Prairie Lights

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: We shouldn’t forget what Trump doesn’t know


The funniest, truest thing I’ve read about what’s going on in the United States these days was written by David Brooks in a recent New York Times column: “Those who ignore history are condemned to retweet it.”

He was referring, of course, to President Donald Trump, whose knowledge of history, even of American history, would be an embarrassment in a junior high classroom, and who can say everything he knows on most subjects in no more than 140 characters. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Mother’s Day ordeal, take 2


Editor’s note: I am not on vacation, traditionally the only reason for republishing an old piece. I am not embarrassed to admit that my excuse is that I’ve been having too much fun and find myself disinclined to ask my brain to do any work. So I’m running this Mother’s Day piece from May 9, 1982, when we were living in Anaconda. Mother’s Day 2017 is just around the corner, and the little girl who is the star of the story is due to have her second child just a few days before then. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Quist dragged into unwinnable arms race

That ain’t no banjo, pilgrim. I was rooting for Rob Quist, I really was. And not just rooting. I was also praying. I’d get up in the morning, drop to my knees and I’d say, “Please, God, don’t let Rob Quist, in this truncated special-election season, give in to the temptation to shoot a gun in a television commercial.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A big loss for independent news in Montana


Even if you live in Eastern Montana and have never heard of, much less read, the Missoula Independent, you ought to be worried about the fate of that alternative weekly newspaper. The Indy, which has been around for more than 25 years, has had its ups and downs, but generally speaking it was a worthy successor to the underground and alternative newspapers that came before it, and which made Missoula the only city in Montana with a real tradition of that sort of journalism. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: A new low for state’s House Republicans


The 2017 Montana Legislature is not scheduled to adjourn for three more weeks, but I think we can already identify the most craven act of the session. That would be the House’s rejection of a bill to allow all-mail balloting in the special congressional election scheduled for May 25. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: In Anaconda, sadly, history repeats itself


The more things change…

My first full-time reporting job was in Anaconda, back in 1980. One of our neighbors, at the first house we lived in, was an ancient Italian woman who filled me in on a lot of local history. One story of hers I never forgot was about what happened in the old days when a worker died up on the hill, at the smelter owned by the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. Within a day or two, she said, a company lawyer would show up at the widow’s door with money and a piece of paper. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Superfluous history should go on sale


For the Montana Historical Society, there was good news and bad news at the Legislature last week. The bad news was that, for something like the sixth consecutive session, legislators don’t want to allocate any money for a badly needed expansion and renovation of the Helena museum and research center. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Underwhelmed by a supposed Montana classic

There are some books you hear about so often that you begin to think, wrongly, that you might have read them. Such was the case with John R. Barrows’ “U-Bet: A Greenhorn in Old Montana.” When I came across another reference to it recently, I told myself I’d read it, but then I started to wonder. (more…) Continue Reading →

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