Political Trough: Astroturf Sportsmen Group Spotlighted

What to do with Highway 2?  Does wilderness stimulate the economy?  A tribute to Butte’s Pat Kearney.  Wyoming eyes another oil boom.  Curtis’ evolving position on the Keystone pipeline.  And, Gardner’s lead continues to grow in Colorado.  Those stories and more are in this week’s Political Trough. 

But first…     

Montana Media Trackers: Meet Montana Sportsmen Alliance, A Highly Active Dark Money Group

A small and somewhat mysterious liberal organization called the Montana Sportsmen Alliance (MSA) is once again making its presence known — mainly in support of Democrats — in the 2014 election cycle, as debates over federal land management have become a major campaign issue.

MSA’s registered agent, Vito Quatraro, is also currently serving as campaign treasurer for far left Democratic State Senate candidate Franke Wilmer. MSA has officially endorsed Wilmer, and Wilmer features a long op-ed by the MSA “leadership group” that slams Republicans for embracing the idea of more state control of federal lands and repeats left-wing claims that the land will be sold to private interests.


A new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll gives Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., his largest lead yet over Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.: 46 percent to 39 percent, compared to the firm’s Sept. survey which had the two tied.

Politico: If Democrats Lose, Blame These Guys

If Republicans capture control of the U.S. Senate, there will be many explanations for their victory: President Obama’s poor numbers, a great Senate map filled with attractive opportunities, a generally strong slate of candidates, the success of establishment-backed Republicans in primaries and others.

But one of the biggest factors will have hardly anything to do with the national political climate or, really, the campaign as a whole. Five Democrats, all of whom are old enough to be eligible for Medicare, decided not to run for another term in the Senate. Their decisions, all announced before May 2013, are a huge but largely forgotten boon to GOP hopes.

The five retirements were: Max Baucus of Montana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Carl Levin of Michigan and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Newsbusters.org: NBC Covers UNC Academic Fraud Scandal, Yet Skipped Academically Fraudulent Democratic Senator

On July 24, it was discovered that Senator John Walsh (D-Mont.) had plagiarized his thesis statement as part of earning a master’s degree from the United States Army War College and led to the College revoking his degree on October 10. Back on August 7, Walsh announced that he would not be seeking reelection (as he originally planned) and would leave office after his term ends.

Throughout the whole scandal, the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC combined for only one story in the form of a news brief on CBS This Morning on July 24 that lasted for 31 seconds.

When the results of an investigation were released on Wednesday that detailed a vast academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina (UNC) involving about 1,500 athletes, CBS and NBC each covered it with the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley giving it 2 minutes and 29 seconds while NBC Nightly News spent 2 minutes and 23 seconds covering the scandal. Fellow network ABC and it’s evening newscast, World News Tonight with David Muir, failed to cover the story at all.

Billings Gazette: Daines ignores aggressive attacks from Curtis in first debate

In virtually every answer to questions, Curtis, a first-term state legislator from Butte, criticized Daines as “the most extreme congressman we’ve ever had” or someone who looks after the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans.

Over and over again, Curtis reminded the crowd of nearly 500 people that she is “one of us.” She said she is running for the Senate “to prove that you do not have to be a silver-spoon-fed politician to represent working families.”
When it came to ratings from the National Rifle Association, Daines said he received an “A-plus” grade, the highest mark any Montanan candidate has received, and pointed out that Curtis had received an “F,” the lowest of any Montana candidate in history.  “I think it illustrates her extreme position,” Daines said.

MT GOP: Clear contrasts between Daines and Curtis in Billings debate

Claim: Amanda Curtis said she supports infrastructure in Eastern Montana.
Truth: Amanda Curtis cast the deciding vote against overturning Governor Bullock’s veto on a $35 million critical energy infrastructure bill for Eastern Montana.

Claim: Curtis claims to work across the aisle, fight for Montana
Curtis voted with the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) 100% of the time. NPRC opposes Montana coal.
Curtis was endorsed by and voted with the Montana League of Conservation Voters (MCV) 93% of the time, a fringe group working to “take away the key” to the Keystone XL pipeline and supports the EPA’s job-killing energy regulations on Montana’s coal industry.

An article picked up by Politico also shows Curtis’ evolving position on the Keystone pipeline.   You may recall that when she was asked about her position by KTVQ-TV- she would not give her position. 

Now this via Politico’s Morning Energy:  CURTIS WILL SUPPORT KXL, IF OIL REFINED IN U.S.

 Montana Democratic Senate candidate Amanda Curtis says she would support the Keystone XL pipeline, but only if the Alberta-to-Texas project means that oil is refined in the U.S. ‘I don’t understand why we would be shipping both our natural resources and, with it, our jobs overseas,’ Curtis tells NBC Montana. ‘I’m advocating for Montanans to fight for the high-paying, permanent jobs that we would get with refining that here.’ Curtis entered the race late, and Republican Steve Daines has consistently maintained a major lead in the polls. More: http://bit.ly/1whHXUC

From the MT Petroleum Association newsletter:  Sharp Electricity Price Rise with New EPA Rule (Big Sky Business Journal, Oct. 7)

“This new report sheds light on the concerns a lot of Montana businesses have had about skyrocketing energy prices as a result of the EPA’s proposed rule,” said Glenn Oppel, Government Relations Director for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “We have significant concerns about the negative effects this rule will have on jobs in Montana, and not just in the energy sector. Higher energy input prices will also be a big hit to other industries, like agriculture and manufacturing, that use a lot of electricity and fuel. In fact, the upsurge in the manufacturing sector across the economy is due in large part to affordable and available energy.”

