Sunday, June 17, 2007

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

Image Courtesy of

He's the man: So show some respect -- and love.

GOP in for tune-up, oil-change, and lube: Or perhaps an overhaul. Something.

Craig Wilson, a political scientist from Montana State University-Billings, said he doesn't believe Republicans are as strong in Montana as they could be.

Quite an understatement. Wilson cites the failure of Republicans to identify credible challengers to Sen. Baucus and the governor. These are indeed problems, since it is not easy to gain state-wide name-recognition and political viability in a small-population state.

Rehberg could give a strong challenge to either of these Democrats in a well-run campaign. But the risk of losing the House seat would be unacceptably high, and chances of success would be less than even odds.

One thing that the GOP needs to work on is identifying and grooming good candidates at every level. And something that every GOP elected official needs to work on is preparing for the possibility of another run -- either for re-election or for a higher or different office.

Good candidates need to be willing to step "down," as well. If a good state legislator in Billings is term-limited, a run for the city council should be considered, for instance. Term-limited senators should go back to run for the House, taking their experience with them.

A lot is expected of new party chairman Erik Iverson -- he needs to succeed in making Republicans the party that Montanans trust and depend on.

The Gazette editorial page is number one: According to the Montana Newspaper Association's 2006 Better Newspaper Contest, that is. Opinion Editor Pat Bellinghausen won for the best editorial page and for the best editorial writing.

Those of us who found Missoulian's Steve Woodruff (unfortunately no longer at that paper) to be more balanced and to have a more engaging and less ponderous style of writing would disagree. He was also less condescending toward us ignorant peasants -- but that isn't the stuff that earns awards. It is, however, a bit surprising that Woodruff didn't get a few bonus points as a fraternal goodbye.

The problems with the Gazette opinion page are numerous, and tedious to recount. One can only be grateful for the fact that a large percentage of the Gazette's readers either don't look at the opinion page, or assume that if Bellinghausen is for it, then they should probably be against it. Loyal opposition and all that sort of thing.

France's move right continues: As noted before, MH doesn't understand the fine points of French politics, but the fact that Sarkozy's party won a clear parliamentary majority, allowing him to pursue his ambitious reforms, can only be a good thing.

The rest of Europe will be watching to see how Sarkozy implements his immigration-reform plans. Rather than eliminate family-reunification as the hard right in France had proposed, Sarkozy has proposed that family members must learn French and prove proficiency before coming to France, that the family member bringing them in prove that the means is there to support them (including having housing arranged,) and that would-be immigrants sign a declaration that they respect French national identity.

News organizations are portraying this parliamentary victory as a loss for Sarkozy, since it wasn't the landslide that had been predicted at one point, but it doesn't take away from the clear majority that will allow his legislation to move forward. Part of what cut into the vote were plans to reduce payroll taxes by shifting some of it to sales taxes -- more class-warfare stuff.

More show-voting from Sens. Baucus and Tester: This time a non-binding no-confidence vote on A.G. Gonzalez. Sen. Mike Enzi of WY voted against the measure.

What is it with these wimpy non-binding resolutions? If he's done bad things, then get on with impeachment proceedings. Otherwise get back to work rather than engaging in show-trials and show-voting.

One also hopes that Enzi voted against it because it was a silly non-binding resolution submitted only to play political games -- and not because Enzi has confidence in Gonzalez. If he does, then he's even further off-base than are Sens. Baucus and Tester, who at least recognize incompetence and cronyism when they see it.

Now we can go see the Cubs play more easily: Wrigley Field, ivy-covered walls, walking in downtown Chicago on those historic streets and across those great bridges. Now it's all a non-stop daily flight away from Billings on United Airlines -- but only for the summer.

The Canadians are coming: On vacation, that is. Those of us who enjoy traveling to Canada don't get the benefit of a strong dollar these days, but Montana is benefiting from the strength of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar. On a summer when high gas prices are going to keep a lot of American tourists home (to the great benefit of the environment,) our neighbors to the north may make up some of the difference.

Finally over for at least another year: It's enough to make anyone feel happy and gay. We will neither have the Gazette editorial page scolding us like children about tolerance (there sure were a lot of people downtown throwing eggs and shouting profanity at the Gay Pride parade in Billings, weren't there?... not)

Nor will we have to read angry letters to the editor reacting against the planned parade and Mayor Ron Tussing's enthusiasm for it. Montanans tend to be MYOB people -- which is both why there wasn't anyone downtown spewing hate against homosexuals, and why parades like this are silly.

It is odd that modern Americans obsessed with creating persecuted groups would simultaneously preach that what one does in the privacy of one's own bedroom is one's own private business -- and then have a big parade to celebrate and advertise what is done in the privacy of one's own bedroom (and that is nobody else's business.)

One can expect the Gazette to promote, and perhaps even organize a monogamous, married, 2.5 children-per-family Christian heterosexual pride parade later this summer.

No comments: