Sunday, December 17, 2006

Atheist's holiday

I, too, was tempted to respond to Russ Bray's Dec. 11 letter in the Gazette, but this writer has done so with such grace and goodwill that I am glad to have stayed out of it.

It is odd, and significant, when people are tolerant of other religions but intolerant of those with none at all. To me, unbelief is like inability to fly. I can flap my arms all I want, but it won't get me off the ground. No doubt, it is a great benefit to have faith in some organized religion, but belief has to come from deep within, and if it isn't there, I know of no way to make it show up. Perhaps unbelief is genetic, like homosexual orientation.

And no good Christian would ever belittle a gay man for being the way God made him, right?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dim wit

The sad opportunists at the MT GOP E-brief quote with apparent approval a letter to the editor (newspaper unnamed) attacking Gov. Schweitzer for his "assertion that Christians, believing in the biblical account of creation, should not be allowed to serve in the state legislature."

The letter writer may have been dim enough to think he was telling the truth. Later in the letter, he writes, "In the Governor’s view, if you are a Christian, you are not as worthy as the non-Christian members within your own or other races, and that, my friends, is racism." The writer's inability to distinguish between religious discrimination and racism can hardly be the product of a rigorous mind.

But the E-briefers surely ought to know better. The writer's apparent reference was to Schweitzer's brief run-in with Roger Koopman, who made the case for a 6,000-year-old Earth. Schweitzer supposedly said that Montana didn't need people like that in the Legislature. Koopman saw that as an attack on his religion, but he had specifically argued that he didn't believe in a young Earth for religious reasons but based on scientific evidence.

That destroys his case. Mr. Koopman is entitled to whatever religious beliefs he wants. But he can't claim a religious exemption from attacks on his scientific beliefs. By their nature, scientific claims are open to challenge. If they aren't, then they aren't science.

Mr. Koopman, and the E-Briefers, want to be able to put up any old thing they fancy as unassailable scientific fact. And they want to be label anyone who disagrees as a religious bigot. But the dishonesty of their tactics shows who the real bigots are.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Whew

The Outpost has been put to bed for the week. I turned in final grades for Rocky Mountain College this morning, and I have a week before final grades are due for MSU-Billings. So I'm getting a bit of a breather today. I wasn't sure I would be able to hold my breath for a whole semester, but somehow I managed it.

So what will I do with today's break? Well, I won't waste it blogging!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Perfect solution

A student paper I read the other day said that one cause of teacher retention problems is a "lack of insufficient funding." And I thought, this man can fix that problem!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Easy pickings

Why Republicans lost the election.

Monday, November 27, 2006

No thanks

I'm too dispirited to link to the numerous stories about retailers opening early on the day after Christmas (some as early as midnight) or even staying open on Thanksgiving itself. I never minded the old Blue Laws in Texas that kept most businesses closed at least one day every weekend. Taking an occasional respite from the demands of commerce has got to be good for the soul, and this nation could use a bit more soul.

The day before Thanksgiving, I ran into a convenience store clerk who was preparing to work the 3:30-11:30 p.m. shift on Thanksgiving Day. She wasn't happy, and I don't blame her. What's the value in losing a day of rest and peace with friends and family compared to the value of having one more place open where somebody can pick up a six pack or a pack of cigarettes on the holiday? There's no comparison.

The Thanksgiving retail crush is another instance of how traditional values have been reversed. Conservatives and Christians were the ones who pushed for the old Blue Laws in hopes that the idle time would turn people toward the spiritual or at least give the small business owner respite for one day a week from the grind of fighting big retailers.

Now the fight against holiday commercialization, to the extent that it is fought at all, seems to be another one of those hopeless causes taken on by liberals trying to shape the world in their own image. But for all those workers forced to work on Thanksgiving or to cut short their day off to resume the grind before dawn on Friday, what's lost is more than a day of peace and thanksgiving. It's another chunk of shared experience, of community and solidarity, chipped away.

And, I suspect, most of those Wal-Mart shoppers still think they are conservatives.

Good bet

Anyone who has ever wagered on the results of political races or football games knows how risky predictions are. But sometimes you can bet the farm, if you have one. At the writing lab, for example, I got a paper by e-mail with a note attached that said this: "I might have a lot of mistakes with grammers."

I would have bet a million bucks that the student's prediction was accurate. And it was.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ben's big ones

Over at City Lights, Ed Kemmick comments about comments he made in response to comments about his Sunday column.

I liked the column and mostly agreed with it. But Ed errs when he says in his response to Mark that Ben Bagdikian sounds like a "chin-scratching sociologist."

Long before he became a chin-scratcher, Bagdikian was national editor of The Washington Post during the Pentagon Papers days. He was, according to David Halberstam's "The Powers That Be," the most eloquent voice at the Post in support of publishing the papers. Halberstam also reports that when Bagdikian served the Post as ombudsman he once told a group of blacks at Harvard that the purpose of the media wasn't to oppress black people, it was to make money. He told them that if they really wanted to have an impact, they should boycott the paper.

AP picked up the story, and Ben Bradlee threw it on Bagdikian's desk. Bagdikian admitted that he had said what was in the story and typed a letter of resignation, but Bradlee called him to apologize before he turned it in. On another occasion, when Bagdikian voluntarily entered prison to work on a series of stories, Bradlee said, "I've got to hand it to you, buddy. You've really got big ones."

"The Media Monopoly" is the classic in its field, and Bagdikian is required reading.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Crimes against humanity

So here is an American citizen, held for three years without charges, publicly defamed, possibly tortured and now quite likely not even guilty.

If impeachment is off the table, then who will answer for the crimes of this administration?

(hat tip to Andrew Sullivan).

Friday, November 17, 2006

The media future

Just a reminder: The Rimrock Foundation and The Outpost are sponsoring a seminar at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Mansfield Health Education Center. Panels will look at all aspects of the media, and Jerry Brown, dean of the University of Montana journalism school. is keynote speaker. It's free, and some food will be available. Don't worry about the RSVP mentioned in the paper. Just come ahead.

Pony up

Gee, I wonder if this piece of news will affect The Outpost's chances of cashing in on a chunk of change from the state's largest advertiser.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Small timer

It's no secret, I suppose, that I've never much cared for Conrad Burns. Some of the duller lights in the Montana blogosphere assume that's because he was too conservative, but that's not it. I like plenty of conservative Republicans and would be pleased to vote for quite a few. Last week I was trying to put my finger on why I felt the way I did, and I wondered if his atrocious grammar had something to do with it. Sounds petty, I know, but we form opinions about people based on all sorts of petty, irrelevant things, often without even knowing why we do it. The grammar was of a piece with what bugged me: I grew up in the country, around lots of country people, and his good ol' boy shtick just never sounded real to me (same with Bush).

Then I read this and remembered the real reason. He just always seemed too small for the job. Now that he's lost, he seems even smaller.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Habeas corpse

Before they pass minimum wage legislation, before they appoint new committee chairmen, even before they unpack the knick-knacks for their rolltop desks, the newly elected Congress persons need to push through a bill to eliminate this sort of violation of fundamental human rights. It's shameful.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Libertaricrats

I'm skeptical of stories like this one that cite "conventional wisdom" to suggest that Libertarian candidates draw votes from Republicans. Once upon a time, maybe, but I'm not so sure that's true this year. No doubt, Libertarians will never be comfortable voting for Democrats, but in this race at least Tester stood up for civil liberties, a balanced budget and more restraint in foreign adventurism. That's more than Burns could say.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tester for president?

Jon Tester got more positive buzz last night on "Real Time with Bill Maher" than Conrad Burns probably got in three terms. I was too dog-tired to get up and write it down, but it went something like this:

First, Rainn Wilson said something like Tester is 7 feet tall and weighs 400 pounds. Just on presence alone, he should be the Democrats' candidate for president in 2008. Perhaps a Tester-Pelosi ticket.

Then, in New Rules (which should eventually be posted on the website) Maher singled out Tester's haircut. Not only does the hair make Tester look sincere and responsible, Maher said (or words to that effect), it makes him the one person in Congress who is literally level-headed.

As for why Tester won, I can't say that I have much to add to the usual punditry, except perhaps to point out that in a race this close almost anything could have done it. Perhaps if Burns had said "piss-poor" one less time in his life, he might have won. Perhaps if he had cast one less vote that helped Abramoff, he would have won. Perhaps if Burns had stood up even once against the president's misguided policies, he would have won. Perhaps if the Burns campaign had wasted a few less dollars pounding on his base in afternoon talk radio and had instead dumped an ad or two in less hospitable quarters, such as the Outpost, he might have won. Who knows?

The temptation is always to read too much into election results. But I can't recall a year in which I have heard so many members of the losing party admit at the national level that they deserved to get beat. I won't quarrel with that.

UPDATE: Maher's best joke: A fake political ad at the beginning of the show lambasted Democrats for the failures of their first three days of control of the Congress. Among their shortcomings: They have failed to find a way out of the endless quagmire in Iraq.

UPDATE TWO: Here's the actual New Rules quote: There's just something about a crew cut that says, "You can trust me." There's your boy. This is Montana's new senator, Jon Tester. I don't know much about him. And I don't need to. His hair says it all. "I'm friendly, I'm dependable, I'm literally level-headed." If hair could smile, it would look like this. And most importantly, it's hair that says, "You will never ever, ever, ever find me snorting meth with a gay hooker."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Politics tonight

I will be helping out with Community Seven's election coverage from 8-10 p.m. today before returning to finish this week's Outpost. See you on the other side.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tighten up

Why Burns is closing the gap.

