Go Denny go Denny go Denny go …

Jon Tester failed in his attempt to pass an industry-friendly wilderness bill. Will Rehberg do any better?

A new Rasmussen poll shows Dennis Rehberg holding a slight lead over incumbent Jon Tester for the Montana senate seat.

Question: If Rehberg wins, and then renames the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, an industry-friendly bill affecting Montana’s remaining roadless lands, will Democrats oppose the bill?

Yes, of course they will. For that reason alone, Montana is better served by Rehberg than Tester.

Behind the scenes, advancing legislation is often a tactical question – there is no disagreement about what has to be done, but rather about how to get it done. Is a bill better carried by a Democrat or a Republican? It’s perception issue. When a Democrat carries a bill, porcupines tend to put their quills down*, and that was surely Tester’s objective. But he failed.

Rehberg will face raised quills. Groups that have turned industry-friendly, like Montana Wilderness Association, will have trouble openly supporting a bill sponsored by a Republican.

The battle never ends, but it is easier to mount opposition to bad legislation when sponsored by a Republican rather than a Democrat. Since party differences are of little consequence, and perceptions of “liberal” versus “conservative” are meaningless, all I can say is “Go Denny!”
Washington Rules: A porcupine with his quills down is just another fat rodent.

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
This entry was posted in Malleable mealy Jon Tester, Mealy-mouthers, Wilderness. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Go Denny go Denny go Denny go …

  1. mahmet7 says:

    There is the Max factor to consider.

    From an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, Feb. 2, 1992: “Over 6 million acres of Montana’s National Forest wilderness lands have yet to be added to the national wilderness system. The Burns-Baucus bill would protect only about 1.2 million acres, handing the rest over to corporate barons.”

    A Baucus-Rehberg bill is well within the realm of possibility. Anyone tired of retro yet?


  2. jack ruby says:

    Doesn’t Rehberg oppose the bill?


  3. jack ruby says:

    OK well bear with me as Im not that up to speed on this, but why bother with the charade of opposing it if it contains what Rehberg wants? Is it not the Republicans that are preventing its passage? (Im assuming thats the case maybe im wrong though perhaps its liberal democrats in the senate)
    If they were really in agreement why wouldnt the republicans just pass it with the support of the conservative democrats and move onto the next round of raping and pillaging?


    • The problem is porcupines with their quills up. Public opinion still matters, and environmentalists are vocal and organized, unlike the public at large. That’s why they are so demonized, and they are effective in spreading their message and applying pressure.

      Beyond that, mahmet7, who is a political expert in this area, can explain the dynamics of fake-two party politics and the environment.


  4. jack ruby says:

    I get your deeper points but regarding this specific bill..if they (the republicans and sellout dems) truly had shared objectives and their shared objectives were reflected in this bill then why bother with the ongoing subterfuge as opposed to just passing the bill? As a casual observer it appeared to me there was as much vocal opposition to the bill from the right as the left. From what I can tell it was a non starter in the republican controlled house as well as from more liberal democrats on tester’s subcommitee.


    • I dispute “right” versus “left” as there is no “left” in this country. But there are corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans, and organized citizen groups who oppose both. “Organized” is the key – environmental groups are knowledgeable and skilled at legal maneuvering. People get after them for introducing so many lawsuits, but the real problem is that they win those lawsuits.

      So for all the years that Burns was in office, he did his best to accomplish what Tester set out to do with FJRA, and failed. Meanwhile, Baucus was in the wings, and his role was preemptive – whenever there was a Wilderness Bill proposed, the last one being Pat Williams in the lower house, Max blocked it in the upper house using an alternative bill that designated the rocks and ice that is in Tester’s bill as wilderness.

      The only thing that changed with this go-round was the addition of MWA to the team along with Trout Unlimited. I suppose it was thought that with those two groups aboard and a Democrat introducing the bill, that perceptions would be managed and it could slide through.

      Why it did not slide through I do not know. Talk to Matt Koehler, and maybe mahmet will chime in here.


  5. mahmet7 says:

    Historically, in Idaho and Montana at least, even “rocks and ice” wilderness is opposed by corporate Republicans. So, for corporate Democrats to pass their paltry 18%-20% of potential bills, language to bar grassoots environmentalists from the courtroom has been added to sweeten the deal. Max’s recent “The Front” bill is a perfect example. A fraction of the roadless area (the uncontested portion — or rocks and ice) is designated wilderness. The rest is “special management,” codified use for various local special interest groups from ranchers, to timber barons, to ORV enthusiasts. Only the oil drillers take the hit. In the end, over 80% of the roadless area now “protected” by the Pew/Clinton Roadless Rule is protected. Da-da!


  6. mahmet7 says:

    Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) of Senate Energy and Natural Resources does have standards, and a sense of history. He knows above all that if he does it (mandated logging quotas and private outsourcing) for Tester it will never end. This is why Tester and Baucus attach FJRA to spending bills as riders. Every Senator fears the wrath of “Mad Max.” We’ve dodged the bullet more than once, but Reid and Obama really don’t give a crap. Montana has a very strong pro-wilderness history, which is why MWA and TU are so critical to selling the lie over and over again to the unsuspecting public. They do what Max and Tester tell them to do. Every popular progressive issue has its loyal cherub sellouts.


    • Nice to hear that we have a principled man in NM – is he targeted for elimination?


