Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Politics is not a spectator sport

"Since the days of Greece and Rome, when the word 'citizen' was a title of honor, we have often seen more emphasis put on the rights of citizenship than on its responsibilities."
~ Robert Kennedy

On The Trail Interview - Kelly Kortum

  On The Trail interviewed Kelly Kortum, a Bozeman progressive activist and Vice-Chair of the Gallatin County Democrats. Kelly walks us through a platform convention process, explains some of the new Montana Democratic Party 2018 Platform planks and shares his advice on how to get involved at the local level, because politics is not a spectator sport. Democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Some of the new planks added by Gallatin County are:
- We support open, free, and transparent elections, including Montana's open primary election, which encourage open participation by all citizens, acknowledging that one person's voting power is equivalent to every other's.
- We support healthcare as a human right.
- We support freedom of speech, press, and universal access to information through any media, including the internet.
- We oppose the transfer, or the transfer of management, of federal land to state, county, or private control.
- We oppose the inhumane separation of immigrant families at the border.

Other central committees and ally organizations also passed some important amendments such as:
- We support the overturning of Citizen's United.
- We oppose efforts to remove or limit health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
- We support Net Neutrality and the ability for all Montanans to access a free and open internet, which is essential to innovation and a competitive economy.
- We oppose the erosion of labor rights of all employees.
- We oppose a statewide general sales tax.
- We support protecting access to public lands and streams so that Montana's outdoor heritage can be enjoyed by all Montanans and future generations.
- We must address the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women in Montana

Gianforte hosts field briefing on wildfire in Hamilton
"U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte hosted a field briefing in Hamilton Tuesday in search of ideas on what Congress’ role should be in addressing the issue of wildfire.

But the fact that the congressman limited testimony to three individuals didn’t sit well with many in attendance — including a contingent who chanted 'Listen to the People' from the Ravalli County administrative office’s front lawn at one point in the briefing. Field briefings are limited to invited participants."

Ravalli County Commission asks Montana AG to Investigate conservation sportsmen's groups  
"The Ravalli County Commission asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the funding sources of seven Montana-based nonprofit conservation and sportsmen organizations in a letter approved this week.

All five commissioners signed off on the letter that claimed they, as local elected officials, had been 'attacked by well-funded organizations who engage in blatant and extremely misleading political activity with little or no public discourse on how much money is being raised or from whom the funding is generated.'

A former county commissioner who now works for a Ravalli County-based environmental organization said the commission was duped into moving forward with its request by a corporate-funded Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that specializes in attacking labor and environmental groups."

Whose dark money should be investigated? by Don Thomas
"On August 1, the Ravalli County Commissioners signed a letter to Attorney General Tim Fox calling for an investigation into seven Montana conservation organizations, including some of the state’s oldest and grassroots advocates for public lands and wildlife. The Commissioners claimed that they had been 'attacked by well-funded organizations who engage in blatant and extremely misleading political activity.' The letter provided no specifics about the 'attacks.'

The 'evidence' for these allegations consisted of screeds provided by the Montana Outdoor Coalition (MOC) and the Green Decoys advertising campaign. This material originated from the Environmental Policy Alliance (EPA), created by notorious Washington DC lobbyist Rick Berman, which has a long history of organizing front groups to promote the tobacco industry, oppose environmental regulation, and support climate change denial."

I just did a podcast interview with Don Thomas on this very subject before the Ravalli County article came out. Our "Green Decoy" ears must have burning.

Ryan Zinke’s real scandals are worse than chartered planes and conflicts of interest by Dan Bucks, former Montana Director of Revenue.
"In a recent article headlined 'Stinky Zinke,' the Huffington Post describes a slimy trail of scandal Zinke has blazed through his office, prompting 11 investigations of his conduct. The sweetheart Halliburton land deal, secret meetings, expensive trips on charter planes and helicopters, and several cases of mixing partisan politics with Interior business — all these and more are on the list of Zinke’s alleged abuses, wasteful spending, and conflicts of interest.

While clever headlines and charges of personal misconduct attract public attention, they are less important than Zinke’s decisions to favor oil, gas, coal and mineral extraction over other multiple uses of federal land–decisions that will impose huge and lasting damage to federal lands, public treasuries, and local communities...

This decision continues Zinke’s pattern of using federal lands to create a “triple threat” to the public interest:

    1. Granting enormous financial benefits to energy and mining companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, states, tribes and communities,
    2. Damaging the lands, water and air and accelerating climate change for generations, and
    3. Blocking or limiting the use of federal lands for conservation, recreational, historical, and sustainable economic purposes.

To make matters worse, Zinke’s actions often cut the public out of the decision-making for the management of public lands...

The real scandal is this administration’s lack of proper stewardship of public lands that should be available for the enjoyment of generations to come."

Corporations have been working to weaponize the First Amendment for decades
"But perhaps the most damaging Supreme Court decision handed down on First Amendment grounds was Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, which found in 2010 a right to unlimited spending by corporations and unions and other organizations on campaign advertising. Citizens United is a conservative non-profit political action organization headed up by David Bossie, who took a leave from the group in 2016 to serve as deputy campaign manager on the Trump campaign... Citizens United v FEC found as unconstitutional the campaign law banning the broadcast of “electioneering communication” 30 days before a primary, or 60 days before a general election.

Essentially, the Supreme Court found that money is speech, and corporations have free speech rights too.

They want nothing less than unfettered right to lie, & right to spend as much as they want doing it. Back in 1992 they merely complained media was too liberal. Now they’ve got a president who says the media is 'enemy of the people' spreading 'fake news.' "

Judge's ruling invalidates FEC regulation allowing anonymous donations to 'dark money' groups
"A U.S. District Court judge on Friday issued a ruling invalidating a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to so-called dark-money groups to remain anonymous, the latest development in a years-long legal battle that could have major implications for campaign finance.

Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled the FEC's current regulation of such groups, including 501(c) 4 non-profits, fails to uphold the standard Congress intended when it required the disclosure of politically related spending...

The decision paves the way for new requirements that could force nonprofits to disclose donors who give least $200 toward influencing federal elections. (Social-welfare nonprofits such as Crossroads GPS are allowed to spend money on elections so long as it's not their "major purpose.")

In the post Citizens United era, spending by these groups has ballooned, but they have largely avoided having to report individual donors as a result of the FEC's belief that their names only need to be disclosed in limited circumstances."

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Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

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