One vote for Burns

Rebecca Tescher Robison, publisher of the Yellowstone County News, has written the one newspaper editorial I have seen endorsing Conrad Burns. It was reprinted in the Big Sky Business Journal, so you can find it here.

I like Becky and respect her work. I have called her the best newspaper editor in Yellowstone County. I think that we both want similar results from government. So how can we disagree so thoroughly on Burns vs. Tester? Let's take a closer look at why she backs Burns.

He's against raising taxes.

True, but he certainly doesn't seem to be against spending tax dollars. Fiscal conservatism means spending no more than necessary and paying for what you buy. That ain't Burns.

He does NOT support a 23 percent sales tax. He supports a national sales tax but won’t support a tax increase but will consider it only as a replacement tax. No one is sure where his opponent got the 23 percent figure.

The 23 percent is, presumably, what it would cost to use a national sales tax as a replacement tax. I think Tester is silly to make an issue of this ridiculous proposal, but, let's face it: Burns did say he supported it.


Tester does not support the Patriot Act – Burns does.


Fair enough. I'm not one of those who thinks the Patriot Act is the disaster that some civil libertarians fear. Even the ACLU now thinks the act isn't so bad. But Burns also supports the far more damaging Military Commissions Act, which gives the government powers unimagined in the Patriot Act.

Burns is pro economic growth. State Senate President Jon Tester, apparently, is anti-growth and anti-jobs.

The sole evidence offered for this assertion is that Tester voted against allowing the Bull Mountain mine permit to be passed along to a new owner without further government review. The potential for abuse in such transactions seems obvious, and the state's risk, particularly for reclamation, is substantial. Tester's vote may or may not have been wise, but it doesn't sound anti-growth.

Burns is anti-abortion, pro-marriage. Tester is a die-hard supporter of abortion.

I've seen no evidence that Tester is a die-hard supporter of abortion. He does oppose a constitutional amendment banning abortion. Good for him. The Constitution should not be the place where Americans resolve controversial moral debates. It is the place we go once those debates have been resolved.

"Pro-marriage" appears to be code for "anti-gay marriage." Again, Tester opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Again, he is right to do so, for the reason cited above.

Burn is for a less intrusive government, smaller government.


Even six years ago, I might still have believed that. But no more. Burns has faithfully backed an administration that has plunged this country into massive deficits, ill-considered foreign wars and an unprecedented expansion of executive power. Even Burns' campaign ads, which focus on his skill in steering tax dollars our way, sound like they could have been written for a liberal Democrat. Tester won my vote when I heard him tell Yellowstone County Democrats that if all they cared about was bringing more tax dollars to Montana, then they probably shouldn't vote for him.

The rest of the editorial focuses on the Abramoff allegations. The thrust is that no evidence has surfaced to prove that Burns has committed a crime. True enough, and I don't really much care about Abramoff. Only Burns can know in his heart whether Abramoff's dollars influenced his votes. But I do think that the Abramoff allegations add to the perception that Burns has been in Washington too long, to too little good effect.

It's time for him to go.

UPDATE: Here's Keith Olbermann's blistering take on the Military Commissions Act.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Kerry on, men

The most interesting aspect of the Kerry flap has been the outrage, some of it presumably authentic, some dismally fake. But the notion that armies draw disproportionately from the ranks of the poor and uneducated is hardly a novel assertion, least of all among soldiers themselves.

An old Chinese proverb said, "Just as one does not use good metal to make nails, one does not use good men to make soldiers." When I was a soldier in 1970, I kept that slogan on the wall of my room in the barracks in Monterey, Calif. If anyone ever took offense, I never heard about it. I remember riding in a car full of soldiers as it drove by a hitchhiking soldier thumbing for a ride. "Suck out, GI," the driver said as we roared past.

The notion that most of us were serving because we were too poor, too dumb or too politically naive to manage to stay out was such a given that suggesting otherwise rarely raised an eyebrow, much less anyone's ire. And the notion persisted despite the obvious fact that it simply wasn't true for lots of soldiers. It was more of a grim, ongoing joke than a statement of reality.

Those were draftee days, of course, and I have no doubt that the Army has changed. It already was changing by the time I was discharged in 1973. But things haven't changed entirely. I heard a soldier on NPR talk about seeing "Forrest Gump" at a military base with an audience full of soldiers. In the scene where Gump met the military recruiter, someone in the audience shouted out, "Run, Forrest, run."

And there's this, which suggests that the old tradition still hasn't died. Some have seen this as an angry attack on Kerry; others have suggested that it actually defends Kerry. I can't know the soldiers' motives, but I suspect that it may not really convey any particular political message at all. It may just be new soldiers picking up on an old riff and turning it into a laugh, the way soldiers have done for centuries. Too bad Kerry couldn't have told his joke this well.

Bloggadocio

Sean Hannity has practically built his career by taking John Kerry out of context, so it was hard to endure Hannity's shameless delight in making constant Kerry attacks on Thursday while I was delivering The Outpost. But I felt obligated to listen: I thought I might get a chance to file an FCC complaint if I could catch Hannity having an on-air orgasm.

But what really struck me was the relentless onslaught of Burns and Tester ads. I bet I heard 50 in two hours. Amazing. How many undecided voters do you suppose there are listening to Sean Hannity on KBLG on a Thursday afternoon five days before the election? Three dozen? An awful lot of money is chasing an awfully small pot of voters.

Today reminds me of what the opening day of hunting season used to be like when we lived in the country: Random shots going off all around, making us both afraid to leave the house and afraid to stay home. The only difference is that this time we really are the prey. The phone's ringing, fliers are piling up in the mailbox, handbills are hanging from the doorknob, canvassers are knocking on the door.

Just stand back, everybody. No reason why anybody needs to get hurt.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Comments down

Just got an e-mail from someone wondering why we decactivated comments on the Outpost website. I looked and, sure enough, comments were down.

We didn't do it on purpose and will try to get it fixed as soon as possible. But it explains why we have had no reader reaction to our endorsements last week -- an unusual development.

What it doesn't explain is why spam comments continued to get through. For the last week, we have had a website that blocks reader comments but allows spam to pass through. Now that's technology.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Push polled

I keep trying to listen to one of these automated push polls all the way through to the end, but I always get mad and hang up. It happened again Saturday. The poll asked if I intended to vote for Tester. Then it asked if I intended to vote for Burns. Then it asked if I would prefer lower or higher taxes.

OK so far. But the next question got to me. It was, approximately: "Do you believe that terrorists should have the same constitutional rights as American citizens?" (If anybody else who was called got the question down more exactly, please let me know.)

I said, "What do you mean?"

Of course, the automaton on the other end couldn't handle that. It said that the call would be terminated unless I answered "yes" or "no."

I shouted into the phone.

"Good!" I said. "Then stop asking such moronic questions."

So I never got to hear the rest of the poll. But what the heck? Suspected terrorists who are Americans obviously have the same constitutional rights as other Americans. You can't deprive someone of constitutional rights simply by hanging on a label. Only Americans who have been caught actually carrying out or plotting acts of terror, or who have actively taken up arms against the country, lose any constitutional rights.

Terrorists who aren't Americans don't have the same constitutional rights as American citizens, but then neither does, say, Tony Blair. So what's the point of the question?

Sounds to me like a subtle way of asking if I'm OK with torturing terror suspects and eliminating habeas corpus and locking people away forever with no charges, no trial and no lawyer. And no, I'm not OK with that. On that point, the push-poll recording was as dense as the president.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Endorsements

Outpost endorsements are here. By far the toughest was the Rehberg-Lindeen race.

On one hand, I've gotten to know and respect Rehberg a bit over the years. I think he has gotten better as time has gone by, and I think he listens to his constituents. On the other hand, I have a very tough time endorsing anyone who voted for the war in Iraq and who sat by as the Bush administration assaulted liberty and institutionalized torture. The entire Montana delegation has been pathetically weak in standing up for liberty.

I guess the consolation is that our endorsement is likely to have little effect either way. But in my heart, I still am not sure how I will vote.

Monday, October 23, 2006

CBS in the dumps

CBS reached a low tonight that makes the Bush fake documents story look like Pulitzer quality work. Katie Couric introduced Sean Hannity as guest commentator.

Sean Hannity! Don't we get enough of this blowhard? Three hours a day on the radio, an hour on cable TV, a couple of crappy books -- what insight into the political world could Hannity possibly have that we haven't already heard a hundred times?

None, actually. He used his time to decry the politicization of the war on terror. Incredibly, the only examples he could find of politicians who have tried to exploit the war for political purposes were Democrats. Amazing. It's the same theme he has pounded on his radio show virtually every single day for the last five years. And he still hasn't found a single Republican who has had anything but the highest possible, thoroughly apolitical motives in discussing the war. Edward R. Murrow would be spinning in his grave if he hadn't already burrowed his way to the other side of the earth.

Tuesday night: Arianna Huffington. I can't wait!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Profiling

The Montana Department of Transportation just got a $644,000 federal grant to deter racial profiling. Just asking: Is racial profiling really a $644,000 question in Montana?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One for Tester

In tonight's debate, Jon Tester nailed Conrad Burns on Iraq. Burns' implication that a secret plan exists that will tell us when we have won the war is the most ludicrous thing I've heard in any of the debates. Tester responded with real eloquence and passion, and may have salted the election away right there.

