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Free Minds & Free Markets

Montana Commission on Political Practices Targets Ideological Opponents

Bad COPP.

The road trip from the Colorado statehouse to the Capitol building in Montana is about 800 miles, but the psychological distance from a Denver meth-house to the office of Helena's Commissioner of Political Practices has to be greater than that.

And that's only the beginning of this bizarre story, and just the latest example of partisan public officials using government power to crush their political opponents. 

In Washington, D.C., Lois Lerner, head of the tax-exempt organizations division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), allegedly slowed or killed the nonprofit applications of conservative and libertarian organizations. In Wisconsin, Kevin Kennedy, director of his state's political ethics organization and Lerner's longtime "professional friend," worked with a rogue Milwaukee district attorney to spy on, and seize the personal papers and equipment of, supporters of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. In Texas, the benign-sounding Texas Ethics Commission convened to determine whether a conservative nonprofit journalist is really a journalist and therefore deserving of First Amendment protections—or is an activist who does not.

In each case, the officials leading the charge are Democrats. And in each case, they invoke the language of campaign-finance reform and the specter of so-called "dark money"—donations to nonprofit organizations that Democrats allege have tipped the electoral scales rightward.

In Helena, the state's appointed Commissioner of  Political Practices is using his Montana subpoena power and budget to punish conservative politicians and nonprofits. He alleges conservative nonprofits and candidates illegally coordinated their activities in 2010 campaigns.

One of his targets, former state Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich (R-Bozeman), will go to a jury trial in March.

Wittich says he's not only innocent, but will pull back the sheets on what he calls "blatant political thuggery" by a Democrat eager to take down Montana conservatives.

Wittich is about as conservative as a state official gets, leading the fight for education savings accounts, lower taxes, gun rights and reforming public-employee collective bargaining. He was also key to blocking Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act from 2011 to 2015.

His nemesis is Jonathan Motl, the man whom Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, appointed Commissioner of Political Practices in 2013. Inarguably liberal—he worked on campaign finance issues for Common Cause and Stand with Montanans and is a longtime ally of Ralph Nader—Motl nevertheless says he plays it straight.

"Motl defends his tenure as one spent impartially applying the Montana campaign practice laws he's known intimately for more than two decades," said a reporter for the alternative-weekly Missoula Independent.

In fact, the Commissioner of Political Practices website shows that Motl settles most political ethics complaints as low-level technical violations. He has chosen to litigate just 12 cases, all of them involving Republican candidates or conservatives who supported conservative candidates or causes. Of the nine targeted candidates, two settled out of court, and two others didn't contest the charges and were found guilty. Wittich is among the five whom Motl will take to trial.

While he says he can't discuss details, Motl tells Watchdog,org he's eager for the trial.

"Mr. Wittich will be very ably represented, and I think it's important that the two sides will be represented in court," he says. "This is an important issue for Montanans."

In his complaint against Wittich, Motl says he has documents discovered in a Denver meth lab that show the lawmaker is guilty of "consenting to receiving and coordinating with third-party corporate entities" during the 2010 election cycle. The complaint adds that, in failing to report the full value of printing his own campaign mailers, he failed to disclose a gift.

In a November filing, Motl went farther, accusing Wittich of receiving "secret and improper contributions" from people with ties to corporations. Motl called that evidence Wittich had committed a kind of thought-crime: he allegedly "pledged primary fealty to that corporate group of special interests rather than to the people of his district."

In his response, Wittich denies any coordination and says there's no evidence he coordinated with anyone. His own expert witness shows that Wittich may actually have overpaid for his campaign printing. He says he doesn't know where to begin on the pledging-of-fealty allegation. "That's just plain stupid," he says.

The commissioner's critics say he's clearly a partisan.

"Motl is engaged in the same type of abuse as his Wisconsin counterparts in the John Doe: Selective and abusive attacks on conservatives designed to smear and suppress political activity that he does not like," says Eric O'Keefe, director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth and, like Wittich, a target of political investigators.

Photo Credit: Tracy Elizabeth/Flickr

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  • Ted S.||

    Cue John and the rest of the usual suspects to tell us how Reason only goes after Team Red because cocktail parties.

  • Ted S.||

    Actually, it's all the fault of the same illegal immigrants who brought the Ebola epidemic to America.

  • Ted S.||

    Motl, of course, will never be prosecuted or (assuming he's an attorney) disbarred.

  • ||

    The interesting thing is that anyone defending themselves will be unable to use discovery on Motl's office. Motl, of course, is free to use it on the accused.

  • Ted S.||

    Motl also has unlimited resources.

  • ||

    Yes, this is always the case. To a great extent as well in civil litigation, but that's a story for a different day.

  • Bob Meyer||

    Prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity which is why they can get away with almost anything. They can be disbarred like the scumbag Nifong who went after the Duke lacrosse players but that's extremely rare and requires continuous public outrage to move a state bar to act.

