Thursday Thoughts

Happy 4/20 day! Here are the topics that caught my attention:

  • Voting in Great Falls
  • Jungle Primary Dead
  • Transphobia in MT Legislature
  • Right-Wing Rabbit Hole
  • One More Thing


A reader pointed out some additional issues with the Clerk and Recorder’s office in Cascade County. That office oversees elections in the county.

The Electric reported that on April 18, Pete Fontana submitted an ethics complaint to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices against Cascade County Commissioners, Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant and Devereaux Biddick, a county elections employee.

Fontana is a member of the newly formed Election Protection Committee.

One of the more serious issues (IMHO) was the following:

In his complaint, he wrote that the elections office has been involved in distributing anti-library levy stickers within the elections office during business hours in violation of state law and the office is responsible for conducting the library election for the City of Great Falls. Cars with those stickers have been observed in the county annex parking lot.

While it’s not against the law to have a political sticker on your personal vehicle, if the elections office is “distributing anti-library levy stickers within the elections office during business hours” that raises many concerns about how this office is being run. If this is happening then Sandra Merchant should resign.

Fontana also brought up that “Witnesses have also reported that this group of volunteers and the County Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant, begin each day with a prayer.” I don’t have a big problem with it as long as the staff are not ordered to participate. I also pray a lot. Lately, I’ve been praying that God finds someone capable of running that office.

Overall, the article from The Electric brings up several more issues that are concerning. Read the article HERE. The sections I discussed above are near the end.


Just a day after a poll showed U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is one of America’s most popular senators, the Republicans in the Montana State Legislature voted to table a bill that, by most accounts, was introduced to help defeat Tester 2024.

MTN News reported that a Montana House committee has voted down a bill that would have established a top-two “jungle primary” for a single statewide race in 2024 – the nationally watched U.S. Senate race in which Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is seeking reelection.

The bill is Senate Bill 566 sponsored by Sen. Greg Hertz, R-Polson. According to MTN, the bill would have put all candidates for the U.S. Senate seat, regardless of party, onto a single primary ballot. Only the top two vote-getters would then appear on the general election ballot. That would likely exclude third-party candidates from the November vote – particularly the Libertarian Party, which has regular ballot access in Montana.

Now we get to see who the sacrificial lamb will be for Tester to beat in 2024. With the Republicans no longer trying to put their thumb on the scale, it will be hard for anyone to compete with Tester. SB 566 actually did the opposite of what Hertz, U.S. Senator Steve Daines, and his flunkey, Jason Thielman, wanted. What it did do was help Tester raise money and turn many moderate Montana voters against the Republicans.

Read the MTN report HERE.


It’s very embarrassing and shameful what the Montana Republicans did to Democratic State Representative Zooey Zephyr.

The Associated Press (AP) has the story:

A group of conservative Republican lawmakers in Montana deliberately misgendered a transgender colleague in demanding that she be censured for language she used on the floor while speaking against a bill that would ban gender-affirming medical care for children.

The AP is talking about the MAGA group, The Montana Freedom Caucus.

The AP says that the caucus called for a “commitment to civil discourse,” while misgendering Zephyr in the same sentence. The caucus also misgendered Zephyr in the Tweet.

State Representative Zephyr responded in the AP article by saying:

“It is disheartening that the Montana Freedom Caucus would stoop so low as to misgender me in their letter, further demonstrating their disregard for the dignity and humanity of transgender individuals,” Zephyr said in a statement Wednesday. “Their call for ‘civility and respect’ is hypocritical given their actions.”

I guess being kind to each other is not in the Montana Freedom Caucus rules. Shame on them. I applaud Rep. Zephyr for standing up to these bullies and for fighting transphobia in the Montana Legislature.

You can read the AP story HERE.


You may have read about the 84-year-old man shooting a black teenager twice after he knocked on his door. This happened in Kansas City.

The man, Andrew D. Lester, 84, shot Ralph Yarl twice — including once in the head — when Yarl accidentally went to the wrong house on Thursday night while trying to pick up his younger brothers.

Now Lester’s grandson is speaking out, telling the Kansas City Star:

“But in the last five or six years or so, I feel like we’ve lost touch,” he said. “I’ve gotten older and gained my own political views, and he’s become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and COVID conspiracies and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line. I feel like it’s really further radicalized him in a lot of ways.” Ludwig said his grandfather had been immersed in “a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia.”

