Will.i.am Clark, Citizen United for Himself

William Clark, one of Montana's three copper barons

William Clark, one of Montana’s three copper barons

William A. Clark was one of Montana’s so-called copper kings. He was richer than you or I will ever be, although he is now dead and we are not, so we’ve got that on him. On the other hand, you and I shall also be dead one day. Bummer, man.

The reasons Mr. Clark got so rich was 1) drive, ambition and hard work; 2) a mountain of Montana minerals; 3) unscrupulous cunning and greed.

Someone somewhere estimated that William A. Clark was the 50th richest American who ever lived. His yearly income in 1920 was said to be $12 million, at a time when a well-off doctor or lawyer earned $4,000 a year. He used his fiduciary deposits to build the largest, most opulent mansion on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. It was so sumptuous it was awful so they had to tear it down a few years after he died. There might be a Walmart there by now who knows.

His daughter Huguette lived for several years in that mansion, then had a good look at it and moved out. She died in 2011 at the age of 104. She owned many homes and mansions, scattered throughout the country, but had no children. Instead she had a large collection of creepy dolls, like the ones in they had in the Twilight Zone.

Clark started out as a Good Guy. He moved to Montana and lived among the people he employed, even if he did live in the nicest mansion on the block. A self-made man, he began modestly, working as a transport driver, bringing stuff like eggs from Salt Lake City to the Montana mining fields, where eggs were worth their weight in copper if uncracked. Instead of spending his money on booze, women and philosophy textbooks like most miners, he saved it and invested. Soon he had enough money to buy a bank, and then it was goodbye blue collar, hello golden calf.

Clark quickly bought up a vast collection of mines, smelters, electric companies, railroads and newspapers throughout Montana. He attended Rich Guy Only Clubs all over the place, why not he had his own fancy train, and expanded his holdings to mines in other western states.

Still, Clark identified with his workers and supported the miners’ unions. Imagine that. He paid good wages too, once thwarting an attempt by out-of-state mining companies to cut Butte workers’ salaries from the outrageous $3.50 a day to $3.00., a rate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weeps tragically for.

Mr. Clark’s two competitors for Montana Copper King were Marcus Daly and F.  Augustus Heinze. More about them later, but take it from me, they pretty much all hated each other, the way Geraldo Rivera hates Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Daly ruled his fiefdom from Anaconda while Clark fiefed in Helena. Both based their operations in Butte, where they ran competing newspapers. Even then power meant media.

Clark was very active in Montana politics as a Democrat, although back then Democrats were more like Republicans are today and Republicans were more like today’s Democrats. That’s why we need history so pay attention.

It was Clark’s obsession with being a senator from Montana that changed him from being a Good Guy into a Bad Guy. He tried three times before succeeding. The first time he got caught, in 1899, he just handed out naked money. How could he know that one of his bribees, State Senator Fred Whiteside from Flathead County, would be so stupid as to refuse to take a $30,000 payoff? Honestly! Some folks are like that but not me.

The reason Clark thought he could buy his way into the Senate was because this was before 1912, when they passed the 17th Amendment, you know, the one that allows for direct election of U.S. Senators? Back then they were appointed by state legislatures. Clark’s thinking was that if you couldn’t buy your way in, what’s the point? Money is just speech after all. This is why to this day Clark is a hero to any party that will take the money and drink the tea.

Incredibly, even though there was a public furor with all sorts of horrified publicity across the country, the 1899 Montana legislature bent over for Clark and appointed him Montana’s second senator. They even booted out Sen. Whiteside for being a pesky goody-two-shoes.

Clark later admitted he’d spent at least $272,000 to “campaign” for his Senate seat that season, maybe as much as $400,000.

But the battle wasn’t over. When Clark went to Washington D.C. to swivel around in his chair and drop a loogie or three in his spittoon, Republican forces led by Marcus Daly and sitting Senator Thomas Carter demanded the Senate as a whole refuse to seat Clark. They were suspicious about illegalities. So the next year, 1900, they had a big investigation that went on for months. A number of embarrassed Montana legislators had to explain in public how they could afford their spiffy new buggies and whitewall whippersnappers. Before the commission could issue a final report, Clark fixed them all by resigning on May 15. End of Round One.

