Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A teaser

We're working on a really big addition to the site at the moment. It should be up by the beginning of next week at the latest. Please forgive our dust.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Northern Cheyenne want casino, Schweitzer wants power plant

The governor met with tribal leaders of the Northern Cheyenne today. The tribe told the Governor that they want to build a casino; but Schweitzer took the opportunity to expand on his support for alternative coal technologies, which he wants to concentrate in a power plant on the Northern Cheyenne reservation:

Schweitzer pitched his idea to develop a reservation plant capable of producing diesel, gasoline and other fuels from coal mined in the Otter Creek tracts that the state obtained from the federal government a few years ago.

He predicted such a plant could operate for 50 years, providing hundreds of high-paying jobs on the reservation for two generations and creating little pollution. Expensive and unsightly power lines would not be needed because the product would be shipped in underground pipelines, he said.

The processing has become an economically viable method of producing fuel because oil prices have climbed so high, Schweitzer said.
For my part, I'm utterly fascinated with this technology, which I'd never heard of before Schweitzer started talking about it. Any of our readers know anything about this?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wanted: anti-establishment Democrats

Isaac Goldstein of Frontier PAC hits the nail on the head:

The time is ripe for a Democratic takeover. The race to define oneself as a reformer and Washington outsider is likely the most important for the upcoming 2006 elections. ...

We've done it in the Mountain West. We've got to push this meme outside the geographical boundaries of the West. The reformer image is the way to go!
And who better to carry the "reformer and Washington outsider" mantle in the coming election than Governor Schweitzer? If you don't believe me, go flyfishing with the guy. (Thanks to Granny Insanity for the tip on this one.) Then try to get Evan Bayh or Mark Warner or Hillary Clinton or John Edwards to flyfish with you. Remember, flyfishing Democratic politicians tend to be reformers.

So the new standard for political authenticity isn't "who would you rather have a beer with?" It's "who would you rather go flyfishing with?"

Why You Should Support Brian Schweitzer For President

For my initial post here (thank you Nonpartisan), I thought I would reiterate my attraction to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and why it makes sense that he should be selected as the next Democratic candidate for President of the United States

I am a Democrat, but first and foremost, I am a populist.

I want Democrats to win elections but not at the loss of integrity or forsaking innermost ethics and values a la Karl Rove. Doing such isn't a requirement or a necessity in order to win elections.

But, yes, I am tired of losing.

However, I strongly believe that too many Democratic politicans are too often losing elections by attempting to be all things to all people instead of being who they are, standing for what they believe and letting the chips (results) fall where they may.

Brian Schweitzer is
a person comfortable in his own skin who eschews performing chameleon-like acobatics depending on his audience.

Translated: what you see and hear is what you get from Schweitzer.

He boils down his communication style to this: leading with the heart--authenticity-- rather than what the polls say or focus groups indicate.

George Lakoff's book on frmaing and communicating is important for all of us to learn but Schweitzer is a natural and already doing it

Look at both Schweitzer's framing of and the analogy he used in his response towards the President Bush's Social Security ideas. From the Los Angeles Times:
...He also compared it to a bull auction hawking lousy studs.

"I was watching the governors around the room," said Schweitzer, comparing the group to potential livestock buyers who assess the wares and express their intentions with head-nods or nose-crinkles.

"I was seeing more of this," he said, crinkling his nose as if detecting a foul odor, "than I was of this," he said, nodding his head. "I didn't see a lot of buyers in the room."
Although John Kerry is a very good person, can you imagine the loaded-with-minutae, 33-paragraph response Kerry would have uttered that wouldn't have resonated with anyone but Teresa

And in Courtney Lowery's 6/07/05 article "Schweitzer Tells Bush Off on Roadless Change," Schweitzer again frames an easy-to-picture visual:
"...Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has (figuratively) told President Bush to either put up or shut up on the administration’s new roadless rule.

The administration announced last month that it had overturned the Clinton-era roadless rule, opening up 58 million acres of roadless land in the West (6.9 million in Montana) to road building. That is, unless governors petition otherwise. Governors now have 18 months to make the decisions on these lands, a responsibility that does not sit well with Schweitzer.

“They’ve given me a broke-down baler and a vice-grip and told me to bale hay,” Schweitzer told New West Tuesday afternoon..."
Schweitzer is a rancher/farmer, has experience as an employer, he hunts and fishes---all the characteristics necessary to appeal to so many of the current voters who feel no affiliation to the Democratic Party. He knows what it is to do back-breaking work and both understands and supports the needs of independent farmers---not just corporate agribusiness.

Schweitzer talks the talk of populism, and unlike many in that category, then walks the talk. He isn't a gazillionaire ensconced in a mansion or a gated community--he IS the talk and the walk.

For far too long, the Democratic Party has been beholden to the corporate world and special interests as much as the Republicans---that must end if regaining credibility with the voting public is to achieved.

Look at Schweitzer in the 5/23/05 edition of USA TODAY:

"Maybe it's something in the water in Washington, or maybe it's all the expensive whiskey the lobbyists are paying for. I have a 72-hour rule. If I stay in Washington for more than 72 hours, I have to bathe myself in the same stuff I use when one of my dogs gets into a fight with a skunk ­ to get the smell out."

Music to my ears.

Kevin McCarthy

Friday, June 24, 2005

Schweitzer on the environment, Part II: pure political brilliance

Who but Governor Schweitzer could turn a water-quality dispute into a state sovereignty issue?

I'm not going to quote from the article because the issue is extremely complicated, but basically British Columbia's government wants to dump coalmining waste in the Flathead River, contaminating Montana streams. Schweitzer is standing in the way of this maneuver in order to preserve water quality and seems to be deliberately provoking an international incident in the process. The BC government seems to have deliberately violated an environmental quality study with this latest project, and Schweitzer's mad.

One proposal Schweitzer has come up with involves a deal where he supports Manitoba's position in a similar dispute where, it seems, North Dakota is polluting their waterways. That way Schweitzer would support sound environmental policy on both sides of the 49th parallel in order to drive a bargain on his own issue.

Which is all clear as mud, probably. But the important thing is that the Governor is showing his competence on the national stage through this action, in two ways.