He also told the KC Star:

“And then the NRA pushing the ‘stand your ground’ stuff and that you have to defend your home,” he said. “When I heard what happened, I was appalled and shocked that it transpired, but I didn’t disbelieve that it was true. The second I heard it, I was like, ‘Yeah, I could see him doing that.’”

These are sad times in our country. Read the KC Star article HERE.


The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to not accidentally knock on his door. –@MiddleAgeRiot

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19 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts

  1. I just returned from the ballot counting test,and I had a conversation with a woman who wanted to join the prayer circle at the elections office. She was rudely turned away with language unbecoming of a Christian. So now I have to wonder whether a bunch of theocrats are taking over the elections office!?!?!

      • The public test was a success as far as the counting machine went, but when guests started asking questions, Ms. Merchant got really busy and turned her back to the crowd and allowed her surrogates to take over. There was a woman who claimed great authority because she is an election judge, though she wouldn’t state her name, and a former secretary of state (Brad Johnson) who tried to convince the crowd that mail in ballots are evil. It devolved rather quickly.

      • I suspect the MAGA folks will try to mess with the mail in ballots someway. Sad deal.
        Thanks for the update. -JmB

    • Ruth- The info about the fake info sent about the school board election is great, but I noticed your address and phone number was at the bottom. I am not sure if you want that publicized. Thanks, JmB

      • Message from Bill Bronson, candidate for School Board Trustee Election
        Feel Free to pass this message along . . .

        Every political campaign, even a school board race, gets a bit nasty now and then. Today was no exception in our race here in Great Falls.

        I learned shortly after I got back to town this afternoon from an out-of-state business trip that an unidentified source has sent information in text form into our community, urging people to “Vote May 2″, and including five small boxes of statements allegedly made by each of the five trustee candidates. With the exception of Amie Thompson, four of us are identified as having a registered political party affiliation.

        Reading this today reminded me of an old saying I think everyone used to shout on the playgrounds when we were little: “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Montana law does not provide for registration to vote by political party. There’s no way you can list a party affiliation when you register, even if you want to do so. (You may list affiliations with the Commissioner of Political Practices as a candidate, but not when you register to vote.) So, the authors of this text get an “F” for providing false information.

        More importantly, there is no disclaimer contained with this ad, informing us who sponsored it, and where they can be contacted That’s a direct violation of Montana law. See ARM 44.11.601 and MCA 13-35-225. Another “F” for failing to abide by the rules that apply to all of us.

        Although there is no attribution, a few of us have traced the source. It appears to be a Virginia- based 501(c)(4) organization with a particular political slant. Why a group several thousand miles away from all the action here is interested in a Great Falls school board race is interesting, to say the least. I’m guessing they are probably doing this type of advertising across the country. Without a formal attribution, there’s no way the money spent on this advertising can be traced. This is another example of “dark money” intrusion into our elections!

        Today’s text underscores the importance of what I stated at the candidate forum last Wednesday night: we need to turn off and tune out these out-of-state political interests that don’t have a say in our Montana elections. Their feeble attempts to nationalize our local elections with false and illegal advertising diverts attention from the real issues facing our young people in Great Falls.


      • I’ve seen similar info on local social media sites. Things like this really tick me off. Thanks, JmB

  2. The Montana legislature was the focus on two cable networks last night with the other right wing wacko legislature of Missouri . The longest segment of 15 minutes was on MSNBC Stephanie Ruhle show with two news reporters from each state. The Montana reporter gave run down of all crazy bills passed . Then Ruhle ran the whole video of Rep. Zephyr condemning bill to ban gender affirming care. Zephyr was correct in her assessment of outcomes of this bill’s passage. Zephyr has scientific and medical facts on her side, of course facts no longer belong in Republican party. Republicans that voted for it have no idea why they are even considering the bill other then the White Christian Nationalism movement told them to do it. Very obvious Montana GOP has no free thinkers as all these bills came from groups out of state. The Montana GOP is like a group of lemmings going off a cliff.
    The White Christian Nationalists are scared of everything that is any different then their narrow minded views. I have no problem with them living in their own little protective bubble but leave the rest of us alone or at least try respect our views even they disagree with us. This Zephyr story has made Washington Post, New York Times, Insider, New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, Democracy Now, Los Angeles Times, The Hill,AP News, and even Fox News all in last few hours. I’m tired of Montana GOP and Legislature make us look like a bunch of rubes. Bad enough Daines and Rosendale do it often already. I will be so glad when the 90 days of legislature is up so the court cases can start on all these unconstitutional bills passed this session. There were 12 from last session in court and sure number will double this time. That will eat that extra 2 million they gave AG Knutsen to fight a losing battle up quickly. So much for fiscal conservatism.

