Judge overturns Montana contribution limits, making politics fun again

The whole state of Montana until yesterday

The whole state of Montana until Tuesday

You can’t hear it, but someone is lazily picking a banjo. The buffalo no longer roam, having decided one place is as good as another. The deer and the antelope play video games. Montana politics is sleepy, so sleepy. But then look what happens: a federal judge rules unconstitutional several elements of our campaign finance law. Suddenly, the dog sits up. As of Tuesday afternoon—three weeks before the primaries—political parties can contribute unlimited amounts to individual candidates. Judge Charles Lovell’s ruling seems to indicate that limits on donations from individuals and corporations are lifted as well, but Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl believes he must only revert to the limits in place before the ones Lovell struck down, in 1994.

Anyway, the last time this law was briefly overturned—for nine days in 2012—Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill accepted a $500,000 donation. Our easy slumber may have just been broken. I, for one, welcome the impending rush of cash into Montana politics. The 2016 campaign needs a shot of adrenaline. Why, just this week in the Missoula Independent, I wrote about how Bullock versus Gianforte has been a clash of tepid negatives. But the potential for political action committees of all kinds to spend unlimited amounts of money say unlimited amounts of speech ensures a vigorous exchange of ideas. So pander to me, boys. I’m all napped up.

Retail federation says rise in overtime threshold “demotes millions”

Kombat! Kids: How many black men can you find in this image search for "white collar employees?"

How many black men can you find in this image search for “white collar employees?”

Today, the Labor Department will release new regulations that raise the salary threshold for overtime pay to $47,476 a year. Since 2004, salaried employees have been ineligible for overtime if they made more than $23,660. This threshold established the terms of work recognizable to people around my age: 40 hours a week when you interview, 50 to 60 hours a week for the same pay once you’ve got the job. Raising the threshold will increase the number of salaried employees who get paid extra for working more, forcing employers to either hire more people or better compensate those they already have. It also reduces the number of people who are considered “management” in the Labor Department rubric. Perhaps that’s what prompted David French of the National Retail Federation to say this:

“This is an extreme revision in the white-collar threshold. By executive fiat, the Department of Labor is effectively demoting millions of workers.”

It’s the kind of demotion where they get paid more. If French ever loses his job at NRF, he’s a shoe-in for a position at the National Board of Sophistry.

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The bar between Wholesale Industrial Adhesives and Frank’s Exotic Birds has had its liquor license revoked, due to mishaps.

Student voting to name the new addition to Westside Middle School is now closed. Graduation is scheduled for Saturday in Bonerfart Auditorium.

The “World’s Best Grandpa” mug awarded at Christmas has been taken back due to the events of New Year’s Eve. It will not be given to the runner-up, due to complicity in the events of New Year’s Eve.

The Valentine’s Day Haunted Hayride and Fireworks Show has been canceled for unrelated reasons of clarity and safety.

The Ninth Annual Great Trail and River Cleanup Festival, billed as a “fun and educational experience for the whole family,” is pretty much a scam.

The Five Valleys Skeet Shooting and Pigeon Breeders’ Association has decided to split into two separate organizations.

Uncle Kooky’s Funtime Family Pizza Palace has been closed due to snakes.

Due to an editing mistake, a previous announcement in this space reported that Charla May Stevens, queen of the Peach Festival and class valedictorian, had become engaged to a “shiftless drifter from parts unknown.” In fact he is from Indianapolis. We regret the error.

Henry B. Lakin, DDS, and Cynthia Lakin are pleased to announce the marriage of their son Todd to Rachel Lakin (née Smith) on May 14th. Rachel is an attorney with a master’s degree in management from the Wharton School, and Todd is a freelance writer with an MFA in poetry from the University of Minnesota. Ronald and Margaret Smith regret the error.

The new soccer field next to the zoo had its grand opening Saturday night.

Sunday morning’s announcement that rare Chinese pandas Lun Lun and Mei Yan had unexpectedly given birth to a new baby panda has been withdrawn.

The zookeeper has been fired.

Ways to lose to Donald Trump: Run on land war in Asia

As Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Wallace Shawn taught us a classic error.

As Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Wallace Shawn taught us a classic error.

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, Hillary Clinton is guaranteed to become president. It’s obvious Trump can’t win. He’s utterly unqualified. His negatives are too high. Everyone of sense can see he is doomed in the general, just as we all knew his candidacy was going nowhere in the primaries. Okay, so he won almost all the primaries, but that was a fluke. This time, there’s no way. Democrats will keep the White House in 2016, because all of Trump’s signature issues appeal to fundamentally limited subsets of voters. He’s not selling anything the majority of Americans can agree on. On a completely unrelated note, the Intercept has reported that Trump called Hillary “trigger happy” at a rally in Lynden, Washington, where he warned that she would embroil the United States in another land war in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Hillary is courting neoconservatives put off by Trump’s isolationism. Here’s Republican strategist Steve Schmidt:

Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues. And the candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee.

Finally, the Democrats have an opportunity to position themselves as the party of hawks—and at a moment when war is so popular!

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Friday links! Cheat to win edition

Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics celebrate before tipping over a car.

Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics earn their families’ freedom.

We all know that it’s “cool” to work hard and play by the rules. That’s what our heroes do, from Captain America to Hillary Clinton. But what if hard work and rulesmanship were not, in fact, what we admire about those two fictional characters? What if winning were actually the coolest thing a person can do? Obviously I’m being facetious, since our society remains deeply committed to ethical behavior. But perhaps someday, in the distant future, cheating might become not accepted, per se, but so widespread that it no longer provokes outrage. Today is Friday, and cynicism benefits the crooked. Won’t you pretend it’s a big deal to catch ’em with me?

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