No surprises in the first debate. I like both candidates and thought they both acquitted themselves well. Denny Rehberg came across as a tad more polished and knowledgeable, but Monica Lindeen may have won just for beating expectations. I can't see that the debate will put any dent into Rehberg's lead.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Guns for Burns

From the National Rifle Association comes a news release touting its campaign support for Conrad Burns: seven billboards, 4,143 radio ads on 88 stations, 1,824 cable TV ads, inserts in 11 newspapers.

I wonder why? Jon Tester claims he's a strong Second Amendment guy, and I haven't heard any reason to dispute that. Why isn't the NRA spending its money where it might make a real difference?

I can think of only three reasons:

1. The NRA is supporting Republicans everywhere.

2. The NRA thinks Burns will win and wants him to be happy.

3. It's payback time.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Votes for Tester

I had my journalism students at Rocky Mountain College watch last week's Burns-Tester debate and write a brief story about it. When I asked for a show of hands on who they thought won the debate, they favored Tester by about 4-1.

Bear in mind: This is a group of busy college students. None had seen any of the other debates and none has followed the race closely (on a recent editing quiz, no one caught the error in this phrase: U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, D-Mont.). Their responses to the debate seemed to be based less on the candidates' positions than on how they answered questions and stated their positions.

I don't know that any of that means anything, but I thought the edge the students gave to Tester was striking. I've seen three of the debates and rated them all roughly as draws.

Tough talk

Even by the standards of this year's Montana Senate campaign, the latest news release from the Montana Democratic Party seems harsh. The release goes after ads in which former Gov. Marc Racicot backs Conrad Burns' candidacy.

"Marc Racicot, fondly recalled by some in Montana who have lost track of his career, is at the very heart of the culture of corruption in Washington under Republican control," the release says. The release goes on to call Racicot a "Jack Abramoff-type figure in Washington" and adds, "Racicot is a paid agent of big corporate special interests who game the system in Burns and Rehberg’s Washington everyday.”

Next target: Abe Lincoln, another Republican who came to a bad end in Washington.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Torturous

One of my Democratic friends was railing again last week against the ruination of America brought on by Bush and his minions. My usual response to this tirade is to advise her, in various ways, to chill out. Things aren't that bad, I say. Stick around a bit and watch them change.

But last week I didn't have it in me to argue. What brought me down was passage of the administration's pro-torture bill. As time allows, I've been struggling to understand the full impact of the bill. I haven't got through it all yet, and I still hold out some hope that I am misunderstanding much of this. But the search is profoundly discouraging, and I am losing hope. I keep thinking: The war on terror is over, and we have surrendered.

I've been critical of this country at times, but I have never felt ashamed to be an American. Now I feel shame.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Tester online

My Jon Tester profile for Montana Quarterly is now available to those of us in the cheap seats. In case your computer-generated ADD prevents you from reading the whole thing, Ed Kemmick has a spot-on summary.

In the Outpost comments, Rocky Smith says we should now bill ourselves as the "Democrat party weekly." Funny thing is, because of various deadlines, I did most of the reporting for that piece a couple of months ago, so I just sort of assumed that its fundamental assertion -- that Tester is a decent, likeable guy who may (or may not) have the stuff to make a good senator -- would have been called into question by now. But it hasn't. No matter how hard Burns attacks, I haven't heard him or anyone else go after Tester's basic integrity and decency.

So when a report of a near universal consensus that a human being is an OK guy is dismissed as partisan fluff, I am left to wonder what could possibly remain that isn't partisan.

Segregated swimming

Occasionally, a student nails it. In the business class I sit in on at Rocky, discussion yesterday turned to laws banning smoking in restaurants and other public places. One student expressed frustration over restaurants that place non-smoking areas just a table or two away from smoking areas.

One student chimed in: "That's like having a 'peeing area' in a pool."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Richards vs. Keenan

I watched the Butte debate between Burns and Tester this a.m., and I came out wishing that Bob Keenan and Paul Richards had been slugging it out instead. Keenan, at least, would have given us honest talk about the government's pitiful record on deficit spending, and Richards would have made sense about Iraq.

Instead we get Burns hypothesizing that we will grow our way out of the deficit, just the way Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan did it. Except, of course, that what Kennedy and Reagan did didn't work. Tax cuts were followed by revenue increases, to be sure, but that didn't stop deficits from growing. Now, with a wildly expensive war going on, we get deficits piled upon deficits, with no end in sight.

And from Tester we get - what exactly? - about Iraq. I don't hear him flip-flopping, the way Republicans claim they do. I just don't hear any clear position at all. Richards would have pointed out that, if in fact the war in Iraq is leading to more terrorism, not less, then "stay the course" is not only expensive and impractical, it's downright stupid. We need a change of course, and fast. Creating the first pro-torture presidential administration in U.S. history isn't going to get the job done.

So we get a lame, watered-down debate, a greatest-hits edition of sound bites and conventional wisdom. I'm holding out for Keenan-Richards.

UPDATE: Interesting comments below about the merits of staying and leaving Iraq. This month's Harper's magazine has a plan by George McGovern and William R. Polk on how to get out of the war. I'm not expert enough to judge the merits of the plan, but what strikes me is that it is at least a plan. Why can't we get a plan from our own government? All we get are "stay the course" and "cut and run," neither of which makes any sense. Everybody knows we have to leave Iraq sometime -- my grandkids may have to fight there, but their grandkids won't -- so why not plan for it? And why not have that discussion in a public forum among representatives chosen by the people to stand up for our interests -- say, Congress, for example?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bob Lyon

I was sorry to see in the Gazette this morning that Bob Lyon had died. He was one of a disappearing breed: a tireless Democratic loyalist with a keen sense of the larger needs of the nation and the community.

I didn't always agree with him, and he didn't always agree with me. He subscribed to The Outpost from its inception until we began running Rob Natelson's column in The Outpost -- that was too much for his liberal sensibilities. As a letter writer, he was an indefatigable jewel: His letters were varied, succinct, and capably written. Although he often wrote both to The Outpost and The Gazette on the same topics, he always recast his message so we each got a fresh letter.

He had been ill for some time, and his death is no surprise. But it is a loss.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

R but not quite IP

What's Right in Montana takes note of the general lack of posting here and draws the usual sort of comments. I can't apologize for not posting more; with my schedule, it would be irresponsible to even try. I started this blog (the first by a working journalist in Montana) in part out of a hope to supplement the Outpost's weekly news coverage with daily updates and commentary. That still sounds like a good idea to me, but it just isn't practical at the moment. I've got to earn some cash.

Infrequent posting does mean that I will miss commenting on some things of which I might otherwise have taken note, including a couple of things on What's Right in Montana:

1. The remarkable discovery that "disavowed" implies liberal bias.

2. This enlightening essay on how much Jon Tester and Conrad Burns "like" taxes. The post misses an obvious point: In my 2 1/2 decades around politicians, I don't believe that I have ever met one who "likes" taxes. What politicians like is spending because spending allows them to keep constitutents happy and make election-year claims about how successful they are at bringing home the bacon. Responsible conservatives resist the urge to spend; responsible liberals have the political courage to tax. That natural tug of war is supposed to keep the system in balance.

But Tester, whose experience is in state government, doesn't have the same luxury that Burns has in Congress. The Montana Legislature has to balance its budget, so if Tester wants to spend money, he has to find revenues somewhere. Burns just has to tack a few hundred billion more onto the deficit.

What I'm waiting for is some genuine conservative to explain to me how it is fiscally responsible for a senator to support, say, a war that costs a billion or so bucks a day and then not only refuse to levy the taxes to pay for it but actually support tax cuts that dig the hole even deeper. Any takers?

Finally, I might just note that my interest in the whole blogging phenomenon has waned in recent months. I'm not persuaded that it is a good use of my time, and I'm not persuaded that I have the temperament for it. This may sound odd coming from a guy who has probably a million words in print, but writing always has been a struggle for me, and adding it to the responsibility of running a business and teaching doesn't make it any easier. Lots of days I just look at that blank computer screen and think, not my job to fill it.

P.S. I did a profile on Tester for Montana Quarterly that is now hitting the stands. Look for it everywhere!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dem bloggers

Get your blogger kit today!

So long as you are a Democrat.

Blogging up

I asked my journalism students my usual questions about blogging, something I have done for about five years now. The first couple of years few students had even heard of blogging; now they all have. But none read any of the prominent political blogs (although one blogs here) and only a scattered few had heard of any of them. Instapundit, Daily Kos, etc., all pretty much drew a blank. They do their blogging, if any, at myspace.com.

Where do they get their news? Nothing got a majority of votes, but local TV news appeared to be the main source. The Gazette probably ran second, especially when online reading is counted. Comedy Central and radio got a few scattered votes, but national TV, including the 24-hour news channels, didn't get much. I didn't ask about the Outpost; no need to give anyone an incentive to lie.

So how much do they know about the news? Too early to tell, but not much, if past experience holds. Not that that's a bad thing: My days on the road and my college days were the only two times in my life when I didn't read a paper every day.

And there's this: Of the 35 students in my two classes, only one had seen "An Inconvenient Truth." So you ideologues who worry that Al Gore is corrupting young minds can rest easy.

UPDATE: In comments, someone asks how many of my students had seen a Michael Moore movie. Just for the heck of it, I asked my 15 English students that question this morning. About four hands went up.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

blogged down

There actually are good reasons why you don't see me blogging here. School started at Rocky Mountain College on Aug. 22, so I've been teaching my journalism and first-year writing courses out there. MSU-Billings begins Wednesday, and I will be teaching two German courses there. And I'm teaching a community outreach course on media issues at MSU-Billings beginning in late September. And tutoring for a few hours a week.

On top of all that, the Outpost just had one of its most profitable months ever. That's good news, but bigger papers mean a lot more work. So I've been a busy boy.

