Recent Posts

Opinion: Thanks, ‘Gaga,’ for lessons on public lands


In 1874, Edwin J. Stanley, our great- (times six) grandfather set out on a solo horseback adventure to Montana to tour the first designated national park. He wrote a book, “Rambles in Wonderland,” published in 1878 about his travels through Yellowstone National Park. His work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Arts, humanities funds on chopping block


In all of the post-election chaos, it’s easy to overlook the minor casualties. Some of them may be in Montana. The Trump administration, eager to ramp up spending on the military, border control and infrastructure, all while cutting taxes and shoring up Social Security and healthcare, is desperate to find spending cuts. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Friend’s vacation abruptly canceled by U.S. agency


I just got robbed of thousands of dollars—and a friend got robbed of her self-respect—by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last year, my Mexican friend Abigail Cuellar Gallegos visited her cousins, and me, in the United States. She went back to Mexico according to the terms of her visa. I know. I bought the ticket, and took her to the airport. Continue Reading →

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Daines shows weakness in Warren debacle


Steve Daines, the freshman U.S. senator from Montana who sits on the back-benchers’ back bench, got a rare taste of notoriety last week. He posted a video of his 15 seconds of fame on his Facebook page, so he must have been proud of it, but the episode showed Daines’ political weakness, not his strength. Daines was presiding over the Senate when, in concert with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he blocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren from finishing a speech against Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general. He and McConnell convicted Warren of violating Rule 19, which says that “no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana Viewpoint: A little poetic relief from Mr. Riley


When I sat down to write today I became immediately depressed about the possible topics at hand, so I decided to share with you a poem by James Whitcomb Riley, a framed copy of which has graced a small room in my parents’ home and then my home for almost a century. Happy Valentine’s Day. The Passing of the Backhouse
When memory keeps me company and moves to smiles or tears,
A weather-beaten object looms up through the mist of years. Behind the house and barn it stood, a half a mile or more,
And hurrying feet a path had made straight to its swinging door. Its architecture was a type of simple classic art,
But in the tragedy of life it played a leading part;
And oft the passing traveler drove slow and heaved a sigh,
To see the modest hired girl slip out with glances shy. Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Senators, be careful with replacing ACA


In the fall of 2012, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the bladder. At that time my partner worked full time as a teacher in public schools. I was under-employed (an adjunct instructor) at two institutions and had a third job when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had no access to employer-provided insurance at that time because of my part-time designation at each place. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Satire, though often misunderstood, will be missed

A bit over a year ago, I wrote a satirical piece for Last Best News about Donald Trump’s idea of building a wall along our border with Mexico. I suggested that what we really needed was a wall between us and Canada. At the time, Ed Kemmick and I had a conversation about whether readers might actually take this as a serious proposal. Satire isn’t always understood by everyone, as I knew from experience. Over 40 years ago, the first piece of satire I ever had published was in a Catholic family magazine. Continue Reading →

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