Caught My Eye…

We do not remember days, we remember moments. – Cesare Pavese

Welcome to Friday and the big show I like to call “Caught My Eye!” Can you believe this is the last day of July? Many of us are running out of Julys…

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 snarkiness to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – maybe both.

Today’s topics include the Federal Highway bill, the Montana GOP and Dark Money, Veterans, Senate Appropriations Committee and the OPM data breach, the Cincinnati Shooting and much more!

Federal Highway Bill:

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House passed the 34th short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund since 2009 – which if it was not so sad would be comical. Congress cannot do their jobs, but they can sing a great tune about needing a long-term highway bill.

For example, in the U.S. House Montana’s lone U.S. House member, Ryan Zinke, issued a press release saying:

Today Congressman Ryan Zinke voted to extend highway funding until the end of October and called on House and Senate leadership to craft a long-term plan that is fiscally responsible and provides investment in Montana’s infrastructure. 

As for U.S. Senator Steve Daines, he had the following to say:

I am disappointed that Congress also had to once again pass a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, but I’m thankful that we are engaged in concrete steps to provide the nation with multi-year highway authorization.

But Montana’s senior U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, should get some sort of award for sending out a press release from his campaign to raise a little money on the failure to pass a long-term Highway Bill.

Tester’s July 30 email was titled, “This isn’t rocket science” in which he said, “Tomorrow is the deadline for Congress to approve an extension to the Highway Trust Fund.” Later in the email Tester says, “Congress doesn’t have much time to act, and neither do we. Our July deadline is only 24 hours away. Can you give $5 or more to help us hit our goal?”

Tester fundraising when Congress can only pass a short-term extension (the 34th) to highway bill was ballsy.

Montana GOP & Dark Money:

The Montana Republicans announced Thursday that Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat and head of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), raised $17 million during the first half of 2015, including over $4 million in undisclosed, unlimited corporate cash, which they fondly call “Dark Money.”

Maybe I’m naïve, but I think raising boatloads of money is exactly what the head of the Democratic Governors Association is supposed to do – the same as the head of the Republican Governors Association.

It appears that the Montana GOP does not like “Dark Money” being legally raised by Democrats.

But wait, the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation last year said that an analysis of dark money — from politically active groups that don’t disclose their donors — finds that the practice still has a decidedly Republican bent. The title of the article was “Dark money still a Republican game.”

Sure there’s too much money in politics – but who will stop it? The Montana GOP should find a better issue to attack Bullock about. We’re yawning here.

Veterans:

Since there are over 100,000 veterans in Montana (I’m one), the three members of the Congressional delegation (U.S. Senators Jon Tester/Steve Daines and Congressman Ryan Zinke) pay close attention to us and pepper us with information about all the great things they are doing for veterans.

Failure to pay attention to veterans is political suicide in Montana, although it kind of gets old reading all these wonderful things and seeing few if any changes to the VA.

Tester always touts that he is Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee (he did not serve in the military). Tester recently sent a press release about allowing the VA to transfer more than $3 billion to meet its budget needs and keep medical facilities open. Tester had this to say:

Caring for our nation’s veterans is a cost of war, and we have to make sure the VA has every resource it needs to provide that care. While I’m relieved we addressed the VA’s short-term budget crisis, Congress is still underfunding the health care needs of our veterans at a time when we’re asking more of the VA than ever before.

Zinke is a veteran – retired Navy Seal (in case you did not know). He recently told us that he voted in favor of H.R. 1994 known as the VA Accountability Act of 2015. Then he added this little line:

The Obama Administration is failing our veterans, and they have been for a long time. 

You can put any administration’s name in that line (Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc.) because the Federal government has been failing veterans for a long time – but these administrations, like our Montana delegation, all talked a great game.

It would be great if our elected officials would stop politicizing veterans care.

As for Daines, I did not see any recent press releases about veterans, maybe because he’s working hard to defund Planned Parenthood.

Nothing much has changed in the past year since the big “VA scandal.” For example, here’s a line from a story posted Thursday afternoon on National Journal’s website:

One year after the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal broke, senators say the VA office that should be helping truth-tellers is still broken.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is still the good ol’ boy and girl network.

Senate Appropriations Committee & OPM:

For some reason Montana’s two U.S. Senators (Jon Tester and Steve Daines) are both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Just last week their committee approved an amendment that gives victims of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breaches no less than 10 years of identity and credit-monitoring services. The victims also get $5 million in liability protection for related damages.

I am one of those victims. I wrote about it HERE.

The identity and credit-monitoring service was originally set to last for only 18 months with $1 million in liability protection, so this is an improvement.

I call on Tester and Daines to push for a lifetime of identity and credit-monitoring services for those of us who were affected by the poor security measures at OPM. Ten years is not enough.

Cincinnati Shooting:

You’ve probably heard about the latest senseless shooting in America – this time in Cincinnati. Twenty-five-year-old police officer Ray Tensing, who is white, was indicted for the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Samuel DuBose, who is black. It’s been reported that DuBose was not armed.

Officer Tensing reportedly stopped DuBose because of a missing front license plate. There’s a video of the stop and the incident escalates very quickly. Mistakes were made by both men, and I can’t see any need to use deadly force, but Tensing did.

I also can’t see why DuBose did not obey the officer’s commands to open the car door. That’s what we should all do in those situations whether we agree or not. There’s also no way disobeying that command should have resulted in a shot being fired. Tensing should have let DuBose go and sooner or later he would have been caught.

Now a court will get to decide if the shooting was justified. Only one side will get justice.

One More Thing:

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. – Russell Baker

## END ##

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4 thoughts on “Caught My Eye…

  1. OPM hack – My previous employer’s payroll service was hacked and we were given a one year credit monitoring program at no charge. Ten years is a sweet deal but unnecessary, as you can monitor your credit for free on your own. Giving a lifetime monitoring service would be extremely costly and I’m not sure where that money would come from to pay for it. What program(s) would you cut to get lifetime credit monitoring? Equifax and Transunion are free through Credit Karma, which is also free.

    • Barry: Congress is making OPM use money from their regular budget to pay for the 10 years of monitoring – that’s where the money can come from for lifetime monitoring. They can use most of OPM’s budget for it – I don’t really care. -JmB

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