And, as a final note, we also are working on a pretty dramatic overhaul of the Outpost website that could make it far more useful than it has been up to now. When that happens, the blog, at least in this form, is likely to go away forever.

So if you are wondering why there is nothing to see here, that's why.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rethnking executions

A colleague takes me to task for my comments on the Gazette's coverage of the Dawson execution. This required me to actually think about what I wanted to say, rather than just mouthing off in grand blogger fashion. So here are the relevant parts of my response to him:

Please understand that much of my reaction to this story was as a citizen and a reader rather than as an editor. As an editor, I understand the arguments Dave Rye made on my blog, and I would have taken that into account if I had been the one making the calls at the Gazette. I would have played the story down some but would have run most of the same stories. Most of those stories are almost obligatory in a case like this: the last meal, the witness to the execution, the recounting of the crime, the protests, etc. I probably even would have run the story about Dawson not giving interviews, but I would have boiled it down and buried it inside. Also (in one other specific example that comes to mind) on the day that the Brits broke up the terrorist plot, I would have played that above Dawson.

In short, as a reader and citizen I probably would have been just as appalled by the Gazette's coverage if I had been directing it. I have no moral objections to the death penalty, but I do object to the wall-to-wall coverage that these cases always seem to generate. Some people say the death penalty deters criminals. I doubt that, and I suspect that the extensive coverage these cases generate actually appeals to a certain sort of sick criminal mind -- the sort that is, in fact, most likely to commit such hideous crimes. If I were to make a case against capital punishment, media coverage of any recent execution would be Exhibit No. 1.

When I say that I really don't care whether a character like Dawson lives or dies, I mean that. I doubt that I read 10 percent of the Gazette's coverage, and I don't think I read any of the stories about legal efforts to stop his execution. I just didn't want to know.

So my real complaint is not that the Gazette abused journalistic discretion. The Gazette did, by and large, what the tenets of daily journalism compelled it to do. It's the tenets of journalism that worry me, both as a reader and a citizen, and I should have made that clearer in my comments.

Not smart

This strikes me as a major screwup by the Tester campaign (thanks, as usual, to Jackie Corr).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Every child left behind

This Denver Post editorial does a good job of summing up the problems with No Child Left Behind but then draws the odd conclusion that the legislation can be fixed, as if it were a good idea that simply needed tweaking.

Wrong. It was a bad idea whose problems arise from its very nature -- the idea that the federal government in Washington, D.C., can run schools better than the states and cities where schools actually exist. It was bound to fail, it has failed, and it ought to be scrapped.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cold and dead

I guess I have no news sense, but this strikes me as the most overblown story in years.

Somewhere deep inside, I suppose I should care whether David Dawson lives or dies, but the fact is that I don't. He died unrepentant and unmourned. Let him lie.

UPDATE: In comments, Dave Rye makes good points about the newsworthiness of the event, but he doesn't change my assessment. Too much, too often. Where it started to run off the rails for me was with this story. The lead story in the City-State section was that Dawson wasn't giving interviews. That isn't news. That's milking the story.

So long

Congratulations, Wal-Mart shoppers. You bagged another one.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Rack Wars revisited

The latest on the ongoing battle for rack space in Montana is in this week's Outpost. Be sure to read the first reader comment at the bottom (he says, self-servingly).

A few hours after the column came out, I got a phone call from Billings Gazette Publisher Mike Gulledge. I was delivering papers all day, so we haven't connected yet, and I've had time to think about what he might want. I don't get many calls from the Gazette publisher, so I've narrowed it to a few possibilities.

1. He wants to buy a subscription, or perhaps the entire paper.

2. He wants to offer me a job.

3. He wants to congratulate me on another fine issue of The Outpost and wish me continued success in future journalistic endeavors.

4. He wants to offer to join in solidarity in our mutual fight against the evil predator Gannett.

5. He has a complaint about my column.

After thinking it over, I've concluded that 1 through 4 aren't too likely. So I'm expecting 5. Stay tuned.

Thursday's Outpost delivery epiphany

The following 100-percent true live-action scene is presented here precisely as it will be depicted in the soon-to-be-acclaimed upcoming feature motion picture "Burger King Dude."

SCENE: A motorist approaches a Burger King drive-through. On the drive-through menu are a Fish Filet Sandwich and a Big Fish Sandwich. Each sells for $2.69.

MOTORIST (into the drive-through speaker): So what's the difference between a Fish Filet Sandwich and a Big Fish Sandwich?

BURGER KING DUDE: Nothing.

MOTORIST: In that case, I'll have one.

BURGER KING DUDE: Which one?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hines update

Silly me. I thought T.L. Hines had given up blogging. But he has instead moved to classier digs and will be reading from his new novel at Barnes & Noble at 2 p.m. Saturday. Way to go.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

Heating up

As its name suggests, the Fire Fact Sheet from the Bureau of Indian Affairs normally is a no-nonsense report. But with high temperatures, gusty winds and dry lightning storms in the forecast today, the BIA waxes a bit lyrical:

Forest areas smell good this week; it's been so hot and dry that even the trees' aromatic oils are evaporating. Logs hold only 4% fuel moisture, only half as damp as kiln-dried lumber. Fires are burning actively all through the night.

Fuels Specialist Randy Pretty On Top said, "We're hanging in there, but with the weather they're predicting, I can hear the tune 'Garryowen' playing in my left ear."


Time to get Sen. Burns on the fireline!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bound to lose

A real estate agent called who was upset about Roger Clawson's column on the possibility of fire in the Emerald Hills. That's fine. I wasn't too crazy about the tone of the column myself, but Roger gets a lot of rope in my shop. She acknowledged that the fire danger is real but said that the column should have taken a positive and constructive approach.

Here's what bugged me: She said she would urge other real estate agents not to advertise in the Outpost. She herself has never, to my knowledge, run an ad in the Outpost, and she also said that she doesn't normally read it.

The Outpost, of course, runs many positive and constructive articles. To cite just one example, we run a weekly Calendar of Events, typically 4,000 to 6,000 words long, that is chock full of fund-raisers, benefits and nonprofit events. And we don't charge a nickel for it.

So here's a woman who ignores the Outpost when it publishes positive news. She reads it only when she can find something to be angry about, and she uses that anger to try to hurt our business.

So if we're positive, we lose. If we're negative, we lose. No wonder newspapers are in trouble.

Outlawed

The last time I went to a Billings Outlaws game, I said someone would have to pay me a hundred bucks to go again. Well, someone did, so I went.

The Fayetteville, N.C., Observer came up short a stringer a couple of hours before game time on Friday and called in desperation. The sports editor offered me $100, so I borrowed a laptop and headed out.

I hated it. From the moment I walked in the door at a quarter to six, until the last bit of recorded music faded at 10:30 p.m., it was an unrelenting onslaught of noise and hype. Everything I wrote before still applies, with at least one new twist. The public address announcer, instead of simply saying, "Third down," has adopted the habit of yelling, "Third down! Third down! Third down! Third down! Third down!" He is trying to create a once-in-a-lifetime "Giants win the pennant!" moment every time two passes fall incomplete. In 39 states, this is a capital offense.

I'm an old sports writer, but my skills have rusted, and the Observer is two hours east of here, so I had a tight deadline. Also, MetraPark's internet was down. So I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out a way to get my story to North Carolina. Then the contact number I had stopped working.

By the time the third quarter rolled around, I was typing play-by-play directly into my story, polishing the top of the story between plays, keeping notes on the action and trying every couple of minutes to place a phone call. Those blogging jerks who think reporters are lazy ought to give it a try sometime.

I wound up doing the story the old-fashioned way: With the game still in progress, I called in the story to a rewrite man, who turned it into serviceable English. With all the noise, he could barely hear me, and I couldn't hear him at all. I literally shouted myself hoarse into a cell phone. But we got it done, and someday I may get up the courage to actually read the story.

But the next time somebody offers me a hundred bucks to see an Outlaws game, I may just say that my price has gone up. I would rather spend a night in Abu Ghraib.

UPDATE: The Gazette story today emphasizes poor sportsmanship on the part of the Fayetteville Guard. But the worst case of poor sportsmanship I saw was when the execrable PA announcer went down onto the field (which should be a violation in itself) with about five minutes to go and the game still technically possible for either team to win. He urged fans to stick around after the game for the presentation of the championship trophy to YOUR BILLINGS OUTLAWS!

Is there a class below no-class? That's the class he's in. I thought the Guard showed admirable restraint by not dismembering him on the spot. If they had, I would have contributed to their legal defense fund.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Professional courtesy

The Daily Kos has been tracking spending on initiatives similar to those on the ballot in Montana this fall. One outfit this post examines is called America at Its Best out of Boise, Idaho.

The head of that group is Duncan Scott, who, the AP says, is "a former Republican state senator from New Mexico who once sponsored a bill there to require a psychologist testifying at a defendant's competency hearing to wear a two-foot-tall cone-shaped hat imprinted with stars or lightning bolts."

And New Mexico legislators should have to wear cone-shaped hats imprinted with the letters "D-U-N-C-E."

Occupation or liberation?

In one of Sen. Conrad Burns' latest radio ads, he says that Jon Tester has inaccurately referred to U.S. troops in Iraq as an occupying force. It's as though he thinks that occupying forces are bad things. Why?

We had occupying forces in Germany and Japan for years. It had its rough points here and there, but I think you would find very few Germans, Japanese or Americans who would say that it was bad. We removed despotic governments, established democracies, helped rebuild vibrant economies and provided a bulwark of protection against outside threats. I doubt that you could find more successful examples of military occupations in world history.

