Updating protest in the age of Trump


Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, I hosted a discussion at Rocky Mountain College on protests. Even though the Coffee and Conversation discussion came after classes were out for the week, and even though a cold front was supposed to be on the way, 20 or so students showed up. Maybe it was the free coffee that brought them out, or the prospect of a long weekend too far from home to spend the holiday traveling. Continue Reading →

Art House Cinema & Pub unveils big expansion plans


In annoucing the proposed expansion of the Art House Cinema & Pub during an event at the downtown business Monday night, Matt Blakeslee told about going to see “The Artist” back in 2011.

The black-and-white silent movie, which would go on to win seven Oscars, including Best Film, had won high praise from critics and movie-goers for many months before Carmike Cinemas, which then owned every screen in town, finally brought the movie to Billings. Continue Reading →

In Missoula, downtown living scarce and in high demand


A well-appointed studio on the seventh floor of the Wilma Building in downtown Missoula went under contract three days after it was listed, never mind the asking price of $368,000.

The quick contract punctuates what the unit’s agent described as a hot downtown real estate market, one where the demand for residential units is high but the supply is limited. Continue Reading →

Montana Viewpoint: The simple virtues of Jess Nelson


Jess Nelson was a machinist in Thompson Falls for many years. He was good at it, but what he was really good at was standing up for honesty and justice. He was my friend, and I think of him often even though he died many years ago.

He had been in a nursing home for a couple of years, and by coincidence I happened to be sitting in his living room when I heard that he had died earlier that day. It was my birthday. Continue Reading →

Prairie Lights: In the new news biz, truth is for suckers


There has been no lack of disappointing, discouraging news over the past few months, but I don’t think anything I read was as depressing as these two sentences:

“Six months ago, Wade and his business partner, Ben Goldman, were unemployed restaurant workers. Now they’re at the helm of a website that gained 300,000 Facebook followers in October alone and say they are making so much money that they feel uncomfortable talking about it because they don’t want people to start asking for loans.” Continue Reading →

Opinion: How to make the Electoral College work


Start with history. The framers stipulated that electors vote for two persons, with the first and second top vote-getters certified by the Senate as president and vice president. It seemed elegant until the framers were forced to recognize that when electors vote for two people in one go, the executive branch might split between rivals. Continue Reading →

Opinion: A fix for the individual health care market


The Problem: Because of adverse selection and pent-up demand, health insurance premiums are unaffordable and benefits have been reduced to catastrophic care.

People will stop purchasing health insurance and pay the tax penalty. This will further limit and skew the risk pool adversely, further driving up premiums. Premiums have risen in large part because insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions—a very popular requirement of the Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading →