The Barkings of Sanity, Jack Speaks

Out Of The Darkness Comes Money

By Jack Jackson

Republican leaders in Montana have apparently discovered their true enemies — themselves. Or rather, a wing of their own conservative movement.

As all political leaders sooner or later discover, it is always possible to be outflanked by someone who is willing to take a more radical position.

In the latest case, the outflanking maneuver was performed by those willing to move farther to the right than Montana’s ample conservative element.

So in the darkest time of year, Republican leaders made the discovery of dark money.

That’s right, in the darkness, more darkness was found.

The legislators on the right side of the aisle who consider themselves to be in the vanguard of a gravity shift toward more conservative conservatism were almost undone by people even more conservative with deeper pockets who were not afraid to call for a return to a time when all the seats in the legislature were held by ranchers and mine owners.

Sens. Bruce Tutvedt (R-Kalispell) and John Esp (R-Big Timber) recently filed a complaint with the state political practices office alleging they were attacked during the primary campaign by an organization which would not reveal its sources of funding.

But wait, aren’t members of the conservative wing of the Republican party the very people who pushed for allowing political action committees to use unlimited funds to back candidates and to attack their favorite’s opponents? And didn’t many of them benefit from the anonymous political action money?

It appears the honorable senators got caught in their own trap. Perhaps it occurred to them that allowing anonymous political spending by out of state organizations wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Perhaps anonymous spending is only a good idea when the money is spent on oneself.

It must be a humiliating situation for the honorable senators. Their complaints sound almost, well, liberal.

Why senators, did you wait until after the general election in November to file a complaint when the alleged infractions occurred in May?

Were you hoping to reap some of the anonymously funded advertising during the general election?

Could it be because you were ashamed to file your grievance until you and your cronies occupy Helena for three months?

Good luck senators. And good luck in those party caucuses where you will not be able to tell your friends from your enemies. Careful you don’t get outflanked behind closed doors again.

Perhaps you should stand in a corner where no idea can sneak up on you.

Throw Us A Bone

By Jack Jackson

With the legislature now in its closing stages it’s time to take stock. While the latest news reports indicate our honorable legislators’ campaign against sanity is gaining momentum daily, they can’t go home yet. Too much damage to the state still remains unaccomplished.

So in the interests of bringing the proceedings to a speedy end and helping the legislators work through their backlog of misguided ideas, I’d like to offer a suggestion.

Combining bills could be a great help.

Our legislators seem dead set against any improvement in Medicaid for the state’s residents, no matter how needy they are of help, and in spite of the fact the increase would be paid by federal funding.

And they also seem to be focused on allowing the timely removal and butchering of large wild ungulates killed by vehicles on the state’s highways.

So perhaps they could consider combining the two bills.

In addition to allowing road killed deer to be butchered, perhaps a combined law could also allow a human fatality to be harvested for use.

Considering the economic ramifications for injured people without health insurance, severely injured people might prefer to be harvested rather than face the ignominy of a bankrupt life.

I know I would.

I’d rather be skinned and have my organs harvested — my body put to some kind of constructive use — than awaken from a coma only to face a hospital bill of hundreds of thousands dollars. The shock of so many zeroes attached to a debt would surely kill me anyway.

Without lottery winnings, paying such a debt is an impossibility for most people without health insurance. Even if given multiple lifetimes working many jobs they will still fall short and remain impoverished.

So how about it senators and representatives, how about throwing us all a bone? Passing bills in bundles and bunches before adjournment?

The court will probably overturn most of your work as it did after the previous session, so try doing it as efficiently as possible.

Pain and Circumstance

By Jack Jackson

The lack of wisdom from our legislators left most Montana residents gasping for air last week.

Just when we thought the state legislature could not be more useless, two of our local lawmakers  proposed failed ideas retrieved from the musty shelves of history. The proposals could be taken for the work of the insane or the terminally befuddled. In other words, the retreat from progress is being made in Helena at roughly the same pace as the session two years ago.

Our legislators are again leading the state as drum majors of the biennial parade of fools.

A plan to solve campaign financing inequities by removing all restrictions makes as much sense as pouring high-octane gas on burning houses instead of water.

Everyone in the state agrees runaway contributions are damaging our electoral process by allowing contributors to attempt to buy political influence. The idea to completely remove all restrictions on contributors is a throwback to the days when Anaconda Copper controlled state government with its deep pockets. He appears to be pandering to the political interests of the richest one percent in the most shameless fashion. It seems to be a blatant attempt to sell the state government to any out of state contributor who cares to buy it.

Does the sponsoring legislator see himself as a latter day Copper King? Or merely a king maker?

We should all ask why enormous campaign contributions from out of state interests are so important to Montana’s way of life. Is there a plan to make Montana a Third World country? This plan will certainly accomplish the goal of disenfranchising Montana’s voters.

Then there is yet another disturbing proposal from the always entertaining if terribly misguided King of the Canyon. Only in some alternative universe does the plan to allow corporal punishment to be substituted for incarceration make sense.

What makes the bill’s sponsor think a hardened offender will change his ways after 50 lashes of the whip when years in the state pen don’t seem to be changing any criminal’s habits? In the history of mankind, whipping people has never wrought lasting change.

It makes one wonder if the sponsor has been reading speculative novels about the Spanish Inquisition or sampling too much redeye instead of considering legislation during his stay in Helena. By the time the snow melts perhaps there will be a proposal to bring back burning at the stake as a substitute for lethal injection.

Requiring new bills to pass a psychiatric test before they are accepted for debate might help clear some of the logjam in Helena.

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