At some level, Sen. Burns knows that, so he doesn't come out and say that it's bad to call what we're doing in Iraq an occupation. He just says that it's inaccurate. Instead, it is an army of liberation. Really?

Let's look at a couple of undisputed examples, both from World War II.

A. An invading army conquers France. U.S. forces counterattack, drive out the invading force and, in effect, tell the French, "Here's your country back, to do with as you please, no matter how much you may annoy us." That's liberation.

B. We invade Germany, dismantle its government, and, in effect, tell the Germans, "You can't have your old government back. You have to form a new government, and we aren't leaving until you get it right, and we decide that it's safe to go." That's occupation.

So does what we are doing in Iraq more closely resemble A or B? And is the senator really all that concerned about semantic accuracy?

UPDATE: Apparently I was wrong when I said the above examples were undisputed. David Berg on "Berg in the Morning" just said that U.S. forces in Germany were an army of liberation, not of occupation. So Burns was right to criticize Tester, not because what he said was inaccurate but because what he said was impossible: Armies of occupation do not exist (at least not American armies).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Burns: not so bad

In recent days, I've been getting a pile of e-mails from the office of U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns about appropriations he has wrangled for Montana. It's no mystery why: His seat is crucial, and he is in danger of losing it, just as he was against Brian Schweitzer six years ago. So the Republican-controlled Congress will be shooting money Montana's way with great alacrity.

I wonder how much of Burns' vaunted ability to bring home the pork for Montana relies on the fact that he is such a vulnerable candidate? In fact, it occurs to me that if you love big government (and who doesn't?) Burns is the ideal senator for this state: weak enough that he always needs help and strong enough that he can't be written off entirely.

I'm not sure how you work that notion into a political campaign. Here's my best slogan so far: Conrad Burns -- just good enough. Better submissions are welcome.

UPDATE: How about this one? Conrad Burns: Good enough for government work.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Election officially over

That wily Outpost editor has figured out how the Democrats can win.

UPDATE: Between the time I wrote that column and the time The Outpost hit the streets, the court-stripping vote on the Pledge of Allegiance did, in fact, come before the House again, and it passed. Of the 260 votes for the bill, 221 were cast by Republicans.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Those flag-draped coffins

This one has me puzzled. Dave Berg was livid on Thursday about an ad by Democrats that showed flag-draped coffins of American soldiers. Denny Rehberg put out a news release asking Monica Lindeen to disavow the ad. Republicans expressed outrage that Democrats would "exploit" the deaths of soldiers to raise money; Democrats pointed out that President Bush had used the flag-draped coffin of a terrorism victim in his own campaign ads.

My naive question: So what? What's wrong with showing pictures of flag-draped coffins? It's not an invasion of privacy, since no one was identifiable. Indeed, coffins are an accepted method of displaying human remains in public.

Is it because the Dems were trying to raise money? If the coffins had been displayed by a company trying to sell flags, or coffins, or better body armor, then I would be on the Republicans' side. But this is a political fight about multiple issues -- one of which is what we are going to do about a terrorism strategy that puts soldiers into flag-draped coffins. Let's not shrink from reality.

Is it a simple matter of taste? Maybe. I haven't seen the ad, thanks to my screwy computer, and the Democrats have now pulled it, so I probably won't. But I also think that excessively good taste in time of war is itself a perversion. Wars that have been as painless and distant as this one has been for millions of Americans ought to be shoved in our faces now and again.

There may be some pain, I suppose, for families of slain soldiers to see those pictures of coffins. But it would be far worse to forget their sacrifices and cut short a needed political debate simply out of fear that feelings might be hurt.

Far more than feelings are at stake in this war. I would hate to think that our political campaigns would be too genteel to remind us of that hard fact.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

E-mail of the day

This comes from Bill White, who has been in occasional contact since a Nazi filed to run for office in Bozeman. White now says he has resigned from the National Socialist Movement. His reason:

My resignation comes days after it was revealed that the Chairman of the National Socialist Movement is involved in a Satanic cult called the "Joy of Satan".
Further, this cult certainly engages in inappropriate sexual discussions with children through their "Teens for Satan" e-group, if not actual sex with minors.

And, it appears many senior NSM members are members of this cult group, including at least one convicted child molestor that was readmitted to the NSM last year without much explanation.


Mass murder of children is OK, apparently. Just don't have sex with them first.

Here's the offending website. Much more here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Troubling

This is a troubling story. It doesn't bother me so much that the school administration would pull the plug on a valedictory speech; school administrators are supposed to be idiots. That's their role in creation.

But I find it worrisome that the ACLU is backing, and apparently was even involved in, the decision to cut her speech short on the grounds that it promoted religion. Poppycock. She wasn't given a chance to speak because the school wanted to throw religion at the students. She got a chance to speak because she earned it, and the First Amendment is all on her side.

It bothers me nearly as much that the story seems to have gotten attention only on the right side of the blogosphere. The corollary, I suppose, would be that if she had made comments attacking religion the right side of the blogosphere would be silent and the left side would be all over it.

Free speech doesn't work that way. The ACLU's position, if reported accurately, is wildly off base. I've e-mailed Scott Crichton asking for clarification. If I learn anything, I will let you know.

Outpost update

My take on the political campaigns is in this week's Outpost. I also sat down for an hour with Jon Tester this week for a freelance story I'm doing. I've met Tester a couple of times before, but this was my first extended interview with him. My reaction: a heck of a nice guy. If he has an artifical bone anywhere in him, I couldn't find it. The guy just sort of exudes decency. Even a stalwart conservative I interviewed who served in the Legislature with Tester, and who blasted just about everything Tester has done and hopes to do, agreed that he's a great guy.

But is that enough to win? I don't think so. And I still haven't gotten a good feeling about what Tester actually would do if he won. I'm guessing that lots of people feel the same way. On the other hand, I'm not sure what Conrad Burns would do either. His ads this week were nearly all on flag burning. I wrote about that in the June 29 Outpost (the link doesn't seem to be working right now).

What Burns doesn't even attempt to do in his flag-burning ads is try to make a case for amending the constitution, other than that he thinks he owes it to veterans. Just out of cussedness, I fired off an e-mail to his staff asking whether the senator thought the 1989 Supreme Court ruling on flag burning was wrong (Antonin Scalia voted with the majority) or whether it was the founding fathers who screwed up. I don't expect an answer.

He blogs!

I still can't blog from my own computer, so posts will be rarer and probably in concentrated bursts. Here's a batch.

Paul Stephens' Montana Green Bulletin, always an interesting read, carries an excerpt from a piece H.L. Mencken wrote for the Baltimore Evening Sun during the Scopes trial. Here's a bit from his description of William Jennings Bryan:

The old boy grows more and more pathetic. He has aged greatly during the past few years and begins to look elderly and enfeebled. All that remains of his old fire is now in his black eyes. They glitter like dark gems, and in their glitter there is immense and yet futile malignancy. That is all that is left of the Peerless Leader of thirty years ago. Once he had one leg in the White House and the nation trembled under his roars. Now he is a tinpot pope in the Coca-Cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half-wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards. His own speech was a grotesque performance and downright touching in its imbecility. ... The effect of the whole harangue was extremely depressing. It quickly ceased to be an argument addressed to the court -- Bryan, in fact, constantly said "My friends" instead of "Your Honor" -- and became a sermon at the camp-meeting. All the familiar contentions of the Dayton divines appeared in it -- that learning is dangerous, that nothing is true that is not in the Bible, that a yokel who goes to church regularly knows more than any scientist ever heard of. The thing went to fantastic lengths. It became a farrago of puerilities without coherence or sense.


Oh, how I long for the days when reporters were objective and didn't let their biases infect their stories!

Stephens also had this gem from U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., about a failed amendment that would have prohibited the federal government from undermining state medical marijuana laws:

"If I am terminally ill, it is not anybody's business on this floor how I handle the pain or the illness or the sickness associated with that illness. With all due respect to all of you, butt out. I did not enter this world with the permission of the Justice Department, and I am certainly not going to depart it by seeking their permission or that of any other authority. The Congress has no business telling people that they cannot manage their illness or their pain any way they need to. I would trust any doctor in the country before I trust some of the daffy ducks in this institution to decide what I am supposed to do if I am terminally ill ... . When is this Congress going to recognize that individuals in their private lives have a right to manage their problems as they see fit without the permission of the big guy in the White House or the big guy in the Justice Department or any of the Lilliputians on this Congressional floor? Wake up!"


Between this vote and the flag amendment, it looks like Democrats are all we have to rely upon to uphold principles of limited government and freedom. What a bizarre world.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Comments up

Comments are back, sort of. I still can't get to them on my computer, but I am able to get them from another computer. So post away.

bias?

Deep in a comment thread on What's Right in Montana, someone cited this Gazette headline as an example of liberal media bias: “GOP-run Senate kills minimum wage increase.”

My question: How? It's accurate, and it gives Republicans credit for killing something they opposed. Where's the bias?

I think the answer lies in the bias of the commenter, not the headline writer. His train of thought must have run something like this: The media are liberal; therefore, the headline writer was liberal; therefore, the headline writer favors an increase in the minimum wage; therefore, the headline writer, being a liberal, assumes that most other people favor an increase in the minimum wage; therefore, the headline writer thought that writing a headline that accurately points out that Republicans killed the bill will help Democrats.

