Political Trough: VA Builds a “White Paper” on a Montana Veteran

A series of e-mails from inside the Montana VA are now public, after an Iraq war veteran wounded by a car bomb files a Freedom of Information Act request.  This, as the VA refuses to overturn similar rulings that involve nearly 8,000 other Montana veterans seen by the same doctor.  Those stories, plus full audio from my discussion with the veteran, Char Gatlin, are below. 

Also in this week’s Political Trough:  Zinke honors the Benghazi heroes.  Daines went to the floor to “Stand with Rand.” Leading Democrasts are saying that the US’ oil export ban harms national security.  The Sidney Herald says Governor Steve Bullock needs to call a special session on infrastructure.  The US Supreme Court makes a major gun ruling.  Letterman’s final monologue. And, Montana bears down on subways in Chicago.     

The Great Falls Tribune: VA emails show rift between agency, vet

Hundreds of pages of VA emails that were requested and received by Charles Gatlin and his wife, Ariana Del Negro, testify to the growing rift between the veteran and the agency designated to serve him.

There’s a “Gatlin White Paper,” dated Oct. 21, 2011, which says: “The veteran and his representative, Ariana Del Negro (also his spouse) have alleged that both VHA and the Fort Harrison VARO (VA regional office) have acted unethically in handling the veteran’s claims and that VHA physicians have retaliated against the veteran. Neither VHA nor VGA management have found any evidence to support the allegation.”

Great Falls Tribune: Mont. case could have implications for thousands of vets

Echoing a state licensing board, a VA appeals board here has ordered the Fort Harrison VA Hospital to provide a full neurological examination for a University of Montana graduate student with a traumatic brain injury.

“A records review is also owed to the other 8,999 veterans seen by Dr. Bateen,” Del Negro wrote. “It’s unrealistic to think that neuropsych can see everyone, but at the very least, the system should conduct an independent audit of those cases to determine whether or not a veteran does need more specific testing.”

That’s not going to happen, wrote the VA’s interim undersecretary of health, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, in a letter to Montana Sen. Jon Tester on Nov. 12, 2014.

Full audio from our show Wednesday featuring Char Gatlin on Voices of Montana can be found on our podcast page by clicking here.

Breitbart.com: Zinke Rolls Out Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medals to Fallen Benghazi Heroes

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has introduced legislation aimed at awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the fallen heroes from the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Zinke, a former Commander in the Navy SEALs, personally knew the two ex-Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty who died in the terrorist attack. Two other Americans—U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and foreign service officer Sean Smith—were also killed by the terrorists. Zinke, his office noted, led the BUDS, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs, training for Woods during his time in the SEALs while Woods was under his command. He was also personal friends with Woods and Doherty.

Also from Breitbart.com- Exclusive — Sen. Steve Daines: I Stand with Rand Against NSA Bulk Collection of Americans’ Records

Daines said in a brief phone interview moments after leaving Paul’s side on the floor:

    I think first and foremost it was important that the voice of the people of Montana was heard on the floor of the United States Senate tonight. I stand with the people of Montana who believe that we must protect the Constitution. The bulk data collection program is an overreach of the federal government and I thought it was very important to stand with Sen. Paul tonight—and there were five members from the House in the back of the Senate chamber tonight, and I served with four out of those five when I was in the House. It was great to see that as well.

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley in The Wall Street Journal: The Oil-Export Ban Harms National Security; The U.S. is willfully denying itself a tool that could prove vital in dealing with threats from Russia, Iran and others.

The U.S. has broken free of its dependence on energy from unstable sources. Only 27% of the petroleum consumed here last year was imported, the lowest level in 30 years. Nearly half of those imports came from Canada and Mexico. But our friends and allies, particularly in Europe, do not enjoy the same degree of independence. The moment has come for the U.S. to deploy its oil and gas in support of its security interests around the world.

