Caught My Eye…

I’ve found that if you tuck one part of your pant legs into your sock, people expect less of you. – Unknown

Welcome to the big show to end the week “Caught My Eye” (CME)!

*This is a very special CME. It is CME #425. Wow – that’s 425 Fridays that this column has been posted. It’s one of the favorite columns of my readers! Thank you for reading.*

If you are a first-time visitor, welcome! CME is the once a week column that is posted here every Friday morning. This is when I take a look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. There may be some sarcasm and pointed commentary so be warned!

Here are the topics that “Caught My Eye” this week:

  • Montana Legislature
  • Montana Defense Alliance
  • The Wager
  • One More Thing

Montana Legislature:

The Montana Legislature picked their leaders this week. The Republicans have the majority in both chambers.

The Montana Legislature will meet January 7, 2019. As always, it will be a circus with several clowns performing daily.

Unfortunately, it looks like the Republican leaders are pretty far to the right – there does not seem to be a moderate in the group. It is the same with the Democrats – only to the left.

Maybe we can call them “The Extremes.”

The Republicans picked Greg Hertz to be the House Speaker. Hertz has a 98% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Scott Sales will return as Senate President. Sales has a 94% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Fred Thomas will be the Senate Majority Leader. Thomas has a 94% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Brad Tschida will be the House Majority Leader. Tschida has a 95% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.

Democratic lawmakers selected Rep. Casey Schreiner of Great Falls as House minority leader and re-elected Sen. Jon Sesso of Butte as Senate minority leader. Schreiner and Sesso both have 100% ratings from the MEA-MFT and AFL-CIO union for their key votes in 2017.

Is there any chance they can meet in the middle? Maybe a group of moderates from the middle will take over and get the job done.

The Associated Press reported that Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) on Thursday proposed a two-year, $10.3 billion budget that includes the reauthorization of a health insurance program for low-income residents and tax hikes that Republican legislative leaders are already dismissing as “not going to happen.”

Republicans don’t like the words “tax hike” but they will support a hike in fees every day of the week.

Montana Defense Alliance:

David J. Weissman, chairman of the Montana Defense Alliance (MTDA) penned an opinion piece in the Great Falls Tribune about his group’s opposition to a proposed subdivision called Wheat Ridge Estates. The Alliance claims the development will encroach on Malmstrom AFB.

I’ve followed the military in Montana for years. First, I was actually on active duty at Malmstrom AFB – which is more than I can say about several members of the MTDA. Second, I was U.S. Senator Conrad Burns’ defense and military expert in the state for 12 years after my active duty time ended. Burns did more for Malmstrom and the Guard in Montana than any elected official before him or after him.

Several parts of the MTDA opinion caught my attention, like this:

If annexation happens, Great Falls will be sending a negative message to the Department of Defense on the value we as a community place on having Malmstrom here in Great Falls.

The Montana congressional delegation sent a negative message to the Department of Defense when they came out against expanding the Powder River Training Area. I wrote at that time, it was like saying Montana’s skies were closed.

We’ll see how the mayor and commissioners of Great Falls react to the MTDA request. They may be wondering if the congressional delegation and the MTDA are ever going to do their job and re-open the runway.

The track record of MTDA and the congressional delegation is marked by failures.

The delegation let the F-15s leave without much of fight. They were suckered into taking some cargo planes. They let a missile squadron be eliminated and they lost personnel. I don’t think the MTDA and the current delegation is winning much, at all, these days.

Just about anyone who follows the military in Montana knows the reason the Malmstrom runway is not open today is that former U.S. Senator Max Baucus wanted the publicity of re-opening it before it was a done deal. He had to pull the language from a highway bill. USA Today had the story HERE.

I bet many members of the MTDA still voted for Baucus.

The MTDA is a committee (requiring $350 annual membership fee) out of the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. If you are not a Chamber member, it will cost you $500.

Are you really getting the best and brightest to join your organization at this cost?

I suspect some of the members who never served in the military like that they can pay a few bucks and play “Air Force” with the military personnel in the state. It makes them feel important. They also get to take trips, have nice dinners, and drink some fine wine.

It seems they take lots of trips – trips that don’t seem to be paying off. Luckily, this last trip was a visit to the Great Falls commission meeting. No free dinners or wine list required…

The Wager:

How many readers are excited that Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and U.S. Senator Steve Daines are making another wager on the Montana State University Bobcats and the Montana Grizzlies football game this Saturday?

Me neither.

We know that Daines will use anything, like his daughter’s wedding, to get some publicity. Fox is rumored to be running for Governor, so he needs some publicity, too.

And they got it – the Great Falls Tribune gave them some space proving there’s a sucker born every minute.

One More Thing:

If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID. – President Donald J. Trump (The Daily Caller)