The Wednesday Read

Tolerance is ensuring others have equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness even if you don’t agree with their choices. – Unknown

Today’s topics include:

  • Bullock for President
  • Pentagon’s $1.5B Wall Transfer
  • A Fun Run

Continue reading

Tuesday’s Quick Hits

I just wanted you to know that somebody cares about you. Not me, but somebody does. – Unknown

Today’s quick hits deal with these important subjects:

  • Hanna’s Act
  • Wall Money
  • Michael Avenatti
  • The Meme of the Week

Continue reading

Caught My Eye…

Note to readers: Please take a moment today to pray for the folks around Roseburg, Oregon, where a shooting occurred at a local community college.

Also, a U.S. Air Force C-130J transport plane crashed overnight at an air base in eastern Afghanistan, killing six American airmen and 5 civilians, so please pray for these brave people and their families.

If you are a first-time visitor, “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. Since I’m independent, I don’t have to worry about who gets ticked off.

Today I write about MilCon & VA Approps, Obama’s remarks about Oregon shooting, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and much more!

Continue reading

Earmarks: Just a Memory?

Readers may remember a few years ago that in many U.S. House and U.S. Senate campaigns the candidates ran on the promise that they could deliver the most federal money (some called it “pork’) to their state.  Some politicians even took their state ranking high in pork received as an honor.

Although some called it pork, those receiving the funding used it for some worthwhile projects like fitness centers, homes, and dormitories on military installations.  Earmarks were also used for water projects, interpretive centers, and even for roads, bridges, and skate parks.  There was also some misuse of federal funds.

Back in 2006 during the U.S. Senate race in Montana, challenger Jon Tester was even promised a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to help him defeat incumbent Senator Conrad Burns.  Tester won the race and the promise was delivered to Tester by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Congressman Denny Rehberg also gained a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Continue reading

Mr. Chairman

Congressman Denny Rehberg (R – Mont.) today announced that he was selected Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

Congratulations to Congressman Rehberg. Anytime a member of a small delegation (like Montana’s) ascends to a Chairmanship, it bodes well for the state – and gives the state more clout. With 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rehberg is in a unique position to rein in the massive federal spending and help our country get back on the right track.

Plus, with the recent healthcare fiasco, The Hill Blog put it best:

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) was tapped Friday to head a powerful appropriations subcommittee with oversight of health spending.

The six-term congressman will lead the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which holds the purse strings for the Medicare agency. As Republicans look to chip away at the new healthcare reform law, the Appropriations Committee is expected to play a key role in GOP plans to defund the law.

Rehberg also has seats on the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee, and Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee.

A list of the members of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee members for the 112th Congress can be found HERE.

Politics: Winners and Losers

With the defeat of the massive Omnibus bill (is it really dead or was it all just a dream?), many Americans breathed a sigh of relief.

Of course, Congress has not adjourned for the year so we really don’t know what is going to happen, but there still are winners and losers.

Here in Montana, we witnessed the back and forth between Congressman Denny Rehberg (R) and Senator Jon Tester (D) about Tester being allowed to insert his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act language into the bill.

We also witnessed some of the Montana media trying to decipher the back and forth and understand how a bill becomes a law. Some, in my humble opinion, seemed to side with Tester in their blogs – like a love affair…

We soon found out it was not the same language from the original bill, but “very similar to the version he introduced a year and a half ago” according to Tester’s website.

That was one of several problems Tester had with the bill. Other issues were that his original bill never received a vote – not in committee or on the Senate floor. It never made it to the House for debate – and that made his “very similar” bill seem even that much more wrong.

It looks like the first-term senator bit off more than even he could chew with his forest/wilderness bill, but we won’t know for sure until the House and Senate adjourns for this Congress.

If it were easy, Senator Max Baucus would have done it years ago. Forests, wilderness, logging, and recreation are some of the most contentious issues in the West.

Rehberg hammered away at Tester’s “backroom” deal and held an emergency tele-town hall meeting where 5,500 Montanans called in to ask questions and hear from Rehberg. It’s pretty impressive when you can get 5,500 Montanans to do anything, but Rehberg did.

It was great political theater and Rehberg, with less staff and resources than Tester, won this one. Tester lost credibility and harmed his re-election bid. Some folks hope the back and forth between Rehberg and Tester will be decided in November 2012.

The (supposedly) final blow to the Omnibus bill did not happen because of Tester’s forest/wilderness bill or Rehberg hammering him. It was about nine GOP senators who thought twice about voting for the bill that would have given the Senate Democrats a victory. The spending was freakishly massive. The earmarks (from both sides) were a rallying point although they were just a small percentage of the overall bill. These GOP senators bailed on Majority Leader Harry Reid and he had to pull the Omnibus bill from consideration.

The American people are winners. Some money was saved. But we are also losers because Congress is still broken.

BREAKING NEWS: Victory for the People!

Several sources are reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the $1.1 trillion (1,924 page) Omnibus bill from consideration early this evening.

Maybe the madness is over! Supposedly they will pass a Continuing Resolution to fund congress into next year.  The Democrats, who controlled Congress, failed to pass any of the 12 Apprpropriations bills (they should have been passed prior to October 1).   Montana’s junior Senator, Jon Tester (D),  is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Hopefully, this will put an end to the craziness and an end to Senator Jon Tester’s Forest bill that was rewritten and inserted into the Omnibus Bill without any committee hearings or debate in the senate or the House.

If that’s the case, Tester will have to start over when the 112th Congress goes into session in early January.  Maybe Tester will learn from this bitter defeat and be more open and transparent next Congress…


Politics: Earmarks and Elections

A battle is being waged across the United States and even here in Montana. It’s the battle about earmarks – the once relatively important term that defined a congressional member’s clout in Congress – one that they could hang their reelection bid on because they delivered the pork to their home state or district.

As Bob Dylan sings, “The Times They Are a-Changin'”

A Little Montana History on Earmarks: Continue reading

Earmarks: Hero or Hooligan?

Here at The Western Word, I’ve followed the earmark issue for a number of years. In the last few years the spending in Congress has gotten out of control. Sure, the GOP spent a lot of money prior to the Democratic take-over of Congress in 2007, but nothing compares to what the Democrats have spent since then.

I think it’s important to cut the spending and saving about $15 – $20 billion per year from earmarks is a good start.

In the past, politicians sending out press releases touting the amount of money they obtained through earmarks was a way for them to show their clout in Washington. Today that same press release will be frowned upon because frankly we don’t have the money – it’s like we are maxing out our credit cards and our credit is about shot.

Most people in Montana want to see earmarks banned. There have been a few polls (not scientific) in local newspapers across the state where 70-80% of those responding said they wanted to see a ban on earmarks.

Congressman Denny Rehberg got the message. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester have not.

I smiled when I discovered that Taxpayers Against Earmarks has launched a new interactive website about earmarks. Constituents across the country can use this handy tool when they meet their elected officials.

According to this STORY in Politico: Continue reading

Earmarks: Tribune Says Not In Our Backyard

The three members of Great Falls Tribune Editorial Board posted their opinion today about the earmark moratorium proposed by the GOP in Congress. They are against it. Big time.

They could have titled the opinion, “Keep Your Hands Off Our Junk” but instead called it “In defense of needed federal earmarks.”

They use the basis of their argument that it won’t do anything about the federal deficit (in other words, a moratorium in the Tribune’s eyes won’t save much money).

It’s no wonder that newspapers across the country are going broke. Continue reading