Caught My Eye…

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. – Anatole France

If you are a first-time visitor, the highly popular “Caught My Eye” has been posted here every Friday morning since October 2010! 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 I write about the health insurance rates, homecoming, Senate & Planned Parenthood, Pope Francis & Congress, fundraising, Kansas City Royals, plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud!

Health Insurance Rate Increase:

This week Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen published the health insurance rates Montana health insurance companies will be charging next year in the marketplace. You can read the press release HERE.

According to Lindeen, the average rate increase across all plans ranges between 22 percent and 34 percent across all companies and will affect approximately 41,000 Montanans. Lindeen also pointed out that these rates are not for Montanans who have health insurance through their employer or for Montanans who have health insurance through a government program. They also will not affect the nearly 42,000 Montanans who buy their health insurance through the healthcare.gov website and receive a federal tax credit.

The Montana Republican Party was quick point out the increase via a press release. You can read it HERE. They even managed to beat a dead horse when they inserted another ridiculous line about dark money in their press release.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines also chimed in about the increase. You can read his press release HERE.

I’ve been saying for years it would be great if those against “Obamacare” would come to the table and work to make it better instead of sending out press releases saying it needs to be repealed. The “repeal Obamacare” talk may raise money for campaigns and please some right-wingers, but that plan has failed time after time.

With the news of the rate increases, it’s time for the elected officials to work together to make healthcare better for all Americans.

Homecoming Games:

The Montana State University Bobcats host Cal Poly on Saturday for their homecoming football game. The University of Montana Grizzlies host Northern Arizona on Saturday for their homecoming football game.

So the two “major” universities in Montana are holding their homecoming football games on the same day and at about the same time.

Really?

Seriously?

Maybe they have held homecoming games on the same day before, but I think it’s a little silly to share the day with the other university when you want to attract the most attention you can to your program. If they worked together more, they could ensure most if not all football games are scheduled at different times to maximize viewership.

We do know that officials at Montana State and the University of Montana can work together on their scheduling – they have managed to schedule a game with each other for the past 118 years with little or no problem.

Senate/Planned Parenthood:

On Thursday the U.S. Senate could muster only 47 votes on a short-term spending bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. There were 52 senators voting against the bill.

Like I said yesterday, about once per year the GOP has to have a vote on an abortion bill to appease the pro-life folks and raise money for their campaigns.

According to The Hill eight Republicans voted against the bill:

Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Dean Heller (Nev.) Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) all voted against moving forward. Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) was the only Democrat to vote in favor.

As for Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D) voted against the bill and U.S. Senator Steve Daines voted for the bill to defund Planned Parenthood. You can see the Senate Roll call vote HERE.

Now the Senate will have to pass a bill that funds the government (and Planned Parenthood). The House will have to do the same. There still could be some silliness played out. The fiscal year ends Wednesday. The Hill has a good article that explains how this may play out. Read it HERE.

The bottom line is about everyone can agree that it would be great if we had fewer abortions in the United States, but they are legal. Planned Parenthood does a lot of good things in the healthcare world. Abortions are just a small percentage. Planned Parenthood should be funded.

Pope Francis & Congress:

There was a little something for everyone Thursday when Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress. Speaker John Boehner even shed a tear or two during the event.

Francis would make a great independent candidate…

He spoke about the need to “protect and defend human life at every stage” and “not to be afraid of migrants but to welcome them as fellow human beings.” He said that climate change was “the environmental deterioration caused by human activity” and that the death penalty should be abolished. Francis also touched on the importance of families, saying:

Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

He told those in attendance, “Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” He closed with “God bless America!”

You can read his whole speech HERE.

I doubt the Pope’s wise words will do much for the atmosphere in Washington, D.C. – but for about two hours it was peaceful.

Fundraising:

I received a few fundraising emails this week. Here are two that caught my attention:

*The sender was listed as “NAVY SEAL Robert O’Neill” and the subject was “Back a Navy SEAL.” In case you don’t know, the email was for U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke

Click here and add your name to my pledge of support for Commander Zinke — and you’ll be on the roster to win a U.S. Navy SEAL battle flag that I signed exclusively for this cause.

And once you’ve signed your personalized pledge, will you please chip in your most generous gift of $25, $50, or more to the Commander’s campaign?

By the way, O’Neill is the former Navy SEAL and Butte native who claims to have shot and killed Osama bin Laden.

*The Friends of Steve Bullock campaign sent an email asking folks to sign a petition.

Our likely Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, disagrees. In fact, he campaigned against the non-discrimination ordinance that passed in Bozeman. He even said he thinks discrimination is good for business. Those aren’t Montana values.

Add your name today and tell Greg Gianforte that discrimination has no place in Montana.

There was a DONATE button at the end of the email.

I wonder how the newest Republican gubernatorial candidate Brad Johnson feels about the Bullock campaign saying their likely Republican opponent will be Greg Gianforte.

Making Montana Proud:

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

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Agriculture student Gwynn Simeniuk has resigned as president of the Associated Students of Montana State University after just five months in charge due to a drunken driving arrest last month.

That was the appropriate thing for Simeniuk to do.

The Chronicle also reported that a police officer found Simeniuk getting into a Cadillac Deville parked and running on a sidewalk. The officer reported that Simeniuk was disoriented, had difficulty saying her last name…

I’m stone-cold sober right now and I don’t think I can pronounce her last name…

Kansas City Royals:

My Kansas City Royals clinched the American League Central pennant last night!

Courtesy of USA Today, here are “16 awesome things about the Kansas City Royals” that you need to know.

One More Thing:

Like soldiers on the winter’s night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender

No Surrender (Bruce Springsteen)

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