You fight fire with fire, you only get burned


When I was in high school in Minnesota in the 1970s, Mr. Manion, my friend’s father, used to brag about how he sent a portion of every paycheck to a strongly religious overseas terrorist organization.

Oddly enough, the only other thing I remember hearing him brag about was having met Sen. Joe McCarthy, the serial fabulist and anti-Communist crusader from Wisconsin. (“Kiss the hand that shook the hand,” Mr. Manion liked to say.) Continue Reading →


Backers of local option tax pin hopes on 2015 Legislature


It’s awfully early in the 2015 Montana legislative session to be optimistic about anything, but Jani McCall thinks this might just be the year lawmakers finally authorize cities and towns to pursue local sales taxes.

“I think it’s going to be a tough haul,” McCall said, “but I think if there was ever an opportunity to do it, this will be the session to do it.” Continue Reading →

The brief, brilliant life of Jack Bushmaker’s custom coupe


At the shoulder of a Wyoming county road, a stately cottonwood stands. In its time, this grayed monarch has seen cavalry and Indians; horsemen and homesteaders; dudes, dreamers, and sight-seers. Daily viewed but seldom noticed in the passing, this old tree carries a special story of its own. A huge scar mars its roadside bark, and therein lies the tale of the Purple Burp. Continue Reading →

Echoes of Montana history heard in Hebdo slaying


How incredibly sharp have become the edges of the two-sided sword we call freedom of speech. Like most of the world, I received the news of what happened at the offices of Charlie Hebdo with a sense of extreme shock and sadness. But this was different. Because it was also coupled with something that I have not fallen prey to much when it comes to world events. I felt a profound sense of fear. Continue Reading →

All in all, we prefer Kirby Delauter


I’ve covered some clueless public officials in my 35-year newspaper career, but I never had the pleasure of covering anyone so wonderfully out of touch as Kirby Delauter.

If you haven’t heard of him, that shouldn’t be too surprising. He is a councilman for Frederick County, Maryland, a position that is not normally a springboard to national recognition. Continue Reading →