See, once you've persuaded yourself that bias is everywhere, you can find it everywhere. Except in your own biased heart.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Comments down

Several of you have posted comments, but I am having some sort of computer problem and am unable either to read or publish the comments. It seems to be my computer's problem, not Blogspot's, and I will fix it as soon as I can figure out how. Until then, I can be reached at editor@billingsnews.com.

The real terrorists

From today's letters to the editor in the Gazette:

"The United States of America is being taken over by terrorists. And it is not Iraq, Iran or foreigners. It is called extreme environmentalists. They have the state of Montana and Washington, D.C., on their knees. And we all better wake up and smell the coffee.

"The only thing that's in danger of extinction is common sense!

John O. Morris
Otter"

And in parts of Otter, common sense has disappeared altogether.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Burns and the flag

At a Flag Day news conference in Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns noted that "countless millions of American military personnel" have served under the U.S. flag.

"It is simply an insult to these brave Americans that the sacrifices they have made in the name of liberty under the American flag are diminished by people who would burn, trample, or otherwise willfully desecrate our flag," he said.

As a veteran myself, I have two questions:

1. Exactly how is my service diminished by lowlife jerks who burn the flag?

2. Where does a U.S. senator get off deciding on my behalf what insults me?

Sure, I'll support your flag-burning amendment. Just as soon as we pass an amendment prohibiting politicians from invoking veterans every time they want to enact some ill-conceived, bullet-headed attack on the Constitution.

If we're going to muck around with the First Amendment, then let's not waste time banning something that hardly anybody wants to do in the first place. Let's impose a ban that will enhance domestic tranquility and enrich the national civic debate. And punish violators with some sort of painful and lingering death.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Max redux

From the Onion archives: Max Baucus fesses up.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Instapulp

This is odd. Instapundit complains that a newspaper columnist is being dishonest. Instapundit notes correctly that the newspaper column did not quote the full post that it targeted, but the suggestion that Instapundit "lumped in" reporters' failure to cheer at the death of al-Zarqawi with other instances of press "misconduct" doesn't seem terribly far off. Instapundit certainly seems to find the anecdote consistent with his repeated insinuations that reporters are on the wrong side of the war.

In any case, the newspaper column is not as far off base as Instapundit's insistence that Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz "went out of his way" to use the cheering as evidence that the press was "properly patriotic." Kurtz did nothing of the sort. He simply noted in a paragraph that Zarqawi had been killed and accurately quoted an AP story about media reaction. Kurtz didn't cite the story as evidence of anything. Nor did Kurtz's piece need a "correction." Neither he nor the AP reporter wrote nothing about the nationality of the reporters.

Newspaper columnists are fair game, obviously, but bloggers who misuse what columnists write shouldn't complain when the same thing happens to them.

Adolph Coulter

Blog etiquette dictates that the first person to invoke Hitler automatically loses. Ann Coulter, cited below, has accused liberals of liking Hitler and Katie Couric of being Eva Braun. So since she's already conceded the argument, I might as well mention that reading the chapter from her newest book linked below reminded me a lot of "Mein Kampf."

In fairness, I haven't read all of her book, but then I haven't read all of "Mein Kampf" either. "Mein Kampf" was one of two books in my library that literally was recovered from a garbage bin (the other, "Sex Show Sweetie," was a much better read). Since I am determined that Coulter will get none of my cash, I won't read all of her book, either, unless I have a productive Dumpster diving day.

But I was struck by the similarities between Coulter's book and Hitler's in terms of tone and attitude. By way of editorial experimentation, below is an excerpt from her newest book, edited to its essentials and with a couple of key changes: Everywhere she wrote "liberal" or "Democrat," I substituted "Jewish" or "Jew." Where she wrote "liberalism," I substituted "Judaism." Here's what happened:

If a Martian landed in America and set out to determine the nation’s official state religion, he would have to conclude it is Judaism. Judaism is a comprehensive belief system denying the Christian belief in man’s immortal soul. Everything Jews believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts.

Through movies, magazines, and TV, Jews promote a cult of idealized beauty that is so extreme as to be unimaginable. Jews will lie about anything. “Constitutional right” means “Whatever Jews Want.” Instead of seeking wisdom, Jews desire to be seen as clever by being counterintuitive, crazy, and outrĂ©. They have an irreducible fascination with barbarism and will defend anything hateful. If Hitler hadn’t turned against their beloved Stalin, Jews would have stuck by him, too. The truly pathetic Jews are the ones who aren’t rich but ape the belief structure of fabulously wealthy Hollywood leftists anyway.

Only their core rejection of God can explain the bewildering array of Jewish positions. Public schools are what columnist Joe Sobran calls “Judaism’s reproductive system.” No longer content to ruin their own children, Jews insist on being subsidized by the taxpayer to ruin everyone else’s children, too. Jewish judges feel free to disregard the Supreme Court to achieve the overriding objective of keeping real religion out of government schools. At least the crazy Muslims get funding from Saudi Arabia for their madrassas. Jews force normal Americans to pay for their religious schools.

It’s no wonder Bible Belt, right-wing Christians get the greatest enjoyment out of sex (another scientific study hated by Jews) — they never have to endure listening to Jews talk about sex.

These zealous pagans teach the official state religion of Judaism as axiomatic truth. The stupidest of their students become journalists, churning out illiterate attacks on dissidents from the Jewish religion. Jews are constantly accusing Christians of being intolerant and self-righteous, but the most earnest Christian has never approached the preachy intolerance of a Jew who has just discovered … two born again Christians in a Republican administration.

Jews are constantly accusing Christians of monumental self-righteousness for daring to engage in free speech or for voting in accordance with their religious beliefs. Because they passionately believed in Marxism, Jews thought they had a right to lie about being Soviet spies.

Jews consider it self-evident that they are being persecuted simply for wanting to do the right thing and always believe their critics’ motives are vile and corrupt. They are for adultery, lying about adultery, covetousness, killing the unborn, and stealing from the middle class. They have more shibboleths than the Old Testament tribe of Gileadites.

If Jews ever dared speak coherently about what they believe, the American people would lynch them. So they claim to believe in God, much as Paul Begala claims to go “duck hunting” (Jewish code for “antiquing”).

In addition to Christians, whom Jews hate, the Jews are not particularly welcoming of “folks” who do not believe it is a Constitutional right to stick a fork in a baby’s head. Jews revile religion but insist on faking a belief in God in front of the voters claiming to be “spiritual.” I don’t particularly care if Jews believe in God. In fact, I would be crestfallen to discover any Jews in heaven. Jews can believe what they want to believe, but let us not flinch from identifying Judaism as the opposition party to God.


What do you think? I think Adolph would have loved this book!

New blog

My buddy Bowen Greenwood (Mr. Greenwood to you) has started a new right-leaning blog, Election Daze. Bowen used to freelance for the Outpost and has worked on some Republican campaigns. Now he's a flak in Helena.

My only gripe about his blog: He puts my blog on his list of "libs." Dang it. If Ann Coulter is right, that means I am a traitorous, slandering, godless Stalinist. Fortunately, she never is.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Repulsive

Maybe I'm overreacting, but a May 31 Billings Gazette ad arguing for a gay marriage amendment struck me as particularly abhorrent. The inscrutable headline on the Focus on the Family ad was, "Why Doesn't Senator Baucus Believe Every Child Needs a Mother and a Father?" The nub was this: "The reality is that homosexual marriages intentionally create motherless families or fatherless families."

So the gay marriage amendment isn't about morality. It isn't about preserving marriage. It's about the kids. And Sen. Baucus must hate kids or he wouldn't vote against it.

I'm among those who think the Bible rejects homosexual relations. I'm also among those who think the Bible prohibits lying. If this ad doesn't break that rule, it cuts awfully close.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Buy Chinese

Thursday's paper delivery day bumper sticker highlight: "Buy USA." Nothing special, I suppose, except that the car with the bumper sticker was driving through the Wal-Mart parking lot.

That's the same Wal-Mart whose shelves are lined with products up to 70 percent of which come from China (for a discussion of the probability of this figure, go here). It's the same Wal-Mart that is, all by itself, China's eighth-largest trading partner. It's the same Wal-Mart whose purchases from China are growing 20 percent a year.

So that bumper sticker -- a subtle protest? Or just clueless?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Morrison who?

I may have been critical below of Jon Tester's performance on Yellowstone Public Radio, but he was a million miles ahead of John Morrison, who didn't even show for last night's call-in. According to hosts Jackie Yamanaka and Jim Gransbery, he bailed about six hours before it started because he was committed to attending a concert his daughter was in.

Not a bad excuse, except that the call-in show had been scheduled for a couple of months. Canceling at that late hour indicates either awfully poor planning or that something else was going on that he wasn't saying. Bad news for him either way.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Who for Senate?

My story on U.S. Senate candidate Bob Keenan will be in Thursday's Outpost. The paper's not up yet, so there's no link, but you can find it easily enough tomorrow if you care.

It's a fairly perfunctory effort -- give me a break; I started it at 5 a.m. today. But what most struck me about Keenan was how much I liked him. And how little I really wanted to vote for him.

Actually, I usually like politicians. The public perception is that they are all lying scum, but that's not been my experience (or I am embarassingly old to be so naive). Taking a public stand on a controversial issue requires more courage than most people have, and I appreciate people who are willing to do it. And good politicians have mastered the skill of being liked, something I have never managed. I just don't know why you lousy sons of bitches don't think I'm lovable.

Curiously, the short list of politicians I haven't liked includes both of Montana's U.S. senators. I've never bought Burns' good-ol-boy shtick, and Max Baucus seems incurably opportunistic. I would trade them both for Denny Rehberg, whom I like even when I think he's dead wrong.

