Quick Takes: Zinke Fights Another War, Media Trackers Slimes, Daines Disrespects Treaty Rights, Lee Protects Executives Again

Representative Zinke is going to war again. Fresh off the battlefield where he worked tirelessly to keep children from escaping a brutal civil war, he’s back in action again, this time co-sponsoring legislation to, and I’m not making this up, “protect the traditions of Christmas.” Zinke’s legislation disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas, so perhaps someone should remind him of this rather central Christian tradition: facing persecution and the threat of death, a humble family from the Middle East sought and found refuge somewhere the mother could give birth to her son. There’s no war on Christmas in this country in the sense that Fox News argues, but there’s surely a war on the symbols and traditions of Christmas in a party that gives lip service to the message of Christ while legislating in opposition to his teachings.

Media Trackers for Montana cemented its reputation as the sleaziest of the Astroturf Republican-front media groups this week, with a truly slimy story that connected the rape trial of Johnny Barreiro-Guerrero in Bozeman with the Republican efforts to block refugees from coming to Montana. While Mr. Barreiro-Guerrero may have described himself as a refugee, it’s pretty clear that neither he nor Media Trackers understand the process of applying for refugee status, which is an incredibly time-consuming, complex screen, and one that Canada seems capable of pulling off. Perhaps the piece’s author should spend less time trolling under a series of pseudonyms on Twitter and more time reading the law. Oh, and I’m sure we can look forward to the follow-up story from Media Trackers noting that Mr. Barreiro-Guerrero was acquitted, right?

The Lummi tribe of Washington wants its treaty rights respected, and is upset that Montana’s Steve Daines and Ryan Zinke don’t care about them. Their chairman writes in the Bellingham Herald that “Ultimately, the Zinke amendment is at the expense of Lummi’s treaty rights and the beauty of our natural areas in Whatcom County. It’s a backdoor attempt to stop the Corps from completing its independent review of the Gateway Pacific Terminal project’s effect on our reserved treaty rights to harvest fish and shellfish and to build a terminal in our Salish Sea.” That respect for Indians probably helps explain why, after a year in office, Representative Zinke still has a blank white space listed under “Native American” on his Congressional issues page.

As its stock continues to plummet, down to half the cost of a Sunday Independent Record per share, and it continues to reduce both newsprint and reporter compensation costs, the good board at Lee Enterprises is worried about the people who work for the chain. Well, the nine of them who are at the top of the corporate chart, all of who have been giving expanded severance packages ranging from $5.6 million to $424,000 in the event the chain is bought. There is perhaps no company in American where one can consistently fail oneself into generous fiscal remuneration that at Lee. The only cost has been coverage of news in the 46 markets their papers serve.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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