Posted by: ericgrimsrud | July 11, 2015

On the raising of (Judas) Goats in Montana

Whenever  I observe an elected politician doing the bidding of well-healed corporations at the expense of the general public, I begin to suspect that there might not be any good reason for their actions other than the fact that their future livelihood might depend on the generosity of their corporate friends.  Such behavior can be entirely legal if carefully done, and due to the recent Citizens United ruling of our Supreme Court, is now even more likely than ever to occur.  It should not be surprising, therefore, to see that a few such Judas Goats among our elected officials get properly trained – that is, to lead their herds to slaughter for their own personal gains.  I am therefore wondering if Montana’s new Congressman, Ryan Zinke, is about to provide us with an excellent example of this phenomenon.

As reported in a short news release in the Daily Inter Lake of Kalispell, Montana, of July 10, the Obama administration is presently trying to correct what it believes are inappropriate sales of Montana coal deposits – by which the coal companies involved are attempting to avoid paying the State of Montana the full value of those deposits. In defense of their actions, the coal companies point out that the laws they are abiding by have been on the books since 1980. What this article failed to point out, however, is how the Citizens United ruling – which allows unlimited campaign donations – has changed everything – in favor of the well-healed. .

Ironically, one of those most strongly resisting a change in those now outdated 1980 laws is Montana’s own congressional representative, Republican Ryan Zinke, whose recent election to the House just happens to have been strongly assisted by one of fossil fuel corporations involved in the contested sales.  The question now before us, of course, is whose interests is Congressman Zinke serving in this case?  Is it those of the public or those of the corporations?  Surely, the public would prefer to receive the full value of their assets, would they not?  And other than his own self interests, I don’t see any valid reasons for Zinke’s actions in this case.  If there are any, I would be glad to hear what they are and post them on the comments section of this post.  Of course, this offer is also extended to you, Representative Zinke, should you like to send me that list.

For a more complete account of the details of these coal sales, see Thom Hartmann’s recent article at

In it, he provides the financial details of the sale and offers a creative, if also humorous, solution.  That is, since large corporations now have the right to donate unlimited amounts to the election of public officials, we now also need an analogous investment mechanism by which individual citizens can also get a “piece of that action” via their smaller investments in creative financial products such as a “Zinke Fund”, for example, that looks for new ways to give away public assets to private interests.  As Hartmann points out in the Zinke example, the “returns” for such “investments” in our “public servants” can be extraordinarily high.

Toon of the Week, thanks to Union of Concerned Scientists

2015 Toon 28

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