Archive for January 2nd, 2014

by lizard

I’m starting to think the leaked report from the Army’s inspector general regarding John Walsh’s misuse of his adjudant general position came from the Walsh campaign itself. Hear me out.

First, let’s look at a comment from Ellie Hill in this week’s Indy, where Hill acts as a “guest prognosticator” for 2014:

Sen. Max Baucus announced his retirement, surprising many with the news—even longtime staffers—and leaving Montanans with seemingly no succession plan. Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester’s pick for Baucus’ replacement is Lt. Gov. John Walsh. For those who follow the dysfunctional inner-workings of Montana’s Democratic Party, they won’t be surprised to find out that former Gov. Brian Schweitzer has picked someone else—his administration’s lieutenant governor, John Bohlinger.

This comment was seized on by Aaron Flint on Twitter, where he asked Hill if Schweitzer backs Bohlinger. Hill’s response:

I was just guessing. I don’t think Schweitzer’s endorsed & my son’s Magic 8 Ball ain’t always 100% reliable.

Schweitzer may not have officially endorsed Bohlinger, but he made a pretty bold prediction that Bohlinger would win the primary if it was held in November (2013).

Now that Walsh is getting some scrutiny about his leadership ethics, the guy who hired Walsh, then boasted about throwing away the inspector general’s report, is being forced to defend Walsh, something I know Walsh supporters like Don Pogreba are giddy about.

Here’s a portion of the Hill article quoting the Brian:

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) said he dismissed an Army independent investigator’s report on then-Adjudant General John Walsh, now the state’s lieutenant governor and Democratic Senate candidate.

“I treated it with the respect it deserved,” Schweitzer told the Helena Independent Record. “I put it in the round file.”

The Army’s inspector general concluded in 2010 that Walsh had improperly used his position for personal gain by pressuring some Montana National Guard troops into joining the National Guard Association of the United States, a private organization that advocates for more equipment for the National Guard which Walsh was a board member of.

Schweitzer, who appointed Walsh as Montana’s adjudant general and director of military affairs, derides the report as “much ado about nothing” and “a completely partisan end run in the National Guard attempting to embarrass [Walsh].”

It was essentially Schweitzer’s responsibility to do something if he found merit in the report. Now that it was leaked, Brian, to protect his folksy political brand, has to come to Walsh’s defense.

This report was going to come out somehow. If I was running the Walsh campaign, it would make sense to get it out early and use the cover of the holidays all while leveraging Schweitzer into a little self-interested support of John Walsh.

In another post from Don Pogreba, he rhetorically asks Why in the world would Montanans be cynical about politics?. Before launching into an attack on the political opportunist, Bob Brigham (who I’m assuming is the main “strategist” working for Bohlinger) Don said this:

When people talk about their cynicism about politics, it’s typically their perception that those involved in campaigns will say and do almost anything to get elected.

I totally agree. I would add the constant hypocrisy displayed by both teams when it comes to the functional, selective outrage used to score political points.

Again in the most recent Indy, the Etc. column features a chilling message for journalists in this state, and it’s coming from the Bullock administration. I’m going to include the whole thing, because I think it’s really important to raise awareness about what it’s going to take for journalists to get us, the public, the information we have every right to know about our public officials. Please go to the link or click continue to read the piece in full.

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by lizard

The Winter Olympics in Sochi officially ignites February 7th, but tensions over a number of issues have been simmering for months.

For those looking to make the games a stage for shaming Russia over LGBT rights (among other things), the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has provided some clarification about how to do that without breaking their rules:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made it clear to nations competing in February’s Winter Games in Sochi that athletes will be free to speak out against Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws, as long as they do so away from accredited areas.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) said it had received a letter from the IOC clarifying its rule 50, which says “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted”. The IOC has been under pressure to clarify its position since Russia introduced the new laws, which prohibit the “promotion” of homosexuality to under 18s, earlier this year.

This prompted calls for a boycott of the Games from some, including the actor Stephen Fry, and led others to condemn the new laws. The BOA, which expects to send up to 55 athletes to the Winter Olympics, said it had received a letter from the IOC this week, after last week’s executive committee meeting, clarifying the rules.

The IOC has also said that Sochi organisers will provide “protest zones”, as in Beijing, where demonstrations would be permitted. Human rights groups are concerned not only about the anti-gay laws but a wider chilling effect on freedom of speech under Vladimir Putin. The BOA said it would not stand in the way of any athletes who wanted to speak out on gay rights or any other issue, as long as they comply with the Olympic charter.

Protests zones, how dare they! Just for fun, I googled “University of Montana free speech zone” and found this:

The area between Mansfield Library and the University Center is designated as the Free Speech Zone. Use of the Free Speech Zone may only be restricted in terms of speaking time and volume.

The Oval may be used for other speech purposes upon approval of the President. Request to use the Oval is done through the University Center Event Planning Office. Speakers in the Oval may not interfere with The University’s educational mission by being too loud and disrupting classroom activities.

The authoritarian policies of the Russian state will be receiving lots of righteous indignation by all kinds of do-gooding western advocacy groups, most of it well-intentioned and genuine, I’m sure (I’m not trying to sound sarcastic here).

My worry is that those using their time, energy, and resources will be doing so without giving enough thought to the geopolitics of homosexuality.

In that post, the country I chose to contrast the Olympic concern-trolling of Russia was Saudi Arabia, assuring readers that it’s been a long time (12 years) since our Saudi friends have beheaded one of their subjects for being gay.

The brutality of the Saudi monarchy—especially Prince Bandar—is taking on a sinister tone after the Volgograd bombings. That link is CNN, and trots out Chechen separatists. A more likely Saudi Arabian perp won’t get CNN’s interest unless directed from above. That link is from b at Moon of Alabama, a perspective I’m thankful to have.

Russian citizens are getting blowback for something, and it might have something to do with oil and the proxy war in Syria.

Speaking of Syria, there are some headlines coming in under the holiday radar that may be used down the road—like Syria misses deadline to remove chemical weapons.

Israeli leaders are also expressing their displeasure at US foreign policy by trying to humiliate John Kerry, again. From Mondoweiss:

A top minister is scheduled to attend a Thursday dedication ceremony for a new Israeli neighborhood in a Jordan Valley settlement while US Secretary of State John Kerry is to be in the region, a move that could threaten to further complicate the ongoing peace process. Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and other lawmakers are scheduled to visit the Jordan Valley community of Gitit and attend a ceremony during which “actual construction… on a new neighborhood” will take place, according to the organizers.

Add Iran to the mix, and the counter threat from the Iranian parliament to accelerate enrichment if Congress passes new sanctions, and we’ve got quite a few brewing headaches that could go aneurysm.

2014, here we go.

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