First, Schweitzer is framing the issue as one of Montana's control over its own waterways. He's fighting for conservation, one of the biggest-government issues around, in language that approaches libertarianism. This is the sort of tactic that can cause landslide victories when Republicans feel the Democratic candidate speaks for them.

Second, Schweitzer, a Western governor who rarely gets involved in international disputes, is honing his foreign policy credentials. The BC-Montana dispute gives us a glimpse of how Schweitzer might react to the sort of international disputes that Bush has been flubbing. While approaching the issue with sufficient swagger to satisfy his home-state critics, he's pragmatic enough to cut a deal with his opponent, and intelligent enough to think outside the box (bringing an entirely different dispute between Manitoba and N.D. into the mix) to give both himself and his opponent favorable terms. This is Richard Holbrooke-type stuff, and bodes very well for the Governor should he be in a position (such as President) in future to conduct more international dealings.

And then there were two

Kevin McCarthy has decided to shutter his excellent Draft Schweitzer blog and come join me here at Schweitzer for President.

Kevin is a self-described "unreconstructed McGovernite" who believes that "actually telling the truth isn't a detriment to getting elected and re-elected" -- a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. He's also the proprietor of a wonderful site of his own on general politics, and actually got into this Schweitzer blogging thing before I did, so it's an honor to have him on board. Looks like he feels the same way.

I'll retain control over the template, but all other decisions will be made in committee between the two of us, and Kevin will receive full admin privileges as soon as -- well, I figure out how to give them to him. :)

This site has been growing exponentially since I started it less than a month ago. We're averaging 15 hits a day now, a testament to the burgeoning interest in the Governor's national prospects. With Kevin on board, it will be much easier to cover all the necessary ground every day and to truly make this the online center for Draft Schweitzer news, views, and action alerts.

P.S. I'll have another exciting Draft Schweitzer announcement out within a few weeks. Not to tease you or anything... :)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

For once, I disagree with Governor Schweitzer

The Governor makes the following comments in this story:

With summertime fishing and recreation in full bloom, Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Wednesday praised a handful of new laws that protect Montanans' access to state wildlife and waters.

"If Montana didn't have 30 million acres of public lands," including wild lands and world-class fisheries, Schweitzer said, we'd be "just like a lot of the other states."

The state has some of the best laws in the West guaranteeing access to almost all waters in the state, he said. The 2005 Legislature passed four bills that Schweitzer said makes citizen access to water and wildlife better.

...The governor praised HB269, by Rep. Paul Clark, D-Trout Creek, which clarifies that counties cannot abandon a roadway or bridge that allows access to public land or waters unless they replace it with another access site that's just as good.
Now, I'm not here to impugn the Governor's environmental credentials. But if Schweitzer wants to properly conserve wildlands, opening them up to ever more human traffic is not the way to do it.

This all goes back to former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's idea of the National Wilderness Area, whose sole purpose is to prohibit excessive traffic in the nation's most sensitive wild areas. The National Wilderness Act was recently gutted by President Bush and his corporate cronies. But I wouldn't have expected to see Schweitzer siding with them rather than with environmental groups such as the Sierra Club in guaranteeing public access to sensitive wildlands.

The purpose of this site is to promote Schweitzer's Presidential candidacy, and it must be admitted that Schweitzer's wildland position is probably the proper political calculus on both a state and national level. However, as an environmentalist, I personally am quite disappointed in the governor.

Nevertheless, it's good to hear that he's a flyfisherman -- something he shares with the late President Grover Cleveland, who wrote two books on the subject.

[Update] In comments, Lavoisier1794 makes the good point that Schweitzer hasn't actually pledged to open any NEW wildlands to human contact, just to preserve access for sportsmen to lands they already enjoy. Given that, I don't have a problem with what Schweitzer's doing. In fact, it's actually shrewd politics. I respectfully retract my criticism.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Schweitzer roundup, 6/22/05

Strands of pearl pointed out a wonderful Recommended Diary at by Gabriele Droz at Booman Tribune covering much the same ground as I did in this post, about Schweitzer's positive reception in Indian Country.

David Sirota has two pro-Schweitzer posts up today, one talking about how red-state Dem governors like Schweitzer and Freudenthal are creating a new environmental coalition between environmentalists and hunters/fishermen, and the other crediting Schweitzer with inspiring a Congressional crackdown on lobbyists.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle covers Schweitzer's appearance at the Western Society of Crop Science and Western Wheat Workers Joint Conference, in which the former soil scientist argued that Western farmers should be focusing on "specialty crops on irrigated land" and mentioned the following intriguing tidbit about new energy sources:

...[Schweitzer] said Montana and three other Western states have the ability to produce enough liquid fuel from its coal and oil shale to supply America for the next 800 years.

The technology to do so has existed for more than 80 years, but only recently have oil prices spiked high enough to make it competitive, he said.
And Yahoo! has a story on the Governor's attempts to better coordinate rural and urban healthcare in Montana through Electronic Health Records.

Sounding a little like The Note, are we? Whoops. Guess I should be more careful. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Schweitzer gives more money to underprivileged groups

These stories are starting to get dull with repetition. The Governor just awarded $4.4 million to finance Indian education for all public schoolchildren in Montana. And he gave another $1 million to a domestic violence shelter.

More and more of the stuff that makes Brian Schweitzer a great Presidential candidate. Can you imagine if we actually had a President that cared about Native Americans and abused women?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Forgive my scatteredness

I'm blogging over at Folkbum for a week, blog-sitting for Jay, who is out of town. I may be a little slower on the draw about posting here during that time -- but know that I'll be plugging this site as hard as I can over there!

Indian Country loves Schweitzer

More evidence that Schweitzer is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of Native Americans:

The beat of the drum heralded the beginning of graduation exercises for students at Salish Kootenai College. Elders Octave Finley and Agnes Kenmille, dressed in tribal regalia, led the grand entry as students filed into the gymnasium to hear a commencement address by Gov. Brian Schweitzer and receive their diplomas. ...

