Weekend Wrap: Is It Time to End “Last Call” for Alcohol?

It’s just 4 little words.  That’s the message from The New York Times on Obamacare.  There’s just one catch: bring back Mr. Gruber.  And, while the feds can’t pass a highway bill- they’re spending your gas tax money on bike paths.  Even after being faced with headlines of old pipelines leaking into the Yellowstone River and the California coast, the feds are blocking an effort to build new pipelines.  Obama’s toughest trade fight lies ahead.  The admin moves to end bulk data collection.  How to manage haters on the Internet.  Skyview High School in Billings, Montana awaits a response from Taylor Swift.  Which Montana softball team has the longest bus ride? And- how about this powerful qoute? “People who are from a place like this, the beauty of where you are radiates through your eyes.”  That must-read quote from the wife of a Montana airman killed in a training accident last week.    

Those stories and more are in the weekend wrap.  But first…The Washington Examiner has a very interesting guest opinion column from a British member of the European Parliament:

Last call in merrie olde England

Ten years ago, England relaxed its laws on the sale of alcohol. Pubs no longer had to call “last orders” at 11 p.m. — they could remain open all night.

England accordingly braced itself for a societal breakdown. The Daily Mail warned against the “unbridled hedonism … with all the ghastly consequences that will follow.” The Sun prophesied a “swarm of drunken youngsters.” The police prepared for “an increase in the number of investigations of drink related crimes, such as rape, assault, homicide and domestic violence.” The Royal College of Physicians predicted that “24-hour pub opening will lead to more excess and binge drinking, especially among young people.”

Ten years on, we can see that each of these predictions were 180 degrees wrong.  The lifting of restrictions was followed by a drastic drop in consumption. Binge drinking among 16 to 24-year-olds sank from 29 to 18 percent. Overall alcohol sales declined by 17 percent. Alcohol-related hospital admissions fell sharply, as did alcohol-fueled crimes. As Christopher Snowdon put it in a paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs, deregulation “made the country a better place to live by treating people as adults and allowing businesses to meet demand.”

From The New York Times: Four Words That Imperil Health Care Law Were All a Mistake, Writers Now Say

They are only four words in a 900-page law: “established by the state.”

Senators — notably Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, who was chairman of the Finance Committee — also were mindful of the politics of health care.

Jon Selib, Mr. Baucus’s chief of staff, said senators had never discussed the question now before the justices. Mr. Baucus, “from the red state of Montana,” would never have agreed to an arrangement that jeopardized tax credits for his constituents, he added.

Enter Gruber…

National Review: Obamacare’s Architect Agreed That Only State Exchanges Could Offer Subsidies

“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this. [emphasis added]“

For those who caught my post about the fall of Ramadi, Iraq…check out the unfortunate downfall of Baltimore, USA: (h/t The Drudge Report)

CBS: Baltimore Bloodshed Continues; 28 Shot, 9 Dead Over Holiday Weekend

It’s the deadliest month Baltimore has seen in more than 15 years. More than two dozen shootings over the holiday weekend alone have city police working around the clock.

Meanwhile in Chicago: 12 Killed, 43 Wounded In Memorial Day Weekend Shootings

Twelve people were killed and at least 43 — including a 4-year-old girl — were wounded in shootings across Chicago this Memorial Day weekend, police said.

Disgust is the appropriate word in this headline…imagine sitting at the library in Helena, Montana and realizing that the guy next to you was just convicted of murder 5 years ago, and is already back on the streets.

The Missoulian: Montana murder victim’s family ‘disgusted’ by killer’s freedom after 7 years

…Feb. 1, 2008, the night Cyril Kenneth Richard stabbed her brother to death, wrapped his limp and bloody body in a rug, and stuffed it in the hatchback of his 2001 Subaru Outback — leaving a trail of blood down the stairwell of their Missoula apartment building and across the parking lot.

Now, seven years after the brutal murder and five years after he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Prison, Richard has been sent to a prerelease center in Helena, in preparation for his parole from prison.

Both times the Missoulian called the prerelease center to speak to Richard, he wasn’t there. According to other inmates at the center, Richard was at his job one time, and another he was on a four-hour pass, possibly at the Helena Public Library.

The Hill: Feds resist push for new pipelines

The Obama administration is resisting a congressional push to establish new natural gas pipelines on federal lands in the eastern United States.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation to establish pathways for future pipelines. Supporters say it’ll speed up the permitting process for natural gas pipelines, helping the industry get its product to market more quickly and reducing energy prices for consumers.

But the Interior Department says it opposes the bill, arguing that it would limit public input on new pipeline projects, and calling its timelines too constricting.

Politico’s Playbook: 

COMING CHAOS if Supreme Court rules against Obamcare subsidies for plans on federal exchange…

“Democratic lawmakers insist that there is no way to undo the damage if the court sides with the challengers, short of passing legislation that simply restores the subsidies. A new bill would allow the subsidies to go to residents of all states, not just he ones that set up … exchanges … Republicans expect Democrats to have that one-page bill ready to go …

“Many House Republicans are focused on replacement plans that would issue tax credits – instead of Obamacare’s tax subsidies … That’s part of the plan being put together by a group of three committee chairmen – Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and John Kline (R-Minn.).” http://politi.co/1dur5XD

Also from Playbook, what does this mean for Charter customers here in Montana?