  3. I don’t believe censoring anyone is productive nor do I believe Childre Will Die & You Have Blood ON YOUR HANDS will persuade anyone. I personally don’t believe the speaker is a Woman. Zooey can believe it. But I will not pretend I believe. Just call me a TERF.

    • They live in their own little world for 90 days in Helena. Things get said by both sides. that shouldn’t. Sometimes it’s embarrassing.
      I try to be accepting of people and their lifestyle. Most of the time their lifestyles don’t affect me.

      • I wasn’t embarrassed at all by Zooey’s comments because, actually, I think she speaks for the majority of Montanans. I too am ashamed that these bullies, cowards, thugs, and haters masquerading as republicans have gone out of their way to once again attack one of the smallest and least offensive minorities in the state. They know these bills are unconstitutional, yet they continue to attack and attack. That is unprecedented cruelty in Montana. We’ve never seen anything like this before. They’ve taken their hatred to a whole new level and weaponized it. Since when is that a Montana value?

        And let’s be clear. The results of their actions WILL harm trans kids. Kids! And their parents. How do we know this? Because the scientific studies don’t lie. Harm will result in blood, and it will be on their hands. If the MAGA snowflakes can’t handle the truth, maybe they should listen to their constituents and the entire medical community. They are not doctors, just thugs. And they will end up harming us all by forcing our doctors to leave the state. Shame on them for that. If they think that’s too strong a word for use in the chambers and hurts their MAGA feelers, just step outside and see what your fellow Montanans have to say. Stop embarrassing our state!

        Who are these MAGAs? History tells us who they are.

    • Mary, do you mean Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist or Tortured English Really Futile ?

  4. Sandra and staff had to have spent all their time the first few months in office doing something, because it sure wasn’t preparing to actually put on elections. So my theory is they spent their time scouring the voter rolls and cross matching names to make up lists of preferred MAGA voters in Cascade County and “all the rest”. (Along with my previous theory of allowing unqualified people to tinker in the guts of the tabulators to find those mythical 3,000 extra votes from 2020). Just theories, of course. No actual proof or even a shred of evidence.

    But consider! That theory might explain maybe why that couple received duplicate mail ballots: Accidentally got a mailing intended for a party on a list of “Cascade County MAGA preferred voters” – duplicate ballots only intended for MAGAs?

    I read the other day that Sandra printed out over 48,000 ballots for this schools election, while the list of voters both absentee and in-person in the GFPS district is not quite 41,000. 31,000 absentee/mail. Meaning 17,000 ballots for non-mail purposes like in-person voting, envelope stuffing errors, do overs at the polling places, and whatever, of which approx. 7,000 are a cushion.

    Considering last school board election saw something like just 13,000 ballots returned/cast in total, there’s going to be unused ballots. So will there be any sort of public audit/accounting for all the 17,000 presumably non-mailed ballots after the fact, or will they just be out in the wind somewhere? GFPS election a dry run for more meaningful ones down the line? Hmmmm?

    Gosh elections conspiracy theory formulation sure is fun. I shoulda been a Pachyderm.

  5. if you see a weapon, get out of there! I pray too. I have discovered that God does not prioritize any human creature.

  6. The GOP culture wars sicken me. Why can’t we just let people be who they are? No doubt we have all shared a bathroom with a trans person over the years and were totally unaware. There is so much fear and hatred in the thinking and rhetoric currently bouncing around the GOP universe. We are all God’s children, and Jesus said “forbid them not.”

    • Good points. Today’s GOP is not the party of Lincoln. Thanks, JmB

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