  • ||

    Just like the female Harris County DA who used a grand jury to indict the Planned Parenthood investigators.

    One of her hires as a staff prosecutor sits on the Board of Directors of Planed Parenthood.

    They will never be convicted by a jury but the process is once again the punishment and th DA spent none of her own money.

    There needs to be a fix for this and it can only come fro the legal profession.

  • SimonD||

    'Motl, of course, will never be prosecuted or (assuming he's an attorney) disbarred.'

    I assume he plans on using this as a springboard to the governorship or at the very least a US House seat. It seems to be S.O.P. for Dems.

    *sigh*

  • ||

    Really just prosecutors in general.

    Conservative prosecutors are just as bad I think even without anecdotes

    It's an office with unchecked powers and that draws power hungry Psycho's in general.

  • SimonD||

    I'm sure there are Republican prosecutors that are psychos as well, but it seems (anecdotally at least) that they've lately been more prevalent on the donkey side.

    Maybe the difference in what we see is that Dems are concentrated in the big cities that offer the 'big' prosecutions.

    Maybe the difference is that the Repubs have to hide their political shenanigans because the legacy media will jump on them with both feet. Maybe it's just that since the Dems are more collectivist by nature, they are more oriented towards government and politics in general. It's hard to tell.

  • Suicidy||

    The legal process should be used against him like the left did to Sarah Palin. They sued her endlessly. Forcing her to use her own money to defend herself against endless litigation. Which is a large part of why she resigned as governor of Alaska.

  • Ted S.||

    Sheldon Richman would be pointing out how Motl is a Joooooooooooo....

  • Suicidy||

    And how it's all Israel's fault.

  • Ted S.||

    I'd suggest that there's probably a special circle of hell for people like Motl, but a) I don't particularly believe in hell, and b) Preet Bharara would try to prosecute me for saying it.

  • Rhywun||

    Besides, that's my line.

  • Ted S.||

    Motl probably likes deep dish, too.

  • Suicidy||

    The PC term is now 'pizzas of depth', and 'deep dish' is a triggering micro-aggression.

  • ||

    Ted was talking about deep dish. Why would you bring up pizza in the context?

    Did you eat paint chips as a child? White ones?

  • ||

    White ones ?

    RACIST !1!!!

  • Suicidy||

    Check your white paint chip privilege!

  • Brian||

    I love it when we pretend we've found the outlier politicians who use money and influence selfishly.

  • Ted S.||

    Crap; I only got the first six comments. ;-)

  • Eman||

    it's almost like electoral politics has a selection process for duplicitous douchebaggery or something

  • Ted S.||

    The people who believe the provenance of the documents must have gotten into Agile Cyborg's stash.

  • ||

    gotten into Agile Cyborg's stash

    I suspect AG, like many experienced cosmic adventuring connoisseurs, is much like a world class chef in that he views a stash like leftovers. Better to cook up a new buzz for a new day.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    "there are many examples of liberals using campaign finance rules to target their ideological opponents."

    Which is the whole point.

  • ||

    Eh. The conservatives struck back by preventing unions from auto-collecting dues. It helped take money out of liberal coffers, so, campaign finance reform.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    Yeah, who cares about the people forced to finance causes they don't believe in.

    Totally the same as prosecuting people for having opinions or policy differences.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I blame Citizens United.

  • ||

    Citizens United ?

    Nah.

    Just non proggie white people in general.

  • GILMORE™||

    ""Opponentsi""

    like the Illuminati, only vaguely Italian

  • Brochettaward||

    Reason, why the hell would you publish this on a Sunday?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Cocktail parties.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Wittich is about as conservative as a state official gets, leading the fight for education savings accounts, lower taxes, gun rights and reforming public-employee collective bargaining.

    This must be some archaic definition of conservative. I don't see anything there about immigration or traditional marriage.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Terranea?

  • DK||

    I've done that a few times (one from each end), but got stuck at Point Fermin both times.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Nice. See any whales?

    I do the hike from the lighthouse to the opposite side of Terranea (stopping for beer and guac along the way), and I saw about 20 whales last time.

  • Suicidy||

    I saw way more whales than that my last trip to Walmart. Half of them were using the complementary mobility scooters.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Complimentary? Yes. Flattering? No. Except maybe to Crusty.

  • ||

    On the Gulf Coast we less than enlightened fishermen always put our smartphones in a ziplock baggie. That way if we need them they are available without damage to them

    I know we aren't as smart as left coast people though so it's probably the wrong thing to do.

  • Ted S.||

    Serves you right for having an IpHone.

    /sarcasm

  • A Cynic's Guide to Zen||

    Having a Crapple product is your first mistake.

  • Bob Meyer||

    "Committee on Political Practices"? There's an Orwellian name if there ever was one.

