Thursday, November 29, 2012

A pasty wager

Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

I could not disagree more with Carmen Ebert in regards to the pasties from Anaconda being better than any from Butte (see “Street Talk,” Nov. 15). This could be true, but as a “true blue Butte rat,” I have eaten pasties consistently for over a half century.

There is no accounting for people’s tastes, but I’d like to propose a small bet with Carmen. Please go to Lisa’s Pasty Pantry in Missoula. Eat it there or take it home. If she can honestly say that a pasty from Anaconda is better, I will buy it. Lisa is originally from Butte and an expert in the art of making the “Letter from ’ome.”

I strongly feel that Carmen will have to bring money to pay for the pasty herself.

Ed L. Price

Missoula

Dear Santa Obama

Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

For Christmas I would like you to control your spending of our/my tax dollars. Out of one side of your mouth you say that our government will run out of money by year’s end. Out of the other side of your mouth you tell Burma you will increase federal aid there. My God, can we take care of our country first?! Why do we even give out any foreign aid while people here are starving, without shelter, without jobs, without hope. This foreign aid will never be reciprocated. We are just being used.

Three quarters of my wages go to taxes and health insurance. I think that is enough.  Please, Santa Obama, can our children grow up not owing to China that which they should have themselves? Mr. President, you don’t have to play Santa to the whole world. Before increasing taxes you could widen the tax base by putting more people back to work. Reduce the freebies you give out. I know there are people who can’t work and are needy, but there are many just living off the U.S. government because it’s easy. Finding a job and keeping it has never been easy. Why make those of us who work pay the way for those who don’t even try because “Santa” will take care of them.

Please, President Obama, stop this foreign aid and take care of our country first!

Richard Brodowy

Missoula

Off target

Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

After reading “Loaded” by Jamie Rogers (see Nov. 8), I learned more about the writer’s view about pulling the trigger in the Treasure State then I learned about actually pulling the trigger in the Treasure State. Although the writer tried to be objective, and to his credit he actually talked to some gun enthusiasts and experienced shooting firsthand prior to writing the piece, the information in the article was still presented from the writer’s own biases and did a huge disservice to the citizens of Montana, and elsewhere, who have a much deeper understanding of and respect for guns, shooting sports and the Second Amendment. 

 

I would like to offer that there is another perspective about the value of guns that was not touched upon in this article, a value in maintaining the freedom to bear arms (using guns for self-defense), a value in the shooting sports and a value in the tradition and the heritage of gun collecting. Not all of us will understand these values, but all of us should respect them nonetheless.

I would also like to offer that while the NRA has become a political powerhouse for gun rights (out of necessity due to the general public’s regular diet of slanted and misinformation in the media about guns), it is also alive and well as a supporter and promoter of responsible and safe gun ownership and handling, featuring many competitive shooting events and gun safety education and training programs. The group also provides free information, education and gun locks to communities and schools.

I am an NRA-certified shotgun instructor and range safety officer. I was the volunteer director of a gun club for ten years, ran a women’s shotgun clinic for nine years and coached a youth trapshooting team for seven years. I have met hundreds of people who have a deep respect and understanding of guns, people who are not trying to promote their love of guns on anyone but who find themselves and their passion for guns regularly in the sites of anti-gun enthusiasts who plaster the media with sensationalized stories and statistics.

Although I am a member of the NRA, I do not agree with every political tactic or position they take and I have personally chosen not to carry a firearm for self-defense at the present moment. However, I credit the NRA in helping me make that educated decision.

I understand the emotional attachment to guns that some persons experience as part of their family’s heritage and tradition. I also understand the emotional attachment some people have to blaming guns for crimes rather than looking deeper at the causes. It is more comforting to believe that by controlling access to inanimate objects we can solve a problem that really requires going much deeper—delving into the ugly side of human nature.

