Wednesday’s Odds & Ends

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Welcome to Wednesday! When there are several stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into an “Odds & Ends” or “potpourri” column. Today is one of those days!

Before you start, buckle up. Here are today’s topics:

  • Denise Juneau’s DUIs
  • Syrian Refugees
  • MT Lawmakers’ Pay Raise
  • Seatbelts on School Buses


Juneau’s DUIs:

The first thing I thought about when I read that current State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Democratic candidate for the U.S. House, Denise Juneau, had two DUIs in the 1980s was why did it take Montana Republicans all this time to discover it?

Republican Sandy Welch is probably asking the same question – she lost to Juneau in 2012 by just 2,231 votes.

Face it, although really late on this one, the righties have recently nailed two major Democratic candidates in Montana: John Walsh and now Denise Juneau.

Those hits will leave a mark – like a Holly Holm kick to Ronda Rousey’s head.

I’ve conducted a lot of opposition research and found some “juicy info” on people. I still have several files on people from the past, people from the present, and people who may run for political office in future. That’s part of the game of politics.

The blogger Montana Cowgirl came to Juneau’s defense. You can read the column HERE. Cowgirl writes, “Denise Juneau just became an even stronger candidate who is [a] lot more relatable to a lot more voters in Montana.”

What? Seriously?

If that’s the case then maybe all candidates should drive drunk and endanger the lives of people to become a stronger candidate?

I remember when former Congressman Denny Rehberg was involved in “the boat crash.” Someone used the name of “Drunks for Denny” on Twitter or on some website that garnered laughs. Several Rehberg staffers and Rehberg supporters were forever pissed at me for writing about “the boat crash.” It got nasty. I’m still writing.

If I remember correctly, the Cowgirl blog went after Rehberg and the driver of the boat with both barrels blazing. Cowgirl was right to do it, too.

Maybe it’s a little different with Juneau as there was no accident that almost killed someone, and it was before she held elective office. The bottom line to me is I don’t think two DUI convictions can make anyone a stronger candidate, period.

Thankfully nobody was killed or injured when Juneau was driving drunk.

I do admire Juneau for what she has accomplished in her life. I’ve voted for her. In my mind, she has been the best State Superintendent of Public Instruction I have seen. She has handled this “new news” pretty well, but she’s had about 30 years to prepare an answer.

I wrote a few days ago that Juneau can’t beat Ryan Zinke, but I also said that things can change. With two DUI convictions, the Montana at-large House race is even more solidly in Zinke’s favor.

Syrian Refugees:

Each day I am amazed at what offends someone. Recently many Americans have come out against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States. Mostly these people are misinformed or maybe just angry white people.

I don’t have a problem with properly screened Syrian refugees being allowed into the United States. I guess I do not suffer from Islamophobia. There are more important things happening in this country and the world than to worry about a Syrian refugee who may or may not be living in my neighborhood.

As for those so-called Christians who don’t want Muslims in the USA, Holly Williams of CBS News, reports that ISIS has killed many more Muslims than it has members of other religious groups, including Christians.

Several Republican Governors and elected officials do have a problem with it. That includes U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT). Click on their names to read why they believe the way they do.

The Hill reported that the U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote this week on legislation to temporarily halt President Obama’s plan to allow thousands of refugees from Syria to resettle in the U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters:

Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.

All we need to do is do a thorough screening which is not an easy process. CNN reports that the average processing time for refugee applications is 18 to 24 months, but Syrian applications can take significantly longer because of security concerns and difficulties in verifying their information.

To make this easy for people on the right to understand, Hillary Clinton will be well into her first term before the screening process for Syrian refugees is complete…

I do applaud Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D). According to a Great Falls Tribune story, Bullock said that Montana does not plan to close its borders to refugees from Syria. U.S Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) was also quoted in the story, saying he opposed closing the U.S. border but urged caution.

I’m sure many third, fourth and fifth generation Montanans will welcome them with open arms…

There seems to be a growing divide in the USA. This divide is especially apparent with those who look different than the average white man/woman or if they have different religious beliefs than the majority of people. This troubles me. It’s dangerous for our country. The following quote should still mean something to us:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door. – Emma Lazarus

We can still be safe. We can still show kindness.

MT Lawmakers Pay Raise:

There’s some talk about members of the Montana Legislature getting a pay raise. Please don’t go looking for your state senator and representative to slap him or her. They think they make about $10.33 an hour, and they don’t believe that is enough. They seem to forget about the perks.

I don’t think they deserve a pay raise. They deserve minimum wage. If I served in the Montana Legislature, I would introduce a bill to make sure Montana Legislators are paid no more than Montana’s minimum wage.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen, a Republican, would like to see the pay raise issue addressed in a bipartisan way. Knudsen said, “I know what doing this job costs me, personally.”

I suggest that if this job is so costly for you to do, then resign. Somebody else will step up. You will not be missed.

I don’t want any Montana Legislator to think what they are doing 90 days out of every two years is actually a job. It should be more about serving and not an occupation. We already have full-time legislators in Washington, D.C., and we know how well that works.

Seatbelts on School Buses:

Local television station KFBB had an interesting question on their website this week. They asked:

Should parents be required to pay a fee so that kids can have access to school buses with seat belts?

That question struck me as funny, although the safety of children is no laughing matter. If you are easily offended, stop reading now.

  • Maybe they could install a credit/debit card reader on the seats so kids can use their parents’ card to pay to use the seatbelt.
  • They could send two buses on each route – one with seatbelts and one without.
  • If little Johnny is caught misbehaving, mom and dad could take his seatbelt money for a day or two as punishment.