But as much as I liked Keenan, and most of the rest of the candidates, I can't get excited about any of them. Keenan's too far to the right. Paul Richards is too far to the left. Bob Kelleher is amusing, but I couldn't listen to him for six years. Jon Tester strikes me as a decent guy, but he seemed way out of his depth on Yellowstone Public Radio's call-in show last week. John Morrison is a sharp cookie, but he sounds too scripted. I could see voting for him, but I can't see getting excited about voting for him. A couple of the candidates I don't know at all, and probably never will.

I would be disinclined to vote for Conrad Burns, even if I liked him better than I do. Guys like me who oppose term limits but who favor some churn in the congressional delegation have an obligation to vote against incumbents just because. And it's really time for Conrad to go.

So who gets my vote? Maybe Richards, just because he's the only candidate who seems to hate the Iraq War as much as I do. At least a vote for him might be read as a protest against the war, without much risk that he could actually get elected.

It's an unhappy impasse. I envy, to a degree, guys like Matt Singer and Eric Coobs, who seem to have no trouble picking their candidate and sticking with him. Spending all these years trying to write objective stories may not have made me objective, but it sure has made it hard to make a decision.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Don't fence me in

As often happens, I may be the last guy in town to notice this, but here's a blog devoted to the Yellowstone County obscenity ordinance.

Fraternity

I'm not quite sure whether to be proud or appalled. My brother, who has taught English at Delmar College in Corpus Christi, Texas, for a couple of decades, also has done some newspaper column writing on the side. Now his column has been picked up each week by Scripps Howard News Service. As he points out, if you enter "John M. Crisp" into Google, you'll find his columns showing up in the Raleigh News and Observer, Albuquerque Tribune, Sacramento Bee, Hilton Head Island Packet, Capitol Hill Blue and Boulder Daily Camera, among others.

I've been impinging on his territory in recent years, with the college classes I teach in journalism, German and English. So I guess it's only fair that he impinge on mine. Too bad he's so damn liberal.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

English only

One thing about the U.S. Senate: If you can't count on it to do something helpful about immigration reform, you can at least count on it to do something stupid. The bill making English the national language of the United States is the dumbest thing since, well, the flag-burning amendment.

Listen up, you free-market conservatives: English didn't manage to survive as the nation's dominant language for 225 years because of federal protection. And federal protection won't make it last another 225 years. If anything in the world responds to the demands and needs of society, despite the will of government, it's language. If English can't compete, it deserves to die.

If the government wants to pass a law banning, say, Spanish language ballots, then do it straightforwardly and honestly. Don't put meaningless bromides into the law. Dang it, that's the sort of thing conservatives are supposed to protect us from.

Zoo story

The Outpost's leader this week on ZooMontana is, I believe, the most comprehensive and, unfortunately, the most pessimistic story on the topic has ever been published.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Out, Outpost

Under the euphonious headline "Outcry, outrage, outlaw, outpost: out, out, out," the Northern Light takes issue with the Outpost's decision to print an ad in the April 27 issue that opposes new county ordinances regulating obscenity and sexually oriented businesses (I couldn't find the editorial on the website, but it's in the hard-copy edition). The ad was placed by PRIDE with support from other groups opposing the ordinance.

The Northern Light's editor, Kathleen Plumb, doesn't believe in accepting advertising from groups that support ideas she disagrees with. The only reason the Outpost would accept such ads, she presumes, is "because the editor and publisher must to some extent support their agendas."

I addressed this topic in a general way here. But let me summarize: The reason we accept ads from such groups is that we sell advertising for a living. If the pro-obscenity ordinance people want equal treatment from our advertising department, all they have to is buy an ad of equal size.

Here's the kicker: At one of our West End distribution stops yesterday, someone had taken the trouble to carefully insert fliers into the Outpost in support of both ordinances. This was done without our permission and without paying us a cent. The flier says that it was "paid for by Montana Citizens for Decency through Law, Inc.," but nobody paid us.

Citizens for Decency may hold the moral high ground when it comes to pornography, but at least one of its supporters is a lowdown sneak.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On the rack again

Gannett, the nation's most predatory newspaper conglomerate, is still trying to take over the rack distribution business. I have written about it here, here and here.

Here's an interesting update from Jackson, Miss., on the nationwide effort, along with a call for action. More here and here.

Locally, the latest development is that Lee Enterprises has dropped all of its free publications from Albertsons stores rather than pay Gannett to keep them there. The Thrifty Nickel, Work for You, Western Business, the real estate publication -- all gone. I'm not sure what that adds up to in circulation, but I bet the Thrifty Nickel lost at least 1,000 circulation in the deal. Bet you won't see that showing up on the rate card anytime soon.

We're still paying to stay in Albertsons, but we've refused to sign a contract, so it's a month-to-month thing. Meanwhile, Gannett has expanded its operation to Helena. The noose tightens. (Hat tip to the Queen City News.)

UPDATE: More here, this time closer to home. And the government is involved.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Speeding ticket

Maybe I spent too many years in South Texas, but the hardest thing for me to understand in the immigration debate is why so many people get apopletic over the fact that illegal immigrants broke the law to get here.

Sure, they broke the law, but there are laws and there are laws. It's illegal to drive 70 mph in a 55 mph zone, and it's illegal to commit armed robbery. But that doesn't make the crimes morally indistinguishable.

Let's face it: For most of American history, crossing the border illegally has been treated much more like a traffic violation than an armed robbery. That may have been bad policy, but it was our policy, not the immigrants'. Offenders have gotten the equivalent of a speeding ticket, or less -- often people apprehended trying to cross the border were simply sent back to the other side, only to try again the next day.

So here's a hypothetical: You're unemployed, the bank account is empty, the kids are hungry, and you have no prospects. Suddenly, you hear about a job 100 miles away that will pay you a wage beyond anything you could hope to earn in your home town. But to take it, you have to drive there by noon, and the only way to make it is to break the speed limit.

Do you speed and risk a ticket? If your answer is no, then shame on you for lying. If it's yes, then welcome to America.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Press release of the year

I know I shouldn't be giving free publicity to Nazis, but I submit that no news release in the entire political season will top this lede:

Montanans have rallied to the Swastika banner as a
result of the attention and popularity of Shawn
Stuart, Republican candidate in the state's 76th House
District, leading to the formation of a third Montana
Unit, based in Billings.


Heil, Shawn!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Enviro whackos

Ed Kemmick writes about Steve Prosinski's Sunday column on reader comments appended to Gazette stories.

I may have more to say about that later but what struck me about Prosinski's column was the short item about cutting the Sunday comics from six pages to four. The reason, according to Prosinski: "to conserve newsprint."

Thank God, somebody's finally doing something about conservation. Now if the Gazette would just get rid of some of those Sunday circulars. Heck, we'd take them.

Brooks on target

David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, gave a terrific speech at MSU-Billings Thursday night. I'll write about in next week's Outpost but will post a few observations here:

1. Petro Theater was just about full, but very few people there seemed of student age. Most seemed my age or older. I'm not sure the Times means much to students.

2. Brooks pulled up an old quote from Tom Wolfe: "Every teenager knows who his natural enemy is." He used the quote to make the point that people choose their party not on ideology but on "tribalism" and group identification. The quote hit home with me. I've always thought of George Bush as a spoiled frat kid, and I've never liked spoiled frat kids. I never bought the faux-rancher act because I've known too many ranchers. I never bought the born-again Christian business because no authentic Texas Christian would call a man an asshole, and then refuse to apologize for it. So maybe all my dislike for him is really just working off teenage angst toward upperclass rich kids. Except for the Iraq part.

3. He said that the consensus among Republicans is that they will lose at least the House this fall. "I think they know they've strayed, and they're going to pay for it," he said. But the consensus among Democrats is that they can't believe they will win.

4. In 2004, Bush won 23 of the 24 states with the highest fertility rates. Kerry won all 17 states with the lowest fertility rates. Republicans are reproducing, he noted.

5. While American poltical positions have not become more polarized, their voting has. The number of counties with landslide majorities for one party or the other has doubled since the '60s. The number of split ticket voters has dropped dramatically. The number of people who never go to church has doubled in the last 10 years.

6. Reporters, once part of the working class, have become much more elite. He noted that when he had a drink recently with a group of reporters, he was the only one who ordered alcohol. The rest all got bottled water.

This is deeply troubling. Sobriety in American journalism is indeed reaching alarming levels. Lewis Grizzard once pointed out that all of the creativity went out of American newsrooms when the glue pots were taken away. A dwindling few of us carry on.

Anyway, none of this really even much touches on the important things he had to say. For that, you'll have to read the Outpost.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Where the money goes

My take this week in the Outpost on School District 2 funding may be a bit different than what you have seen before.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bummer for Burns

More bad news for Conrad Burns. You have to follow the link at the bottom to get his response.

At the old ball game

When I couldn't stand looking at this computer any more on Saturday, I headed over to Cobb Field to watch MSU-Billings in a doubleheader against Oklahoma Panhandle State University. There I ran into Allen Rice, an old Gazette colleague (now retired) who is one of the most knowledgeable baseball people I know.

Otherwise, the crowd was thin. I doubt there were 100 paying customers in the stadium. But a wildly disproportionate number of them appeared to be female college students dressed in their summer shorts. I don't know how well this team gets baseball, but it sure gets the girls.

It was a fine day. The weather was gorgeous. The brats were tasty. The Jackets came from behind to win the first game, then lost a ragged second game. It was fun being able to hear the players talking and cheering each other on.

