Political Trough: Wash Post Hits Tester with Four Pinocchios

Did you know that a top teachers union warned about the Obamacare chaos?  Meanwhile, we’ve got a Democratic candidate for OPI in Montana. Those stories are in this week’s Political Trough.  Plus, a must-see video concerning veterans health care.  Meet Montana’s high-tech ambassador.  And, would you have taken the free advertising, or told the Kardashians to hit the trail (as one Montana musher did)?  Those stories and much more are below.

But first- Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) gets hit with 4 Pinocchio’s from The Washington Post: Montana senator twice gets his facts wrong on timber sales and litigation

The Pinocchio Test

Given that Tester is the senior senator from Montana, his comments on litigation in Montana’s national forests are embarrassingly wrong. In both statements, he was wildly off the mark. He needs to brush up on his facts — and his math — before he opines again on the subject.

(If only more of Sen. Tester’s misstatements were covered by the rest of the media)

The Post’s Glenn Kessler picked up on remarks originally pointed out by progressive columnist George Ochenski in his weekly column- Tester on timber: The Big Guy tells the Big Lie

So how bizarre is it that Montana’s Democratic u.s. Sen. Jon Tester employed that propaganda technique last week and told a whopper on Montana Public Radio when he claimed: “Unfortunately, every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them.” The truth is that is one very big lie to Montana’s citizens.

But before you go jumping on The Washington Post’s environmental bandwagon…make sure you note this piece of perspective as reported by The Billings Gazette (as shared from The Montana Policy Institute’s Brent Mead):

From 2008 to 2013, more than 70 Forest Service timber sales were litigated in Montana (Region 1). That accounted for between 40 to 54 percent of the planned timber harvest for those five years.

(Added note: The quote above could more accurately read “were litigated in the Montana headquartered Region 1″…if you click the link referenced in the initial post above it is very clear that numbers are from Region 1)

In reaction to the Post’s latest piece, MPI’s Brent Mead offered this:

Senator Tester’s first statement, that all sales are under litigation, is very clearly false. The second follow-up statement that around half of all planned harvests are under litigation is more complex and deserves better than a simplistic Pinocchio test. 2014 was the best year for timber harvests on federal lands in recent memory. When you broaden out and look at years immediately prior, 2008-2013, about half, between 40% and 54%, of planned harvests were subject to litigation. Taking a narrow view on the time frame clouds the larger issue of the need for management reform and our elected officials need to do a better job of highlighting this issue.

I think the common problem, whether it is excessive litigation or cuts to direct payments to counties, is that too many decisions with impacts to local communities are divorced from the concerns of those communities. The long-term solution is more local control and more local input into how these lands are managed. 

The good news that may come from all of this?  Maybe now Sen. Tester will take a back seat on forest policy reform, and abandon his more wilderness or no logging approach.  The wilderness crowd got enough during the lame duck session- now it is time for more jobs, less government.    

The Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Oil-by-Rail Boom; Activists get their jollies blocking pipeline construction, but the crude still flows through your neighborhood.

It’s better to be lucky than good. President Obama, who arrived promising to heal the planet and halt the rising seas, instead presided over a fossil-fuel renaissance in America. If you were unemployed and found a decent job in Obama’s economy, there’s a good chance it was a fracking job. If things are finally looking up for the middle class, cheap gas is a major contributor.

He was lucky again on July 6, 2013. Thanks to various competing news stories (a plane crash in San Francisco, the Trayvon Martin shooting trial), Americans did not dwell on a fiery oil-train accident in Canada that killed 47. For if there’s one boom Mr. Obama can claim authorship of, it’s the oil-by-rail boom.

Opposition from one reservation in Montana is greeting the Keystone XL pipeline, as Indian Country Today reports.  However, the last quote makes you wonder if the opposition stems from the desire to see more of the pipeline travel through the reservation…

Here’s the story- Too Many Broken Pipelines: Fort Peck Reservation Passes Resolution Opposing Keystone XL Through Montana

The Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation have passed a resolution opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, the first reservation in Montana to do so.

“I’m not opposed to the oil going through,” Stafne said. “But it’s basically the route and the danger they’re placing our people in here in northeastern Montana, just to get away from the Indian reservation.”

