Prairie Lights

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: A light lament for a lack of character(s)


Now that the election is over and we know who the new City Council members will be, I wish them all well and godspeed. We appear to have a good crop of people and perhaps we can look forward to some good things getting done, which might give us some reason to believe — national politics notwithstanding — that there is hope for our system of government. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Pushed into a corner, politicians deflect


I’m still trying to decide who had the worst response to last week’s political scandals — Roy Moore down in Alabama or Troy Downing here in Montana. Moore is the Republican U.S. Senate candidate who brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai and presented them to the chosen people of Montgomery, Ala. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A little ‘fall protection’ for our readers

Two Moon

In this Prairie Lights space, I generally give vent to personal opinions on subjects like politics, culture, religion and other tender subjects. Today I want to test the limits of the First Amendment by unburdening myself of the opinion that we live in a spectacularly beautiful place, especially during the fleeting few weeks of High Autumn, which I am capitalizing in defiance of Associated Press style regulations to emphasize how glorious it is. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: In Philadelphia, a hero for our times


On my first visit to Philadelphia last week, I was overwhelmed by history. I gawked at the Liberty Bell, stood in the hall where the founders created the Constitution, admired the house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and even stumbled upon a little Jewish cemetery where the honored dead included the man whose ship brought the Liberty Bell to America. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Does it matter if vote-seekers vote?


After almost 40 years in the newspaper business, I am used to being criticized for what I write. But I have to admit to being caught off guard by the people who thought my recent story on the voting habits of Billings City Council and mayoral candidates was somehow unfair, or even unnecessary. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Still learning from the Vietnam War


My uncle had a lot of books in his library, but the one book I was drawn to every time we visited his house contained a collection of photographs of World War II. It was a large, heavy book, so I usually placed it on the floor and lay in front of it, propped up on my elbows. I would slowly page through it, looking at pictures as vivid in my mind now as they were on the page then: (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Church book sale now has bragging rights


The best things in life, I’m convinced, are completely unplanned. If they are meant to happen, they will, and if they are good they will continue and get better. So it has been with the twice-annual used-book sales at Central Christian Church, at 1221 16th St. W. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A second chance for Salt Lake City


SALT LAKE CITY — Not counting all the hours I’ve spent in purgatory, also known as Concourse E at the Salt Lake City airport, or the two-hour layover during which I went to a Mexican restaurant with a friend who lived here, it had been more than 40 years since I’d spent any time in SLC. I am here for Labor Day weekend, visiting Daughter No. 3, and this time I have a car and some money and at least a faint aura of respectability. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Did someone say ‘political hack’?


Having lost in District Court and now at the Montana Supreme Court, former state Sen. Art Wittich has appealed again to the court of public opinion, airing the same old grievances and portraying his lawless self as the victim of a dastardly conspiracy. Before the start of his trial on charges of breaking campaign finance laws, Wittich said then-Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, who filed the charges, had no case. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: No easy fix for monumental dilemma


Searching for a voice of reason in a country up to its chin in unreasonable passion, I called Ken Robison, a historian who lives in Great Falls. His words were the tonic I needed. Ken is a native of Montana who grew up near Geraldine and who, since retiring from a career in Naval Intelligence in 2001, has been doggedly doing research into forgotten corners of Montana history, resulting in a stream of books and numerous articles in the Great Falls Tribune and the River Press in Fort Benton. (more…) Continue Reading →

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