Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sunday roundup and branding -- the Gazette, and beyond...

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Health insurance bills: It is good that a number of bills making it easier for the uninsured to get some level of insurance are advancing in the Montana legislature. CHIP is a good program because it provides health insurance for children in low-income families. Most Republicans believe in protecting the most vulnerable among us, and children needing basic health care are only a step away from the unborn in vulnerability. It is therefore gratifying to see that Republican legislators are leading, and not just following on this issue of bipartisan interest.

Providing tax credits to help lower income individuals purchase some level of insurance is also a good move, and there are a couple of competing Republican plans to provide this. The coverage won't necessarily be fancy, but the starting point of any health insurance program is to provide for the catastrophic -- most Montanans understand the importance of having at least that kind of minimal health insurance if they can at all get it, so there will be plenty of takers on this offer.

Hardin prison getting ready to go: It is great news that the Hardin detention facility that the community invested so much money into is going to be going soon. We won't go into the rumored political skulduggery that might have left Hardin holding a very expensive bag. We do notice that state prisoners aren't specifically mentioned in the article (perhaps they won't have to be turned loose on the streets of Billings after all) and that county prisoners won't be taken there. We're just glad that it looks like the facility is going to open and that it will be put to use, to the benefit of Hardin's economy.

Former governor criticizes current governor: There is something a bit unseemly about a former chief executive making comments on a current chief executive. Montana Headlines doesn't like it when former presidents don't mind their own business (Exhibit A is America's worst ex-President, Jimmy Carter), and we don't like it when former governors don't mind their own business.

Whether or not any of the things that Martz had to say about the current executive branch are true, this is just one more example of why Judy Martz was such a terrible politician that it is impossible to get anyone to look at whether she was a good governor. It is our opinion that Martz was a pretty good governor -- she just needed a doppelgänger to be the politician for her.

Gov. Schweitzer is a Teflon-coated master politician, and there is not a single Republican (or Democrat) in the state even in his class at playing the game. Republicans are stupid to attack him, just as Republicans on the national level were stupid to attack the man he so resembles -- Bill Clinton. (That's a political compliment, for the uninitiated.) The Montana GOP has been exhibiting that stupidity for years -- and look at what it got us.

Acknowledging that we don't have anyone (yet) who can take him on in single combat (certainly not Martz,) is kind of like step one of a 12-step rehab program for the GOP. That doesn't mean throwing in the towel -- as the Republican delegation has shown this session (even if not always in a terribly polished manner) a coordinated effort can sometimes thwart even the most formidable giant.

So, don't make my day: It looks like Jack Wells won't get his bill through. We didn't listen to any of the testimony in committee. We certainly agree with Wulfgar that there are good parts to this bill. The bill also appears to have been poorly written -- something that seems to plague first-time bills in Montana.

Unless the press is misrepresenting the testimony, it sounds as though the bill's supporters didn't have their ducks in a row -- they didn't get law enforcement input to anticipate objections, they didn't have credible testimony of examples where a "show of force" with a firearm prevented a violent crime, they provided no examples of cases where innocent citizens were prosecuted for brandishing a weapon in a dangerous situation, they presented sloppily inaccurate testimony about a case in Billings, etc.

And then there was the distasteful and amateurish Fliergate business to top it off. It could have been a well-crafted piece of legislation that advanced 2nd amendment rights, and it could have put many Democratic legislators into difficult spots as a political bonus. As it turns out, neither will be accomplished. Maybe next session.

Revenge of the über-rich Democrats: One of the Democratic party's little secrets is that it, not the Republican party, is the party of the super-wealthy. Republicans probably have a hefty majority of the mid to upper-middle class (the real targets of "soak the rich" tax schemes, which define "rich" as starting with a family income of $200,000 or less), but when it comes to the billionaire-types, they have a penchant for liberal politics.

There are a host of reasons that go into this, starting with the fact that the truly wealthy have all the tools needed at their disposal to avoid the taxes and rules (off-shore trusts and carbon offsets anyone?) that their liberal politics impose on the rest of us, but that's not the point of this little segment.

The Missoula Independent has a report about the on-going attempts by James Cox Kennedy to turn the Ruby River into his private park, in defiance of the spirit and letter of Montana's fishing access laws. Oh, and Kennedy is incidentally a "major player in the Democratic party."

This attempt to close off the Ruby is all part and parcel of Kennedy's dedication to the welfare of the little guy, we suppose. He probably thinks that Montanans need a little education on how Democratic politics works at the big-time level: super-wealthy Democrats call the shots and the po' folk do what they're told at the voting booth.

On the other hand, let's hope that Montanans -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- give Kennedy and his ilk (Democrats and Republicans alike) a little lesson on how things are done out here. And no, Montana Headlines doesn't give a reindeer's antler what a few cerebrally-challenged Republicans in this state think about restricting stream access on the basis of private property rights.


Anonymous said...

While I agree that one has to be careful about how you level criticism, isn't it the job of the "loyal opposition" to point out the shortcomings and errors made by the ruling party and suggest better ways of doing things?

Montana Headlines said...

Two things:

1. The specific point was that a governor or president has had his shot at running the executive branch, and really should stay out of things unless planning to run again (which we doubt Martz is.)

A former chief executive can cause no end of trouble for the person who currently has the job. Even Bill Clinton has pretty well behaved himself during the Bush administration, just as Papa Bush behaved himself during the Clinton administration -- and it had to have been hard for both of them to do so.

2. There wasn't a lot of suggesting better ways to do things in Martz's comments. Most of it was a criticism of Schweitzer's political style, and Martz is hardly in a position to give advice there.

If Republicans are going to criticize Schweitzer, their criticisms need to be substantive, meticulously researched, carefully framed, etc. He's just too good to do ridiculous things like criticize his jeans or bolo tie.

And for goodness sake, as we've said before, Jag is a good Republican dog who is mortified at being in Helena around all of those Democrats instead of doing an honest day's work on a ranch -- leave him out of it.