Tester’s All Over Montana. Rehberg? Nowhere to Be Found

United States Senate Seal

United States Senate Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

From Politico:

Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg are locked in possibly the closest Senate race in the country, but their final weekend of campaigning suggests it’s anything but.

Tester is on an 800-mile sprint across this majestic state, energizing his base and trying to persuade Mitt Romney backers to split their ticket and give the Democratic incumbent another six years in the Senate.

Rehberg, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen on the campaign trail. He’s employing the classic, play-it-safe strategy of a frontrunner running down the clock — even though polls indicate the race is a true tossup.

But the thing that made my skin crawl:

Rehberg declined a request for an interview.

Typical.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83268.html#ixzz2BDvfDeEt

Obama Will Be “Democrats’ Ronald Reagan” If Re-Elected

So says Andrew Sullivan in this article. I tend to agree.

“If Obama wins, to put it bluntly, he will become the Democrats’ Reagan. The narrative writes itself. He will emerge as an iconic figure who struggled through a recession and a terrorized world, reshaping the economy within it, passing universal health care, strafing the ranks of al -Qaeda, presiding over a civil-rights revolution, and then enjoying the fruits of the recovery. To be sure, the Obama recovery isn’t likely to have the same oomph as the one associated with Reagan—who benefited from a once-in-a-century cut of top income tax rates (from 70 percent to, at first, 50 percent, and then to 28 percent) as well as a huge jump in defense spending at a time when the national debt was much, much less of a burden. But Obama’s potential for Reagan status (maybe minus the airport-naming) is real. Yes, Bill Clinton won two terms and is a brilliant pol bar none, as he showed in Charlotte in the best speech of both conventions. But the crisis Obama faced on his first day—like the one Reagan faced—was far deeper than anything Clinton confronted, and the future upside therefore is much greater. And unlike Clinton’s constant triangulating improvisation, Obama has been playing a long, strategic game from the very start—a long game that will only truly pay off if he gets eight full years to see it through. That game is not only changing America. It may also bring his opposition, the GOP, back to the center, just as Reagan indelibly moved the Democrats away from the far left.”

Read it all for yourself here.

Surging US Catholic Support For Marriage Equality

By Terence Weldon, Queering The Church

Marriage Equality USA logo

Marriage Equality USA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New research by the Pew Forum on religion and public life has confirmed once again that the tide of opinion is moving inexorably in favour of gay marriage. In 2oo4, supporters were outnumbered by opponents, by almost two to one (30% to 61%), but supporters now outnumber opponents, by 48% to 44%.  The age split confirms that support will continue to grow: the only groups still opposed are those over 50, and the youngest is in favour by 63% to 32%.  All this is familiar.

What is new in this poll, is its focus on the impact of President Obama’s declared support last May for the principle of marriage equality. Overall, Pew reports that there has been very little change in support since before the announcement – but that it has strengthened support in his Democratic base, and hardened opposition among his Republican opponents. This shift among Democratic voters (especially liberal Democrats) could have a beneficial impact on the gay marriage ballots this November in the Democratic and Democratic leaning states of Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota, and has been widely reported on in the major news media (see for instance,Huffington PostSF Gate at the San Francisco Chronicle, or Seattle Post PI).

The strength of the Pew Forum research organization, as its name implies, is in its focus on religion and religious attitudes, and the extensive historical database of strictly comparable results, which is what I want to focus on here.

Catholics strongly support gay marriage.

First, note that Catholic overwhelmingly support gay marriage, by 58% to 33% – a margin of 25%, and identical for both White and Hispanic Catholic groups. This degree of support is greater than that shown by any other Christian grouping (Jews and other faiths are not identified), it is substantially higher than that for the population as a whole).

This degree of support by Catholics, exceeding that for other groups, has now been well – established in numerous polls. It has also been previously noted that the growth in Catholic support has exceeded that in other groups. Just how dramatic that growth has been, can be seen by comparing the latest results with those from August / September 2010.  Then, Catholic support for gay marriage was at 46% –  a plurality over opposition of just 4%. That plurality has now grown from 4% to 25%, in less than two years.

 Read the rest here.

My Dissent Explained

Last week, I posted about my disappointment with Steve Bullock’s position on marriage equality- and there were several comments here, on other blogs and on Twitter debating whether we (progressives) could afford to not get behind the presumed Democratic nominee.

I simply want to say here, as I have in some responses on other platforms, that I am responding in the spirit of creative dissent. I am not going to lean back, say “Oh well, maybe someday he’ll get it,” act like nothing happened and proceed with business as usual. I’ve come too far- we’ve come too far- to do that.

When I moved back to Montana I made myself a promise- that I would never lie about or be ashamed of my thoughts, feelings or beliefs- even when they were unpopular or provocative. I also promised that, as a middle-aged gay man, I would do everything I could to ensure the continued, progressively advancing sense of dignity for all LGBT persons in the state of Montana. I’ve dealt with too many suicidal kids, too many disowned sons and daughters, too many shame-filled, damaged people to trust that politicians will, on their own, work to protect us.