    It's time for the Supreme Court to stop these end runs around the 1st Amendment. However, when Hillary appoints Barack Obama to replace Scalia there won't be any amendments to go around. Bush wounded the 4th and 5th Amendments, Obama's assaulting the 1st and 2nd and Hillary promises to complete her predecessor's work.

    A government freed from all constraints in the hands of an incompetent, vicious harpy with an axe to grind.

  • Eman||

    is this what people mean when they talk about going back to nature?

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    That's a great mother-son picture.

    I only knew about Tim Robbins; I had no idea she had any other kids.

  • ||

    The daughter has an odd look, almost like she had pre-emptive cosmetic surgery.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    She looks like she just learned her mother decided to pass the Oh Henry! candy bar fortune to one of her sons.

  • lap83||

    "Sag " awards, ha. But seriously she does look good for her age.

    I like how famous people are "shamed" when they receive normal internet comments. The rest of us plebes just have to avoid posting photos online or avoid comment sections.

  • Eman||

    its all in the eye of the shamee. personally my feelings about strangers saying i look ridiculous are more like pride.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Photos of Susan Sarandon's rack can never be wrong.
    Maybe if the Daily Mail's elderly subscribers shaved their armpits once in a while they would feel less insecure about their self-images.

  • Jerry on the rocks||

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer 'accidentally fires dozens of employees' after their names were mistakenly placed on the layoffs list

    Maybe Mayer can take over at Theranos?

  • ||

    Dammit, Janet!

  • DEG||

    OT: What if you never had to worry about rent or food?

    That's the question Y Combinator wants to answer.

    The Silicon Valley organization, known for its elite accelerator program, said that it's looking to fund a study on basic income.

    The idea is to cover the costs of basic necessities -- like food and rent -- and then see what people do with that financial freedom.

    Will people sit around all day watching Netflix and playing video games -- or will they start businesses? Will they be happy?

    Y Combinator launched a nonprofit research hub in October, and the study is part of its new research efforts.

    On Wednesday, Y Combinator's Sam Altman put out a call to hire a full-time researcher for the project, which will run for five years.

    What does basic income mean in terms of a dollar figure? Altman told CNNMoney that he does not yet have a "specific number in mind."

    I expect we'll see an exercise in question begging, confirmation bias, and/or selection bias.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Finland is considering implementing just such a system. Turns out that generous welfare increases unemployment...

    The thought is to provide a basic income to everyone, but not enough to discourage you know, actual employment.

    Should work out exactly as you suspect.

  • Florida Man||

    But technology will create wealth that can be stolen. I'm sure stealing won't discourage production.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    "People" are diverse. And while I like to think I'm a go-getter who enjoys some kinds of work... I'd probably spend more time playing video games. Assuming I could still afford to.

  • Florida Man||

    It would be fun to fuck with them. Take the 10k and just buy lottery tickets and then put your hand out for more because you've got no food or place to sleep, then buy more lottery tickets.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    How is that different from how most welfare crackheads do it now? Except maybe fewer lotto tickets and more smokes, cheap beer and meth.

  • Sevo||

    "What does basic income mean in terms of a dollar figure? Altman told CNNMoney that he does not yet have a "specific number in mind."

    And when they do, it'll be a number they pulled out of their asses and then justified by some un-checkable chain of 'reasoning'.

  • Jerryskids||

    Oh, I'm pretty sure they have a specific number in mind - "more".

  • Jerry on the rocks||

    Altman isn't sure how many study participants there will be, but said it will "probably be something in the double digits."

    And from that, we can easily extrapolate to 300 million people.

  • A Cynic's Guide to Zen||

    "Carry the one, multiply by the Erdely coefficient...and it's gone."
    "What do you mean?"
    "To reach the results of this study, favorably, we require another 65k. We had to hire a Diversity Officer at full salary plus benefits."
    "How is that relevant to determining if the poor would coast on welfare if given opportunity to do so?"
    "It's not."
    "Well, thank you for your honesty at least."

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    They don't need to create a situation for this study. Merely watch young adults who live with their parents and work. They often have their basic needs taken care of while keeping all of their income for their own desires.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    for my own house, that's pizza, cigarettes and video games

  • ||

    The idea is to cover the costs of basic necessities -- like food and rent -- and then see what people do with that financial freedom.'

    We already have the results of just such a decades long study.

    Since the New Deal taxpayers have invested billions in just such a real world study. The problem is that the resulting data hasn't been used honestly but cherry picked for political purposes by both heads of the HYDRA.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Fucking Montana!

  • ||

    I wish everyone there would die of a horrible, incurable disease.

    God, I miss that place.

  • Florida Man||

    Hey! Riven lived there.

  • ||

    Not after the disease, no.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    The politics suck. It's frigid. The wind blows hard all the time. The cops are little Eichmanns. Everything is expensive. The laws are horrendous. It's ugly and it smells bad.