SKC President Dr. Joseph McDonald introduced Schweitzer by commenting: ''It's a great joy to go to the state Capitol now. Each person is treated like a guest. The governor's staff goes all-out to help. The governor is there to talk to you and listen to you and hear what you have to say. The entire mood of state government has changed.'' He presented the governor with an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American Studies, ''the highest award our college can give.''

Schweitzer drew enthusiastic and prolonged applause throughout his commencement address. Appropriately dressed in blue jeans and a beaded vest, his remarks were loudly received. He began by saying, ''On Jan. 3 I stood in the rotunda of the Capitol building with the sound of the drums, and I said to the people of Montana: 'It's a new day in Montana. We will respect all the people of Montana and, first and foremost, the first Montanans.''' He continued, ''We have already appointed more people from Indian country than the previous 22 governors combined.''

Regarding education, the governor stated: ''We have put historic amounts of money in our tribal colleges because we believe the opportunity to build on the culture that has been here for 10,000 years is good for all of Montana and we will invest in tribal colleges. We believe that every child living in Montana should know the rich cultural history of Montana for the 10,000 years before Lewis and Clark stumbled across Montana.

''What makes this country the greatest country on this planet is not our immense natural resources, because there are countries that have more. It is not the size of our rivers, the size of our mountains, the size of our seacoasts. What makes this country the greatest country in the world is public education.

''It doesn't matter if you were born into a family with just one parent and that one parent has two jobs and you live in the smallest house in the community. Or if both parents have Ph.D.s and you live on the country club in the ritziest part of this county. It matters not a whit because with public education, your heart, your head, you can go anywhere. It's not about your parents: it's about you - and that is why we're the greatest country in the world.''

The governor urged the graduates to enjoy the future, not to rush it but to take it one day at a time and to take time to be with family. ''Furthermore, never forget where you came from,'' he said. ''You have the richest cultural background of any place on this planet.''
A bit of hyperbole there at the end, when he calls his government "the most progressive, the most Indian-friendly administration in the history of this country," but the point got across. Notice that the article comes from a Native American paper. If Schweitzer continues to talk like this, his Native American support may even extend to other Democrats both in and out of Montana.

The genuine Governor

Kevin McCarthy at that other Draft Schweitzer site has a magnificent post up about why Schweitzer is the most genuine candidate for 2008. Some excerpts:

...For a country increasingly soured on the invasion of Iraq, with a majority of people believing President Bush failed to tell the truth about Iraq before invading, my sense is genuineness (hopefully real, not imagined) is going to produce the winning Democratic nominee in 2008.

Many voters will be looking first and foremost for believability. Granted, despite the absolute sincerity of the late Fred Rogers, he was not presidential material. So, the resume of the victor will need greater gravitas but it will built on a foundation of authenticity. ...

And if genuineness is the key to winning...

Now Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is generally not appearing in any polls to date. Well, maybe in the 'OTHER' category. But here is a politician who, as the old joke goes, look up his name in the dictionary and authentic is right beside it.

He will play adequately or well in most current Democratic strongholds. He will CERTAINLY come across well in the West and Southwest. Forget the Deep South because no Democrat is going to win there for years but Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and maybe a couple of others are certainly possibilities.

Obviously, how Schweitzer does in the next two years in his governorship will be important but, right now, after one legislative term, he's impressing people. Let's turn up the Schweitzer Noise Machine!
I have only one disagreement with Kevin: I think Fred Rogers would have made a great president. But, um...that's just me. :)

In related news, this guy thinks he's running for President. His authenticity record? The last time he ran, he plagiarized a speech -- a WHOLE speech -- from a British MP. Pathetic.

We need Schweitzer something awful.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Schweitzer has Hollywood connections

A quick news item on Schweitzer's film and Hollywood connections, which he's putting to good use getting Montana on film with major studios. These are just the sort of connections -- people like Peter Fonda, Margot Kidder, and Patrick Markey (producer of "A River Runs Through It" and "The Horse Whisperer", which were filmed in Montana) -- that the Governor will need if he's to mount a serious national campaign.

Sirota and Doherty PLAN well; Schweitzer involved

David Sirota, Governor Schweitzer's former campaign aide and progressive lion (I've blogged on him before), is starting up a Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) to instill progressive values and agenda items into state government. The organization's co-chair is former Montana Senate Minority Leader Steve Doherty.

New West's Courtney Lowery has a good write-up on the group. Courtney explains why the foundation will be based in Montana:

It isn't a fluke either that this large network is based in, of all places, Montana. Further proof, I like to believe, that the West is ripe for change, ripe for action and ripe for the kind of notoreity this type of organzation can bring to the region.

"I think it's important that we deal with states that may have been looked upon as "red" states in the past," Doherty said adding that the success of pragmatic and "progressive" leaders in Western states (read: Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer) has helped bring the network to the region. "Unless we start making changes in places like Montana, the Midwestern states and the Rocky Mountain states, progressives are going to be on the losing end of things."
Schweitzer's very involved in this effort, too. Along with his connections to Doherty and Sirota, he will make an appearance at the group's kickoff event, along with John Edwards and the (unfortunately invited) former Mayor Willie Brown of San Fransisco.

So -- a nationwide effort modeled on Schweitzer's success in Montana, garnering high praise for the Governor himself. What more could we at Schweitzer for President ask for?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Schweitzer upstaging Wyoming's Freudenthal

Lesley Wischmann of Political State Report reports (pun intended) that the Democratic Governor of Wyoming, Dave Freudenthal, "seems to be nursing his own case of governor envy as Montana's newly-elected Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, basks in positive press as the darling of the western Democratic Party.">

Why is Schweitzer upstaging Freudenthal? It's mostly a matter of style (something that Schweitzer has and Freudenthal doesn't), and also that Freudenthal, for all his good points (and there are many), simply doesn't cut it when it comes to environmental protection. Here's a choice bit from Lesley -- contrast this with Schweitzer's demand for more resources and more federal aid to protect roadless areas:

Freudenthal, meanwhile, has not asked the federal government to turn over their resources so that he can do the job they have mandated. Instead, he noted that Wyoming has "a set of options, none of which are very attractive." Freudenthal told Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, "If you want to give me control of the land, I'll go to the legislature and I'll get a budget to do this planning, but if I don't get to have any say about the decision, why should I do your job and ask my legislature to fund some unit to go out and plan national forests when in actuality all you're going to do is take the information and run it through your sausage-making system anyway?"
What a cop-out from a guy I'd been led to think well of. Freudenthal should be doing what Schweitzer is doing -- making sure the wildlands of his state are secure rather than getting lost in the bureaucratic slough.

