Political Trough: Forcing the President’s Hand on Keystone

The latest edition of The Montana Journalism Review dissects the coverage of the sexual assault scandals in Missoula- covering the “love letters” received by at least one reporter.  The House attempts to force the president’s hand on the Keystone pipeline.  A US Senate candidate calls gun control legislation “a convenient distraction.”  The IRS scandal.  The Farm Bill.  And- Internet tax advocates get the facts wrong.  That and more excerpts are included below in the “Political Trough.”

Montana Journalism Review: “Missoula sexual assaults spur controversial media coverage

As media attention escalated, fans of the University of Montana — football fans especially — grew more aggressive toward the articles coming from the Missoulian. On eGriz.com, an Internet fan forum started in February 2001, which now has more than 12,000 members, the anger soon began to focus on Florio. Members used her name as a slur, accusing her of a personal vendetta against men and Grizzly football.

The site’s moderator, Brint Wahlberg, says he mostly kept up with the story through Twitter, following the feeds of the Montana Kaimin, NBC Montana reporter Emily Adamson, and KPAX. He says he doesn’t think Florio had a bias against football, but that she could have done a better job presenting both sides of the issue.

Florio says Wahlberg has emailed her apologizing for some the personal attacks against her on the site, but that there was never a collective pressure to take down the comments. Over more than a year of coverage, her “love letters,” the term she uses to describe her hate mail, grew more disgusting, from letters to the newspaper to comments on eGriz.

Montana Media Trackers: “Liberal Groups Spend Money, Claim Victory in School Levy, Trustee Elections”

In Billings, levies were approved by voters with the help of the controversial  left-wing political consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions, while in Missoula, five pro-union school board trustees were elected with the help of Forward Montana. One-third of Forward Montana’s board of directors is comprised of Hilltop employees.

“It was a very sophisticated campaign,” Hilltop principal Joe Splinter told the Billings Gazette after the victory.

Splinter was assigned to run the Yes for Kids campaign. Splinter was featured in a Billings Gazette video supplement about campaign volunteers.  Splinter previously served as treasurer of the liberal dark money group Montana Hunters and Anglers, which spent $1.17 million in 2012 to help defeat former U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg in his U.S. Senate campaign.  Splinter declined to comment to the Billings Gazette when questioned about his involvement in the weeks before the 2012 election.

From The Daily CallerKrauthammer: Obama, Democrats created ‘climate’ for IRS tea party targeting

Flathead Beacon: Champ Edmunds Calls Gun Control Push a “Convenient Distraction”

Obamacare, or a “train wreck” as its author Sen. Max Baucus calls it, will deal a crushing financial blow to seniors and millennial voters. Proposed immigration legislation threatens Social Security solvency and our senior citizens who rely on it. Millennial voters are experiencing unemployment rates as high as 16.2 percent and a student loan debt average of $26,600. Women in business are having difficulties accessing start-up monies and low-interest loans. Veterans are not receiving timely treatment for service-connected conditions and are waiting up to 18 months for decisions on their disability claims.

Yet, gun control marches on. Distraction.

Let’s not allow ourselves to get sidetracked. Using some lingo from my military days, we can about-face this great country.

AFP’s Henry Kriegel: Farm Bill is Bigger and More Bloated than Ever

The Farm Bill is passed every five years or so and is done under the guise of helping struggling small farmers. This is largely fiction. In fact, 80 percent of the $1 trillion Farm Bill spending goes toward food stamps. This welfare program meant to help the needy purchase nutritious food is out of control. More than 47 million Americans are now on food stamps – that’s one in every seven Americans – a 70 percent increase during President Barack Obama’s first term. It is also ripe with abuse. Former Montana State Rep. Tom Burnett has analyzed the misuse of food stamp funds. Burnett claims that $16 billion of the $80 billion spent annually on the food stamp program is used by recipients to buy sweetened beverages alone, not the staples of meat, vegetables and slow carbs.

The Heritage Foundation: Pro-Internet-Tax Groups Get the Facts Wrong

The authors of yesterday’s letter argue that such state power “asserts federalism” by “returning decision making authority over the collection of state taxes to state legislatures, where it belongs.” This interpretation misses the mark.

State legislatures been not been denied their right to establish their own sales tax laws. Indeed, they have all made decisions as to whether—and to what extent—sales should be taxed. Rather, they’ve been denied the ability to apply those laws to businesses that have no presence within their borders. That states can have their own laws that apply only to people and businesses that choose to reside within the state’s borders is at the very heart of federalism. Strike that away, as MFA does for sales taxes, and federalism becomes a badly weakened principle.

The Daily Caller: IRS slow-walks tax-exempt status for Wyoming conservative think tank

The Wyoming Policy Institute received its first letter requesting additional information about its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt application from the Internal Revenue Service last week — after a year-and-a-half of waiting.

Janie White, the Wyoming Policy Institute’s executive director and self-described tea party member since 2009, believes that her Wyoming think tank has been the subject of IRS slow-walking and targeting.

Washington Times: Parties begin to differ in IRS response 

Democratic lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday the IRS, while engaging in “unacceptable” targeting of conservative groups, may have been set up for failure by campaign finance law ambiguities that allowed tax-exempt groups to engage in partisan politics without disclosing their donors.

In the Senate’s first hearing on revelations that the tax agency had targeted tea party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny, Democrats focused largely on the foggy environment that led to the scandal, while minority Republican members of the panel excoriated senior IRS officials for failing to stop specialists in Cincinnati from burdening tea party groups and others with excessive requests for information.

From Politico’s “Morning Energy”- US House Passes Bill to Force Keystone Approval

THE KEYSTONE VOTE THAT WAS: After some initial uncertainty on whether the vote would be held, the House voted 241-175 to approve H.R. 3, a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It was the seventh time that House Republicans voted to approve or expedite a decision on the pipeline. Despite the numerous pro-Keystone votes, it is unlikely that the legislation will gain traction in the Senate. And on Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto the bill. Andrew Restuccia with more: http://politico.pro/16PxPZW.

– Twenty-four Republican Senators, including Sens. John Barrasso and John Hoeven are sending a letter to President Barack Obama today demanding he approve the Keystone XL pipeline on its own merits and not tie approval of the project to new regulations or higher energy taxes. “Americans cannot afford the environmentalist wish list of carbon reduction policies as a quid pro quo for Keystone XL pipeline project approval,” the letter reads. “We simply cannot withstand the soaring energy prices and further job losses that would result from a new carbon tax, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, or a low-carbon fuel standard.”

 National Journal: Gov. Schweitzer’s Good News for a DC Reporter

Just before getting off the phone, Schweitzer said I should look on the bright side despite not having a Montana area code: At least he hadn’t heard any news of my phone being tapped.

KPAX: BLM revision to fracking rules stirs concern in Montana

Executive Director Dave Galt says the proposed federal standards will significantly increase costs.

“Thirty percent of the state of Montana is federal lands. Development on Federal lands has fallen off the map. Several years ago, we had as many as 150 drilling permits. We’re down in the 20’s now. This will just make it worse,” Galt predicted.

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