    Do yourselves a favor and stay as far away as possible.

  • lap83||

    It's ugly and it smells bad.

    I find that hard to believe. But I live in Kansas, of which the only natural claim to fame is having most of the remaining types of prairie grass in the US. There are no mountains and few trees and lakes, so the only non-ugly places in the state are where anyone bothers to do landscaping or where no one lives.

  • Suicidy||

    I wa stationed at Fort Riley back in the early 90's. I was glad to leave when I did. The people were nice though.

  • ||

    Sorry! Moving back this spring. Then, we can bring up the drawbridge.

  • Jerryskids||

    My brother's in-laws live in Wyoming and he's visited a few times - once the global warming kicks in enough to keep the 40-below winds from flaking his frozen face right off, he says, he's moving there because it's like being in some foreign country where you're allowed to do whatever you want and your neighbors can be encouraged at gunpoint to mind their own damn business.

  • ||

    It's frigid.

    That part was true where I lived. But 40 below keeps out the riff-raff.

  • Sevo||

    OT:
    My local rag *FINALLY* has an article on Hillary's top secret emails; it's her denial that they were classified 'at the time':
    "Clinton: Republicans grasping at straws over private emails"
    [...]
    "Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the hubbub over whether she had secret emails on her server is "very much like Benghazi,"
    [...]
    "Clinton insists she never sent or received information on her personal email account that was classified at the time."
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/pol.....796574.php

    Seems she was on ABC's "This Week", and I'm sure she was questioned closely about the claims, right?

  • ||

    "They weren't classified at the time" is really a stunning claim.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The Atlantic links

    They publish an advertisement for the NEA: Who Should Pay for the Arts in America?

    It has a lot of good bits for you masochists, like this one:

    While it’s easy to dismiss funding the NEA or arts education as “extras” or “frills” that need to be scaled back in a time of fiscal crisis, the truth is that the arts help create community and foster cross-cultural understanding. By disproportionately supporting large institutions, which reach a tiny slice of the American population, mega-donors and corporate foundations use the arts to serve the one percent. Which is why a strong and robust NEA, and increased investment in public funding for the arts nationally, is needed today, more than ever.

    They also did a piece on open carry in Texas: Tallying the Costs of Open Carry

    Culture War is on, choose sides!

  • Ted S.||

    Why should I be forced to pay for speech I disagree with?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Culture War is on, choose sides!

    It's like I write for Reason.

  • Jerryskids||

    I don't think it's a "culture" war so much as a civilization war. We've gone from the FDR-era of pushing welfare-as-earned-entitlement, "it's not charity, it's something you've earned" to the welfare class "it's okay to just lay there, we'll keep coming by and feeding you without trying to encourage you to get up", "it's not charity it's a human right", to the more-victimized-than-thou sweepstakes. It's not just no longer shameful to be helpless, it's downright a badge of honor and a position of power to be helpless, "your failure to give me charity is you stealing from me what is rightfully mine".

    There are certainly crazy, retarded or otherwise damaged people who simply are unable to take care of themselves and there's an argument they deserve some compasssionate care - but a lot of people just need a kick in the ass and taught that nobody owes you a thing, you need to learn to take care of yourself and learning to suck off the teat of the State your whole life doesn't count as taking care of yourself. Start with the concept of delayed gratification, investment, doing with less now so you can have more later. Grow up and take care of yourself is the whole basis of civilization and we simply can't continue catering to this many babies insisting their infancy means they get first dibs on the resources.

  • Suicidy||

    The adult baby getting $3k per month in disability comes to mind. He threatened to kill himself if they took away his free money. Which sounded pretty good to me.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's a well-known fact that no one ever attended the opera before government patronization of the arts.

  • lap83||

    Bureaucrats are well known for their sophisticated and refined taste in art

  • lap83||

    the truth is that the arts help create community and foster cross-cultural understanding.

    Spoken like someone who has never met an artist

  • lap83||

  • ||

    My wife teaches ballet for a non profit for underprivliged. urban youth.

    She makes twice as much as if she taught at a private dance school..

    Please support government support of the finer arts.

    For the Children.

    They are our future.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Wittich predicts he'll win his March court fight with Motl. But by then, he says, it won't really matter. He's contemplating not running for reelection to the legislature. In nearly three years, he says, he's spent more than $100,000 and countless hours defending himself. His work and home life are suffering.

    By then, even victory in court may seem a small reward, Wittich says: "This process itself is the punishment."

    I'm not a partisan guy, really. If I had to choose between capitalism and civil rights, I'd probably pick capitalism, but that being said, if you asked me where I stand on a host of civil rights issues (and didn't mention guns), social conservatives would have me pegged as a liberal.

    With that qualification, I want to say . . .

    Never trust a Democrat.

