it was off to Anaconda, Dillon and Hamilton for the final blow.  Earlier this year DLI closed offices in Livingston, Shelby and Glasgow.  And while the Montana Historical Society and State Library have managed to keep the attention of the press with their ‘whining’, according to Representative Nancy Balance, there has yet to be a drop of ink for these closings, layoffs and loss of services to rural Montana.  Let alone a tear from the Governor or Commissioner of Labor.

So what of it?  Are the closures and loss of some 40 jobs the result of the session ending bipartisan Senate Bill 261 or girding for the cuts to come from the Throne of Trump?  It’s hard to say at this point given that there have been no press releases or official statements made by anyone, anywhere.  Not a peep.  For an administration that so enjoys touting Main Street Montana and Montana Values, there doesn’t seem to be much concern or much support for rural main street now or that Montana value of being open and honest about what’s happening.  You might just wonder if  something is hiding in all of this smoke.

‘Government should operate like private business.’ In this case, government is doing just that.  Swooping into small Montana towns with a crack team of well paid administrators BFPAN0[1]handing out pink slips then off to the next small town to do more of the same.  Of course driving the company car and dining on the company dime along the way.  Those folks appeared sad faced and empathetic then hit the road, tires spinning and gravel flying. And speaking of those managers, it would appear that these closures don’t involve a single top dollar administrator or any jobs in the beehives of Helena.  Life and paydays go on for the protected and imbedded in the Capitol City.

Speaking of life going on, it would seem that the closings come at a coincidental time withsave-yourself[1] Commissioner of Labor Pam Bucy leaving for a new opportunity with well know lobbyist and quiet voice of the Republican Party, Mark Taylor.  Could it be she checked the horizon, saw the iceberg and abandoned ship quickly?  Or is it just the universe in motion.  Either way she’s landed in a nice soft spot while her former employees head home to break the news to the family and plant a ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard.


‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’



Confederate_fountainOr in this case “Fountain!”  While the state burns through the last of the fire fund progressive Democrats, young and old in Helena, find themselves twitter-pated  over the recent city commission decision to remove the Confederate Fountain from Hill Park.  “Look at us we’re just like the big city folk back east!”  Alt-right, alt-left, neo-liberal, neo-nazi, fascist, Christ0fascist all spell the same thing a moribund center that has still not reached the point of telling them ALL to sit down and shut the hell up!  But it’s a win because the city just shut the water off to it yesterday.  Who’s your daddy now…well it ain’t Jeff Davis cuz us paragons of social justice and political correctness are on the job.





And floating amongst the particulates of the ash filled skies, we have a governor who appears to be embracing the notion that he is a viable 2020 presidential candidate who is tweeting about the removal of the obnoxious monument in Helena and the glaring lack of leadership on the national level as once again our nation wrestles with the sins of our past.  Meanwhile, this week marks the end of the careers of a number of state employees who have fallen victim to the cuts in SB 261.  Lack of leadership perhaps…or…squirrel

But alas the fountain of “hate and racism” that most had no idea existed at all will be erased from the Helena landscape.  The skies will open up, the rain will come down, the fires will be extinguished, and there will be no more hungry children in the world because the fountain will be gone.

T-Bone Slim – “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”





Burnin’ Down the House


It’s summer and the skies are smoky.  And so too appear to be the brains of some Democratic Party players.  In checking the inbox for the tips this week there appeared an IMG_7289email thread titled ‘Fire Season’ launched by party Executive Director Keenan as an announcement that the party will be sending a check to aid those suffering from the Lodgepole Fire Complex.  Wise move to be sure and wise to also be aware that it likely won’t do any good in swaying voters.  Bottom line, in times like this we are all Montanans and this is what we do for each other regardless of the color of our votes in November.

Well done, Nancy.  And then comes the pettiness of the party old timers.  Long time obstructionist Pat Mishcel gives his two cents of bitterness and is supported by MEA-MFT staffer Maggie Copeland with her own vile response.  Ooppss!  But not as a staffer.  (Note the time stamps:  it only took her boss, Eric Feaver, three minutes to call her.)


It’s a strange sentiment from folks who proclaim themselves as leaders in the ‘People’s Party’ and points to a symptom of the cancer within the party.  In case anyone hasn’t notice, Montana’s democrats are on the losing end these days and the time for change has come.  That change should involve weeding out the likes of these two.  While mostrun_out_of_town_on_a_rail[1] are out there trying to make the party shine, the Pat’s and Maggie’s of the party are busy hitting ‘reply all’ to spew their vitriol.  No matter how small or how contained this moment was, it is not a proud moment by any means and belongs to all of the leaders within the party.

