Caught My Eye…

Hey faithful readers – it’s Friday – so stay classy!

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 provide valuable independent commentary about Steve Daines & Federal Lands, Jon Tester & Media Trackers, the Montana Legislature & spring break, Iran & Nukes & Framework, State Liquor stores, plus Making Montana Proud is back!

Daines and Federal Lands Transfer:

We’ve seen stories from Montana newspapers and posts from the Montana Democrats about U.S. Senator Steve Daines voting for an amendment that some say, “is a first step to federal land transfer or sale.”

Daines’ spokeswoman Alee Lockman responded to the criticism telling Lee Newspapers, “Steve’s commitment to Montana’s conservation and outdoor heritage hasn’t wavered, and to suggest differently is not only false but unproductive.”

The Billings Gazette editorial board has voiced their opinion about the vote, slapping Daines pretty hard with an editorial in today’s paper titled, “Gazette opinion: Daines flip-flopped on federal lands transfer.

The last three sentences of the editorial are pretty tough on Daines:

To be sure, it’s been a disappointing start for Daines who made the serious misstep of signing the threatening Cotton letter to Iran. Now, after making the world a little less safe abroad, Daines has decided to make Montana’s proud outdoor tradition a little less safe as well.

The good news for Daines — if there is any — is that hopefully his track record can only improve.

It’s only April, but it has been a rough start for Daines in the Senate.

Tester Plays Politics with VA Secretary Visit?

The Montana version of the right-wing “Media Trackers” posted a story titled “Tester Plays Politics with VA Secretary Visit to Montana” on The Flint Report blog this past week. I guess Aaron Flint is out of the office, and Montana Media Trackers is posting their stories on his blog. That is the only reason I read it.

Montana Media Trackers began their story with this opening paragraph:

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) appears to be putting partisan politics in front of bi-partisan solutions for Montana veterans in the run-up to this week’s visit by VA Secretary Bob McDonald.

Shut the front door! How did Tester do this?

Despite the public nature of Secretary McDonald’s visit and recent controversies which have occurred in the Montana VA system, Tester’s office recently announced an itinerary for the Secretary’s visit which leaves Montana’s U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke and Tester’s fellow U.S. Sen. Steve Daines — both Republicans — absent from the proceedings.

I don’t normally take Tester’s side on many issues, but in this case he does have some clout that helped him bring the Secretary to the state for Montana veterans. He’s a Democrat. Secretary McDonald works for a President who is a Democrat. That counts for something. Tester’s clout as a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee also enables him to get credit for good things, but on the other hand when things go into the crapper he gets credit for that, too.

Observers can say that the way the VA has been run since Tester took office leaves a lot to be desired. As a veteran, I watch the VA closely. It does not matter which party controls the White House or Congress, the VA is a terrible mess – and that includes the Montana VA.

The Montana Media Trackers story about Tester is just another one of those right-wing hit pieces that misses the mark. Yes, the left has their left-wing media team, too.

Easter/Spring Break:

The Montana Legislature is taking a break and will return to the big circus tent on Tuesday (April 7), which will be day 69 of the 90 day legislative session.

So watch out, they are probably roaming free in their districts.

The Associated Press has a list of what’s left to work on HERE.

In early November, I wrote about four things that I would like to see the 2015 Montana Legislature accomplish:

  • Toughen Montana’s drunken driving laws
  • Make Supreme Court Judges position a 10-year appointed position by the Governor with consent of the senate
  • Make it easier for independent candidates to get on the ballot in Montana – no more collecting a zillion signatures
  • Revamp the Political Practices Office.

It looks like they are failing us.

State Liquor Stores:

The Great Falls Tribune ran a story this week about a group of liquor store owners who filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Montana. They contend a formula devised by the state to compensate them for a mandatory discount provided to liquor licensees is unconstitutional.

State Liquor stores should go the way of the dinosaurs. It’s really an antiquated way to sell distilled spirits. The state would probably make more money from taxes if they allowed distilled spirits to be sold where beer/wine is sold. There would be an increase in sales for sure.

Making Montana Proud:

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

-From the Billings Gazette: Ronald Orville Latray was arrested Tuesday for what could be his 11th offense for driving under the influence.

How did officers suspect he was drunk? According to Gazette he nearly sideswiped a pair of patrol cars, forcing one vehicle on the right shoulder to avoid being hit. He handed troopers a blank piece of paper instead of his registration. He clocked a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit during a breath test.

It gets better – like an episode of the Spike television show “Jail” better. He was told to wait a few minutes before he could use the bathroom so he unzipped his pants and threatened to urinate in a trash can. During a pat down search, a female detention officer asked Latray if he had any objects that could stick, poke or cut her. In his response, Latray referred to his genitals, which he said he “sharpened.” Finally he threatened to shoot officers.

Let’s hope Ronald Orville Latray is finally off our streets once and for all. Shame on the judges who have allowed him to roam our streets.

Iran & Nukes & Framework:

I think the key word in the announcement that Iran and the six superpowers (United States, Russia, France, China, Britain, and Germany) had reached some sort of agreement in regard to Iran’s nuclear program is “framework.” Some said it was a “preliminary understanding.”

Diplomacy is sometimes hard.

After reading the various stories and comments about the framework put in place, I think it’s basically an extension of the talks until June 30. It’s kind of like they now have an outline with the major points they want to discuss down on paper.

Many countries strive to get a nuclear program so they can get a seat at the table with the big boys and girls, like Iran now has.

Overall the good news is at least they are still talking.

One More Thing:

For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted. – Frank Underwood (House of Cards)

House of Cards is coming back for season four!  (Source)


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