Why, then, does the ban endure? Habit and myth have something to do with it. U.S. energy policy remains rooted in the scarcity mentality that took hold in the 1970s. Even now, public perception has yet to catch up to the reality that America has surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum (exceeding 11 million barrels a day). The U.S. became the largest natural gas producer in 2010, and the federal government will now license exports of liquefied natural gas.

The fear that exporting U.S. oil would cause domestic gasoline prices to rise is misplaced. The U.S. already exports refined petroleum, including 875,000 barrels a day of gasoline in December 2014. The result is that U.S. gasoline prices approximate the world price. Several recent studies, including by the Brookings Institution, Resources for the Futureand Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies, demonstrate that crude oil exports would actually put downward pressure on U.S. gasoline prices, as more oil supply hits the global market and lowers global prices.

From Politico’s Morning Energy last week: Heitkamp Supports Lifting Oil Export ban

ANNNND … LIFT (THE OIL EXPORT BAN): Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and 11 of their Senate friends are unveiling legislation today seeking to lift the “outdated ban on crude oil exports.” Besides ending the ban, the bill directs the Energy Department to come up with a standard definition of “condensate.” Oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is exempt from the bill and there’s language directing DOE to lead an interagency effort to improve and coordinate information about energy distribution on shared infrastructure. It also supports a section of the Obama administration’s Quadrennial Energy Review asking for more integration of energy data across North America. So far, Heitkamp is the only Democratic co-sponsor. The bill: http://politico.pro/1L1q18o

– North Dakota’s other hot commodity…caviar. Reuters: http://reut.rs/1zY9XTG

PetroleumNewsBakken.com:  MPA’s ‘best session’

Dave Galt discusses key industry bills passed in Montana’s 64th Legislature

As far as the oil and gas industry’s concerned, I think we came out of this thing in good shape.” That’s how Montana Petroleum Association Executive Director Dave Galt summed up Montana’s 64th Legislature which adjourned on April 28. “We didn’t lose anything and we made some positive strides.”

The Sidney Herald: Governor should call for special session

We urge Gov. Steve Bullock to make the right move for the entire state of Montana by calling a special legislative session with the goal of agreeing upon an infrastructure bill.

While Republicans and Democrats are busy playing the blame game, we urge the governor to emerge as the real leader of the situation by calling for a special session.

The Blaze: Supreme Court Makes Major Gun Ruling

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can’t prevent a convicted felon who is barred from possessing firearms from trying to sell his guns after they are confiscated by authorities.

The case had drawn the attention of gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, which argued that the government’s attempt to prohibit any sale or transfer prevents law-abiding citizens who want to buy the guns from doing so.

WSJ Editorial: Amtrak Truth and Politics

Never mind that Amtrak has pumped $2.6 billion into the 456-mile track called the northeast corridor over the last decade. The eight states along this route that connects Boston to Washington through New York and Philadelphia supplied another $2.4 billion, plus a one-time $1 billion fillip from the 2009 stimulus.

Liberals have also discovered a signaling technology called positive train control (PTC) that might have slowed down the train, and they claim Amtrak delayed installation for lack of funding. But Amtrak’s inspector general reported as far back as 2012 that the rollout was dogged by poor internal planning, budget overruns and unreliable engineering, adding that “Amtrak has not included total funding for PTC in its financial plan or congressional funding requests.”

Chicago Sun Times: Montana tourism effort bears down on Chicago

A bit of Montana landed in Chicago this week.
A moose. A bear and a bison.
Wildlife statues have been placed on the roofs of stairwells at several subway stations.
They went up Sunday and will be curiously staring at L riders for a month. The Montana Office of Tourism is behind the ad campaign meant to lure people to the Big Sky state.

Well, this ought to acquaint some of those tourists with the wildlife for their next trip to Yellowstone.

Posted by Aaron Flint on Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NY Daily News:

David Letterman says farewell in emotional ‘Late Show’ finale, calling it ‘the most important show of my life’ (VIDEO)

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