Remember Representative Arntzen?

The first month of Superintendent Of Public Instruction Arntzen has been odd and disappointing, to say the least.  But really, if you know and pay attention to who Elsie is, did you expect anything less?

The office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction touches literally hundreds of thousands of lives in Montana: students, teachers, administrators, parents, custodians, tax payers, advocates, lunch room greg-gianforte-elsie-arntzen_eric-whitney1ladies, grandparents and school secretaries to name a few.  You would think that anyone interested in the job would have both the concern and character for the job.  Then you would need to take a closer look at Elsie Arntzen to find the truth: she’s not fit for the job on either of those levels. A voting record speaks volumes and former Representative, and now, Superintendent Arntzen has volumes of votes.  Beyond the typical educational policy advocacy groups such as MEA-MFT who have made no bones about publishing that deplorable record, the Billings Gazette  clearly pointed out that Arntzen has already had the opportunity to positively affect public education when they endorsed Melissa Romano.  Those are undeniable facts.

During the 2007 legislative session, Arntzen found herself splashed across the daily papers in Montana after having been a passenger with then Representative Scott Baggio when he was arrested for driving under the influence.  Two ironies played out in this arrest: the pure and pious Elsie was a member of the Yellowstone County DUI Taskforce and Baggio was driving a vehicle owned by Harry Klock, a former bar owner.  Both Arntzen and Klock claimed to have no idea that Boggio was ready to blow a whopping .14 into the breathalyzer.  Understandable, it’s tough to recognize a drunk driver when you’re probably drunk yourself.  Again, all tangible facts. 

Now for the less ‘tangibles’.  Within days of the embarrassing arrest which left the then would be OPI chief guilty by association, her mother showed up in Helena and stayed for the rest of the legislative session.  Momma’s entrance on the stage of debauchery was the end of baby girls’ nights out with her new found friend Boggio. It was rumored and hushly spoken in the Capital halls that the kindred republicans had a bit more at play than bumping up on a curb within eyesight of the Helena Police.  Arntzen managed to stay out of trouble for the rest of that session and her mother kept a tight grip. 

The 2009 legislative session brought a new Red Lodge legislator who didn’t favor Arntzen’s type so all was safe.  It was confusing then to see Arntzen’s husbandlittlebig11 show up each Friday and escort the apparently ‘fallen flower’ off the house floor and whisk her away for the weekend and avoid any flashing lights.  Rumors never cease though.  Uncomfortable exchanges continued and those who found themselves to be the object of Arntzen’s attention passed along stories of hugs from Arntzen that lasted just a little too long and eye contact that made them want to run home and shower with a fresh bar of LAVA.  People don’t always see things as they may be, it’s entirely possible Arntzen is just a nice, loving and caring school teacher.  Then again….


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


An Orgasmic Beginning

North America’s Building Trades Unions met with President Donald J. Trump the other day and the Union Bosses came away from the experience feeling the love.  That same day President Trump signed an executive order putting the final nail in the coffin of the Trans Pacific trump-union-leaders-11Partnership to the delight of union leaders across the country.  Trump promised that together they were going to put a lot of people back to work.  He followed that up a day later with executive actions to resuscitate the Keystone XL Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline.  Could it be the “Great Satan” rank and file union members were warned about is actually a New Deal Rooseveltian in Republican clothing?  But wait!

Let’s not forget that he also issued an order for a broad hiring freeze on all federal government jobs.  Trump called it a stopgap measure to control the growth of government until his budget director can come up with a plan to reduce the federal workforce.  This drew a swift criticism from the American Federation of Government Employees as well as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  He extends an open hand to one part of the house of labor and a closed fist to the other.  Let’s not forget that union density in the United States is greatest in the public sector or that just about every private sector union has bargaining units in the public sector.

In the meantime, we have a Republican congress that has already lined up to shut down a major part of the Democratic Party’s war chest.  Even though President Trump gets to chose a Supreme Court nominee, his pick has to get the nod from Congress.  Let’s not forget that not too long ago public sector unions dodged a bullet with the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the resulting 4-4 split on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.  The next SCOTUS case against public employee unions and charging fair share is already in the queue just waiting a ninth justice to break the tie.  If you think that ain’t gonna happen then you better turn in your medical marijuana card.