    As a party, they make a virtue of lying, cheating, illegal, bullying, and abusive behavior. From Bill and Hillary Clinton to Rahm Emmanuel, Barack Obama, the public employee unions, and the media that covers them. They have rights that should be respected like everybody else, but you shouldn't invite Democrats over to your house, introduce them to your family, or let them around your children. You should avoid doing business partnerships with them. They're just fundamentally dishonest people.

    I'm happy to argue with them on any issue, but don't ever trust a Democrat in your personal life--unless it's a really hot chick, I guess.

  • sarcasmic||

    As a party, they make a virtue of lying, cheating, illegal, bullying, and abusive behavior.

    Yep. They worship violence and abhor liberty.

  • Ken Shultz||

    And lying, lying, lying . . .

    I broke up with a chick one time because she was an habitual liar. She couldn't accept that was why we were breaking up. She was such a liar that calling her a liar didn't bother her at all. She didn't understand what the big deal was.

    That's Democrats.

    They're lying liars who lie about their lying, and there's no reason to believe them about anything. I would vote against nameless Democrats just because of that. They just reek of lies, corruption, and bullying.

    And, yeah, hostility to liberty, too, but it's more than that.

  • sarcasmic||

    Some people have no moral qualm against using violence and deception to get what they want, and such people tend to vote for Democrats, since that is the party that celebrates such things.

  • GILMORE™||

    " If I had to choose between capitalism and civil rights, I'd probably pick capitalism,"

    Its been a while since i read it, but my memory of Capitalism and Freedom was that the two concepts are joined at the hip... and you can't really have one without the other. To quote wiki, "Friedman argues for economic freedom as a precondition for political freedom"

    Any political freedoms (or civil rights) are impossible without at least a base level of economic liberty. The more government tries to redirect more of human resources and capital into chosen directions, the more they constrict personal choices and impose behavioral mandates. you can't have a 'free people' in a control-economy - so the opposite of your choice is impossible.

    By contrast, when you have a more-open marketplace, participants will *demand* the protection of certain principles in order to ensure the best environment for free exchange. "civil rights" are so many inevitable "consumer protections" in a sense.

    i'm thinking particularly of how 'freedom of religion' was imposed on New Amsterdam by the Dutch West India company. They didn't do it for any reason of political theory or 'universal human rights' or anything like that. They did it because they had enormous demand for workers and traders in the colony, and saw religious bigotry as a barrier to open participation.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I appreciate all that--philosophically and truthfully capitalism and civil rights are joined at the hip.

    I'm saying that if I had to choose between two kings, neither of which was encumbered by philosophy or truthiness, and one was more hostile to capitalism and the other was more hostile to civil rights, . . .

    I'm also saying that the Democrats have poisoned their brand to the extent that I think there's a legitimate concern about people who listen to what Democrat leaders say and then turn around and repeat it to other people as though it should be believed. I think it's gotten to the point where anybody who proudly wears the label "Democrat" probably shouldn't be trusted--apart from any of their political positions.

    It's like talking to a Scientologist or a Moonie, in a way, except Democrats aren't mostly fooled. It's more like they're willfully participating in the deception.

  • GILMORE™||

    I still don't really think anything you say about Democrats isn't also true for large swaths of people who call themselves Republican.

    what you describe is just characteristic of many people's manner of engaging in politics. Its *all* bullshit and demagoguery. Just because GOP demagoguery is sometimes in the service of (*in theory) 'better ideas' doesn't make their shit stink less.

    I think there's a bigger difference between people who play team-sports-politics, and people who nerd out on policy-debates and theory. You probably have more in common with 'democrat' wonks than you do the GOP hoi polloi.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I still don't really think anything you say about Democrats isn't also true for large swaths of people who call themselves Republican."

    See what I wrote below before I wrote:

    "You have to be a dishonest person to know about that stuff and still proudly call yourself a supporter of the Democratic Party. As someone who could be mistaken for a liberal on civil rights issues (minus gun rights), I can't imagine ever stooping so low as to vote for a Democrat--without there being major changes. How do Democrats do it? They must be fundamentally dishonest people."

    Yes, Republican politicians will lie, but are Republican voters proud of their politicians lying?

    I don't think so.

    But Democrats are proud of their leaders lying. Look at the list of lying and corruption I wrote below; it's by no means an exhaustive list. Democrat voters know about all that stuff, too, and they don't care. Why would you go into business with someone like that? Why would you cosign a loan or a lease with somebody like that?

  • GILMORE™||

    "are Republican voters proud of their politicians lying?

    I don't think so."

    meh. Do you think any trump supporters really give a shit that there were no muslims dancing in the streets of New Jersey on 9-11? Was anyone put off by that kind of bullshit-bluster?

    Making Mexico 'pay for the wall'?

    Does anyone think that stuff is "honest"? gimme a break.

  • Dunehunter||

    But is Trump a Republican or Democrat? I mean, he's running on the Republican ticket, but...

  • ||

    Civil Rights are a subset of Individual Liberty.

    Economic Freedom is also a subset of Individual Liberty.

    How can you have either with out the fulfillment of Individual Liberty.

  • Eman||

    like fox mulder, they WANT to believe

  • DenverJ||

    when you have a more-open marketplace, participants will *demand* the protection of certain principles in order to ensure the best environment for free exchange. "civil rights" are so many inevitable "consumer protections" in a sense.

    Hong Kong?

  • GILMORE™||

    I think you probably made a good point there, i'm just not sure what exactly it was.

    are you saying

    ""Hong Kong allowed 'freer' trade than the Chinese citizenry were used to - therefore they inevitably ended up agitating for/demanding more political rights?""

    or

    "Hong Kong is a free-er market system where Chicoms nevertheless enforce some restrictive limits on civil liberties?"

    (e.g. restrictions on speech critical of momma china, limited freedom of assembly, etc)

    I think the example can work either way.

  • DenverJ||

    I was actually referring to Hong Kong before China resumed control. They had a free(ish) market, and were still abysmal on civil rights.
    I think many of the far eastern countries are like this. China itself is a great example. They opened up their economy tremendously, but are still horrible on civil rights.

  • GILMORE™||

    " They opened up their economy tremendously, but are still horrible on civil rights."

    yes. which is why you see the strongest agitation for civil rights in the places they allow the greatest economic freedom.

    i never argued it was always a perfect 1-1 ratio. i just said you can't have any genuine civil rights *without* economic freedom first. (or at least that was Friedman's argument)

    I would be far more surprised if there were a genuine counter-example - a functioning state where there are plenty of civil rights and personal liberties, but where economic freedom is largely constrained.

  • DenverJ||

    I think you are correct that without property rights you can't have any other civil rights. However, just having property rights does not guarantee other civil rights.
    I remember watching that brave student in Tiananmen Square, thinking the bamboo curtain was soon to follow the iron into history.
    Undoubtedly, even just some free market-ish reform is better for the people stuck under that system, but Tiananmen Square was 26 years ago, and it doesn't seem to me that other reforms have automatically followed, not that you said that they would.

  • GILMORE™||

    "just having property rights does not guarantee other civil rights."

    I think that's right. My comment "you can't have one without the other" was really meant to suggest 'economic freedom comes first', not that they are always guaranteed to come together.

    there's also maybe an important distinction with Asian political philosophy...which has generally had a more communitarian focus and put much less weight on individual rights. This is something that has been much-debated over the decades, with some arguing that its a false premise which has been used to excuse a history of authoritarian regimes in Asia.

    But still - i think the point would be that as far as the China/Hong Kong dynamic goes... i think the example proves that economic-liberty inevitably produces demands for individual liberties... if not their actual delivery in full.

  • Hank Ferrous||

    Don't stick your dick/penis substitute in crazy. Particularly abusive crazy with cult-member-like tendencies.

  • GILMORE™||

    "They're just fundamentally dishonest people."

    I think its a mistake to make this kind of statement, because you're suggesting mere political affiliation is somehow descriptive of a "people".

    Most people - i'd guess 80% or more - have zero interest in political philosophy and political affiliations are entirely cultural and, for lack of a better word.... a fashion-statement. Its about as significant as the kind of haircut people prefer.

    You may have a low opinion of people who get faux-hawks (and so do i), but they're not necessarily any different from those who wear mullets.

  • A Cynic's Guide to Zen||

    As the sun sets, our hero Ken Shultz suddenly realizes that selfishness is not a bug, but a feature of the human condition; and that a political platform based around the sum of what one thinks they're owed added to what one thinks they dont have necessarily begets "endo-justificationis," which excludes principles like virtue, honesty, and logic.

    The road before Ken stretched wide, his eyes opened if only a little bit more than before.

    Cheers tovarisch, go find something to laugh at.

  • GILMORE™||

    English, motherfucker.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I was already clear on that.

    I'm pointing out that Democrats have gone beyond that--so far, they're stretching my limits of what constitutes even marginal legitimacy.

    Republican voters may not believe what I believe, but I think a strong core of them believe in what they believe.

    I'm not sure that's true of Democrat voters at all. I don't think they believe in their own bullshit. I think they're a party of used car salesmen. They don't believe in what their leaders say, and they don't believe what they say themselves.

  • GILMORE™||

    " I think they're a party of used car salesmen. They don't believe in what their leaders say, and they don't believe what they say themselves."

    This may be so. but their reason for accepting these fundamentally-dishonest politics is because they honestly believe the alternative is worse.

    i.e. the lying, corrupt democrat is far preferable to the honest, sincere republican who helps spread racism, oppresses gender / sexual minorities, and serves the interests of billionaires and warmongers.

    they don't give a shit about who/what their politicians are... just who they are not.