Round Two was where the real fun happened. So, Montana is chalked up to have two senators like everyone else, right? Only now there was one vacancy, thanks to Clark’s resignation. Governor Robert Smith hated Clark. But his lieutenant governor, A.E. Spriggs was on Team Clark. Smith was lured out of state by Clark associates, and Spriggs, who’d been gone himself, got back just in time to have Charlie Clark, William’s son, deliver his pa’s letter of resignation. Spriggs realized he had the legal authority to appoint an interim Montana senator. So he appointed William Clark. Why not? He already owned stationary with “Senator Clark” printed on it.

This ruse lasted just long enough until Smith got back. He cancelled the appointment and named someone else.

Round Three happened in 1900, which was also an election year. In between warming a disputed seat in the Senate, and resigning and being reappointed, Clark allied himself with the forces of Augustus Heinze. Heinze didn’t care so much about the US Senate, but he wanted control of the Butte-Silver Bow county offices. Clark agreed, threw his considerable media influences behind the deal, and the two copper barons outfoxed Daly. Clark got appointed Senator again and Daly surprised everybody by dropping dead on November 12.

So William Clark achieved his dream of becoming Senator William Clark. He celebrated by moving the hell out of Montana and never coming back. By the way, he was a lousy senator who didn’t accomplish a thing for anybody.

Mark Twain hated Clark. In a 1907 essay he wrote:

He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs. To my mind he is the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed’s time.”

Twain, it must be noted, died a century before Donald Trump was invented.

William Clark’s debasement of Montana and American politics stands as a shining memorial to the punks who think Selfishness is a Virtue.

One last note about William Clark: His ahead-of-his time fashion sense. Clark’s influential Crazy Hair is everywhere these days, from homeless guys to mad bombers. Check out famous Unabomber Ted Kacynzski’s locks.

Ted Kacynski, fashion follower?

Ted Kacynski, fashion follower?

by Lance Grider

Dinesh D’Souza Kept D’Penis in D’Pants for Bozeman Rally

Dinesh D'Souza

Dinesh D’Souza, babe magnet

Convicted liar, adulterer, wife beater and political pornographer Dinesh D’Souza was the keyhole attraction at a meeting of the Gallatin Valley GOP on October 4, 2014.

D’Souza delighted his fans eager to hear about the William Ayers-Obama-Hillary Clinton conspiracy that forced him to commit adultery two years ago, as determined by the right-wing World Magazine. D’Souza was subsequently asked to resign from his presidency of King’s College, a New York City Bible college (!), in October of 2012.

Aside from being a well-paid figurehead, D’Souza taught classes in Situation Ethics and the “Ten Suggestions” at King’s College.

Since then, D’Souza has gained fame as an irrational and unintentionally funny critic of President Obama. For example, it was apparently Obama’s fault when, earlier last year, Dinesh dished that he willingly broke a well-known campaign finance law and pled guilty.

“I cannot believe how stupid I was, how careless, and how irresponsible,” D’Souza told the court. “I took a short-cut, knowing that there was a campaign limit and tried to get around the limit. This should not have happened, and I am ashamed and contrite that it did.”

D’Souza now realizes it was mind-altering microwaves beamed from the eyeballs of William Ayers, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that were behind his actions, and not free will.

Similarly, his decision to divorce Dixie, his wife of 20 years, was also likely caused by Obamawaves, he guessed. His wife had gotten old and ugly requiring him to slap her around. As a famous “conservative” author, he deserved a young trophy wife.

Nevertheless, D’Souza pointed out that, for the sake of appearances, he did not check into a hotel room with just any young woman during his stay in Bozeman.

“She had to be really hot,” he said, licking his lips while making goo-goo eyes. Still, he added that any possible indiscretion on his part would have been the fault of Obama.

US President addresses the nation; Enemies in ISIS and FOX NEWS exult

Fox News Presenter Megyn Kelly

President Obama’s call for America to respond to recent terror attacks in Iraq caught his enemies in ISIS and FOX News off-guard Wednesday night, Sept. 10, and both immediately began calling for a new strategy for Obama and America’s defeat.

Following the president’s address, FOX blonde bombshell Megyn Kelly (36-24-36) consulted a lesser blonde bombshell (34-28-34) whose name I didn’t catch as to why Obama was doomed to fail. Both agreed it was became he was an ugly stupid face and ugly. Fox News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume (52-42-38) spoke to Megyn while wearing a fashionable orange tie and plaid shirt. He suggested Obama was incapable of leading America because he was not a white man like himself or Dick Cheney. Canadian-Cuban immigrant Senator Ted Cruz claimed the president was “fundamentally unserious,” because dropping bombs on our enemies is no way to kill them. Instead, Cruz insisted on the need to repeal Obamacare as the only means to eliminate terror.

