Caught My Eye…

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. – Charles de Gaulle

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

If you are a first-time visitor, CME is posted right 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. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – maybe both.

Topics that I am providing commentary about today include Trump & Obamacare, Gianforte’s Mugshot, Life is a Highway (Sign), Eminem’s Freestyle, Trump & Weinstein, ALCS/NLCS, and One More Thing!

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Caught My Eye…

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. – Aldous Huxley

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

If you are a first-time visitor, CME is posted right 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. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – maybe both.

Topics that I am providing commentary on today include Rob Quist, Greg Gianforte, Steve Daines, Amanda Curtis, Donald Trump, Russia, Mike Flynn, the Freedom Caucus, and much more!

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The Wednesday Read: Where’s Daines, Mail Ballots, & Zinke

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid. – Benjamin Franklin

Today I provide independent commentary about the following items for this edition of The Wednesday Read:

  • Daines Rescheduled
  • Emergency Chairman’s Report
  • Montana GOP & Tester & Zinke

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The Wednesday Read: Zinke v. Tester, Hamlett & Taxes, & Sulu

You can only be young once. But you can always be immature. – Dave Barry

It’s the last day of November and these items caught my attention for this edition of The Wednesday Read:

  • Zinke v. Tester
  • The Taxman Cometh
  • George Takei

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Monday’s Political Quick Hits

In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can. – Nikos Kazantzakis

Welcome to Monday! Here are some “Political Quick Hits” about some issues that caught my attention over the weekend:

  • Bernie in Montana
  • Wittich Punishment
  • Bullock emails
  • AP Final on Burns
  • TWW Poll Results
  • Oh Dwyane

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Haters Gonna Hate

I posted a column late Thursday night after learning of the death of my former boss, U.S. Senator Conrad Burns. The Great Falls Tribune picked up the whole column and it was published in their Saturday paper.

Overall, the comments to my column were pretty good. I heard from people all across the fruited plains via email. It was nice to hear from some old friends, too.

Former press secretaries for Burns, Matt Mackowiak and Derek Hunter, wrote columns about Senator Burns in the past few days. You can read Matt’s column HERE and Derek’s column HERE.

One comment posted in the Great Falls Tribune from gadfly Howard Strause brought up some things from Burns’ past, and he closed his comment with “By the way, a Burns staffer was caught deleting some of Burns statements from Wikipedia and inserting glowing comments. Wonder who that was?”

I guess I must confess; it was not me who edited the Wikipedia entry. So that leaves about 500 other suspects.

I don’t know what on God’s green earth that has to do with the death of a U.S. Senator, but if Howard Strause wants to come over to my yard,, and leave his cheap comments, he is more than welcome. School is in session.

I guess in the words of Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate.”

I have always thought it was in poor taste to go after people after they were dead. My parents taught me to not speak ill of the dead. I guess some folks didn’t learn that lesson. It’s been interesting to see the commentaries after the death of Burns.

Some liberal blogs had some nice posts, but some of the comments were not so nice. Over at the Intelligent Discontent blog, Pete Talbot wrote:

Burns was a down-to-earth guy and, from what I’ve heard, he provided excellent constituent services. Never underestimate the value of constituent services. Having issues with Social Security, Medicare, Veteran benefits? A call to one of Conrad’s field offices and often, the problem was solved.

It’s nice that some folks understand that Burns is no longer running for political office. Some not so much.

The Great Falls Tribune editorial board disappointed me with their editorial in Sunday’s paper.

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Conrad & Me

Conrad Burns
January 25, 1935 – April 28, 2016

The first time I met U.S. Senator Conrad Burns was back in the summer of 94. I was volunteering on his campaign for some college credits. The campaign was hosting a picnic at the Great Falls KOA, and I stood in line to shake his hand.

I was neConrad Burnsrvous – this was a United States Senator – there are only 100 U.S. Senators!

A lady in front of me told the senator that she was late getting to the picnic because she was watching to see how many black helicopters or United Nations tanks were on a train coming through Montana. Conrad looked at her and said, “Lady, you’re crazy as hell.”