Working in the field of adolescent mental health I have met many disturbed youth. These young people are deeply hurt and sometimes very angry because they feel unloved and unlovable. When a young person is teased, made fun of, bullied or mistreated by peers and demeaned by the adults in their lives, they can become deeply wounded. Like scared animals they lash out at a world they see as cruel and rejecting. Some attempt to escape their pain through drugs and become addicted. Some people simply develop neurological disorders that cause others to withdraw from them. Desperate people resort to desperate acts to exact revenge on perceived wrongs done to them or to get attention. The disturbed persons who pulled the trigger on the great tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech and more recently, at a movie theatre in Colorado, were lashing out at what they perceived as a cruel world. Or maybe they were going for the fame that comes from the media coverage of such events?

Thanks to that non-stop media coverage of such tragedies and the focus of groups like the Brady Campaign, the real causes of these tragedies become obscured and buried time and again. There are also some people who make a good case for and blame the entertainment industry for promoting violence in our society. Either way, mental health problems, social cruelty and violent entertainment all play a significantly larger role in a person’s decision to kill and maim other human beings than the inanimate objects that they choose to use to carry out their desperate acts.

Wendy Mair

Missoula

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Patriotism over pride

Posted by on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 12:05 AM

Folk philosopher Will Rogers commented that “We elect our Presidents, be they Republican or Democrat, then start daring ’em to make good.” Implicit in Rogers’ observation is that either a Republican or a Democrat is capable of making good.

In the modern era when each side assails and demonizes the other we are implored to believe that today’s political differences are unbridgeable. One party will take us to the promised land. The other will lead us to destruction.

This was once illustrated to me by the example of an airplane and an armored car. One is slow and heavy and can power its way to where the country needs to go. The other is light and fast and can fly us there. But we have to choose one or the other. If we combine the armored car with the plane, the result will be something that can neither fly nor drive. This simplistic example was used to show that there can be no compromise between two greatly different approaches to a problem. It’s either all the way with the philosophy of the conservative anti-government Republicans, or with the liberal pro-government Democrats. To the partisan ideologue, compromise is impossible. It has to be one way or the other. Today, as we near the “fiscal cliff,” we hear the Republicans saying that the huge national debt is “a spending problem, not a taxing problem.” They won’t raise tax rates to pay down the debt, they say, even if it means allowing the debt to doom the country.

The Democrats counter that they, too, will ignore the debt and let the country suffer the consequences before they will agree to an approach that focuses on spending cuts that would fall disproportionately on the middle class and the poor.

Most American people, I think, see neither approach as all right or all wrong.  But one is shared deeply by a majority in the House of Representatives, and the other by President Obama and the Senate. The “fiscal cliff,” which will confront us on Dec. 31, was deliberately created by both parties when they couldn’t reach an agreement on a debt reduction plan a year ago. Though further delay can only make the problem worse, we now hear talk that they will “kick the can down the road” again, avoiding the politically painful compromise of higher taxes combined with deep spending cuts necessary to save the country. Are our nation’s highest leaders too stubborn and headstrong to join hands and wade into the hot water together?

Our congressional delegation used to boast that it brought home two dollars in federal spending to Montana for every dollar that left the state in taxes.  That would suggest that the strategy of spending cuts alone would fall more heavily on us than on the states where the federal spending is less. The trouble is that there is nothing unique about Montana when it comes to getting more for less. That’s the $16 trillion problem.

We are past the time for ideological pigheadedness. What is urgently required is presidential leadership and courage in Congress. Compromise is the traditional American way. As founder Thomas Jefferson observed, “It is necessary to give as well as take in a government like ours.” Our government has followed his wise advice through countless difficult times. The story of hard bargaining and painful compromise is the entire political history of this country. Our modern leaders are as capable of summoning the will to find the way as all who have come before them. Patriotism must overcome pride in order for our modern politicians “to make good.”    

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The water is falling

Posted by on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Water is essential to all life. The value of our property, our homes and even the ability of people to exist and maintain a livelihood depends upon availability and use of water. We must be aware and voice opinions on the proposed plan for control and management of water rights in 11 western Montana counties, impacting over 350,000 residents plus businesses and industries. The targeted region extends from the Canadian border south to Butte, and west from the Continental Divide to the Montana-Idaho border.   In fact, the entire state could experience major changes in economy and tax base.