    • Matthew Koehler says:

      mahmet7 is right on the money here…Those who don’t wish to have Sen Tester open up the doors for Congress to simply start mandating logging (or oil and gas development, grazing, mining, etc) on public lands owe a huge debt of gratitude to Senator Bingaman, and all the majority staffers on the Senate’s ENR committee, for that matter.

      It’s a testament to the current sad state of the public lands/Wilderness movement in Montana that DC-based staffers on the ENR committee have a much deeper understanding, respect and appreciation for our public lands legacy and environmental laws and regulations than some of the youngin’s in Montana currently pimping Tester’s mandated logging bill on behalf of groups like Montana Wilderness Association. But I guess when you put politics ahead of principle that’s bound to happen.


      • jack ruby says:

        Don’t they owe a debt of gratitude to Dennis Rehberg for helping block the rider in the House that would have blown right by Bingaman? I suppose Rehberg must also have a much deeper understanding, respect and appreciation for our public lands, legacy and environmental laws than these youngins.


        • I am trying to understand this as well, as I know that Rehberg has no more respect for our wild lands than does Tester. Must we understand all of politics? I do know that the bill, which did indeed include the rocks and ice lands, was unacceptably to the majority of Republicans because it contained any lands at all for wilderness.


          • Jack ruby says:

            I’ll admit to not having depth of knowledge on the subject and I respect Koehlers work and his knowledge of the bill is clearly unsurpassed. But he also has a stake and while rehbergsposition (tongue in cheek) would be to oppose all wild lands it’s hard not to take the flip view and ascribe to Matt that he opposes all logging or ATF use or whatever on public lands. I just have a hard time believing the bill is as bad as all that because if it were I think it would have passed. I don’t see how the mouth breathers in the house would not be lining up for it. It seems to have enough in it to piss almost everyone off which means to me it might have actually been a logical compromise. Those types of things don’t get far these days though.


          • Isn’t jujitsu a fair practice in politics? If it is a bad bill, which it is IMO, then use of his opposition by people of opposite ideology is fair game.

            This is one of those areas where if you step into the “process” you get screwed. the idea that soemthing’s has to be done, that there needs to be a compromise, is process talk. Fact is that for so long as nothing is done, we have 6 million acres of roadless lands, shrinking daily I realize but mostly intact. Processes are generally set up to screw the environment and the need to compromise, useful when legislation is needed, is not a need when no legislation is needed.


          • Jack ruby says:

            Well if your position, as a supporter of wild lands, is that no bill is needed or that no bill is better than this bill that’s fine of course. My point would be I don’t think you can group tester or the bill in with the far out opposition to your position as those far out people did not support it. They apparently think as you do that the status quo is preferable. Where the truth lies in all that is beyond me.


          • The right’s position is that we either have enough, too much, or should have no wilderness. So they would oppose the Tester bill on principle that not even rocks and ice should be protected. That’s always a looming concern. But if Rehberg and Tester and Baucus squabble and as a result, nothing happens, I’m all for it.

            By the way, as Koehler repeatedly documented, FJRA had many provisions not dealing with wilderness but violating both letter and spirit of the ’64 act. There was a whole lot going on there so FJRA was a full frontal attack on the remaining wild lands. It was not a compromise in that Tester never took time to negotiate with serious environmental groups, did not answer their letters or emails. He was serious about ramming it through.

            And of course, it is never over.


      • Thank you for chiming in here, Matt. we also owe you a debt of gratitude for your tireless work on this issue, your reasoned and documented posts on the blogs, and in newspapers and your testimony before Tester, for which he and his staff handed you personal abuse.

        Our quarterly contribution to WildWest Institute is late and on the way.


  7. jack ruby says:

    As best I can tell it was shot down in its latest attempt to be added as a rider to the budget by the House negotiators..supposedly at the behest of Rehberg. I guess you could make the case that in this instance Rehberg’s ideas of electoral advantage outweighed his shared objectives with Tester. Or you could say that he doesn’t share the same objectives.


  8. jack ruby says:

    My comment is awaiting moderation? ha you having a troll problem or something?


    • When that happens please understand: WordPress does it and notifies me and then i have to approve your comment. I have nothing to do with it as I don’t set the parameters by which they are judging what is spam and what is not. I have no clue why your innocent comment was sidetracked.


  9. mahmet7 says:

    I did hear that Bingaman is retiring. That makes 4 Senate Ds according to my count hanging it up.

    There is strong opposition to ANY wilderness in the areas cherry-picked for FJRA (Yaak, Seeley Lake, and Deer Lodge). Rehberg even made a big stink about the National Monument in the Missouri Breaks and there’s almost no statutory protection associated with Monument status. He’s running consistent with his past positions.

    Baucus snookered Burns back in the early ’90’s over wilderness v. logging in the West Pioneers. That rare “bipartisan” effort failed when Burns retaliated.

    There’s a possibility Republicrat Max would prefer Rehberg over Tester. He’s running his own ads for 2014. In you your face Tester. More flexibility on close, meaningful votes.


    • jack ruby says:

      The general public in Montana are succeptible to all kinds of goofy conspiracy theories about this stuff when it comes to wildlands. Every once in a while if im on the road during the work week ill tune into some AM talk radio and you hear it all. They encourage people to believe that the monument in the breaks is going to lead to a federally owned buffalo delivered by UN black helicopter living in every Montanan’s yard, all at the behest of the UN Agenda 21 and the NWO.


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