The quality of play was watchable. In my sports writing days, I covered a lot of college baseball and generally found the level of play comparable to the Mustangs -- the players may have had less talent top to bottom, but they were a little older and a tad more polished. Of course, that was Southwest Conference baseball, which was about as good as college baseball got. A lot of those players had their eyes on the big leagues, and quite a few made it. Saturday's twin bill was a few notches below that, but the Jackets are improving steadily.

The two biggest annoyances from the college game also were present: the seven-inning doubleheader games, which never feel quite finished, and the aluminum bats. Somebody ought to be able to come up with a composite bat of some sort that combines the durability of aluminum with the satisfying thwack of wood. Then we would have something.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hockey for-never

Should county government subsidize sports? My take is in this week's Outpost.

Growing down

A big ad in Wednesday's Billings Gazette proclaimed, "Circulation is UP! Billings Gazette's circulation is GROWING!" An editor's note on the opinion page today made a similar claim. But neither the ad nor the note answered the two questions I always ask my writing students when they baldly state, as they often do, that some trend or another is increasing: How much? Since when?

Since I can't order the Gazette to produce its research, I did some of my own. The annual reports on the Lee Enterprises web site list circulation figures for each paper for the period ending in September. For the Gazette, I compared September 2004 to September 2005. Sunday circulation had, indeed, increased by 331 papers, a stunning increase of 0.6 percent. But daily circulation was down 740 papers. So in September 2005 the Gazette was selling 4,109 fewer papers a week than it had a year earlier.

As Chico Marx used to say, "'Atsa some joke, eh, Boss?" Using that kind of math, I expect to demonstrate in the Outpost next week that I am growing younger.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Alphabet soup

This senator thinks a senator is going to prison over the Abramoff scandal. Who could that be? Let's go through the alphabet: A ... B ... (hat tip to Kevin Drum).

Mill levy doom?

I have yet to encounter a single soul not actually serving on the Billings school board who thinks the mill levies have a chance to pass. Anybody here heard different?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

School spending

I meant to link the other day to my Outpost story on the School District 2 budget, but have been too busy paying taxes and bitching about having to work on such a lovely Easter weekend. I'm not sure my story adds a whole lot to the debate, but I do add some perspective starting about the fifth graph on how much faster expenses have grown than revenues have. The upshot is that even after winning a big lawsuit over state funding, the district's budget just keeps getting tighter. Is this the answer?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Blogging on blogging

I liked Ed Kemmick's Weekend Update post, in part because I, too, broke out the hammock for the first time this weekend and in part because I, too, found the Garry Wills column (thanks to Jackie Corr) brave, thoughtful and all-around wonderful. Ed also comments on the phenomenon I mention here: The further away you get from blogging, the smaller it looks.

In Ed's comments, a couple of people point out that traditional media people have little use for bloggers. I think there is truth in that, although I don't mean to speak for others. But I think it's fair to say that even alternative weeklies are now part of "traditional media."

The usual reasons bloggers give for the antipathy of traditional media are:

1. Media have never been held accountable before and now they don't like it. This is hokum. In the quarter-century I have spent in the news business, my phone number always has been in the book. People have always been able to call me at 3 a.m. to tell me what a lousy job I'm doing, and sometimes they do. Papers I've edited have printed thousands of letters to the editor, hundreds of them disagreeing with something we've said or done.

2. Bloggers fact-check our asses, and we don't like it. Some do, some of the time. But most media criticism on blogs is of such low and redundant quality that reading it is a waste of time. One recurring theme: If you ever read a news story about yourself or about a topic with which you are intimately familiar, you always find inaccuracies and frequently find that that the whole take is wrong. That's the feeling I get when I read most blogging critics: They have no clue.

3. The old media are dying because bloggers are killing them, and they don't like it. Probably some truth in this; these are tough times to be in the news business. But I don't really see any bloggers doing what newspapers do. Perhaps someday they will.

I think the real reasons traditional media don't much care for bloggers are more like this:

1. Lack of accountability. I stand behind everything I write and always have. Most bloggers (or at least commenters) hide behind anonymity.

2. One criticism of journalists is that they are a step removed from real life. They observe, comment, ask questions and write. They don't DO. But most bloggers are even a further step removed. They don't go to meetings, don't go to car accidents, don't confront people they will make look bad in print. If the world holds journalists in contempt, they can now pass along that contempt to bloggers.

3. Blogger triumphalism. So tired.

4. Confronting blogging forces traditional media to refight old battles. There was a reason why, many years ago, most newspapers quit running anonymous letters to the editor. Those letters destroyed civil discourse. There was a reason why most newspapers didn't explain themselves very well to their readers. Self-absorption is an addiction best treated cold turkey.

5. Lack of civility. People who want to criticize my newspaper work have to look me in the eye, talk to me on the phone, or attach their name to a letter. Dealing directly with other humans makes people be nice. Those restraints vanish on the web. When morons like Bill Quick can label traditional media as traitors with no real fear of recrimination, then you don’t have a conversation. You have a brawl.

UPDATE: Just want to make it clear that the above are general comments about a general phenomenon. The list of bloggers for whom I have personal admiration and respect would be too long to include here.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

All the news that pays

This news release, I'm guessing, describes what news gathering is becoming:

MISSOULA — During the next two years, Montana Public Radio’s News Department will present regular feature stories about issues of poverty in Montana.
The features project is supported by a $78,500 grant from the Northwest Area Foundation, whose mission is to help communities reduce poverty.
“Poverty in Montana takes many forms, from working families who can’t afford health care to food banks who can’t keep their shelves stocked to keep up with the increasing demand,” said Sally Mauk, news director at The University of Montana Broadcast Media Center, where MPR’s studios are located. “I’m excited about the project and the opportunity to get our news staff out to many Montana communities to report on such an important and timely topic.”
Kevin Maki, a longtime Montana journalist, will join the MPR staff for the two-year project. Maki currently produces feature stories about people and places in the Bitterroot for the radio station.
The Northwest Area Foundation works in an eight-state region that includes Montana. The foundation approached MPR after successful projects last year with Minnesota Public Radio and Seattle’s KUOW.
For more information about the Northwest Area Foundation, visit its Web site http://www.nwaf.org.
Montana Public Radio programming and station information can be found at http://www.mpr.org.


My prediction: Montana Public Radio will discover that poverty is a problem. But less of a problem when the grants are rolling in.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Oh Ohs

Chuck Denowh sent along this, which I guess is what sparked the news release quoted below:

Dear Editor:

I learned from reading this newspaper last weekend that a Nazi has filed as
a Republican for legislative office in Butte. I want to make it clear that
neither the state nor county Republican Party organizations had any part in
recruiting this man to run for office.

The Montana Republican Party in no way condones what the Nazis stand for.
Our state party platform is very clear that we believe in a "commitment to
equal rights and equality for every citizen regardless of gender, age, race,
national origin, religion, creed, or physical impairment."

This candidate who has filed as a Republican is misinformed on a number of
levels, including his assertion that his views in any way reflect the
Republican Party's emphasis on equality. I speak for all Republicans when I
say that we did not recruit this man to run, we do not support his
candidacy, and we will work to achieve his defeat.

Karl Ohs
Chairman
Montana Republican Party


For the record, I certainly would not suggest that Republicans are "pro-Nazi" compared to Democrats. If there is one issue that has so far remained beyond partisan debate, it is that nobody likes Nazis.

On the other hand, if Republicans are going to blame Democrats for how Hollywood actors vote, I guess it's fair for Democrats to blame Republicans for how Nazis vote.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Typical anti-white bias

News release of the day:

Bill White, spokesman for the National Socialist
Movement today responded to letters written by the
Montana Republican Party and the Montana Democratic
Party about the campaign of National Socialist
Movement candidate for Montana legislature Shawn
Stuart in House Distrit 76.

"The Montana Republican Party's Chairman Karl Ohs is
lying when he says the Republican Party did not
recruit or encourage Stuart to run, or that they were
not familiar with his views," White stated today, "At
the Pachyderm Club's Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, just
prior to the filing date, Shawn Stuart, at the
invitation and encouragement of Rachel Roberts,
Pachyderm Club President, and Charles Robinson,
President of the Young Republicans, of which Mr Stuart
is a member, announced his candidacy and informed the
Republican Party leadership of his views. His views
and his candidacy were embraced by the Republican
Party at that time.

"We find Mr Ohs response today hypocritical and false.
Mr Ohs is lying when he attempts to distance the
Republican Party from Mr Stuart.

"Further, the National Socialist Movement finds the
various threats made against Mr Stuart and his
campaign by the Republican and Democratic Parties
ridiculous. In particular, the Montana Democratic
Party has manipulated Montana's anti-working-class
unions in order to push the homosexual and
Jewish-multiculturalist agenda on the white working
people of Montana for too long.

"We look forward to the defeat of their candidates."

White, who, organized Pat Buchanan's 2000 Reform Party
presidential petition drive in Maryland, as well as
managed the campaigns of the first team of third party
candidates to qualify for ballot access for Congress
and legislature in Maryland in twenty years, stated
that the National Socialist Movement expects to
"easily defeat" any attempt by the Republican Party to
stop Stuart from running for office.

"The law does not permit them to try to remove him
from the ballot at this point and their only other
option -- which we will wait to see if they use before
telling them what it is -- has historically failed.
We expect Shawn Stuart to be the Republican nominee in
this district and we expect him to go on to an
outstanding performance at the polls.

"With only 3,000 or so registered voters in HD 76, I
think it will be easy for Mr Stuart and the NSM to
counteract any of the typical mass media and mass
political party actions white nationalist candidates
typically face."