Richardson pushes Western primary: may help Schweitzer

Kos has put up a post on New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's push for a Western primary to force 2008 Democratic Presidential hopefuls to run seriously in the Western states. Jonathan Singer writes it up at Western Democrat. Original The Hill article is here, from which we glean:

Richardson has a strong ally on the Democrats’ Presidential Nomination and Scheduling Commission, Michael Stratton, who has announced a campaign to create an early eight-state Western primary in 2008 that would include Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Of course, Richardson's doing this for his own personal gain -- he wants to run for President in 2008 and thinks a Western primary will help him. However, what's good for Richardson is in this case good for three other potential Dem candidates who are governors of those states: Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, and of course Brian Schweitzer of Montana.

My take on a Western primary is this: Western voters aren't going to warm up to a Westerner simply because he or she is from the West -- we learned that in 1988, when Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt failed to register in California, and in 1992, when Jerry Brown did poorly in the West. What Western voters are looking for, in my view, is someone who espouses the good ol' Western style we've been talking about for the past couple of days. If my thesis is accurate, Richardson may not be doing himself that much of a favor, as he's viewed to some degree as a Washington bureaucrat and wheeler-dealer who doesn't talk the talk of the West. Napolitano is better (she is, after all, my home-state governor), but I think the Anita Hill baggage (she was a lawyer for Hill and allegedly illegally coached a witness during a recess of the hearings) will finally stick on her up till now Teflon coating. Freudenthal I don't know enough about to be able to speak of him in detail, but he seems (from his assaults on the Endangered Species act and Montana water rights) to be so conservative as to be un-nominatable by the Dems.

Brian Schweitzer is unquestionably the most Western of the Western Democratic Governors. In my view, a Western Primary would help Schweitzer more than anyone else, including Richardson. Therefore, I wholeheartedly endorse the idea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Some blogger accolades for "Schweitzer for President"

Emmett O'Connell over at Western Democrat has promoted this site (and the other two Draft Schweitzer blogs) on his own, well-crafted site. As Western Democrat gets 215 unique users a day, this is VERY good news for our little movement. Thanks, Emmett!

The story was also picked up by Political Interest. Thanks also to the anonymous author of that site.

Politics, Western-style

Kari Chisholm of Western Democrat writes an excellent post on why the directness of Western-style politics appeals greatly to national voters. Excerpts:

Here's a question: Setting aside (for a moment) the "Democrat" part of the equation... is there a Western style?

And if so, is it a style that appeals to everyday Americans? My view - as you can tell - is that it damn sure does. Who are the most popular plain-speakin' politicians to gain national attention of the last 15-20 years?

So far, the list would have to include Senators John McCain and Alan Simpson. (Yeah, that's Arizona and Wyoming for those keeping score at home.) ...

It's time for national Democrats to recognize a trend when they see one. Western politicians have a style that speaks plainly and directly to real every-day Americans. Let's start promoting the Democrat breed of the species.
Exhibit A of this "Western style" is Brian Schweitzer. In fact, he's the best exponent of the concept, in either party, that I've ever seen. Well put, Kari.

Monday, June 13, 2005

David Sirota gets it re: Iraq

For those of you who don't know, I read David Sirota's blog on a regular basis. The veteran Washington journalist has moved to Montana (where his wife now works for Governor Schweitzer), and his site, which he writes while not busy at the Center for American Progress, the American Prospect, or the Al Franken Show, is a veritable treasure trove of eloquent liberal argument. Not surprisingly, Sirota is also one of the leading Schweitzer boosters around the blogosphere. Needless to say, I keep an eye on the guy.

So when I received this article in my e-mail from the Sirota list, I read it carefully. And it's quite the read. Some excerpts:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the most important vote on the Iraq War that Americans hadn't heard about (thanks to the media, the GOP and certain factions of the Democratic Party). It was a vote in the House on a simple non-binding resolution that would ask the President to submit at least some details of an eventual exit strategy from Iraq. The resolution, supported by a gutsy group of Democrats and a few Republicans, tried to honor the War Powers Act of 1973 (specifically, section 4b). Unfortunately, it was voted down by both Republicans and Democrats.

Now, though, with a new poll showing almost 60 percent of Americans favor a withdrawal, more Democrats are springing into action. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), for instance, courageously announced that he will be introducing a Senate resolution that is almost the exact same resolution that was voted down in the House. Meanwhile, House Democrats - ALL of them - will have another shot at actually standing up for something now that Republican Rep. Walter Jones (NC) has said he will be re-introducing a similar resolution.

Clearly, the GOP may try to make it seem as if any new initiatives on Iraq mean Democrats are just responsing to polls. But, whatever - I'll take it. Hell, I'll take anything if it means more Democrats will stand up and give voice to the majority of Americans who want to see our Iraq policy seriously altered.
I'm not sure whether this bill has been covered on dKos before (if so, I apologize for the redundancy, though I still want to post Sirota's fresh take on the issue). But the big deal here is this: Sirota is phrasing the issue of an Iraq exit strategy as that of Democrats standing up for the law.

Talk about your ace-in-the-whole framing job. Sirota's managed to connect Kerry's military-man demand to "get our boys home" with Feingold's liberal demand for an exit strategy and Dean's populist "stand up for America" rhetoric. And oh yes, Schweitzer's recent demand for the return of the Montana National Guard from Iraq during fire season. Schweitzer himself does a good job connecting the dots between all the constituencies of the Democratic Party -- but it's a good thing he's got an advisor like Sirota watching his back.

Good article on Schweitzer and the National Guard

Schweitzer's got a good quote in this national story, explaining why he thinks it's necessary to pull Montana Guard troops out of Iraq to defend their home state against fires:

In Montana, where about 50 percent of the Army National Guard has been deployed, Schweitzer has asked the Pentagon to send home some of his 1,500 soldiers. He wants them back in time for the summer fire season, and he wants the helicopters that went with them.