In the end, all the FOX News pundits agreed that only Republicans are capable of doing something so there, you losers.

Granville Stuart, Pioneer or Flat-Out Rascal?

Granville Stuart

Granville Stuart, ‘Mr Montana’

Like many Montanans, my favorite pioneer is Granville Stuart. He was the first man to be called Mr. Montana, winning the title at an 1867 pageant in Bannock, mostly from points in the swimsuit competition. He won a sash, a cuspidor and a moosehead minus three points on the left rack.

Aside from cutting a dashing profile in his skivvies, Granville was a pioneering entrepreneur, amateur historian, conservationist, book lover, artist and vigilante. He was elected to the Montana territorial assembly five times and held several elective positions in Deer Lodge Valley.

I like Granville because he was not just a doer but a dreamer. Even after he’d done the Herculean task of traveling all the way from his home in Iowa to the gold fields of California in 1849, he failed to find any gold. Maybe it was because, as he admitted in his diary (published in 1925), he preferred to sit on the creek bed reading Lord Byron instead of panning for gold. Well who can blame him? Panning for crumbs of gold is hard, tedious work and we all know what a kneeslapper Childe Harald’s Pilgrimage is.

Having failed to make millions as a Forty-Niner, Granvy and his brother James headed back to Iowa via Montana, thanks to having no GPS. However, once there they heard about a local gold strike. The Stuarts realized the only sure way to make a fortune from the goldfields was to sell hamburger mixin’s to other miners. So Granville and James, and their partners, including fellow Montana legendary pioneer Samuel T. Hauser, started the DHS Ranch, a massive operation that  ran cattle all over the free rangeland of the territory, from the Deer Lodge Valley near Helena. While they didn’t get rich, they did get tolerably well-off. Thank you free government land!

In April of 1862, 27-year-old Granville married a 12- year-old Shoshone girl with the euphonious moniker of Awbonnie Tookanka who gave him 11 children, not all at once. She died 26 years later, in 1888, aged 38, of ‘puerperal fever’ a medical condition meaning she’d birthed too many frontier babies. Surprised?

The two decades between 1860 and 1880 were Granville’s salad days. He spent the time running cattle with his brother and friends and lynching the odd cattle rustler. He and his vigilante friends were known as Stuart’s Stranglers and most of the people they lynched probably had it coming. The Montana Stock Growers voted him president as a reward. They gave him a sash, a cuspidor and a moosehead minus three points on the right rack. See how things balance out?

The 1888 death of his common law Indian wife brought a great change to Granville’s life. So did his bankruptcy, thanks to the alternating years of drought and blizzard that ended the romance of the Montana range between 1885 and 1889.

Two years after Awbonnie’s death, Granville, age 56, snuck off and married Allis Brown (Fairfield), age 26, purtiest former school marm on the DHS ranch. The Ol’ Horndog had decided to marry Miss Brown without consulting the kids, who were vexed sore. The older ones considered their new mother an opportunist at best, and a prostitute at worst. Oldest daughter Mary, newly married herself at 18, wrote husband Ted Blue that Allis “is very pretty but did you ever see one that wasn’t?” By ‘one’ she didn’t mean bachelorette.

Granville had decided he no longer wanted to be a roughneck rancher and father of nine mixed-blood children. Instead, he wanted to be a distinguished foreign diplomat with a young white wife and pomaded mustachios. It’s usually that or lead singer in a rock and roll band.

What happened to the rest of Stuart’s children seems to have been a matter of no concern to Granville. The four youngest children, Sam, 13, Edward, 9, Harry, 5, and two-year-old Irene, were shipped off to the St. Ignatius Indian School on the Flathead reservation. Within a few years of the family’s dissolution, oldest son Tom was committed to the state mental hospital at Warm Springs.  Sam drifted back to the cowboy life and earned some fame as an adult, getting himself featured in Life magazine.

Granville took home his World’s Worst Dad mug, and by 1891, was reduced to being a humble tenant farmer on a tiny slice of the same vast spread he’d once owned.

Lucky for him, friends and connections came through. Montana’s first Governor, his pal Joseph K. Toole, appointed him State Land Agent. Now preferring politics over the plow, Stuart began a letter-writing campaign to other friends, calling in chits on his past glory in the hopes of improving his economic condition. It worked. Granville had banked enough respect as one of the state’s pioneers to get appointed US ambassador to Uruguay, most vital of all our South American allies beginning with the letter U. He and the missus enjoyed two years livin’ la vida loca in Montevideo. He was apparently a good diplomat, with an annual salary of $7,500, but he still hadn’t learned how to handle money.

