Wednesday Potpourri

Happy first (full) day of spring – happy hump day, too!  Hang in there – the weekend is within sight.

There were just so many things to write about today that I decided to do another “Wednesday Potpourri” column – and it’s one you really need to read.

Today I write about two Libertarians, corruption in state government, gas prices, little pink slime, no pay raise, Facebook and job interviews, Veterans, and neighborhood watch.

Did you hear about the two Libertarians…

Nope, it’s not a joke.  Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch (Democrat) decided Tuesday not to conduct a primary election in June between the two Libertarian U.S. Senate candidates.  The two Libertarian candidates (Dan Cox of Hamilton and Jerry McConnell of Missoula) will both appear on the November general election ballot.  There will also be one Democratic and one Republican nominee on the ballot.

First, the Libertarian Party should be upset that they are not treated equally with the Democratic and Republican parties.  Second, since Libertarians mostly lean to the conservative side of the fence, this decision should alarm the Montana Republican Party and Congressman Denny Rehberg, who is heavily-favored to be the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate race.  Third, if you are Senator Jon Tester (the Democratic nominee) and the Democrats, you are pretty happy with this decision knowing these two Libertarians will take votes that would have probably gone to Rehberg.

On Monday I wrote that there is a simple solution to the problem: “Put every candidate’s name on one ballot for the primary election.  For each office, the top two candidates who receive the most votes (regardless of their political party) would head to the general election.”

Corruption in State Government?  No!!!!!!

The Great Falls Tribune reported today, “A new report published this week found that Montana is at a high risk for corruption in state government.”

Ya think?  Montana received a D+ on their report card.

The Tribune also reported, “According to the report’s findings, Montana state government lacks transparency and accountability to citizens, and the state is ripe for corruption.”

It’s really time for Montana to move into this century…

Gas Prices:

Last week I paid $3.45 for a gallon of gas.  I could only put $30 in my tank.  This week the price is $3.49.  According to the average price per gallon in Montana is $3.57 and across the United States it is $3.84.

That is ridiculous. This will be an issue in November.

Little Pink Slime:

Most of us have eaten the pink slime – it’s the filler that is in about 70% of the ground beef sold in supermarkets.  It’s basically beef scraps (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…).

Since it deals with eating, U.S. Senator Jon Tester fired off a press release “calling on the USDA to take ‘pink slime’ off school lunch menus – and replace it with high-quality Montana beef.”

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle has all the information HERE.

I was wondering what would happen if Montana beef is used in making pink slime?  OMG!!!

No Pay Raises:

U.S. Senator Jon Tester “is pushing legislation to deny lawmakers their automatic pay raise next year.”  Since Tester may not be in office next year, I guess this is his way of “sticking it to the man.”

Funny how this legislation comes up in an election year, huh?

Seriously though – do millionaire senators and representatives really need to receive $174,000 per year?  On the other hand, some people say that even the $174,000 yearly salary is not attracting the best and brightest we have in this country to run for public office.

If passed, Tester’s bill only prevents pay raises for the year 2013.  I believe senators and representatives should have to live with the salary they received when they were first elected.  If they are re-elected, then they can get a pay raise. Make it the same for both the senate and house members (a pay raise every six years since that is a senator’s term).

Facebook and Job Interviews:

Some employers have asked for Facebook username and passwords from job candidates.  You can read one story about it HERE.

I guess it depends on how badly a person wants the job whether they want to give it or not.

That story got me thinking that maybe elected officials should require their employees to delete their Facebook page or at least have someone in the office monitor it.  They should at least make it private so “researchers” can’t easily access it.

I used to be Facebook friends with several folks who work for elected officials (from both political parties), but I dropped them.  I read a lot of their stupid comments and saw some silly photos that could get their boss in hot water – some were done when they were actually working.  So I figured I would drop them and that way when they crashed and burned, they would not think it was me who nailed them.

Some people are probably wondering if I saved any of the stupid comments and silly photos…

VA Montana:

According to this story, “The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has opened a formal review of the VA Montana Healthcare System.”

This is not a big deal.  Reminder:  The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General works for the VA.  They do these reviews all the time.  Once in a while they find something wrong.

In some places (like Montana), it is probably better to have veterans get treatment from their local medical and mental healthcare providers and have the VA pay for it.  This provides continuity for the veteran – which allows the veteran to develop a relationship and trust with the provider.  The VA does not need a clinic in every little town to provide excellent care for veterans. 

Neighborhood Watch:

It was a tragedy that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman has not been arrested and no charges have been brought against him.  That is wrong on many fronts.

As someone who carried a gun for a living, it’s pretty hard for me to believe that Zimmerman is using the “self-defense” angle – reportedly the kid was not armed.  We may never know what exactly happened.

Neighborhood watch programs are very worthwhile – but only if the right people are participating in them.  You can’t have a “Rambo” (even if Rambo can carry a concealed weapon) patrolling the neighborhood.

Follow Jack on Twitter @TheWesternWord. 



  1. I agree about reforming elections. I’ve written about it a couple of times.

    It seems like the system we have in place now doesn’t really serve anyone.

    • Pogie:

      Thanks – those were some good points in your two posts. I think too much emphasis is placed on party affiliation and not on the person. To some folks, the “R” or “D” after a candidate or elected official’s name automatically makes them the enemy – and we need to get away from that. -Jack

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