"Understand this," Schweitzer said. "I am not a governor who would suggest the soldiers of Montana will not carry their share of the load in any conflict." But he said he also must look out for the safety of his state, and the Guard is the most powerful tool at his disposal.
And apparently the issue was resolved through compromise, which I hadn't known:

Schweitzer said he withdrew his request after he was promised Guard troops and helicopters from other states if necessary. But that comes with its own problems, he said, such as the possibility of flat-land pilots being asked to navigate through forested mountains.
Good on Schweitzer for sounding pro-national security while attacking the Bush Administration. Another thing Dems can learn from the Guv.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Schweitzer stands up for free speech, again

Schweitzer hammers a high school's discrimination against the bolo tie and makes the Washington Post. Via Kos:

A Charles County high school's decision to deny a diploma to a senior who wore a bolo tie to graduation didn't offend just the student and his family. Montana's governor is mighty annoyed, too.

"To have some high school say that a bolo tie is not a tie is an outrage," said Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), who called The Washington Post yesterday after reading an article about 17-year-old Thomas Benya.

"In Montana and anyplace in Indian country, a bolo tie is dressed up. A tie is a tie," Gov. Brian Schweitzer says. (Office Of Gov. Brian Schweitzer)

Cultural Tie Gets in the Way Of Graduation
Charles County student is denied his diploma after wearing a braided bolo tie under his graduation gown as a subtle tribute to his Native American heritage.

"In Montana and anyplace in Indian country, a bolo tie is dressed up," he said. "A tie is a tie."

Schweitzer, who has a collection of more than 30 string ties, called to encourage Benya yesterday and is sending him a Montana state bolo.

The Waldorf teenager first wore his black, braided tie to a graduation rehearsal Tuesday as a symbol of his Native American roots. His paternal grandmother's father and grandfather were born on a Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma.
So Schweitzer stands up for Native American rights and free speech and a high school kid all at once. Brilliant trifecta!

Schweitzer shows Democrats how to work with Republicans

The Governor's trying to convince the military to let him keep fighter jets at Montana's Air National Guard base, and he's enlisted the help of the state's Republican delegation.

The Great Falls Tribune lauds Schweitzer's efforts that regard, while suggesting to some of the Republican officials that they keep their staffers from partisan sniping at Sen. Baucus.

It's not the first time Schweitzer has shown Dems that working with the other party makes for good government. Remember, he chose a Republican as his running mate.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Western blogs love Schweitzer

David Sirota posts a piece lauding Washington Dems for their new electoral reform bill, and says they're "follow[ing] Schweitzer's lead" -- he even calls Russ Feingold and company "'Schweitzer Democrats'". Hah.

And has anybody noticed that Frontier PAC's blog has essentially become a Schweitzer lovefest? The last three posts are all about Schweitzer's political brilliance.

Just a little more well-deserved attention for the man most qualified to be the next President of the United States.

Schweitzer stands up for truth

First, let's get to the bottom of this convoluted story. Seems a philanthropic group, the Cox Foundation, refused to give a grant to the University of Montana School of Journalism. They sent the School a letter, which its Dean promptly released to the press. President Dennison of U-M chastised the Dean for releasing the document, and the Dean apologized. However, it turns out that President Dennison also inadvertently released the document to the press by mailing it to the Montana Governor's Office, which automatically resulted in the press getting a copy. What's more, the President's note to Governor Schweitzer was so cryptic that the Governor mistakenly thought Dennison was attacking him, rather than the Dean.

Anyway, the important bit is that Schweitzer came out strongly in support of the memo being released in the first place:

Schweitzer did criticize Dennison for rebuking Brown. The journalism dean did nothing wrong when he released the Cox letter to the media, the governor said.
The memo stated that the grant was denied because of stream-access issues in Southwestern Montana, where Cox President James Kennedy owns land. This corporate fat cat should have been outed for denying university funding because of his personal grievances with native Montanans. Schweitzer was right on to defend free speech and the honest airing of grievances, instead of advocating silence.

Schweitzer hits Bush hard on Lou Dobbs

I couldn't watch the tape (work) but the transcript is up now. And sure enough, Schweitzer got off this zinger on the National Guard re-rotation he's advocating:

When you take our assets such as our manpower and our helicopters and our planes, when you take our trucks, our jeeps, I think you have to have a discussion about how can the governors be responsible for our homeland security in each and every one of our states and then take away our assets.
Brilliant stuff. Anyone out there watch?

[Update] Allison Farrell of the Lee State Bureau (parent company of the Billings Gazette, Montana Record, Missoulian, Independent Record, and Ravalli Republic) writes that "Gov. Brian Schweitzer's appearance on Lou Dobbs' show on CNN Thursday was markedly more somber than his appearance two weeks ago." Schweitzer's been fighting this issue for a long time, and traveling to Washington regularly to meet with Anthony Principi and other top brass. He can't afford to be diplomatic any more.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wanna buy some Schweitzer for President?

Apparently, we're worth $1000 in blog dollars, according to Go figure.

Schweitzer on Amtrak

I've been ignoring this story for some time, but it's time we covered it here. If there's one issue that's foremost on the Governor's plate right now, it's President Bush's threat to Amtrak. Last week, Schweitzer attended a town hall meeting with (you'd never guess) Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg and the chairman of Amtrak, David Laney, and the three of them blasted the Bush administration for cutting Amtrak's funding. Laney and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta traded barbs, each accusing the other of lying about facts relating to Amtrak.

Me, I'm divided on this issue. It's common knowledge that Amtrak is poorly run and often breaks down and that it loses money for the Federal government. That said, it seems like Bush is trying to isolate the Western states like Montana that rely most on Amtrak for long-distance travel, and that's not a good thing. In any case, Schweitzer's taken his stand against the President yet again, and I like to see him go after the Administration that I hope he will personally challenge in 2008.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Should Schweitzer start his own leadership PAC?