Here’s a must-see video concerning veterans health care, as Politico Playbook reports:  FIRST LOOK

Tomorrow, Concerned Vets for America’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce will release policy recommendations at a summit on Capitol Hill: “To preview the taskforce reforms, we’ve produced a … UPS-like whiteboard video (featuring ‘Private Joe Snuffy’).” 2-min. video http://bit.ly/1Ar1iHr


The Daily Caller: American Federation of Teachers Said Obamacare Would ‘Create Chaos’

The American Federation of Teachers labor union warned about the potential disastrous effects of Obamacare shortly before the law was implemented.

As Obamacare comes under scrutiny again in the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell case, records reveal that even one of President Obama’s vocal labor supporters feared disaster.

In never-before-reported March 2013 comments submitted to regulations.gov, AFT generally supported the health reform law but expressed fear that an aspect of Obamacare ”would create chaos in the insurance market.”

Lee Newspapers: Helena elementary teacher to run for state superintendent

Melissa Romano, a fourth-grade math teacher in the Helena School District, filed for the position Monday, the candidate announced.

The 38-year-old is the first Democrat to file for the position. Republican Sandy Welch, who was narrowly defeated in the 2012 race, filed in 2013.

Here’s one of her first tweets from the campaign:

Great Falls Tribune: House kills bill limiting game warden powers

Supporters said the bill targeted game wardens who issue trivial tickets that harass law-abiding hunters and anglers. Opponents said it would have gutted 150 years of wildlife conservation law and crippled the ability of wardens to do their jobs.

“We just want to make sure game wardens are not above the law,” Zolnikov said.

The bill would have revised laws related to game wardens and require consistency with similar practices used by other law enforcement entities. It also would revise search and seizure rules.

NY Post- Garner’s kid on Sharpton: ‘He’s all about the money’ (h/t The Drudge Report)

CNSnews.com- Rev. Graham: America is ‘Morally Crumbling Within … We Have Turned Our Back on God’

Reverend Franklin Graham said he did not know whether President Barack Obama dislikes America, as “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani stated last week, but Graham said it is true that Obama “defends Islam and chastises Christians,” denies the “religious freedoms” of those who oppose abortion and gay marriage, and added that our nation is “morally crumbling within” and that “we have turned our back on God.”

ClimateDepot.com: Outgoing UN IPCC Chief reveals global warming ‘is my religion and my dharma’

IPCC Chair Pachauri forced out at UN climate panel after sexual harassment complaint
Pachauri’s resignation letter on religion: ‘For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.’

The Washington Times: U.S. military decimated under Obama, only ‘marginally able’ to defend nation

The U.S. military is shedding so many troops and weapons it is only “marginally able” to defend the nation and falls short of the Obama administration’s national security strategy, according to a new report by The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday.

“The U.S. military itself is aging. It’s shrinking in size,” said Dakota Wood, a Heritage analyst. “And it’s quickly becoming problematic in terms of being able to address more than one major conflict.”

Would you have taken the free advertising, or told the Kardashians to hit the trail? 

LastBestNews: Not keeping up with Kardashians benefits dog sled guide

Jason Matthews, the owner of Bozeman-based Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures, is starting to think that refusing to do business with the famous Kardashian family was a good business move.

He explained that his half-day rate for a private trip, which Warner insisted on, would be $390 per person, or $3,900. Mind you, the trip would have involved five sleds, five guides and 50 sled dogs.

Matthews was a little surprised when Warner offered a “trade” rather than actually paying him. “She never really explained what ‘trade’ meant,” Matthews said, though later emails used the term “exposure trade out.”

Flathead Beacon: Starting Up from Scratch; A conversation with Montana’s high-tech ambassador Greg Gianforte

Beacon: Did anything in the BBER high-tech report surprise you? Did you think there would be this many high-tech businesses?

Gianforte: The two things that surprised me were just how quickly membership has grown. That’s a big deal.  Secondly, how distributed the companies were across western Montana. It’s not just Gallatin Valley. One other statistic that came out of the recent economic outlook seminar was that last year 40 percent of all payroll growth in the whole state occurred in Gallatin County.

I jokingly say, Bozeman beat the Bakken in payroll growth. It was over $100 million in payroll growth in Gallatin County alone last year.



Friday, February 27, 2015 9:50 AM

Before I share some of the USFS timber sale in Montana facts that were dug up by the Washington Post (hey, does it REALLY take a guy sitting in DC to dig up there basic facts? Don’t we have reporters here in Montana who might have been able to do the same thing?) I’d like to point out some apples-to-oranges comparisons you have made above, and the ‘added note’ is also misleading.

As anyone can read in the Billings Gazette article, Forest Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Slown stated, “From 2008 through 2013, the region had more than 70 projects litigated.”

