Political Trough: Even Dems Talking About the Great SEAL?

Don’t take selfies with bears.  That’s the most important advice you’re going to get this week…we’ve got that story in this week’s Political Trough.  Plus, if soldiers are getting quarantined, why can’t everyone else?  The tweet of the week following the Cowboys and Redskins game (or did Sanjay Talwani just win it with the mock election results in Montana?).  And, the ho-hum of this year’s election in Montana, courtesy of The New York Times.

Those stories and more are in this week’s Political Trough….but first, Roll Call reports:  Stu Rothenberg’s Race Ratings Changes in 24 House Contests

•Montana’s At-Large District (Open; Rep. Steve Daines, Republican, is running for Senate): From Favored Republican to Safe Republican.

Speaking of the US House race…it appears even Democrats can’t stop talking about the Great Seal.

From The Western Word:  Thursday Numbers


For those of you following the debate over a mailer sent by academic researchers….

Montana Media Trackers:  Stanford’s DIME Places Montana SupCo Candidates on Ideological Scale

According to Stanford’s website, DIME “was developed as part of the project on Ideology in the Political Marketplace, which is an on-going effort to conduct a comprehensive ideological mapping of political elites, interest groups, and donors using the common-space CFscore scaling methodology.”

DIME’s CFscore for Justice Wheat is -1.16, which indicates a strong liberal ideological leaning. Anything below 0 indicates a more liberal ideological leaning. Anything above 0 indicates a more conservative ideological leaning. One of the other candidates rated by the mailer was Justice Jim Rice, who received a 0.58 rating. The average rating for the Montana Supreme Court is -0.87, indicating that the court is left-leaning.

Media Trackers was unable to locate actual scores for the challengers — Lawrence VanDyke and Mike Herbert — though the mailer placed them both on the “more conservative” end of the spectrum, with Herbert — a former Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate in Wyoming — being placed on the far right.

Billings Gazette: Wheat’s Supreme Court record under attack; what’s actually in the record?

Wheat also has come under fire for a pair of decisions on environmental cases. In 2012, he wrote a majority opinion that upheld a lower-court ruling invalidating a state permit for a proposed silver mine near Libby.

And that same year, he dissented from a Supreme Court decision that approved permits for Fidelity Exploration to drill 23 new natural gas wells near Baker, in eastern Montana.

“There is a pattern of Mike Wheat letting his environmental views influence his decisions on the court,” VanDyke said, noting that Wheat says on his website he is a “defender of Montana’s constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.”

The Missoula Independent must not have seen the latest polls showing Steve Daines (R-MT) with a huge lead over Democrat Amanda Curtis in the US Senate race.    

With one week to go- here’s their headline: Instant celebrity; How Amanda Curtis built statewide recognition in two months

Why all the name recognition for Curtis?  Maybe you could thank the Montana GOP, as The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports: Late attack ad against Amanda Curtis part of larger GOP strategy?

The Montana Republican State Central Committee sent some Bozeman voters a postcard this week attacking Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis for supporting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

So why would the Montana GOP spend money on this race?

“I suspect that it has to do with driving out the base of the Republican Party. It may have nothing to do with Amanda Curtis but rather getting people to vote,” Parker said.

And now…on to the ho-hum of the November election in Montana, at least according to The New York Times and under the heading: Are we really voting on this? State Initiatives, From the Important to the Ho-Hum

And then there’s the issue of the Montana state auditor. Despite her title, the state auditor’s job is regulating the securities and insurance industries. State Auditor Monica Lindeen thinks that confuses the public, and she’s already started using the title “Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.” Making that change official requires amending the constitution, which legislators voted to do last year; now, voter approval is required.

But this is not the first time Montanans have weighed in on what the auditor should be called. In 2006, when the legislature put a question on the ballot asking whether to rename the office as “Insurance Commissioner,” 64 percent of voters rejected the proposal. Perhaps this time will be different.

There’s no mention of the money management problems under appointed Sen. John Walsh, nor any mention of the US Army Inspector General ruling against him; however, The Flathead Beacon has a front page story on his meteoric rise and fall:  The Rise and Fall of John Walsh; The only thing more dramatic than John Walsh’s ascent to power was his stunning downfall

He graduated from Butte High School in 1979 and almost immediately joined the Montana National Guard in order to pay for college.

At the time he planned on only serving in the guard for a few years, but he soon became enamored with the job.

Walsh won the Democratic primary in June, but despite being the only sitting U.S. senator in the race, many political scientists believed he would struggle to beat Republican Congressman Steve Daines.