Left in the West's Matt Singer thinks so, and his opinion is one I trust. We have a couple of mutual friends, and from everything I hear Matt is one hell of a hard-working, stand-up guy.

Some excerpts from Matt's post:

I think Schweitzer has an opportunity here for some national leadership even if he isn’t as interested in higher office as these people indicate they’d like him to be. Why not launch a real leadership PAC? That term gets thrown around a lot by politicians who raise huge corporate money and turn the money around and give it to anyone who is running with the same letter behind their name, especially if those people share the home state or live in New Hampshire or Iowa.

So why not really lead with a leadership PAC? Dean did this to some extent with Democracy for America, a grassroots-leadership PAC that endorsed candidates not based solely on party affiliation, but on whether they demonstrated the kind of leadership the party needs now.

Schweitzer could do the same. He’s got the national following. ActBlue’s technology would make it easy for the donations to be done at a grassroots stage.
Of course, I want to see Schweitzer run for Presidnet in '08. But why couldn't the Governor do that and still lead by helping other, less-privileged populists rise to the top of the national heap?

My only trepidation about the idea is that Schweitzer's documented dislike of PACs is extremely popular in Montana. However, the Governor is an intelligent man, and I believe he's more than qualified to explain to Montana voters how a leadership PAC is different than the special-interest groups they've grown to loathe. I wholeheartedly endorse Matt's idea.

On another note, the ever-vigilant Kevin McCarthy notes that Schweitzer has just signed a bill providing legal aid to the poor and indigent, again saying You Matter to an underprivileged group. Article here.

Freep this poll

The first up-or-down poll on Schweitzer's support, posted here. Head over there and show your support for the Governor!

While you're at it, read Myles' reposting of a Salt Lake Tribune article by John Yewell (the original is no longer posted at the Tribune's website). Among the tasty tidbits:

Since November an idea has been percolating up from what has become known in the Internet age as the "netroots" of the Democratic Party: Should it adopt a Western strategy?

The story has been flying under the radar as the major media have obsessed over a westerner named Schwarzenegger. Meanwhile, a guy name named Schweitzer has become the darling of this new movement. ...

If Western Democrats consolidate these gains in 2006, the national party should look closely in 2008 at candidates with a little dirt under their fingernails, at least for vice president. Out here, we prefer blue collars to blue bloods.
Dig in, folks!

Schweitzer on noxious weeds

Why am I writing a post about noxious weeds? Because Schweitzer is fighting them the right way:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Whitefish farmer and soil scientist, kicked off the Zero Spread campaign by yanking several spotted knapweed plants from wet soil on state land here.

That's part of the message in the campaign: See a weed, pull it.

"When you're out, when your fishing, when your hunting, when your camping and you see knapweed along the trail, pull it out, pull it out," Schweitzer said.
For anyone who has read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring -- as I am currently doing, belatedly -- you know this is a BIG deal. This may be the first time in history that chemical herbicides are NOT being used to fight a major weed infestation. Herbicides kill far more than weeds -- they kill crops, wildflowers, fish, birds, livestock, and even people. They destroy the land on which they are sprayed and in a swath far wider than the area where they were actually placed.

As the article states, Schweitzer has a Master's degree in soil science. He knows all this stuff. So he's pulling weeds out instead of spraying them. Not flashy, true, but any real environmentalist knows that what Schweitzer's doing is far more important and environmentally conscious than chaining oneself to a tree.

Schweitzer shows reporter e-mail begging him to run for Prez

This is interesting.

Schweitzer, who dished on Washington politics with Lou Dobbs on CNN two weeks ago, railed against the cozy relationship between politicians and lobbyists, and told viewers that he has to wash the "stink" off every time he leaves the nation's capital.

His candid remarks prompted Americans from all corners of the country to send him e-mails of adoration. ...

Chris Novota of Colorado Springs urged Schweitzer to consider higher office. Schweitzer is Montana's first Democratic governor in 16 years, and took the reins of office from former Gov. Judy Martz, a Republican.

"Please consider running for president of the United States, please!" Novota wrote. "It's folks like you that give me hope for the future of this great nation."

Schweitzer downplayed the e-mails, and said people pushing him to run for president need to "stop smoking those pinecones." He said Americans are just reacting to his candor.

"I think what they're responding to is that it's refreshing for a political figure to answer a straight question with a straight answer," Schweitzer said. "It's just unusual on the national scene."
The big question is, how did the reporter, Allison Farrell, get her hands on these e-mails? Obviously, Schweitzer himself showed them to her. Would he be showing around to the press e-mails urging him to run if he weren't actually considering it? I think not.

One person who disagrees with me about Schweitzer's ability to score nationally is none other than Professor Craig Wilson of MSU-Billings, whom I've quoted before:

"He's hit the mother lode of populism here," Wilson said Tuesday. "Yes, it's touched a popular nerve, but it's a stretch to say this means he has a role on the national stage."
The article also notes that "Schweitzer will again be on Lou Dobbs' show Thursday, which runs 4 p.m.-5 p.m. MST on CNN." You can bet I'll be watching.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Schweitzer slams Bush's anti-environmental policies

After I've just finished attacking Kos for his anti-women article, here's a hat tip to the "first among liberal bloggers and Schweitzer supporters" for his catch on Schweitzer:

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has (figuratively) told President Bush to either put up or shut up on the administration's new roadless rule.

The administration announced last month that it had overturned the Clinton-era roadless rule, opening up 58 million acres of roadless land in the West (6.9 million in Montana) to road building. That is, unless governors petition otherwise. Governors now have 18 months to make the decisions on these lands, a responsibility that does not sit well with Schweitzer.

"They've given me a broke-down baler and a vice-grip and told me to bale hay," Schweitzer told New West Tuesday afternoon.
Kos's take on the Schweitzer quote:

Schweitzer defends Clinton's roadless rule protecting our nation's forrests, and he doesn't sound like a tree huger. And as always, he's fearless.
Schweitzer's support continues to build. If he can make environmentalism cool again, what can't he do?

[Update] New West has a copy of Schweitzer's letter to Bush posted. It's a doozy.

