Sunday, August 15, 2010

Political Witch Hunt Over, Vogel Innocent!

Yesterday, a jury in Virginia City got it right. Randy Vogel was proven innocent of all charges stemming from an incident last hunting season. The incident in question was fairly ambiguous and obviously couldn’t stand the in the realm of public opinion or in front of a jury. In the end Mr. Vogel and his representation decided to defend themselves on the basis of the incident itself, but for five months leading up to the trial he would not give up on the idea that these charges were politically motivated. Now here in Montana we can’t imagine that a Democratic administration would waste their time to bring frivolous charges about on a prominent staff member of the only Republican in the Congressional delegation. While this hypothesis may be a little far-fetched, there are a couple of facts which need to be explored upon.

First, the day these charges were brought about, March 3, two days after Mr. Vogel took the job as Congressman Rehberg’s State Director. Is it not curious that these charges stemming from an incident which took place two or three months before were just served on March 3, in coincidence with the job announcement? It was a classic moment when Rehberg challenger Dennis McDonald spoke about the case on the morning of March 3 BEFORE the citations were filed; basically admitting that he had prior knowledge of the political release.

Secondly, we need to remember the amount of Democratic Party officials who have been put into prominent positions in state government. Some of the most notable include Sen. Mike Cooney as Labor and Industry Department Administrator, Rep. Dave McAlpin as State Crime Lab Administrator, Sen. Jesse Laslovich as an attorney in the State Auditor’s office, and finally, Rep. Art Noonan as Deputy Director of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Oddly enough, Rep. Noonan was appointed, not elected to the legislature in place of Rep. Groesbeck, who passed away suddenly before the 2009 Legislative Session. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party under Chairman Dennis McDonald.

This isn’t the only incident where political motivations have come into play, remember also in March, a 37-year well respected state worker at the Department of Commerce was forced to retire early (a mere 20 days early) because he answered the questions of a Republican state legislator about questionable delays in grants to local governments. This type of politicizing people’s lives is not strange to the Democrats under Dennis McDonald – last year after The Night of the Boat Wreck, Mr. McDonald began issuing press releases almost daily attacking Rehberg, without any sympathy for other passengers still in critical condition.

After its coming end in November, the McDonald reign over the Democratic Party in Montana will be remembered as one without regard for facts and one without any thought but political gain in mind. It is the people of Montana who are currently paying for absurd poaching charges and a policy that everyone is expendable in the realm of political posturing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Murky Swamp

Maxine “In Hot” Waters and Charles “Been Charged” Rangel are just the latest is a string of ethically plagued members of Congress. William “Cold Hard Cash” Jefferson and Mark “Creepy Perv” Foley also come to mind.

So, I have to ask myself, what Maxine Waters would say about ethics… As luck would have it, here is the video!

Waters and Rangel are both in a lot of trouble. The most ethical congress in history has two ethics cases at the same time. Nancy’s Congress did make one first. Never have two ethics cases been heard at the same time, and right before an election.

Waters for her part is calling this racism. Considering the Ethics committee is bipartisan, this is highly unlikely. It looks like two members may walk out of congress, possibly on the way to prison. This wouldn’t be a first for a house member; for that matter, two other House Ways-and-Means Committee chairs left congress shame.

Here is the deal for Democrats in Congress; they have been able to individualize this in the past. 2010 will probably be different. Two hearings at the same time, and one about interference regarding TARP, all has big potential. This is seen in the number of Democrats calling for Rangel to leave Congress now!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Vulture vs. the Pig

The race for the lone seat to the US House of Representatives from Montana is an anomaly in the animal kingdom. Montana voters have a Democrat who made his fortune feasting off the illegal activity of mob bosses in California (i.e. the “Vulture”) and we have a “Pig” in Denny Rehberg, or so labeled by our colleague in words – Montana Cowgirl. She makes this accusation because of the multitude of earmarks he has sponsored and brought back to Montana over the years he has been in Washington. It is easy to criticize the Congressman for this, but it is only easy because of the negative connotation given to earmarks by the national media and political campaigns to distract us from real wasteful spending. Earmarks are not a bad thing, a conclusion is based on three premises: (1) Earmarks in themselves, are the most transparent form of appropriation; (2) Earmarks actually get things done; and (3) Let’s look at the big picture!

First of all, earmarks themselves are very transparent. An earmark is not a general appropriation to a government agency to fund the director’s agenda and the bureaucracy that comes with it; it is a funding mechanism for a specific task or project. Some examples of earmarks brought forth by the Congressman in recent years – $1.5 million for the new interchange in Belgrade, $3.6 million for animal research in Bozeman, more than $30 million for water rights and water improvements on Indian Reservations in Montana, $200,000 to the Rocky Mountain Development Council for affordable housing, and $250,000 for a sexual assault examination nurse at the Billings Clinic. I think these are all things we need here in Montana and I don’t think Cowgirl would disagree with me. Congressman Rehberg understands that here in Montana there are problems we cannot solve without raising state property or income taxes – why not use that 30% of our income we send to Washington every year to help out the folks at home?

Secondly, without earmarks we would be missing out on a lot of essential projects here in Montana. The BIA and other agencies would not have moved forward on water compacts with the Indian Tribes, conservation initiatives like the Blackfoot Challenge, Rocky Mountain Front Coalition, and Montana Legacy Project would receive no funding, and local governments would have no chance of bringing infrastructure to rural towns. Earmarks aren’t intrinsically bad, they fund many good projects. Problems arise when the dollar amounts garnered by Congress are directly proportional to seniority and political capital and not the merits of a specific project.

Finally, what really doesn’t make sense about Cowgirl’s post is that she fails to mention the total amount of the national budget earmarks actually amount to in a fiscal year. 2006 had the highest dollar amount ever of earmarks at $29 billion which amounts to about ONE PERCENT of the total budget. In 2010, the Pig Book reports that there are $16.5 billion in earmarks – the budget is $3.6 trillion – so about .5% of our money is going to designated projects. Remember the stimulus bill cost $800 billion and healthcare will cost $1 trillion; can’t we find a better place to cut spending?

I am not saying that all earmarks are good, but here in Montana we see what earmarks can do for us everyday – infrastructure, conservation, and education. In the current times of soaring national deficits, why don’t we cut some real pork that won’t hurt progress in our state? Before we end, we shouldn’t forget about our Senator Tester, in the ’06 Burns/Tester debate the Senator said something to the effect of, “I will not support one earmark, period.” Since 2008 he has supported over $300 million in earmarks. Come on Cowgirl, before you go making a petty political attack because Denny tried to make a point about out of control spending, do a little research.

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