‘Outrageous characters’ crowd Montana history book

Less than a year after the publication of his “Montana Territory and the Civil War,” Great Falls historian Ken Robison is back with a another, related book, “Confederates in Montana Territory.”

He said the book was his idea, not his publisher’s, and there were two reasons he wanted to write it. The first was to examine with some rigor the often-repeated notion that Montana was largely settled by Confederates from Missouri who came here after a series of defeats by Union forces.

Book Review: Ski book captures a quieter Montana


Montana: Skiing the Last Best Place, photographs by Craig W. Hergert, stories by Brian Hurlbut, Great Wide Open Publishing, 2013. 225 pages, $60.

If this were just a collection of photos of Montana ski resorts, it would still be a good book. There are enough gorgeous mountains here, enough spectacular runs and great fields of powder, to excite any skier—or even a person who used to ski some but is now too old and creaky. Continue Reading →


No turning back on marriage equality


Just three months ago, the Billings City Council voted down a nondiscrimination ordinance that would have expanded civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The vote came at 3 a.m., following a very long meeting. Later that day, Councilman Brent Cromley, who supported the NDO, said the setback would not halt the steady progress being made on LGBT rights. Continue Reading →

Cranky ex-copy editor flays ungainly idioms

Jeff Gibson

I am excited to be writing this. I am so excited you’d think I had never written anything in my life. And I know you will be excited, too. You’ve heard people talk that way. A city official calls a press conference to announce that some guy who just painted his house donated a couple of half-empty cans of paint to the dog pound. Continue Reading →

From the Outpost: On stupid voters (present company excepted)

David Crisp

Jonathan Gruber got himself—and the Obama administration—into trouble last week when a tape surfaced in which he referred to the “stupidity of the American voter.”

The context made it worse. Mr. Gruber, an economist at MIT who had a hand in writing the Affordable Care Act, praised lack of transparency about the bill and said that it was written in a “tortured way” so the Congressional Budget Office would not score the individual mandate as a tax. Continue Reading →

Beer, food, fun make for big draw at Wibaux brewery


WIBAUX — In the Gem Theatre attached to the Beaver Creek Brewery, Mighty Big Jim and the Tall Boys took the stage a little after 8 Saturday night.

Their opening song was “Wibaux, MT,” a defiant anthem written by bandleader Jim Devine. The chorus opens with “We’re Wibaux, Montana/Who the hell are you/We like our sky big/We like to throw down a few.” Continue Reading →

On open caucus question, ‘efficiency’ argument falls short

Bob Anez

Editor’s note: Longtime AP reporter Bob Anez sent me an email responding to my Sunday column, and when someone with Bob’s experience has something to say, you listen. I liked what he said so much—while realizing how ill-thought-out my own position had been—that I asked if I could print his email. He said yes:

I have met few journalists I respect more than you, but I disagree with a few comments in your column regarding the secret GOP caucus last week. Continue Reading →