When President Grover Cleveland left office for the second time in 1898, so did all his sycophants. They had to, they had to make room for a new bunch of sycophants. While waiting for his next appointment to a foreign embassy whose name begins with a U-V-W-X-Y-Z to come up, the Stuarts returned to Montana. They opened a boarding house and gift shop in Butte. It’s closed by now. Still, it wasn’t enough to pay the bills, so Granville also got a job as head librarian at the Butte Public Library in 1905, retiring in 1914, nearly 80. If he’d had Wyatt Earp’s tenacity for self-promotion and whoppers he might have lived long enough to see the autobiography he had written made into a silent movie. We Montanans are too modest I always say.

Granville died of heart disease in Butte on October 2, 1918, at the age of 84.

Second wife Allis outlived her husband by three decades and died in poverty at a friend’s home in Hamilton Valley in 1947. Don’t let them tell you we don’t need Social Security.

by Lance Grider

What a Friend We Have in Sesquipedalianism

power words

Years ago, in my nonage, there was a nationally renowned political commentator who called himself William F. Buckley. I had many things in common with Mr. Buckley. We both came from large ( twelve kids) families. We were both interested in examining religion and philosophy, to see how , as ol’ sock-it-to-em Socrates said, to live a better life, as both an individual and a nation.

William F. Buckley, word maven

William F. Buckley, word maven

But many more things separated us. He was an east coast Catholic, I was a western Lutheran. He had a national newspaper column and a television program called Firing Line. I read newspapers and watched television. He was famous and I was a nobody — although I was only 13. Most importantly, he was a conservative, firmly entrenched in his own elite background. I considered myself a commoner, and a Gene Debs/Norman Thomas/Michael Harrington socialist. Well, later I did.

Yet in both his writings and his TV appearances, Mr. Buckley was a great champion of sesquipedalians – a big word meaning “big words.”

People don’t like other people who use big words. They don’t like them for the same reason they don’t like people who have big muscles: They think they’re showing off. In both cases, people are only sometimes right.

The millionaire son of a millionaire oil tycoon, Buckley’s vast family wealth and natural abilities gave him all the advantages of a sophisticated American/European education. He enjoyed getting liberals, leftists and Democrats on his program and ridiculing their statements, in a kind of slow gentlemanly debate that modern TV seldom tolerates.  Many times his basic arguments were no more sophisticated than anything Rush Limbaugh says. But Buckley  expressed them in such eloquent prose you were compelled to listen. It was fun.

It wasn’t only that  government programs were ineffective, Buckley would argue, they were brazen attempts to “immanentize the eschaton.”  (Immanent means inherent, and immanentizing is a theological doctrine about how the spirit of God lives in and through the world.  The eschaton here means the end times of Christian teaching, the creation of heaven on earth.) This was a phrase he’d lifted from an obscure right wing writer named Eric Voegelin. So not only were Democratic (or Republican) attempts to make life better for the Average Joe doomed to fail, they were blasphemous in just trying to accomplish Good Things, because only the Church can do Good Things. (And by Church Buckley meant the Roman Catholic Church, and a pretty narrow pew therein.)

This remains a popular canard among conservatives to this day, except usually they don’t know any big words to express it. Instead they grunt that Jesus was against paying taxes to the government to help poor people, which he wasn’t.

Okay, I realized, politics aside,  I may never be an elite east coast educated elite like Mr. Buckley. But I do have a dictionary. I can steal all those word he uses and make them mine. This is a great socialist endeavor, the redistribution of knowledge, as American as Ben Franklin establishing the first public library.

I started a list of all the unknown words Buckley used, adding them one by one. I read the dictionary. I took Latin in school, and although I can no longer read much of it, I do retain the ability to spot a Latin origin in many an obscure English word. (Keeping your own dictionary is not that unusual, many journalists and professional writers do so, for the same reason mechanics collect tools, even ones they may never use.)

The computer age has simplified both the keeping and creating of wordlists so much I am dumbfounded why people don’t have a bigger vocabulary. It’s easier than ever. And yet most people use the same kitchen words over and over instead of learning new ones. Imagine rappers like Nicki Minaj verbalizing her aggressions with Latinates instead of telling everyone to f-k off you mf. What a great boon to a great booty this would be!