Bellingham Herald: Industry talking another oil boom in Wyoming (Bellingham Herald, Oct. 11)

“We have ups, we have downs. It all cycles through then comes back again,” said Coolidge, a Campbell County commissioner and third-generation oil and gas producer. “What’s happening with oil now I saw coming.” How exactly to describe what’s happening with oil now in the Powder River Basin and across Wyoming is subjective. It’s hard to go a day around Gillette without hearing someone say oil here is “booming.”

“You know, that’s a fine line,” he said. “Are we booming? I think we’re in the early stages of a boom. Town is certainly busy, all the hotel rooms are booked, rental vacancy rates are down. So yeah, maybe we’re in it.”
In 2013, production in the county was up to more than 13 million barrels — a 175 percent increase in four years — and is on pace to fill more than 18 million barrels this year.

ICYMI- From The Hill: Wilderness as economic stimulus? A closer look at the evidence by Shawn Regan

So there’s confusion about the theory, but what do existing studies find when they look at the data? In short, not much. The first empirical study, published in 1998, found no evidence that wilderness had an effect on employment or population growth in Western counties during the 1980s. A similar study in 1999 found no effect of wilderness on income, population or employment growth in rural counties in several Western states. Two more studies in 2002 and 2003 were no different: Wilderness had no effect on employment or wage growth.

More recent studies come to similar conclusions. A study in 2006 by Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics champions the role that public lands play in stimulating income growth in the West, but a closer look reveals that he is unable to demonstrate a statistically significant effect associated with wilderness lands. Another study by Rasker and his colleagues, published in 2013, emphasizes that protected public lands (including wilderness) had a small positive relationship with three measures of income. Less obvious was the fact that seven other economic measures they examined had zero effect.

So what about the popular claim that wilderness drives economic growth? Studies that reach this conclusion are based on simple correlations. None are rigorous enough to suggest that wilderness causes growth.
Wilderness advocates shouldn’t hang their hats on economic arguments. There are plenty of good reasons to love wilderness areas — but there’s just no evidence that economic arguments are one of them.

The Glasgow Courier: What To Do With HWY 2? by Bonnie Davidson

The Hwy. 2 Association has been pushing “4 for 2” for 12 years, suggesting that Hwy. 2 needs four lanes for traffic for both economic benefit and now to relieve traffic issues from the Bakken.

They are trying to get four lanes put in near Bainville now to help alleviate the traffic closest to the Bakken, but discussions and agreements have had to take place with North Dakota and with residents who own the land along the proposed construction and widening of the highway. That project will cost around $29 million and is projected to be completed in 2017, but has slowed down due to issues with acquiring land for the road. Tooley was asked if the department wasn’t offering enough for the property and Tooley responded that they were paying market value and trying to negotiate after that if they turn down the deal.

Questions and references to House Bill 218, a bill that was vetoed by Governor Steve Bullock, came up during the meeting. The bill would have allowed around $35 million to go toward counties impacted by energy development for infrastructure. Tooley thought that the bill might come up again this year, but said that it might be up to the people to get the word out to legislators.

Oh….so they DID have WMD’s?

The New York Times: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Montana Media Trackers: Left-Wing Groups Take Aim at Montana’s LR-126

Supporters of the referendum contend that the measure will help protect against voter fraud and eliminate the chance for errors and delays often seen in same-day registration systems.

Long lines caused by the glut of last minute voters have also caused major headaches for elections officials in recent elections, with long lines and voting occurring late into the night, long after the polls are supposed to officially be closed.

In 2012, these issue were exacerbated by ballot counting machines that jammed in several locations across the state. In Yellowstone County, votes were still being tallied three days after the 2012 election.

Montana not only lost a great sportscaster recently, we lost a good historian, and a good man.

From Rocky Erickson: Pat Kearney Remembered!  

     Some say that I am a sports historian.  That is so not true….the only Montana sports historian that I know of is Butte’s Pat Kearney!  Recently Pat passed away at 59, please listen to my tribute to Pat.

Click here to listen.

KXLF-TV: Butte historian Pat Kearney found dead in home

Kearney was a Mining City historian and author of several books. Some of those titles include “The Divide War: Montana’s Golden Treasure,” “Butte’s Pride – Columbia Gardens,” “Butte’s Catholic Family,” and “Miracle on East Ridge.”

He also had his hand in nearly every area of Butte sports, from serving as play-by-play broadcaster of Butte Central athletics to running the Butte Sports Hall of Fame. Friends tell us he was also an avid runner.

And….to conclude with a lighter note this weekend- a listener in Helena shared this old Cheers episode that many of you may appreciate. 

Frasier Crane vs American Politics


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