They have to be convinced. And in order to do that, we first have to get their attention.

Looks like we did. Now, until something further is done, I’m voting for the candidate who most represents my views, just as everyone should. I’m against the death penalty, want women to make their own choices about their health, support legal recognition of same-sex relationship recognition/protection, and am a fan of higher education and preserving a clean planet. I want healthcare and insurance companies to be reasonable and efficient- and treat people with mental illness and substance issues with dignity and respect. I want the justice system to be fair to all citizens. I want church and state to be separate. I want the poor and disadvantaged to be given every chance to succeed.

I’m also a big fan of dialog, not diatribe. And dialog is about the expression of opinion, listening and responding accordingly. That’s all I hoped to accomplish. I am not out to derail the Democratic Party- and I will absolutely vote for the Democrat for Governor in the fall. The alternatives are too creepy to think about. I just wanted to be heard on behalf of the thousands of LGBT Montanans in this state- many of whom hold my views.

That’s all.

Now, about that Republican platform plank….

Gallatin County Democrats Fundraiser Raises Some Great Questions

Sunday night I attended the Gallatin County Democrats Grand Opening Fundraiser at their new headquarters on Mendenhall in Bozeman. It was a great potluck- and crowded- which bodes well for the future of Democratic candidates in Bozeman this year.

Each candidate was allowed some time to speak. Pam Bucy and Monica Lindeen– both of whom I strongly support- shared energy, enthusiasm and common sense. They both need to be elected, in my very humble opinion.

I came to hear the Congressional candidates. I needed to see them and hear them in person. Their speeches were limited to 3 minutes, but all 4  had something important to say- mostly in contraposition to the Republican policy. Kim Gillan spoke about the need to control our own destinies. Franke Wilmer showcased her brilliant career as an academic and as an effective (as a Democrat could be last term) Montana Legislator. Dave Strohmaier shared a vision of the future which relied on non-discrimination (including LGBT persons!), progressive principles and conviction. And then there was Rob Stutz.

Stutz started by talking about taking back the Constitution- both federal and state- from the “hijack tactics of the Tea Party”. Excellent. And enthusiastic applause followed. Then he said something that made me stop.

“We have to have a plan to win in November. Do Democrats have a plan? We can’t wait until after the primary- we need a plan now!”

Like I said, I stopped. All of the ideas that were shared by the candidates were excellent ideas. The rhetoric was high. The enthusiasm inspiring. But Stutz is right. Where’s the plan? Because all the good ideas in the world don’t mean anything without a plan.

And without a plan, November could be disastrous for Democrats.

Baucus, Tester Congratulated For Tax Relief

Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick today released the following statement in recognition of the payroll tax relief just passed by Congress:

English: Logo of the Democratic Party of the U...

“We are incredibly proud of the hard work Jon Tester and Max Baucus have put in on this issue.  Montanans shouldn’t have to lose out on a $1,000 tax break because of petty partisan games in Congress.  Thankfully, Jon and Max worked together to get the job done for Montana families.”

“Senator Baucus did something you rarely see in Washington these days: He brought folks from both side of the aisle to the table to give tax relief to working families when they need it most. His work represents the spirit of working together that Montanans expect and deserve in their elected leaders.”

 For me, the political races of 2012 come down to one thing: desire for fairness vs the desire to impose dogmatism.
I don’t think I need to tell you which party is for what- or that Denny Rehberg’s history of cooperation is pretty sketchy- and I’m being generous.

Rehberg: Local Governments Richer Than The Feds

Rep. Denny Rehberg (MT)

Image by republicanconference via Flickr

After earning the title of the Tea Party Caucus’s top earmarker, and after giving himself five pay raises in Congress, Montana’s millionaire Congressman is now telling Montanans that they should turn to their local governments if they need any help.

“I always find it a little bit ironic when somebody comes to me and says we need money at the local level from the federal government,” Rehberg recently told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (onlineHERE).  “I say, well, why don’t you ask the local level, because, you’ve got more money than we do.”

What Rehberg forgot to mention was that the last time Congress approved earmarks, he earned the title of “tea partier with his name on the most earmarks” — requesting more than $100 million for Montana.

Rehberg, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, also failed to mention that while he was spending millions in taxpayer money, he gave himself five pay raises during his 12 years in Congress–at a time when hardworking Montanans were nation was struggling.  Hmmm.

“Congressman Dennis Rehberg is desperately wants Montanans to forget his long, irresponsible record of giving himself pay raises while spending their money in Congress,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Now his message to Montanans is ‘tough luck.’  We join all Montanans in demanding more responsible decisions from Congress than Dennis Rehberg’s.”

Rehberg’s Pay Raise Votes:
Votes to RAISE his own pay in 2006200520042003, and 2002 (NOTE: The 2006 pay raise was later blocked by the Democratic Congress in 2007).