For over a decade the federal government, with input from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, has been working with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to develop a reserved water rights compact basically giving the tribes too much control, in my opinion, over water west of the Continental Divide. This proposed water rights compact is now being introduced through a series of 13 public information meetings prior to its submission for vote by the state legislators in the upcoming legislative session. This leaves little remaining time for the public to review and comment on the extensive proposal. Buried within it are details for future control over uses and water allowances on and off reservation, both residential and commercial. Current landowner-reserved water rights could change.

The amount of water to be contained and maintained in streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs needs clarification and commitment. This is particularly critical for those with waterfront properties and boat docks likely threatened by lowered water levels. Heavy water users, such as golf courses and farmers requiring irrigation, seek assurance that their needs will be based upon historical water use. Standardized allowances for all current reservation irrigators are already being contested. Inadequate available water could drive operators out of business with land values and land salability destroyed.

The great Northwest has been proud of its inexpensive hydropower made possible by the abundant watersheds from our mountains, feeding reservoirs behind the dams. We even wonder if the dams themselves will be allowed to remain secure. Stored water protecting against droughts also provide recreation, fishing and boating. Where will these revenues go as well as returns on power generation and excess water? People must seek answers to many questions at these information meetings. Equally essential is our communication with our elected officials expressing our concerns over water and its impacts on our lives and livelihoods. We must watch for public meeting announcements, attend and speak out.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Healing my heart

Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

I would like to thank the Zootown Arts Community Center and Hospice of Missoula for the creative workshops they opened to the public for free in celebration of the Day of the Dead throughout the month of November. As those of us who know how painful and hard the loss of a loved one can be, whether expected or unexpected, these workshops provided a welcoming and loving atmosphere to help channel grief and sorrow into something creative and unique through the arts. The donation of their time, the ZACC space and materials for their various art projects were much appreciated by myself and the many many others who participated. I can personally say their contribution to helping the community express their grief in constructive and uplifting ways has helped in the healing of my heart. We are blessed to have ZACC and Hospice of Missoula recognize and respond to the need to have positive interactive ways to celebrate life even after death.

Colleen Alber

Missoula

An excellent burger

Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The only time I’ve heard the term “Montucky” was a hamburger at an area eatery (see “‘Montucky’ offends,” Oct. 24). Just a bacon cheeseburger with an onion ring and Jim Beam barbecue sauce. Excellent.

Every region has various stereotypes. Maybe you’re being a little over sensitive, Ms. Walker. Welcome to Montana, the “Freeman” and “Unabomber” state.

Bill Samsel

Polson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recycling every day

Posted on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Nov. 15 is the 15th anniversary of America Recycles Day! This day is an opportunity to recognize the daily decision we can all make to save energy and resources by recycling resources back into our economy.

There will be community events in Shelby, Helena, Miles City, Missoula, Lincoln and Dillon. Additional events can still be posted at AmericaRecyclesDay.org or through RecycleMontana.org.

A dozen Montana schools are competing in this year’s national Recycle Bowl, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 9, with the school recycling the most per-capita guaranteed to win $1,000, with an additional opportunity to compete nationally for funds to purchase recycling bins.

This year has seen improved recycling across the state, from electronic recycling events along the Hi-Line to a first-time plastics recycling event in Lewistown. Communities across the state have seen expanded options to recycle priority items such as e-waste and traditional recyclables through both events and expanded public and private services.

Visit Recycle Montana for more details about America Recycles Day events, the Recycle Bowl results, and recycling in Montana at RecycleMontana.org. We also work to provide recycling education program for schools across the state.

Happy America Recycles Day, Montana!

Mark Nelson

Recycle Montana

Helena

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rehberg checked out

Posted on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Congressman Denny Rehberg has it wrong when it comes to Montana jobs. As a former employee and chemical engineer at Smurfit-Stone’s Frenchtown mill, I’m here to tell you that Rehberg cost me my job—and Sen. Jon Tester is the one who fought to save it.

Smurfit-Stone announced in December 2009 that it would close its Frenchtown mill and lay off all of the plant’s 417 employees. It was a hard day for everyone in the timber community. For more than 50 years, our mill turned out high-quality paper products and helped put food on kitchen tables across western Montana. An estimated 1,300 loggers, truckers, mill workers and others across the region saw their livelihoods threatened.