And to Maggie and Pat, you sound an awful lot like a certain President.  Could it be that at night you pull a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat out from under your bed and pull it down tight on your head with a smile as you drift off to sleep?


‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’


Triggers to the left of me , triggers to the right…

There’s been some heat in the news lately about “triggers“, “state fire fund“, “healthcare“, “Montana State Library“, “Montana Historical Society“, and the demon that spawned it all Senate Bill 261.  It seems appropriate as Montana valleys fill with the smoke from forest fires that we take some time to contemplate how this austerity measure came into being and the likelihood it will leave a swath of scorched earth in its wake. Rumblings from around the capitol indicate that before the end of August the revenue shortfall will be such that cuts will extend into tier four budget cuts.  Below is a list of the proposed cuts as outlined in the bill as well as the proposed revenue triggers that will automatically implement the budget reductions.

Senate Bill 261 triggers

The devil’s bargain

As the fallout begins with the pending cuts to services and layoffs of state employees, there is considerable head scratching, not much finger pointing, and plenty of blame to go around.  Regardless of what you read or hear, this was a bipartisan bill that passed the senate and house by wide margins before Governor Bullock signed it into law.   Follow the links and truth will shine a light on naysayers and aye-sayers alike.  Say that three times fast!

The chief architects, however, Senator Llew Jones (R-Conrad) and state budget director

Dan Villa (aka Pancho and Lefty) have managed to fly under the turbulence created by their backroom deal.  Look as you might, but try as you might, you won’t find the smokin’ gun because these savvy individuals know how to cover their back trail; they’ve had three sessions to hone their partnership and bring on board just enough “tools”, right and left, to make the whole thing work.  As chair of the senate finance and claims committee, Jones carriers a lot of weight when it comes to the budget and unlike his counterpart, chair Nancy Ballance of House Appropriations, he knows how to work his caucus.



Psst! You tell them the Republicans are to blame and I’ll say it’s the Democrats.

Obviously the leadership on both sides of the aisle were aware of the deal on SB 261,  to deliver a satisfactory budget that Governor Bullock would sign negating the possibility of a special session.  This despite the disparity between revenue estimates from the governor’s budget office and the legislative fiscal division.  Equally confusing, or not, was the willingness of Governor Bullock and budget director Villa to accept the higher estimate from LFD.  When has that ever happened…NEVER!  Can you smell the brimstone now or is it sausage making?  Either way, we ended up with triggers to the left, triggers to the right, and a number of innocent bystanders who will actually feel the pinch from the loss of services and employment.

But perhaps the most irritating aspect of the budget deal is the rising tide of voices bemoaning the coming cuts.  The rending of cloth and wearing of sackcloth and ashes from some Democrats and a pithy comment from Conrad, “government has to learn to live within its means.”  Pandering to the small government masses and buttressing one of the three pillars of conservatism.  And then fires breakout in Garfield County and grow to over 250,000 acres.  Oops!  Failure






Apparently a 90 day sessions stretches the ability of some of our citizen legislators to read, comprehend, and debate the implications of the legislation they vote on.   It just goes to show you, if you wait long enough, obfuscate a little, finish it off with a beguiling smile and a third round infrastructure bill double cross, doodoo gets overlooked until some poor rube steps in it.  CRAP!


T-Bone Slim – “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”

Petra Academy to End Course

steele_george3Bozeman’s Petra Academy announced today that it would be ending one of its most popular courses for the last ten years running.  A spokesperson from the academy made public that it would regretfully close out ‘MMA: A Path To The WWE’.  ‘We’ll be losing our instructor in one way or another.  Mr. Gianforte will be in one of two places next fall when the course would normally be offered.  We aren’t sure if he will be taking his seat in Congress or serving a maximum six month jail sentence for misdemeanor assault.’

Gianforte savagely attacked a journalist after being asked a routine question about the CBO’s report on the Trump health care plan.  To no one’s surprise Gianforte was elected as Montana’s lone Congressman the next day.  Jail time is unlikely given his relationship to the Gallatin County Attorney, local Sheriff and the fact that he donated $500,000 to Gallatin County for a new detention facility, ironically named ‘The Greg And Susan Gianforte Center for Redemption and Rehabilitation.’

According to the statement ‘He just had a way of teaching that really showed our students how to best use his techniques of picking out the smallest and most meek individual and then going from a dull blank stare to explosive rage without legitimate provocation.  Our larger and less social students, particularly our more angry boys,  gravitated to his course and excelled with practice.  While we did experience a number of injuries, we believe that was minor compared to the success of our students.’