Sadly, I realize this is not to be. Laziness is the norm. My friend Steve D. chastises me for my vocabulary, and brags that he refuses to look up new words. You shouldn’t have to, I keep telling him; a sesquipedalian skillfully used gives you its meaning in the sentence. Buckley could do this when he wanted to. Other times, he would snicker and sneer, delighted to watch his opponent squirm until they admitted “I don’t know what that word means.”

While I do not use vocabulary to be a bully, I remain unbowed in my appreciation of its expansion. So in his defense of words, I tip my hat to William F Buckley. May he rusticate in the Fields of Elysium.

[There is a contest with pecuniary reward for this malaise. Et docti cave!]

Daines Uses More Government to Solve Veterans Problem

Congressman Steve Daines is once again bragging about how big government can solve problems for Americans.

In a current television ad, the Daines campaign touts the Tea Party candidate’s resourcefulness in using his political clout to get flags put on grave markers for veterans.

According to the ad, current Veterans Administration policy disallows anyone but family from putting a memorial on a grave in a veterans’ cemetery such as the Yellowstone County Veterans’ Cemetery.  Daines’ ad states that dead homeless veterans were thus being treated unjustly.

Daines claims he “successfully secured a commitment from the VA that this problem would be fixed” and even “cosponsored legislation to amend the new headstone policy, which was ultimately reversed by the VA last year.”

The ad makes no mention of anything Mr. Daines has or might do to help still-living homeless veterans.

Because that would take real leadership.

Daines Sues Dead Congressman for Voting Like Obama

Rep Steve Daines today sued former Montana Congressman Dennis Rehberg for voting to support President George Bush for exceeding his constitutional authority.

“Time and time again, the American people have seen President Bush, I mean president Obama, delay and change laws unilaterally — or fail to execute laws altogether. Our constitutional system of checks and balances not only protects the American people from government overreach — it ensures that Americans’ voices are heard in their government. It’s important that the constitutional separation of powers is upheld no matter who is in the White House,” repeated Daines in a logically incoherent statement given to him by his Republican Party bosses.

On Thursday Daines voted with his fellow radical Republicans to sue President Obama for making changes to the Affordable Care Act. In 2008, President George Bush made similar changes to the Medicare Plan B legislation, which went without objection by then-Montana Congressman Dennis Rehberg and other Republicans. But Daines refused to see any hypocrisy.

“Rehberg is dead. Bush is dead. Their voices don’t count anymore. Only the voice of the American people matters, just so long as they agree with me,” Daines said.

When it was pointed out that Rehberg and Bush are still alive, Daines confronted the objection with his usual patriotic evasion.

“Squirrel!” he cried, looking into the bushes.

The Improbable History of Montana: Introduction

Montana is the fourth largest state in the Union. At 147,040 square miles (or 380,800 sq km) it is two-thirds the size of France, although it is 95 percent less Frenchy.

The land that would become Montana originally belonged to the Native Americans. Then illegal European immigrants persuaded the Indians to cede their lands, mostly by shooting them. This was considered rude by the Native population, whose traditional ways only allowed ethnic cleansing free of guns and record keeping.

Some famous white people became early Montana tourists. For example, captains William A. Clark and Meriwether Lewis traveled through in 1805-1806. They gave the Indians cheap beads and tobacco. The Indians gave them friendship, food, and a warm place to stay for the winter. Oh, and syphilis.

President Thomas Jefferson hired Lewis and Clark. He wanted to discover what was Out Yonder so more people would be free to go there and open slave plantations. Jefferson funded his “Corps of Discovery” through taxpayer money. He had to, he’d massively and illegally spent the entire American treasury for three generations to come on the Louisiana Purchase. Liberals! However, back in them-thar days, if the American President said it was okay to do something, it was. Nowadays it isn’t, unless we get a Fox News host in the White House.

None of this mattered much to the first pioneers, who forgot about both Lewis and Clark and Thomas Jefferson . Pioneers are the guys who sleep through history class because they figure living it is boring enough. (A few years later, after he returned from his travels, and depressed that he was not mentioned in any history books, Meriwether Lewis committed suicide. Or did he? )

Montana was soon found to be chock full of minerals under the ground where the Great Spirit hid them. Gold was the favorite, but there was lots of other junk, including silver and copper and yogi berra sapphires. This is why we call Montana the Treasure State, and not because Fred and Wilma Treasure lived here.

White men went nuts over buried treasure and dashed out by the tens of thousands to dig it up so they could spend it on booze and whores, a dynamic part of any frontier economy. They built ghost towns all over the place so they could live better as ghosts like Casper.

Journey along as we explore more improbable facts about our Treasure State!