  • Whatever Farm Animal Of War||

    "they don't give a shit about who/what their politicians are... just who they are not."

    This is slave morality in a nutshell, in an aphorism if you will.

  • ||

    Seriously.

    You do used car salesmen/women a huge diservice.

    The vast majority are simply hard working small businessmen who do the best they can to operate their small business with the best local reputation they can earn.

  • ||

    Republican voters may not believe what I believe, but I think a strong core of them believe in what they believe.

    How does this explain Trump's popularity?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think they're responding to what they see as Trump speaking the plain truth.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think that has changed.

    Look at the list of people I gave again. Look at what this Democrat in Montana is doing. Democrats cheer on this sort of behavior. It isn't unusual. It shows up in Rahm's "never let a crisis go to waste and Hillary's horseshit about accepting donations from foreign countries while she's secretary of state. It show up in Barack Obama selling ObamaCare as affordable insurance for the working poor--and then turning around and siccing the IRS on the working poor for not buying health insurance. It shows up in Democrats in our inner cities protecting the police from accountability because they're beholden to the police union--and then using a lack of accountability as a call for more support for Democrats. The garbage we've seen happen in Flint, even . . .

    You have to be a dishonest person to know about that stuff and still proudly call yourself a supporter of the Democratic Party. As someone who could be mistaken for a liberal on civil rights issues (minus gun rights), I can't imagine ever stooping so low as to vote for a Democrat--without there being major changes. How do Democrats do it? They must be fundamentally dishonest people.

  • GILMORE™||

    'Look at what this Democrat in Montana is doing. Democrats cheer on this sort of behavior."

    Of course. Its politics at its most basic...which is using the levers of power to screw the other guy and entrench yourself. It has nothing to do with any underlying ideology and everything to do with "perpetuating power".

    Which, if you backed up about 10 years into the period where Tom DeLay and his ilk were running congress... was exactly the same sort of shit they were doing. if not worse.

    "You have to be a dishonest person to know about that stuff and still proudly call yourself a supporter of the Democratic Party. '

    meh. I think many people have no qualms with the idea that 'all is fair in love, war, politics'. What you think of as "honesty" is just your projection of what you think are your superior ideals. Politics for most is not about "winning a contest of ideas". its about "winning"... full stop. Get the power. keep the power.

    that said, you do see a lot of rejection of "party Democrats" by the hard-left at the moment. Because there are plenty of people on the left who ('honestly') support ideas over mere-power. And most of those people gravitate to Bernie because they feel better supporting an idealistic failure than a craven political scumbag like Hillary

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Which, if you backed up about 10 years into the period where Tom DeLay and his ilk were running congress... was exactly the same sort of shit they were doing. if not worse."

    I'm not comparing what Republican politicians did compared to Democratic politicians.

    I'm comparing Democrat voters to Republican voters.

    We saw a grass roots movement emerge to rid the Republican Party of Republican politicians who failed to live up to Republican voters ideals. It was so grass roots, they burned the traitors out in the primaries and eventually got rid of the Speaker.

    Do you think that can happen in the Democratic Party among Democrat voters?

    I don't. I don't think they care if their candidates live up to any ideal at all. They have none as a voting block. They are unprincipled in the technical sense. Integrity doesn't exist in that universe.

  • GILMORE™||

    "Do you think that can happen in the Democratic Party among Democrat voters?"

    I expect Bernie to win in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

    If not win, at least do so damned well that it will give a lot of establishment Dems agita.

    He will obviously get crushed in the South. but i think the point is that a lot of Dems are doing exactly what you complain they're not doing - rejecting the 'purely power-hungry' side of politics in favor of a more ideologically-pure ideal.

  • DenverJ||

    And is this because they have principles, or is it because Bernie is an avowed socialist, which pushes the envelope in US politics, thus making him the more extreme, uber-chic, cool candidate to vote for?
    Wanting to look hip, social signaling, is not a principle.

  • GILMORE™||

    "And is this because they have principles, or is it because Bernie is an avowed socialist, which pushes the envelope in US politics, thus making him the more extreme, uber-chic, cool candidate to vote for?'

    I don't think it matters. the point was that they're choosing the alternative that is less-likely to win, and doing so because they think its closer to some ideal they have in their minds. either way it puts the pure-power-players at a disadvantage.

  • Paulpemb||

    "I don't think it matters. the point was that they're choosing the alternative that is less-likely to win, and doing so because they think its closer to some ideal they have in their minds. either way it puts the pure-power-players at a disadvantage."

    But they're doing it when it doesn't matter. The only reason why the hard left is supporting Bernie Sanders in the primary is to force Hillary Clinton to move to the left. When Hillary wins the primary, they will immediately become die-hard loyal supporters for her in the general.