Now this reads a lot like an us versus them in the labor movement, divide and conquer, but yet private and public sector unions understand they need one another to survive or if they don’t then they should read some recent history about what happened in Wisconsin.  Getting “Walkered” by the right seems like a given in this political environment.  Before the Trades get twitter-pated with the new administration they need to remember the old fable about the scorpion and the frog…the scorpion just couldn’t help it because it was in his nature.

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


Rise and Resist

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionsists, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me- there was no one left to speak for me

Martin Niemoller

Few would need to Google the passage to understand its meaning or its origin.  But just in case, and to save you the time, it was written by a Nazi concentration camp survivor who initially supported Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power.  Niemoller realized his mistake when Hitler placed nationalism and the state above all else, including faith.  He was arrested for forming a group of clergyman who opposed the new leader and spent eight years in two different camps.  Niemoller chose to rise and resist.  And it was too late.

On January 21, 2017 millions of the world’s people chose to rise and resist.  Millions felt these words whether they knew them or not and millions took to the streets in peace.  America has a new president who has chosen his own message and delivery through a controlled press, selected journalists, hired audience, shut down phone lines and contact with the White House and now ‘alternative facts’.  We are at the edge of what Niemoller saw in 1937.  Maybe it seems extreme to compare the current mental, emotional, political, and economic state of the US to a 1937 Germany.  After all, we are not suffering massive inflation and unemployment rates over 20 percent.  Or maybe in terms of the propaganda



August Landmesser refused to do the “Sieg Heil” salute during a Nazi rally at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg on June 13, 1936.

machine, we are in the same place as a German nation on January 30, 1933, and have been for the last ten years.  Maybe if there were millions who marched, millions who were not drawn in by the awe of nationalism, promises of a world power revived, blind obedience to a ruling party who ministered by threats which later grew to become violence and murder, millions would have lived.  What if they had chose to rise and resist instead?

History is written with the bones of passive fear,  intimidation and in the end attempts of wholesale genocide.  The Turks, Nazis, Russians, Khmers Rouge.  Central America, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Middle East, African Continent.  We here in the US should not be so quick to presume innocence from any acts of genocide, bear in mind our own march across the continent and the native peoples who stood in the way of westward expansion.  But what if millions had risen and resisted rather than stood by consoling themselves behind closed doors because they were not a Socialist, a Trade Unionist or a Jew?


Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters confront bulldozers working on the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., on September 3.  (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

Millions should be listening to the messages of nationalism, paying attention to the divide and conquer tactics of a new administration and prepare to rise and resist.  Millions should be dispelling the lies, the alternate facts and pushing back against the growing deceptions.  Millions should continue on with what was started last Saturday and never let up again, because we shouldn’t ever be in this place again.   Some two days since the Women’s March, Trump is set to give the green light to Dakota Access and the Keystone pipeline.  Camps of resistance stand in the way.  Will millions form a human shield?  Millions should…but will they?


A more timely thought: ‘When they kick at your front door, How you gonna come?’ (The Clash)  Or will you stand alone at your door because you were not a Socialist, or a Trade Unionist, or  Jew?


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



Ma Joad Would Be Proud

19632721Across the nation millions are on the move with dignity and grace.  Montana, once again, showed its greatness with some 10,000 women, children, men and dogs converging peacefully on the grounds of the Montana State Capitol.  There was no vandalism, no rioting, no blindside punches and no calls to violence.  Only calls to resist, organize, agitate and remain vigilant.

It was truly a beautiful sight to behold; women of all ages, children dressed for a day in the cold and snow, men in proud support, tribal members in full regalia, LGBT, all races, veterans, Labs, German Sheperds and mutts.  A sea of pink hats, signs, mittens snow pants and rosy cheeks.  What was missing?  Counter protestors, subversive instigators and agitators.  A true peaceful event in the spirt of the first amendment of United States Constitution.  Be proud Montana, this is who you are and who you have always been.

To the organizers, drivers, set up crew, clean up crew, sponsors and anyone else who put this march together here in Montana and across the nation, and most importantly to those who showed up, a most heartfelt and tearful thank you.  You have brought inspiration and renewed spirit.16179371_10158180736770038_4979733659942610095_o

Today must mark a crossing of the line of no return and we must all put our shoulders to the cause.  Today ‘The Donald’ and his followers must feel the fear of a disturbance in the force.