Leaving aside the fact that it’s unclear if she’s only talking about timber sale lawsuits, it’s VERY CLEAR she is talking about the USFS’s Region 1, which includes 9 National Forests in Montana and 2 National Forests in Idaho, in addition to the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. And really, those 2 National Forests in Idaho that are part of USFS Region 1, used to be 5 National Forests, but the Nez and Clearwater were combined into one National Forest, while the Idaho Panhandle National Forest actually includes the former Coeur d’Alene, Kaniksu, & St. Joe National Forests. In other words, those Idaho National Forests in USFS Reg 1 are fairly big and include a lot of timber.

Anyway, Senator Tester and the Washington Post fact-checker were talking specifically about USFS timber sales in Montana, not USFS timber sales in Region 1, which includes those Idaho National Forests mentioned above.

So this is not really even an apples-to-apples comparison. But even leaving that aside, keep in mind the Billings Gazette article talked about 70 lawsuits over a 6 year period (NOTE: I interpret “from 2008 through 2013” to be a 6 year period, we’d have to check the spreadsheet to make sure).

So, 70 lawsuits over 6 years in a USFS Region 1 that includes 11 National Forests would be approximately 1 timber sale lawsuit per National Forest per year. Honestly, that’s really very much in the ballpark with what the WaPost Fact-Checker found.

As such, your ‘added note’ makes no sense. At first you mistakenly used Region 1 numbers as just Montana only numbers. And now you don’t fully acknowledge that, but try and cover it up based on where USFS Region 1 is headquartered? That makes no sense, as where it’s HQ’ed doesn’t discount the fact that the USFS Reg 1 timber sale numbers include those Idaho National Forests.

Please make another correction that’s actually correct. Thanks.

Here’s some more info on the WaPost fact-checker.

Here are the facts, as presented in the Washington Post: http://wapo.st/18kUG33

Last week Senator Tester told MT Public Radio listeners: “Unfortunately, every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them.” (Source: http://bit.ly/1vBRZUP)

However, once the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker dug into the actual numbers it was revealed that there are currently 97 US Forest Service timber sales in Montana under contract to be logged, and just 14 of those timber sales have active litigation. However, some of those timber sales under litigation are actually being actively logged, so the Fact-Checker discovered that, in truth, right now only 4 timber sales out of 97 cannot be logged because of litigation.

Obviously, these numbers are a far cry from Senator Tester’s original statement that supposedly, “every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them.”

This is an important issue for Montana, and the country. Right now Senator Tester and Senator Daines are going around the state spreading entirely false information about public lands management and the US Forest Service’s timber sale program. As anyone can clearly read in the Washington Post article, only 4 out of 97 current timber sales on USFS land in Montana are halted by litigation.

Furthermore, Tester, Daines and some in the Montana news media seem to have forgotten that right now the Forest Service in Montana has the authority to conduct an unlimited number of fast-track, streamlined logging projects on 5 million acres under the Farm Bill. Just how big is 5 million acres? That’s the equivalent of 5 Glacier National Parks! Nationally, the Forest Service is authorized to log 46 million acres under the Farm Bill. All of this Farm Bill logging would be ‘categorically excluded from the requirements of NEPA.’

The problem is that Congress never funded the Forest Service to plan any of these new Farm Bill timber sales. So with 5 million acres of National Forests in Montana available TODAY for fast-track logging – and only 4 out of 97 current USFS timber sales in MT halted by litigation – Tester and Daines want the public to believe that timber sale lawsuits are the problem? Give me a break!

If Tester and Daines were truly serious about getting more logging done on National Forests they should increase the Forest Service’s funding to do so and see what happens. Of course, in the meantime, the Forest Service has a $10 billion road maintenance backlog nationally, including a $670 Million maintenance backlog in Montana, but Senator Tester and Daines never provide anywhere close to the funding required to deal with it. And honestly, they never even talk about all the rural jobs that could be created dealing with this restoration backlog. Nope, they’d rather ignore their own responsibility and toss out lies or wild misinformation in what can only be viewed as a clear attempt to gut our nation’s environmental laws further and reduce public participation in public lands management.

Finally, speaking of lawsuits, when’s the last time you read about all the current lawsuits and official objections against the US Forest Service from the ranchers, oil, gas, coal industries, outfitters/guides, cabin lease holders, etc. If Senator Tester and Daines want to claim lawsuits are a big problem for the US Forest Service let’s have a full and public view of all of these lawsuits as well.

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