Petra, on Gianforte’s recommendation, will be adding a new course that will deviate from the physical education program.  ‘Satanic Rituals in the Practice of Montana Law and Campaign Practices’ will be taught by the disgraced former Montana legislator and Gianforte attorney Artnosferatu-eine-symphonie-des-grauens-boat-scene-count-orlok-max-schreck-vampire-german-expressionism-dracula-classic-review-600x300 Wittich.  ‘Art is incredibly adept at twisting the law and anyone’s words to his own advantage and defense.  Our students have a lot to learn from him and our greatest hope is that Mr. Gianforte’s most loyal students will learn as much in this course and go on to practice law or better yet combine both teachings to become narcissistic political figures as well.’ said the spokesperson.


‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

Laaadddiiieeesss and Geeenntttllleeemmmeeennn….

Hailing from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California with a record of 0 and 1, fighting in the red, white and blue trunks- Greg The Grappling GOPer!!!!

Nacho Libre (2006) Directed by Jared Hess Shown: Jack Black (as Nacho)

Tired of that pesky federal government overreach?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Ready for a new healthcare system that ignores the poor?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Want to see those public lands closed off and sold?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Had enough of the liberal media and the 1st Amendment?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


How about some of those high paying jobs for Montana that can’t be explained?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


What about all this transgender bathroom stuff?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


And how about some publicly funded private education that will finally exclude the disabled?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Will Greg The Grappling GOPer continue on his losing streak to a record of 0 and 2 or will the Trump supporters rally for the body slam king and send him to Washington if he’s not convicted of a felony?  We’ll all be watching from the edge of our seats!



‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’






Gone Fishin’

May 25, 2017, 8pm.  Montana’s special election will be in the bag and we can all go fishing again.  And Memorial Day weekend is one day away: the unofficial start of summer.  It’s been a nonstop slog of campaigning for well over a year and we all deserve a break from yard signs, phone calls, mailings, door hangers and TV adds.  Fishing.  The river rolling by.   The water lapping up on the shores of the lake.  Feel calm already?IMG_6800

The special election campaign has been heavily peppered with public lands sound bites, the Montana tradition of getting out in the woods to hunt or on the water to wet a line.  Hell, even Greg Gianforte’s imported supporters took a break to enjoy all that Montana has to offer.  Donald Trump Jr took to the field to harvest a few prairie dogs and tried his ‘skills’ in the water.

Vice President Mike Pence took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some fishing as well.  It’s got to be rough dodging every steaming pile your boss leaves behind.  No doubt he was much in need of a little R and R while pandering to the already Gianforte faithful.  Who could blame him?

‘He looked like every other fisherman who walks in the door’ said store owner Katy Martin when Pence stopped by.  Well, except for one thing.

Pence and Trump Jr both went fishing.   Only one of them bought a fishing license.  Can you guess which one?



‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

The Art of Vetting: Strike 2

Campaigns are ugly.  Anyone who’s crazy enough to jump in one needs to know that and anyone who’s pushing them needs to learn the art of vetting.  Clearly the Montana November 7, 2012Democratic Party and its principals have forgotten this art.  Yet here we are with less than ten days until the polls close on a special congressional race and Rob Quist just grew a few more warts.  From way back East comes a story with plenty of foul smelling and years old garbage.  To Quist and his family, all apologies.  Someone should have locked you in a box for a week and picked you to pieces while doing some intensive record searching.  This isn’t entirely on you.  Meet up with John Walsh for a beer when it’s all said and done.

Is it really that bad?  Quist has herpes, so does two thirds of the world’s population.  Quist smoked pot.  Less than half the US population has smoked pot- liars! This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, he was living on a bus and traveling to play music. And maybe his music career was going to take off and maybe it wasn’t.  If only he could have been on ‘The Voice’ back then.

Back to the real problem.  Party principals have now shown us their incompetence and inability to properly vet potential candidates as they continue to ride that merry-go-round of ‘same as it ever was’ and ‘this is what we’ve always done’.  November has come and gone.  The legislative session is over with no bonding bill.  It’s time for fresh leadership to take control. It’s time for new blood.  It’s time for the bold and the brave.Stop-Doing-It-The-Same-Old-Way-To-Do-List-Photo1-300x200  Established party leadership has failed us and learned no lessons by the constant defeat.  But the loss of Montana’s tier B races last November is the greatest example of all.  Once you’ve finished Trump off with your torches and pitchforks be ready to turn them inward on the Democratic Party.  Then again, you may not need to given the gasping for air and the death rattle in its throat.

But take heart.  While you’re all wondering who will run for Governor in 2020 because there is no democratic bench of candidates and no grooming taking place, rumors are spreading.  Word has it that Anthony Weiner is planning to establish residence in Montana in time to file.  Weiner mentioned something about a call from Georgetown Lake.  What could go wrong?


‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’