  • sarcasmic||

    They are unprincipled in the technical sense. Integrity doesn't exist in that universe.

    Might makes right and winning is everything. Honesty, principles, and integrity are for losers.

  • sarcasmic||

    Cooperation is also for losers. Why bother to convince someone to cooperate with you when you can point a government gun at their head? Not only that, but nothing beats the satisfaction you get when people you don't like are coerced into doing or not doing things against their will. Democrat politicians and their supporters are scum. *shrug*

  • Ken Shultz||

    They have the principles of drunken cannibals.

  • Paulpemb||

    It's funny that you should bring up Tom DeLay, who was the target of just the sort of politically motivated prosecution that this article describes, and was pressured into leaving office by other Republicans as a result. His conviction on these charges was later overturned, though of course his political career was still effectively ended.

  • sarcasmic||

    The Democrat Party celebrates using dishonesty and coercion to get their way, so dishonest people naturally support them.

    As opposed to the Republican Party which gives lip-service to honesty and liberty, which fools honest people into supporting them.

  • Suicidy||

    We need a gigantic purge of progressives , and also non-progressive sociopaths.

  • sarcasmic||

    Great idea! And when the sociopaths you hire to conduct the purge are done, they come after you!

  • Suicidy||

    Why would I have to hire sociopaths? I'll just recruit the good folks who post here. Minus Tony, AmSoc, and this Tulpa person.

  • Suicidy||

    My Marxist aunt worships garbage people like Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, etc.. No matter what vile things they have done. All because they 'have done so much good work'.

  • Suicidy||

    Really hot democrat chicks are usually far crazier than average chicks. So they tend to be hot fucks too.

  • Brian||

    Our political, democratic system works beautifully, as long as only one party has power.

    It's that other party that exploits money, power, and influence for their own personal gain.

    Until we reform the system, we should give political power exclusively to the party that's consistent with democracy, rather than that other party.

    And that is in no way convenient.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Too bad that party does not exist.

  • ||

    "the party that's consistent with democracy"

    I don't know what this means.

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  • Mauser||

    Jonathan Motl, the man whom Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, appointed [Commissar] of Political Practices.

    All Montana needs is a couple of gulags to send the political prisoners, seriously though it reminds me of the Soviet Union, perhaps that's a bit dramatic but who knows maybe we'll end up like that some day, It's frightening the similarities.

  • Suicidy||

  • ||

    "blatant political thuggery" in Montana?

    Big fucking surprise. I remember a sheriff's election where the clerk more or less just tossed all the opposition's ballots in the trash before counting. I saw many cases of people who got throwed in jail for mentioning the constitution at traffic stops and jailed for contempt if they mentioned the constitution at court. I recall some judge losing it when some woman accused of some minor traffic infraction mentioned the constitution, shouting, "There will be no mention of the constitution at my court!" and threw her in jail for contempt. And there was a district judge who said at open court that the oath of office was nonbinding, "just a formality". That's all there is in that hellhole is thuggery, unless you can get away from town, sometimes. It used to be easier. You got all these boneheads agonising about their second amendment rights, everybody running around carrying guns, but it doesn't matter because when it comes down to it when called to submit to the will of their masters, they won't resist. Baloney. They are a mean, soulless people with no compassion whatever and a byzantine perverse conceit of honour that is mostly opake to anyone who didn't grow up torturing stray cats to death for fun. It makes me sad. Never submit to a bunch of thugs. How fucking hard is it?

  • ||

    But don't listen to me. I spent a fucking week hiding out in the trailer, certain I couldn't navigate any public interactions without common decency requiring something or other that would make a lot of grief. Finally, last night I crept down to the market after dark for a stick of ginger, and managed to get dragged into a fucking protest. So, I clearly have no blooming idea how to do it. It's like that old gospel song about how you got to get yourself right before you can tell others to get right. I am confident, however, that I will eventually get it right sometime during my time in hell. Looking forward to it.

  • simplybe||

    This great experiment called the United States of America has failed and it is time to put it to bed. What this country needs to do is to divide into 50 states and set up a central government to regulate commerce between the states. They can also control a Navy/Airforce to protect our shores. Everything else can be left to the states. If a states citizens want a Progressive government then great. People will migrate to the idealogy that most suits them. Seriously why do we have to elect a Federal government to steal from use and get us involved in wars so banks and corporations can get rich. Enough is enough

  • Suicidy||

    No. A revolution is needed to dispose of our progressives and restore constitutional government.

  • Curt||

    "In Texas, the benign-sounding Texas Ethics Commission convened to determine whether a conservative nonprofit journalist is really a journalist and therefore deserving of First Amendment protections—or is an activist who does not."

    Uh... False Dilemma?

  • Ron||

    Even If you win the win will not make it to main stream media since they are not interested in being correct they will however talk about you being indicted and not mention the rest of the story.

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