Fox News First on Wednesday:  AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…

“The only reason to retake the Senate is to enact the agenda that would come out of the House into the Senate and then confront Obama with a veto threat. Sharpen the differences. Show the country you are not the party of ‘no,’ that you are a party that is prepared.” – Charles Krauthammer, on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

And, in Colorado-  Jim Geraghty has this for National ReviewWhat the Gardner and Tillis Campaigns Are Thinking Right Now

For obvious reasons, he’s feeling good about Cory Gardner’s effort in Colorado, noting that Republicans continue to hold a big lead in early voting.

The October 27 numbers for early voting indicate that the returned ballots are 42.8 percent from registered Republicans, 32.4 percent from registered Democrats, and 26.9 percent from voters who are unaffiliated. In 2010, Republicans led the early vote 39.5 percent to 33.6 percent over Democrats.

In terms of raw numbers, 281,638 registered Republicans have voted so far, 213,738 Democrats, and 163,311 unaffiliated.

Fox News First on Thursday:

Denver Post: “The clock is ticking on Democratic incumbent Mark Udall as another poll shows him behind Republican challenger Cory Gardner in Colorado’s important U.S. Senate race. A Quinnipiac University poll gives Gardner 46 percent to Udall’s 39 percent among likely voters, a slight improvement for the Republican from a week ago when he led by five points.”

Wrap this race? – The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League has launched a campaign warning, “if [Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.] gets his way, you better stock up on condoms.” The television and Web ads conclude with a couple in vexed after they realize they have run out of the prophylactic. In the radio spot, a man returns empty-handed after seeking condoms from every store in the neighborhood. “So, everyone’s sold out of condoms! How did this happen?” his girlfriend asks. “Cory Gardner banned birth control. And now it’s all on us guys, and you can’t find a condom anywhere,” the boyfriend replies.

Politico- Jay Carney: Bad day coming for Democrats

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney says things don’t look good for the Democratic Party.

“Democrats are going to have a bad Election Day,” Carney said on CNN Tuesday. “No matter how you slice it, Republicans are gonna pick up seats in the Senate and the House, and they may win control of the Senate.”

Politico’s Morning Energy earlier this week:

– The Interior Department is investigating whether Vice President Joe Biden, former EPA chief Lisa Jackson, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other top officials were able to use a National Park Service lodge in Grand Teton National Park without paying. TIME: http://ti.me/1wb0bJz

Twitchy.com- Report: US soldiers returning from Liberia being placed ‘in isolation’ in Italy

CNN.com: Army major general, troops quarantined after Ebola aid trip

The soldier will join Army Major General Darryl A. Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa, and approximately 10 other personnel who are now in “controlled monitoring” in Italy after returning there from West Africa over the weekend, according to multiple U.S. military officials.

Officials could not explain why the group was being put under into controlled monitoring, which is counter to the Pentagon policy. The current DOD policy on monitoring returning troops says “as long as individuals remain asymptomatic, they may return to work and routine daily activities with family members.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that the Defense Department “has not issued a policy related to their workers that have spent time in West Africa.” 

UPDATE from KTVQ.com- Bond Set for Heritage Christian Arson Suspect

According to charging documents, Silflow allegedly admitted to being upset about his time spent as a student at the school and his mother’s employment at Heritage Christian School.

Silflow is charged with arson and burglary, both felonies, for starting fires on Oct. 24, 2014 and in August 2012.

The school confirmed to investigators that Silflow had been a student at Heritage Christian School, and his mother had been an employee at the school. Investigators were told that Silflow had leftthe school under unusual circumstances.

For those of you who recall Elon Musk’s visit to Butte, you’ll remember that SpaceX draws some of their rocket materials from Butte, Montana. 

The Daily Caller:  SpaceX’s Elon Musk Called Orbital Sciences’ Rocket ‘A Joke’ Years Before Launch Explosion

An Orbital Sciences rocket carrying supplies and equipment to the International Space Station exploded in the skies above a NASA spaceport in Virginia six seconds after launch Tuesday night — a disaster that may have been foreseen by the company’s number one competitor.

“One of our competitors, Orbital Sciences, has a contract to resupply the International Space Station, and their rocket honestly sounds like the punch line to a joke,” Musk told Wired in 2012. “It uses Russian rocket engines that were made in the ’60s. I don’t mean their design is from the ’60s — I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the ’60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere.”

 Tweet of the week?

And finally, the most important tip of the day: Don’t Take Selfies with Bears

KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

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