Caught My Eye…

Welcome to Friday the 13th and another (almost) award-winning edition of “Caught My Eye.”

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

Today I write about the Commissioner of Political Practices, Ground Troops & Zinke, letters from Bullock, Daines, and Zinke, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, Ashton Carter & the Department of Defense, plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud!

Commissioner of Political Practices:

Maybe the subcommittee in the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature that has the most clowns on it is the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.

According to a Lee Newspapers story, the Republicans on the subcommittee “voted to eliminate the in-house attorney in Montana’s political practices commissioner’s office and to lower the commissioner’s salary by 23 percent.”

For the final slap, the Republicans “also failed to fund the $2,759 request sought by the commissioner to pay for temporary staff to copy, scan and post copies of campaign finance reports.”

For those not acquainted with the Commissioner of Political Practices, the current Commissioner of Political Practices (Jonathan Motl) was appointed by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock. The Legislature is controlled by Republicans. That is one problem.

Basically, they don’t like that the Commissioner re-opened some closed cases. Three of the Republican members of the subcommittee were listed in the article. They are Chair Rep. Ryan Osmundson, Rep. Brad Tschida, and Sen. Janna Taylor.

I’ve written several times over the years that the legislature needs to make changes to the Political Practices office – not only in the way the commissioner is chosen, but to help whoever is in the office to be able to referee politics in Montana – and we need more referees.

The actions by the Republicans on this subcommittee is nothing but sleazy. Some adult needs to step in and tell Osmundson, Tschida, and Taylor to grow up.

Ground Troops:

This week President Barack Obama formally asked Congress “to formally authorize the use of military force in the war against ISIS.” I’m sure Congress will debate this to death and maybe approve it before their August recess.

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) “does not call for the deployment of ground troops in Iraq or Syria.” That is wrong.

I don’t believe our country should ever take anything off the table when going into battle. Maybe we won’t use ground troops, but don’t give the enemy that knowledge and advantage.

I’m glad to see that U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) understands this. According to Lee Newspapers, Zinke said he believes Congress does need to authorize action, but said ground troops are necessary. He also said, “I’m always very concerned when we put troops in harm’s way that they have the right leadership, training, equipment and the right rules of engagement to win decisively on the field.”

It was also disclosed in the article that Zinke joined top House Republican House leaders who met Tuesday night with some of Obama’s senior advisers.

Bringing people to the table who have a “particular set of skills” is always helpful.

In Your Letter…

According to a letter from Montana Governor Steve Bullock to Montana’s Congressional delegation, Montana will lose $16,197,368 this year in funding if the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (SRS) is not reauthorized by Congress. (Source)

U.S. Senator Steve Daines and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner asking them “to swiftly move forward legislation to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program.” (Source)

I don’t know whose letter was first, but since Daines and Zinke are now on record asking for Federal money, maybe they should tell their friends in the Montana Legislature to approve Medicaid expansion. That Federal money could also help Montana…

VA Secretary Remarks:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald was testifying in the U.S. House and the problems with the Denver VA hospital were brought up by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). I mentioned yesterday about how messed up VISN 19 (Rocky Mountain Network) where the Denver VA Hospital is located. VISN 19 also includes the Montana VA.

McDonald was not happy with the questions posed by Coffman and at the end said, “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?” See the exchange HERE.

McDonald should be ashamed that he asked that question. Coffman is a combat veteran who has served in the Army, Army Reserve, Marines, and Marine Reserve.

I don’t know if Robert McDonald is making any headway as VA Secretary. It’s only been six months, but I thought we would see some heads roll by now.

Ashton Carter:

Dr. Ashton Carter is the new Secretary of Defense. Yesterday the Senate confirmed Carter by a vote of 93-5 with Montana’s Senators voting to confirm him. You can read a statement from U.S. Senator Steve Daines HERE.

I am not that excited about Carter, but since the President gets to select his cabinet and the senate confirms the pick, I guess he will have to do. Plus, there’s not a lot of time left in the Obama term. As far as I can tell Carter does not have any active duty military experience, but he has spent years guarding a desk as a civilian in the Pentagon. At least he will know his way around. You can read his bio HERE.

Carter has bachelor’s degrees in physics and in medieval history and a doctorate in theoretical physics, which leads me to believe he would bore most people to death over dinner.

Making Montana Proud:

This section is where I mention people or groups whose actions embarrass Montana in some way (this one was pretty easy).

-From Time Magazine ( Montana Rep. David Moore “is introducing a bill to strengthen the state’s indecent exposure laws after a group of naked bicyclists pedaled through the city of Missoula in August.”

The article continued, Moore’s proposal would tighten indecent exposure laws to include any nipple exposure—including men’s—and any clothing hat “gives the appearance or simulates” a person’s buttocks, genitals, pelvic area or female nipple, the Associated Press reported.

Fortunately, the bill is dead. Unfortunately, Rep. Moore made Montanans and especially the legislature look pretty ridiculous. I did a Google search for “Yoga Pants and Montana” this week and got about 13,000,000 results.

The circus continues in Helena until the end of April; rest assured there are plenty of clowns to make you laugh…

One More Thing:

Reminder – Chocolate will be on sale after Valentine’s Day!


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