Welcome to the Big Show – which is also called “Caught My Eye!”
If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted here every Friday morning. This column is where 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 – maybe both.
Today I provide independent commentary about the Montana Legislature wrap-up, media access for bloggers, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015 & Ryan Zinke, Baucus speaking, thugs, Keeping the Bastards Honest, and much more so buckle up!
Associated Press: Session Wrap-up:
Lisa Baumann and Alison Noon of the Associated Press (AP) did a great job keeping us informed about the 2015 Montana Legislature. You can read their wrap-up of the major bills that passed/failed in the session HERE.
One thing that caught my eye was the bill (HB 488) that doubles DUI fines. I did not remember seeing this bill. It was transmitted to the Governor, so it is not law yet. I wish more was being done to combat drunk driving in Montana. We need to keep those who are caught for the third time off the streets permanently and have them spend a good amount of time in jail.
Another thing that caught my eye is the “Montana Disclose Act” (SB 289). It will be interesting to see if anyone challenges it in court and what effect it has on dark money in Montana. I’m sure some campaign folks and their lawyers are already looking for ways to beat the new law.
The AP also reported that Gov. Steve Bullock had vetoed 34 bills by the end of the day Wednesday, and that he still had at least 150 more bills to consider. The AP also added that all but two of the vetoes were issued on bills sponsored by Republicans. Ouch!
MT Legislature – Media Access:
I have one more item to discuss about the 2015 Montana Legislature. The Montana Legislature proudly posted this on their website:
Montana ranks among the top handful of states in the nation for the openness of its government. In fact, the rights of Montanans to participate in and know about the activities of their government were guaranteed in the 1972 Montana Constitution.
That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
A few weeks ago I was checking on what I would need to do to get credentials to cover the 2015 Legislative session because the last few days of the session were probably going to be even a bigger circus than normal. So I viewed their webpage, “Covering the Legislature: A Reporter’s Guide” for information. Unfortunately, they won’t allow bloggers to get credentials. I found the following rule on their “simple, one-page form” that reporters need to complete to have access to the floor:
Credentials will not be issued to individuals for the purpose of writing a personal online blog.
I would strongly suggest the Legislative Communications Office or whichever office made up this silly rule, change it before the next session or face embarrassment. Let’s move the Montana Legislature into this century. Many bloggers know more about the government and have more education/experience than some of the “regular” reporters roaming the hallways.
Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015:
According to National Journal, U.S. Rep. Steve King is leading a controversial push in Congress to repeal a long-standing American policy that grants citizenship to any child born in the United States—even those born to undocumented parents.
This is ridiculous.
The House bill is H.R.140. It was 22 cosponsors, including my U.S. Representative here in Montana, Ryan Zinke. There’s a companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 45) which was introduced by Sen. David Vitter. It has no cosponsors.
About the only thing I would advise Rep. Zinke to ever agree with Steve King about is adjournment. Other than that, when Zinke sees King approaching him he should run – run far, far away like Forrest Gump running…
Baucus to Speak:
Former U.S. Senator and current U.S. Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, will deliver the University of Montana’s commencement address on May 16 in Missoula. Baucus graduated from Stanford.
I would suggest to the graduates that they drink plenty of caffeine before the commencement address, because Baucus is not a very good speaker.
Other than that, it should be a good speech…
I guess here in the USA there is now a debate about the meaning of “thug” since the riots in Baltimore. CNN reported that some say that “thug” is the new N-word. Now Newsweek has a story posted that’s titled, “A Brief History of the Word ‘Thug’”
I always thought the meaning of the word “thug” was “a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.” (Source)
We’re missing the big picture here. Destroying and looting businesses, homes, and vehicles in your city because of the death of Freddie Gray is just plain wrong no matter how upset you are at your local police force. There’s no excuse for this destruction. Protest – Yes. Riot-No.
You can call those doing it whatever you want; I will call them criminals. Hopefully over the next few weeks after a review of all the videos, we can call many of them inmates.
Keeping the Bastards Honest:
(H/T JimRomenesko.com) In New Zealand the Devonport Flagstaff newspaper is seeking funding through Kickstarter for an investigative journalism fund. They say “Keeping the Bastards Honest” is a new investigative journalism fund launched by the Flagstaff this month. Here’s their reason for the Kickstarter campaign:
Through the Keeping the Bastards Honest fund, local people can contribute directly to an increase in the freedom of information available to our community and the accountability of Government and Auckland Council.
There are probably several newspapers in the USA thinking about this. Investigative journalism is kind of left up to the bigger newspapers these days.
I think it’s a great idea to raise money for this. I’ve given some thought about doing a Kickstarter campaign for this website or for a book I’m working on. You can donate to The Western Word by clicking on the “Donate” button on the right side of the screen.
One More Thing:
Successful blogging is not about one time hits. It’s about building a loyal following over time. -David Aston