My dad, who was not too politically correct, would have told me (with love):

You just need to toughen the hell up – I’m not paying for you to have a damned seatbelt – let the doctor’s and lawyer’s kids have them. Besides, you’ll just get trapped in the damned bus and die if you wear a seatbelt.

I miss my dad…

## END ##

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12 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Odds & Ends

  1. Pingback: Thursday Numbers | The Western Word

  2. I’m far more concerned with the mentally ill and the willful nut jobs than I am Syrian refugees. They (the mentally ill and nuts) have committed far more atrocities in this country since 9/11 than anyone else has. In fact, it’s not even close and 750,000 refugees have entered the country since 9/11.

  3. Jackie, Jackie, Jackie! A wee bit late for sanctimony, amigo. You worked for Sen. Conrad Burns. Welllll, SOME of us actually lived in Billings with Burns in his younger days, and buddy let me tell ya good ol’ boy Conrad was one of the biggest two-fisted non-teetotalers to have ever entered the Seventeen Club. Conrad could party hardy with the best of them, and he did! Why not?! And I didn’t hold that against him. Hell, he ran with the cowboy crowd.

    But seriously, who DIDN’T drink in college? Where did you go to college, at the Mount Angel Seminary??

    Come on, we all drank like fish and drove back in the old days. But drinking and driving is like anything else in life, it’s a skill. Some of us were quite good at it, and some not so good. If you were smart and careful and knew your limitations, there’s a good chance you’d never get caught. Oh sure, I got caught a couple of times myself, but I never got busted for it. Just sent on my way with a warning.

    Drinking in college is a right of passage. Denise did nothing wrong. But Rheeberg was an ADULT, and a congressman who endangered his entire staff! BIG difference. Most of us outgrew the dangerous stuff. Not Denny!

    A true story. When I was trying to buy some land here in GF, the ol’ cowboy landowner and I went to look it over and make a deal. Well, it was hot, and I had just got off work, and the ol’ cowboy offered me a beer. I said sure! And that cold Coors on a hot day tasted mighty fine.

    Well, we got around to making the land deal, and then he said to me, “Ya know, I never trust a guy who won’t drink a beer”! And come to think of it, I don’t much either. I bought the land then and there. It’s how we do things in Montana. In church, you break bread to seal the deal. Outside the church, you drink a some liquid bread! And I think I prefer that latter!

    • Larry – Wow. I now know why I never missed your comments! The part “But drinking and driving is like anything else in life, it’s a skill. Some of us were quite good at it, and some not so good” kind of tells all I need to know about you.

      You won’t find me arguing for anyone’s actions when they are drunk and you’re spot on about Rehberg.

      I’m happy that when you drove drunk you did not kill or injure anyone. People were lucky – you were lucky. Many years ago my sister was not one of the lucky ones when a drunk driver who must not have had the skills you possess hit her car head-on and injured her and other passengers.

      Come back to visit The Western Word next year. I’ll be here. -JmB

      • Wow is right. Driving drunk? What does that even mean? You see, the BAC is so low now that many folks get a DUI who are perfectly fit to drive. Did I drive with a BAC higher than the current legal limit when I was young? Probably. Was I impaired to the point of causing an accident? No. Not even close.

        Here in GF one of the biggest fundraisers of the year is called Blues and Brews. It raises money for the River’s Edge Trail. Everyone in town attends. All the luminaries. And guess what. They drink lots and lots of beer from all the local micro breweries! I would wager that ninety percent of the folks who leave the festivities are OVER the legal BAC. But I have never heard of a wreck yet from a participant. And the pohlice don’t seem to hold one of their famous “safety” checkpoints near the festivities either, even though the police station is right across the street!

        Conclusion: Everyone who gets a DUI is not drunk. Everyone who gets a DUI is not a danger. And drinking is an accepted part of Montana culture. Always has been, always will be.

        Conclusion two: Denise is a Montanan. She drank when she was in college. But who the hell didn’t?! And we should never conclude that a DUI in your college days precludes one from a job in their future. It is NOT indicative of anything other than a normal college career!

        And really. You were in the military and saw no drinking? You were NOT in the same military that I was in then. I spent my entire four year career drunk! As did nearly everyone else I knew, except for the dopers.

    • Greg – You are correct. I guess that’s where all politicians end up. Some are more prominent in the history book than others. -JmB

  4. Syrian Refugees:
    At the rate at which states are denying refugees, Montana will be the only state left to take them!
    Do you seriously think we can keep tabs on 10,000 Syrian refugees for 18-24 months while they are vetted? With at least one ISIS fighter that came in a as a refugee into France, you know there will be more trying to get in here to support those already here…

    • Barry: The governors will have a heck of a time keeping any refugees out of their states. It’s all political posturing. If they do try it, the Feds can use the power of the purse to change their minds. As for keeping tabs, they can keep tabs on them just as much as they do on you and me. The screening process takes a long time and some refugees will be easier to screen, like children who had parents who were murdered. We need to show some compassion and quit making it political because of the hatred of the President. -JmB

      • Compassion is surely a part of the process but common sense needs to make a bigger contribution here. Where do you keep these refugees for 18-24 months while you check them out? Obama said they are just widows and orphans, if I recall clearly…widows and orphans threw grenades into helicopters and personnel carriers in Vietnam… we should learn from our mistakes…

      • Barry – One story I saw said some were being kept in secure locations like in an airport in Germany (http://www.unhcr.org/564ae4796.html) They are not allowed to roam freely in any country while waiting to be approved. Tough situation. We need to do our part and make sure they are screened properly. -JmB

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