Caught My Eye…

My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way. ― Ernest Hemingway

Welcome to the Big Show which is 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’s topics include:

  • The Western Word Milestone
  • Montana Democrats & Montana Republicans
  • The Knudsen Tweet
  • Lee Newspapers
  • Fair Cops

The Western Word Milestone:

This is column/post number 2,550 here at The Western Word (TWW). It all started January 10, 2005.

Where it stops nobody knows…

Rest assured there’s still a burning desire each morning between 4:00-6:00 a.m. to write something that’s on my mind. This usually means I am writing about politics, sports, the media, or current events.

Often I am writing about something that has ticked me off, which is somewhat therapeutic.

One negative side to this, besides the pay, is with 2,550 columns under my (rather large) belt, I think I have managed to tick off just about everyone on the right-left-middle at one time or the other. At least readers know they will get an independent view of the issue that is not tainted by my employer (I am self-employed) or with whom I associate (I don’t have many friends) or political party (I don’t belong to any).

I started giving many of my opinions/commentaries on the issues because I was finding that most editorial boards were lacking the courage to call people out or take sides on an issue – at least very often. I remember the days when the Sunday editorial pages were the most talked about part of the paper – and talked about most of the week. That’s not the case today. Many small and medium-sized towns’ editorial boards are so engrained in the community (like many reporters) and are afraid they might tick off an advertiser or run into the subject of their editorial at church or in line at the grocery store. So they squelch their opinions and reporting.

You might not always get the greatest writing sprinkled with flowery $20 words here at TWW, but what you will get is my honest opinion about the issues that I (and hopefully you) care about.

Thanks for reading. Now buckle up…

Montana Democrats & Montana Republicans:

I enjoyed reading the Associated Press story about Democratic candidates for statewide office getting an early jump on their 2016 election campaigns. The new executive director of the Montana GOP had the following to say about the Democrats’ early jump:

But Montana GOP Executive Director Chris Shipp said an election isn’t won 18 months before the polls open. Shipp said Republicans contemplating candidacy are taking a “measured and careful” approach to 2016. Being “the first one to announce,” he said, “does not guarantee victory.”

I think “measured and careful” must mean they are having problems finding candidates. While I would never attempt to herd Mr. Shipp’s GOP cats, I thought his remarks were off-base. In my opinion, the Montana Democrats have a pretty good formula for winning state-wide seats and that is something the Montana GOP might want to copy.

I might be a little bold, but after reading that last sentence many moderates were probably nodding their heads in agreement…

In regard to the state-wide elections for state government elected officials (Governor, Attorney General (AG), Secretary of State, Auditor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction, Montana Republicans are not doing very well. Currently only the AG’s office is occupied by a Republican.

As for the three Federal offices, two are controlled by Republicans. Steve Daines did announce 12 months out that he was running for Senate and Ryan Zinke announced his U.S. House bid October 21, 2013 (a little more than 12 months) for the election of 2014. I believe running for a federal office is a lot different than running for a state office.

If the Montana Republicans want even a slim chance of beating the current governor (Steve Bullock), which might give them free reign in the next legislature then whoever is running better make their decision soon. They should announce their plans at the GOP Convention next month.

Knudsen Tweet:

I would guess if someone asked current and former congressional staffers (I am one) they would say that besides dealing with a few crazy people and donors who are jerks, you also have to deal with people who believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are the most important people on the face of the earth. Many locally-elected officials, like state representatives, state senators and county commissioners fit very well into this category.

When these “gifts from the political Gods” belong to the other political party, it’s sometimes best to just try and ignore them.

Apparently Republican State Representative Austin Knudsen, who also played Speaker of the House in the last state legislature, was a little miffed that U.S. Senator Jon Tester came to Culbertson (MT) and did not contact him or invite him to the meetings he had with local officials. Knudsen sent this Tweet:

Learned @SenatorTester came to Culbertson to meet with local officials tonight. He must’ve lost my number. #mtleg #mtpol #sneaky #partisan

Knudsen deserves a response, so here’s one from me:

Hi there – I just want to let you know that Tester and/or his staff probably saw your Tweet. They do have your number back in D.C. (it’s the Patriot Act thingy). Let me tell you right now that it was probably intentional that he did not call you. Why should he invite you to his meeting? This is politics – you have an “R” after your name and Tester has a “D” after his. Tester is Big Sandy/Washington; you are Culbertson/Helena. See the difference?

Besides, with the failure of the Montana House to pass an infrastructure bill last session, I’m surprised you would want to be seen out and about in Culbertson this soon after the session. Tester wants to be the savior for Culbertson and all of eastern Montana; he wants you to be the devil. He does not want to be seen with the devil. Understand?

Next time you’re in Washington, I suggest you drop by and visit with one of Tester’s staffers because his door is always open, except when it’s closed.

P.S. Reminder – there’s free coffee and donuts on Wednesday with Steve and Ryan. Don’t touch the bear claws…

#Truth #PowerfulSenator #SeniorSenator #NotSneaky

Lee Newspapers:

There’s been a lot of bitching, griping, and complaining since the news broke that two long-time political reporters (Chuck Johnson/Mike Dennison) were leaving Lee Newspapers.

Has a parade been scheduled yet?

It’s been fun to read the accolades being bestowed on the reporters (who may just walk on water when they are not reporting). It’s also fun to read the hatred thrown at Lee Newspapers. I was not enamored with the dynamic duo as some writers were, although I wished them the best of luck in last week’s column.

As for Lee Newspapers, at the end of a letter to the editor about the Johnson/Dennison in one of their Montana newspapers (Billings Gazette), there was this:

Editor’s note: The five Lee newspapers in Montana will continue to have two state reporters to report statewide issues. Both Johnson and Dennison were given the option of staying or taking a buyout.

Ahhh…new blood may be coming – somebody may actually rock the boat!

Maybe it’s hard for the old-time journalists in Montana to realize, but the companies that own the major newspapers in the state are trying to make a buck in a climate that is not too good for them these days. Most Montana newspapers are being beaten to the punch on Twitter, Facebook, and by bloggers. Montana is not exactly a goldmine for the newspaper business. I doubt that Montana is that important to Lee Newspapers, or Gannett, or other companies that own newspapers in the state.

As the saying goes, “It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.”

Fair Cops:

This is big news! It’s not the television show “Cops” nor is it “Jail” but according to a report on KRTV the law enforcement officers in Great Falls could be the main attraction at the Montana State Fair this summer thanks to a reality television show called “Fair Cops.” See the KRTV report HERE. Psst, I thought all cops were fair…

I am a “Cops” and “Jail” show fan. I watch the shows in hopes I see a relative or someone I know getting arrested.

Just kiddin…

With “Fair Cops” happening in Great Falls, I have to ask can “Mall Cops” be far behind?

One More Thing:

Don’t forget to stretch…

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