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


An Oath, A Ball, And Some Shame

donald-trump-angry-reuters-3801An Oath.  January 20, 2009. There were tears of joy and speechless smiles that expressed the hope of the day and of the future. January 20, 2017. There will be tears of joy and speechless smiles that express the hope of the day and the future.  America has turned on its axis.  Eight years ago half the nation stared blankly at the other half in disbelief that it was actually happening.  Today, half the nation stares blankly at the other half in disbelief that this is actually happening.  Astonishing but true.  Donald Trump is to be sworn in as the President of the United States of America.  No amount of consternation over his conflicts of interests, lack of tax returns, tweets or tiny roaming hands will stop it.  He will need to self destruct on his own and one half will need to wait and regroup.  We have elected a narcissistic megalomaniac such as the world has not seen in more than half a century.  Whether any of us want to admit it or not, Trump was elected by ‘our’ hand and will only fall when ‘we’ come to terms with our own faults and inactions.  It is a herculean task, however, and as half the nation proved, it can be done.

‘Don’t waste time mourning, 0rganize!’  Joe Hill

A Ball.  Meanwhile, closer to home, Governor Bullock has already taken the oath and there is to be a celebratory ball.  An second term inaugural ball.  A quick look at the score card, again.  Montana voters cast their ballots for Trump (R), Zinke (R), Bullock (D), Fox (R), Arntzen (R), Rosendale (R), Stapleton (R), Montana Senate 32/50 (R), Montana House 59/100 (R). The only victory belongs to Bullock.  Yet we should celebrate.  If we can buy ball ticketsnero-6781911 we have money we didn’t give to Jenuea, if we can buy a ball gown we have money we didn’t give Romano, if we can donate to a ball we have money we didn’t give Laslovich.  If any of that is the case, then the defeat hangs around our neck as much as it does the party that abandoned them.  A gala ball.  An analogy.  When the British evacuated at Dunkirk they did not celebrate.  They gave thanks at having escaped, healed, took assessment of what was left, developed alliances, consolidated resources, grew stronger and defended themselves from the threat above. They, along with their allies, quietly and deliberately prepared to deliver a devastating blow.  Democrats should be quietly giving thanks for what they did salvage in this election and put the money away for 2018.

‘We must be very careful not to assign deliverance the attributes of victory.’  Winston Churchill

Some Shame.  Like Hillary Clinton, the Executive Director of the Democratic Party disappeared after the election and has made rare appearances since.  A few of those fleeting glimpses are canned video clips made from her office at party headquarters.  In the true spirit of her catholic school upbringing, Keenan delivers a healthy dose of old school shame to you and anyone else watching.  ‘Is this what you voted for?’ Now don’t you just feel awful about what you’ve done?  Well you should.  Now she should ask ‘and how many of you have I converted and brought back into the democratic fold?’  The likely answer, none.  Much like her strategy through the election, this won’t work and will only further alienate a disenfranchised base.  After all, and like it or not, this is what the majority voted for.  It’s high time the ‘principals’ of the party take a look at that threat from above, the resources they have left and prepare for tomorrow.  That tomorrow will take new and bold leadership that is willing to listen to the base with an open mind and the idea that a lesson is to be learned which will allow the results to change.  Keenan isn’t watching, Keenan isn’t listening, Keenan is only talking.

‘Where there is no vision, there is no hope.’  George Washington Carver


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


sigh1It’s a process that’ll end fair and square.  Nothing to see here, move along.  D and R hopefuls (read underdogs) and golden children (read moneyed) continue to circle in hopes of a delegate ‘vote’ in the coming months to become THEIR party’s  candidate and hopefully join that esteemed club in WDC.  There are no surprising revelations in this post, just watching the grass grow like everyone else and wondering what will take root.

Each party has assured its supporters that their candidate will be chosen by a majority vote of their respective delegates.  If you truly believe that, there may be stock investment options in a wall down south.

As you know, on the ‘D’ side there are four names that are now common in the mix: Curtis, McCarthy, Quist, Schreiner.  That’s not to say there aren’t others or there won’t be others, it just seems safe to say that looks like the pack, so to speak.  In fact, there’s talk of Zeno Baucus.  He carries the name, the readymade war chest and daddy’s baggage.  A proverbial kiss of death.