Schweitzer for President supports Women Kossacks

Among other things, this site is a constituent of the liberal blogosphere community. As such, I'm going to go off-topic for a bit and take this moment to discuss some of the happenings over at another site I visit, the venerable Daily Kos.

Kos has up an ad showing two scantily clad women throwing pies at each other. In response to criticisms of this ad, Kos put up this post attacking the "sanctimonious women's studies set" for their prudishness. A lot of prominent women posters took issue with this phrasing (justly, I think) and have left the site. Some of them have gone to Booman Tribune, which appears to be a more hospitable site for them. Many also have started a new site, Women Kossacks, which has garnered high traffic and wide readership.

While Schweitzer for President remains an active and contented member of the Kos community, I am proud to be the first blogger (that I know of) to blogroll Women Kossacks. May they have a long and prosperous run as the newest member of the liberal blogosphere.

It's all in the spirit of Governor Schweitzer himself, who is more popular with Montana women than men and has made a point of elevating Native American women to the highest echelons of Montana government. Schweitzer's message to women, as to all underprivileged American constituencies: You Matter. It's a message I will hopefully be able to articulate on this site in the coming months.

An in-depth look at Schweitzer's 2000 run

Professor Craig Wilson of Montana State University at Billings has written a detailed look at the 2000 election in Montana, when Schweitzer narrowly (51%-47%) lost to U.S. Senator Conrad Burns. It's a primer on how the GOP lies, cheats, and steals elections, and also how Dems can fight back.

Schweitzer began the race as a political unknown, 25 points down to Burns. By late September, he had pulled within 9 points of the incumbent. That's when Burns went dirty:

In August, Schweitzer ran an ad featuring him discussing the cost of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen and saying, “Veterinarians prescribed the exact same medicine for dogs and charge half as much.” Burns’ campaign responded with an ad, created by the same individual who produced with the famous “Willie Horton” ad run against Michael Dukakis in 1988, featuring breast cancer survivors, one of whom said, “Brian Schweitzer misleads women into believing they can get Tamoxifen and other life-saving drugs from their veterinarians at half-price.”
The Republicans began lying, too. Though Schweitzer has an A rating from the NRA, they lied about his record and sent Charlton Heston to campaign against him:

In September, Charlton Heston, President of the NRA, traveled to Montana to campaign for Conrad Burns. Although Brian Schweitzer also opposed gun control and
submitted the organization’s survey, the NRA said they had no record of receiving it. The organization sponsored billboards, radio and television ads, and an active campaign of mass and targeted mailings and e-mails.
Burns tried his hand at lying, too, even about the most trivial things, and even when confronted by a photo proving him wrong:

The negativity of the Senate race assumed comic overtones at the end of the campaign when Burns and Schweitzer could not agree if they had ever met briefly at Schweitzer’s home to have a beer. Burns denied the meeting and when Schweitzer produced pictures of it, he said, “I have never been to his house in my life . . .. (Schweitzer) makes up everything.”
And while Schweitzer had more outside groups running ads for him, he took much less money from PAC's than did Burns (interesting that he took any at all -- he seems to have changed his stance on that), it was Burns that accepted money from some of the most odious groups:

Several asbestos industry groups, including the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, bankrolled by asbestos and roofing companies, sponsored counter television ads also set in a cemetery, that attacked trial lawyers for their greed and litigiousness. The U. S. Chamber of Commerce also paid for newspaper ads supporting the bill. ... In 1999, Burns [had] cosponsored legislation, supported by various business groups, which limited corporate liability for asbestos-caused illness. ... The issue attracted state and national media coverage and focused attention on Schweitzer, who charged that the legislation was favorable to corporations and noted that asbestos companies had contributed $29,000 to Burns’ campaign.
It was a wild election, with more money than sin flying around. Among other bizarre happenings, the League of Conservation Voters promised Schweitzer $250,000 and then inexplicably withdrew the money and cancelled their ad buys. But in the end, Professor Wilson concludes, Schweitzer's main problem was the unpopularity of Al Gore:

The day following the election some Democratic Party operatives claimed their candidates had been “Bushed.”1 In reality, the losing Democrats appeared to have been “Gored”; one Montana reporter concluded that Gore was “as popular in Montana as a game warden at a hunting camp.”2 The vice president won only 33 percent of the state’s popular vote. In comparison, in 1992, third-party candidate Ross Perot attracted 26 percent of the vote.
The crossover appeal of Schweitzer was evident in the fact that 22 percent of the Bush voters voted for Schweitzer as well (only 7% of Gore voters voted for Burns). Republicans seemed to like Schweitzer's message of "Plain talk, good ideas."

Wilson goes on a bit about "the Trial Lawyers" at times, but still, a worthwhile must-read.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Schweitzer for higher education, Part II

From The Missoulian:

Expanding these in-demand [two-year college] programs in Montana has been a major focus of Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the state Board of Regents, which oversees the Montana university system.

This year, the state is pumping an additional $4.4 million into Montana's two-year degree programs. Each of the state's seven two-year programs will automatically receive $200,000; they must compete for the remaining $3 million.

Schweitzer said 95 percent of the graduates of two-year programs have jobs waiting for them in Montana. And he said having these skilled workers is key to economic development.

"As I try to attract new investment in Montana, the question they always have is: 'Can you train and retrain adults?' " Schweitzer said in a telephone interview last week.

Montana needs to be able to offer a better skilled work force than neighboring states if it wants to attract new business, he said.

"Economic development is like hiking in grizzly bear country," Schweitzer said. "You don't have to be fast, you just have to be faster than somebody else."
The Governor, it appears, doesn't sleep. (Neither do I. :) 'Night, all.)

An amazing two-fer by Schweitzer

What politician do you know that's capable of uniting the constantly-warring Democratic factions of environmentalists and union workers? If you said Brian Schweitzer, you're right. Take a look at this quote from union member T. Scott Brineman:

The morning was spent with the Democratic Candidate for Gov. of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, who impressed me as well as many of the delegates with his support of Unions and the many progressive causes that we identified as necessary for survival. He deserves our support in his bid for office.