But this did not come as a surprise. Mill owners across the state knew that the timber industry needed help with wood supply issues well before Smurfit-Stone closed its doors. And that’s where Montana’s elected officials came in—or in the case of Rehberg, checked out.

Smurfit-Stone claimed it was shutting down the mill in part because of declining wood supply. That’s because for too many years folks fought over how to manage Montana’s public forests and nothing got done, limiting lands available for logging.

That’s why a few years ago, Smurfit-Stone and four other mills sat down with conservationists and motorized users to hammer out a solution that would properly manage our forests, while allowing mills like Smurfit-Stone to get the wood supply they needed.

The result was Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. Tester brought everyone to the table to work out a deal where everyone gave a little, but in the end got a lot.

But Tester wasn’t the first or the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation that the group approached. Even though Rehberg was publicly calling for more collaboration on the issue, when the coalition asked him to support and carry the bill, he said no.

In fact, he soon opposed the bill, preferring to let the mills and the timber industry struggle. Instead, Rehberg chose to side with those who want to continue arguing over management of Montana’s public lands, all the while accomplishing nothing.

Tester’s bill quickly gained support from folks on both sides of the political aisle. Former Gov. Marc Racicot—who Rehberg worked under—backed the bill and said Congress should pass it without delay.

That was back in 2009. But apparently, it wasn’t enough for Rehberg, who continued to fight Tester’s bill. To this day, he is still making false claims about the bill, and he even put politics first to stop it from becoming law last year. Again, because of Rehberg’s resistance nothing was accomplished.

Smurfit-Stone announced it would close the mill the same week that Tester held his first Senate hearing on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, but even that wasn’t enough of a wake-up call for Rehberg.

I was there in Seeley Lake when Tester introduced the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to the town and mill workers in Seeley Lake. It is good to see that he is still fighting for those jobs. His bill, which will breathe life back into our timber industry, will be taken up after the election.

It’s not too late to save western Montana’s timber industry and the jobs it supports. If you care about the future of western Montana, I urge you to support Tester and send Rehberg—and his false claims about Tester’s record—packing.

Mark Vosburgh

Missoula

Veterans for Tester

Posted on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM

We are veterans of World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of us served in a time when fascism was a threat to our way of life, others marched through the jungles of Vietnam, some patrolled the streets of Baghdad and Kandahar and others protected our national interests right here at home. We all proudly call Montana home and we are grateful for the work Sen. Jon Tester has done on our behalf in the U.S. Senate.

When we asked Tester to represent our voice in the Senate in 2006, the G.I. Bill had fallen behind the dramatically increasing cost of a college education, and the VA wasn’t prepared for the health care and employment challenges returning servicemembers faced when they came home.

Now, due in large part to Tester’s hard work, the post-9/11 G.I. bill is making it possible for thousands of Montana veterans to attend college and become leaders in their communities. And the VA has begun taking real steps toward meeting the needs of the young men and women returning from war.

Tester is personally responsible for nearly quadrupling the mileage reimbursement rate from what it was a few years ago. His efforts are making it possible for our rural veterans to access the care they need. Just this month Tester helped break ground on the Billings VA Clinic expansion after securing the project. And because of his support, the psychiatric hospital at Ft. Harrison has begun seeing patients.

We still have a long way to go. In the next few years, thousands of veterans will return home from Afghanistan. As we write, these brave troops are patrolling the mountains of Kandahar. They’re facing IEDs. They’re hunting down the Taliban. They’re taking care of each other. Now it’s time for us to take care of them.

When our brave men and women return home, they’ll come back to a tough job market. Some will have invisible wounds; traumatic brain injuries from roadside bombs, post-traumatic stress that will make some of their lives almost unbearable. They’ll be coming home as money is running short in every part of the federal budget. Our young veterans need a senator who understands that when the time comes for budget cuts, services for our servicemembers aren’t on the chopping block. They will need a senator who will uphold the sacred obligation we have to those who have selflessly decided to serve. In our view, Jon Tester is the right man for the job.

Andrew Person, on behalf of a group of 14 Montana veterans

Missoula

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