–BREAKING, just after 6 a.m. – WSJ’s Sarah Rabil and Joe Flint: “Charter Communications has agreed to merge with Time Warner Cable in a $55 billion cash-and-stock deal, giving cable mogul John Malone the prize he has been chasing for two years.” http://on.wsj.com/1SzTKud

The Hill: Obama’s toughest trade fight lies ahead

The White House and Republican leaders have a lot of work to do to push fast-track trade authority through the House.

The Senate approved a fast-track bill just before leaving for the Memorial Day recess, with supporters beating back Democratic efforts to delay the bill or undercut it through amendments.

But while the Senate managed to work out its procedural knots, the House outcome remains in doubt with proponents and opponents each claiming they can win the toughest legislative battle of the year.

The Hill: Administration moves to end bulk data collection

The Senate is preparing for a last-minute attempt to save expiring portions of the Patriot Act, but it may already be too late.
The Obama administration is already starting to end the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, after legislative inaction forced the upper chamber to kick the can until next Sunday — mere hours before the laws expire.
Without congressional approval, the White House failed to ask the secretive Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court to renew the program by a Friday deadline.

Mac Zimmerman is the policy director at Americans for Prosperity.  He has this in The Wall Street Journal: Taxing for Highways, Paying for Bike Lanes

You’d think that after the phrase “bridge to nowhere” became synonymous with Washington’s waste and excess, lawmakers would avoid anything reminiscent of that misbegotten spending project in Alaska. But now we have the “Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act,” which is nowhere near as worthwhile as its bipartisan sponsors in the House would like Americans to think.

For one, the bill increases the federal gasoline tax at a time when Americans have only begun to enjoy a bit of relief at the gasoline pump. What it doesn’t do is streamline a Byzantine regulatory process that makes repairing roads and bridges more expensive, or fix fundamental problems in the way federal infrastructure funds are disbursed.

But before considering any policy that would raise additional revenue, Congress should first reform where the fund’s money goes. The Highway Trust Fund now pays for a plethora of projects that have little to do with highways. According to a 2013 analysis by the Heritage Foundation, at least 20% of gas-tax revenues in recent years went toward other programs, from light rail to bike lanes to landscaping projects. Some funds even went toward establishing transportation museums.

For those fretting over the closure of Lee Newspapers’ state bureau in Helena, Montana…Washington Examiner- RIP: Over 100 newspapers dumped in year, ads down 50%, circulation hits bottom

According to their report, “The Declining Value Of U.S. Newspapers,” just three different media companies in 2014 alone decided to dump more than 100 newspaper properties. Pew said the companies spun off the money-losing properties “in large part to protect their still-robust broadcast or digital divisions.”

Well…make sure the Governor and the “green decoys” don’t hear about this one…this would require “selling federal land” now won’t it?

Billings Gazette: West Yellowstone ponders $1.4M land purchase from national forest

How does a town expand when it’s surrounded by federal land?

West Yellowstone city officials are facing that very question as they contemplate spending more than $1.4 million to acquire 80 acres of Custer Gallatin National Forest land adjacent to the community, which is located about 90 miles south of Bozeman.

So for the Gallatin County town to add housing, which has been in short supply for its many seasonal workers that serve national park visitors, acquiring land from the forest is about the easiest way to expand.

How to manage the haters on the Internet

The Guardian asks Montana native, and former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul- “What’s it like to be hated by the Russian internet?”

Occasionally people send threatening tweets to me about my physical security, they even threaten my children.

I’ve moved back to the US to teach at Stanford University and it’s only got worse.

Now I have a policy that if someone insults me personally, I block them. If they say “you’re against free speech” my response is “you have the right to say whatever you want, but I have the right to read whatever I want.”

Time.com: This Teacher Will Cancel Final Exams If Taylor Swift Calls Him

Students at Skyview High School in Billings, Montana, might get out of their world history finals this year — if they can somehow get Taylor Swift to call their teacher.

So far, Swift hasn’t acknowledged the stunt — but she’s got plenty of time until finals begin. Your move, Tay.

Which softball team has the longest bus ride in the state

According to The Great Falls Tribune:

And it’s not just the Scotties — though no softball team in Montana will come close to touching the 3,782 road miles Glasgow travels this season — that cross the vast open spaces of Montana’s geography for competition. All over the Treasure State, buses roll down highways carrying teams hundreds of miles and often through less-than-ideal weather conditions to play.

It must get expensive, right?

Even the smallest, most travel-heavy schools in Montana spend less than 3 percent of the general fund budget on travel for extracurricular activities.

Finally, today- we leave you with a must-read quote from a powerful story about a special operations airman from Montana who died in a training accident last week. 

The Missoulian: Airman’s widow remembers loving, adventurous ‘Montana man’

The first thing that raced through Samantha Lewis’ mind when she learned her husband Jordan had been fatally injured while on duty was how the news would break her 6-year-old daughter Michelle’s heart.

Jordan Lewis, 30, a Bitterroot Valley native who graduated from Corvallis High School in 2003, passed away Tuesday, May 12, after a small utility vehicle overturned during a training exercise on the Melrose Air Force Range about 35 miles west of Clovis, New Mexico.

“He was always hanging out, and I always remembered how beautiful his eyes were,” she recalled. “It’s funny to say that about a man, but I think it’s the kind of blue eyes you get from Montana. People who are from a place like this, the beauty of where you are radiates through your eyes. He was warm, easy to talk to, funny, outgoing, adventurous, spontaneous and loved life. He was the love of my life.

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