And then this from the Montana Conservation Voters:

Billings Montana Conservation Voters today announced that it has endorsed Whitefish farmer Brian Schweitzer for Governor. “Brian Schweitzer understands that the protection and enhancement of our clean water and air, public health, our hunting and fishing values, and Montana’s special places and open spaces is key to moving Montana’s economy forward,” said Julia Page, a Gardiner small business owner and member of the Montana Conservation Voters Board of Directors.

“I make my living on the Yellowstone River, and appreciate that Brian advocates the protection of our rivers, lakes and streams, and places high value on the importance of water to public health, recreation and agriculture,” Page said.

“The growth in Montana’s economy is tied to natural landscapes, our world class hunting and fishing and wide open spaces. Other candidates and many state policy makers don’t understand this. Brian Schweitzer does, and that’s why the conservation community supports him,” Page continued.

Oh, and he manages to win over the hunters and ranchers too. From the same piece:

John Gibson, a lifelong hunter and fisherman from Billings said “Finally, we have a candidate for governor who will stand up for the public’s right to access public land and water for hunting, fishing and recreation. Other candidates oppose these public values. We have a real chance for a change in direction with Brian Schweitzer. I cannot imagine why any thinking hunter, angler or outdoor enthusiast would vote for those who advocate more of the same.” Gibson continued.

This guy is amazing. Simply amazing. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Schweitzer Good Idea: Pay Teachers

If you want to demonstrate your commitment to enlightened thinking, a good way to do it is to give university professors pay raises.

Compare this with Republicans, who like to talk about abolishing the Department of Education, and you'll see who the true enlightened party is.

A good move by Schweitzer here. And, as a side note, I'm starting to really like the Billings Gazette. It's given Schweitzer some good coverage recently, on stories (like this one) that other papers don't follow.

Another note, on an unrelated topic: a Kos reader pointed out that Schweitzer doesn't accept PAC money. So raising money for the Governor's potential campaign at this juncture is pointless. This site will continue for the time being to be a central location for Schweitzer speculation and information. Keep reading!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Scripps Howard News Service notes Schweitzer '08 speculation

The article is about potential Presidential candidates on both sides. Clinton, Kerry, and Edwards make the short list, followed by a "longer list" that mentions Schweitzer along with Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Wes Clark, Russ Feingold, Ed Rendell, Bill Richardson, Tom Vilsack, Mark Warner. Interestingly, Schweitzer and Rendell are the only ones on that list who haven't been making noise on their own about running. Word gets around...

Registration required, or use Bugmenot.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Schweitzer to Native Americans: You Matter

[Chippewa Cree] tribal council members also had Gov. Brian Schweitzer's ear Tuesday, as he rounded out his tour of Montana reservations. ...

Houle said the tribe had a good discussion with Gov. Schweitzer and members of his Cabinet and staff. Some of the issues that were discussed were a proposed ethanol plant, a shortage of funding for a low- income energy assistance program, and economic development.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of governmental ethanol subsidies. But Schweitzer's building ethanol plants in order to help low-income workers find better-paying jobs, including Native Americans. That's something I can get behind.

And this isn't the first time Schweitzer's reached out to the Native Americans in his state. He is an official member of the Crow Nation and went to see the Blackfeet, to which tribe belongs Schweitzer's new appointee for Chairperson of the Montana Arts Council. And Schweitzer flew tribal flags over his inaugural ball (he has continued to fly them, in rotation, over the Montana Statehouse).

In an article in the Great Falls Tribune, Schweitzer explained why he sees Native Americans as a major priority of his campaign:

"In just the 90 days I've been in office, the most angry calls I get in the middle of the night are about my close relationship with folks in Indian Country," Schweitzer said. "Some say they wanna shoot my a— because I'm an Indian lover."

But the governor said he'd rather sit down and talk with Montana's Indian tribes before meeting with the "redneck on the other end of the line."

"I'm your friend. You're my friend. And I won't forget it," Schweitzer said before leaving his four-hour meeting with the Fort Peck tribal council.

He added that he'll never know what it's like to be a Native American in Montana — to walk into a store and "be watched a little more closely than everyone else." ...

He also encouraged the tribal government to send him the names of the best and brightest tribal members, to be available when positions in state government or with his administration open up. "This will be my permanent legacy," Schweitzer said.

As a Westerner who lives on the edge of the largest Indian reservation in the country (the Navajo), I can tell you that Indians are the Western equivalent of Blacks -- a bedrock Democratic constituency that is so "safe" it is ignored by most Democratic politicians. This lack of interest in Native American issues on our part has led to some noticeable inroads by Republicans on reservations; for instance, my Congressman, Rick Renzi, won a majority of the votes on the Navajo Reservation in 2004 after winning only 10% in 2002.

So when Schweitzer spends so much time with Native Americans, catering to their needs and representing their interests to the wider community, he's once again trailblazing for Western (and national) Democrats. He's telling the Indian community that it matters to Democrats and that we will do what's necessary to protect and preserve it. Our other elected officials would do well to follow Schweitzer's lead.

Site updates, and thoughts on expansion

I've added the photo at right (borrowed from -- I don't think the Governor will mind) and as many relevant news articles as I could find, along with an extended blogroll and a list of online endorsements for Schweitzer2008. If you have a blog, article, or endorsement you'd like to have added to the list, feel free to contact me at the address at right.

While I was looking around, I noticed the beginning of a budding webring of Schweitzer for President sites. Take a gander over to Raj Khandwalla's site (with which I am now also affiliated); when you're done, have a look at Kevin McCarthy's page.

What we still need, however, is an on-the-site reporter from Montana. Raj is from Boston, Kevin's from California, and I'm from Arizona and Maryland. Swing State Project's Bob Brigham does a good job chronicling developments in Montana, as does the inimitable Matt Singer. So, too, surprisingly, does veteran Washington journalist David Sirota, who now lives in Montana. But this site needs a writer from Montana to supplement this coverage (and maybe get an interview with the Governor!). If you think you fill the bill, e-mail me and let me know.

Also, we need to set up an online petition (or buy into the one that Raj is working on), and eventually incorporate as a PAC in order to raise money for the campaign should Schweitzer decide to run. Again, I know nothing about these things; if you do, please contact me.