From the ‘R’s we have: Buttrey, Gianforte, Rosendale (maybe), Sales, Zolnikov.  Again, nothing new here.  Rosendale has proven his electability in a statewide race and Montana voters don’t seem to mind that an original idea and a cold glass of water would put the rifleman in a coma.  Meanwhile, Gainforte has already demonstrated what a lot of money can do for a campaign, while his strongest opponent, Buttrey, carries the odious stigma of sponsoring a bi-partisan Medicaid expansion bill in 2015.

If you believe everything you read and watch on the screen it looks like a Quist/Gianforte decision.

Quist was quietly roaming the halls of the Montana State Capitol last week, cowboy boots, jeans, western shirt, hands in his pockets and signature hat.  He looked more like a wandering visitor than a confident candidate.  Meanwhile, the other three are hard at work and involved in the legislative process.  The trio are on the move, smiling and invested in the here and now.  They would bring a sense of energy and change to the D party.  We just can’t have that. They are also missing the blessing of former Governor Schweitzer.  But keep in mind that Schweitzer’s last prized pony was Larry Jent.

The same could be said for the other side.  Gainforte has managed to splash onto the news by catching Mike Dennison’s attention.  While Rosendale and Zolnikov haven’t been as present in their enthusiasm, Buttrey and Sales are, shall we say, politely expressing their frustrations with the backroom dealing by their party as well.  To be fair, Sales and Buttrey too are knee deep in Montana’s legislative process and don’t have the luxury to roam the state for ‘votes’.  Sales and Buttrey.  Pachyderm vs rino. We, or rather Jeff Essman, can’t have that either.  Especially with his attachment to Gianforte.

Again, nothing new here, nothing exciting.  That can be said for the entire affair.  Zinke made his move and left a man on board in more ways than one.  The Commander abandoned the ship as Montana’s lone representative in Congress with one parting middle finger by voting to allow for an easier sale of public lands.

A Gianforte/Quist election could be interesting to watch.  Then again it’s already lacking energy and orginality.  A quick look at Gianforte and Quist’s websites will tell you that.  The ‘formontana’ is , yawn, catchy, yawn, after all, who’s not ‘formontana’?knight-medieval-531

For the rest of you in the race, take heart.  It’s 1 seat in 435.  A body that spent it’s time voting to repeal a health care law over and over and over and over and over.  To use the overused analogy, cockroaches are more popular than Congress.  The only mistake you made was not seeking the blessing and anointment of the party elite rather than the party delegates who think they will make this decision.


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



The Pot’s Calling the Kettle Black

Helena woke up Sunday morning to a fresh, clean blanket of snow on the ground and a steaming pile of schtuff on the editorial page of the Helena Independent Record.  Senators Scott Sales and Fred Thomas have some idea that they are both in a positon to mind the budget and the state bank account.  A quick trip to the past is in order.

In 2012 Sales’ wife, Sandra, was prosecuted for embezzlement from, in case you’ve been living in a cave, her elderly mother.  Sales claims to not have noticed the additional $20,000 to $45,000 flowing through his household income.  An honest oversight no doubt.  And then there was his more recent admission of guilt in a case filed against him for his involvement with dark money group Western Tradition Partnership.  Don’t think too harshly of him, he did say he regretted being involved…after he was caught.

In 1997 Thomas, aka Dr. Deregulation, carried SB 390, which by most accounts, has cost Montanans more than it has saved them and cost them in more ways than one.  If you’ve been paying a power bill504acfa8d7372-preview-620 in Montana since ’97 you could ask yourself if you’re better off some 20 years later.  If you held stock in  the Montana Power Company you can ask what the value of those certificates are today- as a piece of history on Ebay.  If you’re the widowed pensioner of a retired Montana Power Company employee you could ask how Thomas and deregulation led  you to the world of public assistance.  But we shouldn’t blame Thomas entirely.  Lots of folks jumped on the band wagon: energy profiteers, Republican legislators, a hand full of Democratic legislators and the Montana AFL-CIO led by then Executive Secretary Don Judge.

We should feel comfortable and trust these two to lead ‘the ship’ out of the ‘storm’.  If that’s the case, then you also believe a Helena snowplow will be along any minute now.


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