Caught My Eye…

Thanks for stopping by “Caught My Eye” which is coming to you from The Western Word world headquarters deep inside a bunker in Montana…

Just kiddin’ about the bunker – I’m actually in my basement.

If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted right here every Friday morning! This is when I take a quick look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little.

Today I write about the Ryan budget, the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, Barry Beach, Obama & Keystone, Rep. Vance McAllister, Kathleen Sebelius, a new app, plus we have TWO winners who are Making Montana Proud!

The Ryan Budget:

The “Ryan Budget” passed the House 219-205. No Democrats voted for it. Twelve Republicans voted against it. Montana’s Congressman Steve Daines did vote for it, which was a pretty gutsy vote.

The bill will die in the U.S. House.

The Western Word (TWW) did not receive a press release from Daines (I guess I have still not been cleared to receive them after multiple requests), but the Montana Democrats sent me one saying Daines’ vote, “would raise taxes on middle class families while cutting taxes for millionaires.” They add, “It’s self-serving that Congressman Daines would give himself a tax cut, while raising taxes on the middle class, increasing Medicare costs for seniors, ending financial assistance for low-income students, and cutting hunger programs for the most vulnerable.”

The Walsh for Senate team sent TWW a press release with the headline, “10 Ways The Daines Budget Hurts Montanans” saying the budget provides “Devastating Cuts Against Seniors, Students and Montana Families Fund Tax Breaks for Millionaires and Big Corporations.”

This vote by Daines did give the Democrats some “red meat” to use against him during the campaign season – we’re talking pushing-grandma-off-the-cliff type of red meat.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices:

It’s not that amazing that since the current Commissioner Jonathan Motl has been ruffling some feathers on the right, the legislature might just want to change the way the commissioner is chosen. Some on the right probably just wish he’d go away.

If the tables were turned and the commissioner was appointed by a Republican governor the reaction would be the same.

I’ve been writing about this office for years. Montana needs a political/campaign referee more than ever. Back in 2010, I said, “any person who’s chosen for the position and who has been on one side of the political fence or the other will just cause problems for the office.”

I also said, “As commissioner you are appointed by a politician (Governor) and voted on by politicians (state senate) to oversee political campaigns. Something just seems funny about that…”

They need people who have zero ties to politics. By zero ties I mean connections to political parties, elected officials, candidates, and they should have never donated money to a candidate or to political party. If any of this happened, they are tainted. No matter how hard they try, there will always be thoughts that they are favoring one side over the other.

Although some say the Districting and Apportionment commission selection process is also flawed, it might provide a blueprint to select the commissioners of political practices. Yes commissioners as plural. The Districting and Apportionment commission is formed after the census count every ten years for redistricting and reapportioning the state into legislative districts. Maybe they could cut it down from five to three commissioners to form a three member commission of political practices. One could be selected by the Democrats and one by the Republicans who are holding elective offices in the state. The third person would be the chair and would be chosen by the voters in a non-partisan election.

Although some still consider Montana the “Wild West” it does not mean our politics have to be that way.

Barry Beach:

Back in April 2008 I first wrote about Barry Beach after seeing the NBC Dateline show, “The Killing at Poplar River.” It was long before most people had taken an interest in the Beach case. Beach was sentenced to 100 years in prison (without parole) for the murder of Kim Nees in 1979.

After watching the show I wrote, “I have a hard time believing, after watching the show, that Barry Beach committed this murder.”

It was recently reported in the Great Falls Tribune that Beach’s clemency application will be taken up by the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole in Deer Lodge on April 29, 2014.

My opinion about this case is very simple; Beach should be released from prison. The state of Montana messed up terribly in the prosecution of this case. Montana’s judicial system has many problems and embarrasses the state on an almost weekly basis.

Obama & Keystone:

In the next six months, I expect President Obama to give the Keystone XL Pipeline a green light mostly to help some vulnerable Democrats in November. Giving the green light will help several Democrats in the November election – it would be kind of a “Hail Mary” to keep control of the senate. It would especially help Senator John Walsh of Montana, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Senator Mark Begich of Alaska.

“The Hill” website agrees with me. Read their article HERE.

If Obama feels all is lost, he could hold off approving it and use it as leverage against the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

I would not be surprised to see one of the three senators listed above be given the opportunity to “break the news” of the Keystone pipeline being approved by the President. After all, winning the next election is all that matters.

Making Montana Proud:

This section is where I mention people or groups whose actions embarrass Montana in some way.

-From the Ravalli Republic: Dan Rachell, 43, of Darby, Montana, was “arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for threatening the president.” He had told an acquaintance “he had trained his wife to be a ‘spotter’ and to assist him in an assassination attempt by providing ‘suppression fire’ should the president ever visit Hamilton.”

I don’t think his plan will work…

-From the Great Falls Tribune: Shawn Smith from Great Falls received a three-year deferred sentence from Cascade County District Court Judge Julie Macek for a single count of soliciting to commit assault with a weapon, a felony. He had offered to kill a woman’s ex-husband “for a small fee” according to the story.

According to the Tribune, “Deferred sentences are removed from a perpetrator’s record upon successful conclusion of probation.”

That was a pathetic sentence, Judge Macek.

Vance McAllister:

Proving that he is one Fruit Loop shy of a full bowl, Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) was caught on his own security camera kissing his staffer. I repeat, “caught on his own security camera.” They are both married. The staffer “has voluntarily left congressman’s employ” according to reports. McAllister has apologized.

If McAllister was a U.S. Senator, he would probably end up marrying the staffer and maybe recommend her to the President for some important office, like U.S. Attorney. If that fails, he would get her and other family members jobs in the Department of Justice…

Kathleen Sebelius:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning. While the roll-out of the website did not go flawlessly, the sign-ups did exceed expectations so she accomplished the goals set by her boss, President Obama.

The App:

There’s a new app for your phone that will take 15 pounds off your selfie! Check it out HERE.

I actually need one that will take off a few more pounds…

One More Thing:

Don’t forget to stretch…


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