I knew right then I would like working for him. I worked on his 1994 campaign and was fortunate enough to be hired for his official U.S. Senate staff in 1995 as his Field Representative for North Central Montana. In 1999, I was promoted to Deputy State Director and performed that job until he left office in January 2007.

I never knew Conrad before I met him in Great Falls that day, but we grew up in the same area in Missouri. Ironically, on our many trips around the state, we found out that we knew some of the same people. We talked about fishing in the local rivers around Gallatin and Trenton, Missouri. We talked a lot about the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas City Chiefs football teams. Before they died, my parents met with Conrad when he was speaking in Gallatin, Missouri. He said some nice things about their boy and they loved him forever. When I first met him after he talked to my parents, he said. “I told them a few whoppers about you, Michael.”

Since we were both veterans, we talked a lot about military and veterans issues. He loved Malmstrom AFB and the Montana’s National Guard. He loved the Marines! Since I was stationed at Malmstrom, I saw first-hand that he did a lot for the base. I think the base is still active today because of Conrad Burns.

One morning I was the staffer who was supposed to pick him up at the airport in Great Falls. He was flying in from Washington, D.C. The Great Falls Tribune editorial board ran a scathing editorial about him, and I was the first one to see him that morning to let him read it before he met with the press and constituents. He read it and asked me, “Michael, what do you think about what they said.” I said, “Frankly sir, it pisses me off.” Conrad replied, “You can’t fight the people who buy ink by the barrel.”

Conrad loved to joke. Sometimes his jokes got him in trouble. Sometimes his comments were misconstrued. Sometimes he was not treated fairly by the press, but one thing for sure is that he loved Montana. He loved veterans. He loved military personnel. He loved farmers and ranchers.

During his final campaign, he never let up although the Abramoff issue was in the news and then the firefighter issue made the news. His opponent, Jon Tester, capitalized on it and won the race by just 3,562 votes.

Conrad Burns represented Montana well for 18 years. I was fortunate enough to be along for the ride for 12 of those years. I will always be grateful for the time I spent as his staffer.

Rest in Peace, Senator, rest in peace.

My condolences go to Phyllis and to the entire Burns family.


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Monday’s Political Odds & Ends

The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. – Malcolm X

Welcome to Monday and welcome to spring 2016!

Today is another one of those days in which there are several major stories out there that I want to comment about – so it’s another “Political Odds & Ends” day!

Today’s topics include the Great Falls Tribune’s 11 Tips for Surviving an Election Year, the Billings Gazette & Steve Daines, Bullock & the Plane, Twitter, and much more!

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Monday’s Odds & Ends

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. – Robin Williams

Hello Monday! We are starting the last week of January, so hang in there! We’re just a week away from the Iowa Caucus!

It’s time for another odds and ends edition from the past weekend! When there are several stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into one column and call it “Potpourri” or “Odds & Ends” or something catchy to get your attention.

Today’s topics include:

  • Gianforte Kickoff
  • Conrad Burns
  • National Review
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Super Bowl 50
  • Snow Totals in Washington, D.C.

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Montana Senate 2012: Battleground Areas

In what some folks are calling a heavyweight matchup, the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Montana will feature two statewide office holders running against each other:  Congressman Denny Rehberg versus U.S. Senator Jon Tester for the junior U.S. Senate seat.

As most people who follow Montana politics know there are certain areas in the state that are pretty much a given to go to one political party or the other meaning the area swings either to the Democrats or the Republicans during the elections.

For example, the Butte area is considered Democratic territory just as the Kalispell area is considered Republican territory.

This does not mean that less populated areas are not important.  This race looks like it will be close, so even a few dozen votes here and there could spell victory.  To keep this column somewhat short, I take a look at the seven major areas (Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Great Falls, Missoula, and Kalispell) in the state and go in depth about a couple.

I also pick the one area that could decide the 2012 Senate race in Montana.  So you really need to read on… Continue reading