I have known John Bohlinger for more than 30 years. He was a successful Billings businessman. He was a successful legislator. He represented Gov. Schweitzer admirably. He succeeded in these endeavors because he understood the issues, and he is extremely charming. But, most importantly, he knew how to work with people.
Sadly, he now acts like the Republican he used to be. For whatever reason, today’s Republicans have fractured their party, our Congress and our standing in the world. They haven’t figured out that in order to win, to achieve their goals, to make our country strong, they must work together.
It seems to me that John’s efforts would be better spent helping the Democratic party get solidly behind a candidate, rather than finding reason to criticize the very people he wants to be elected to work with. If elected, John will have to (or get to) work with Jon Tester and many other Democrats in the Senate. That may be harder than he thinks after taking them to task for not supporting him.
At his age, John should offer his expertise, and his name recognition to support John Walsh, who has the potential to be a senator long enough to gain some seniority and thus be able to work for the state of Montana and the nation as a whole.
Unless the Democrats work together, they will end up looking like Republicans.
As a union supporter and past president of my local, I read with interest John Roeber’s letter advocating for a new energy policy based on coal (see “Coal and conservation” in Letters, Nov. 14). It’s clear Roeber languishes in an early stage of grief: denial. Coal is in its death throes. Numerous states limit or prohibit coal-fired energy, including West Coast markets served by Montana. Pennsylvania Power and Light, an owner of Colstrip, hopes to divest of this dinosaur, if they can find a buyer out of touch with reality and the best interests of ratepayers.
The push to export coal is a desperate measure to prolong the inevitable. It is a race against the clock. Even China recently released an energy policy phasing out coal in favor of clean energy development this decade. I say, let America lead the way.
The ultimate irony for a union man like Roeber is that his ardent support for coal is more aligned with Tea Party Republicans than Democrats who have long advocated for labor rights. Arch Coal, which plans to develop Otter Creek, is notoriously anti-union. Arch, along with Peabody Coal, shifted its union employees to Patriot Coal. Roeber should know the intent was to bankrupt Patriot and not honor union pensions, which occurred in 2012. United Mine Workers is still fighting this. In his important role as union leader, his advocacy for the coal industry does a disservice to the employees he represents and to the future of the labor movement as a whole.
I do not envy Roeber’s position, nor condone his trumpeting big coal or attacking environmentalists. Where was he during the decades wasted when we could have been transitioning to a new energy paradigm? With the grossly expensive specter of climate change facing societies worldwide, the time for transition is overdue and the time for real action is now.
While we cannot afford delay, consideration of coal workers complicates immediate actions. Along with debunking any notion of clean coal, it is important to consider a “just transition” for our labor brothers and sisters in the coal industry. Their fate is intertwined with the promise of labor unions—collective bargaining, safe working conditions and wages that support a middle class. Labor and conservationists know companies like Arch and Peabody do not support strong unions or a clean environment.
Like Roeber, I have been involved in the BlueGreen Alliance and attended a national convention. Unlike his Rally for American Energy Jobs, BlueGreen advocates a jobs strategy in the clean economy based on renewable energy, energy efficiency and a smart electrical grid, improving our transportation and water infrastructures, and redeveloping domestic manufacturing. BlueGreen’s Jobs 21! plan supports EPA standards regulating greenhouse gases, which creates jobs retrofitting Montana power plants.
At the state and national levels, the AFL-CIO is also working to build alliances. All these represent opportunities for good jobs, vibrant economies and sustainable communities, without compromising strong unions or clean environment. Together, labor and conservationists can build a promising future, one that “does not count on coal.”
Coal in America is about more than cheap, reliable electricity. It's about more than power plants and emissions. It's about sensible, responsible energy policy that affords the opportunity for economic growth but balances that critical need with the value we place on providing as clean an environment as we reasonably can. The problem is, when we start arguing over electricity from coal, "sensible" and "reasonable" seem to be left out of the discussion.
That's why the recent "Rally for American Energy Jobs" in Washington was so important, and why I traveled across the nation to be a part of it.
I'm the president of the Montana State Building and Construction Trades Council and business manager for Boilermakers Local No. 11, but I'm also an active member of the Blue Green Alliance, a group that brings labor and conservation organizations together to tackle environmental and economic issues collaboratively. That's a tough job, but it's one that desperately needs to be done, particularly when it comes to energy policy.
As the name suggests, this rally was about more than coal. It's about American energy jobs. And, while coal jobs are certainly at the heart of it, American energy jobs are present, and critically important, in every part of our nation. Affordable and reliable electricity makes our economy work ... it makes economic growth and jobs creation possible. So, when you speak of "energy jobs," you're really talking about every job in every community in America. Period.
But that fact, as important as it may be to each and every one of us, is lost in the debate over energy policy when all we hear about is why we can't use fossil fuels, and coal in particular. It's an argument that completely lacks balance and understanding of the total needs of a working economy. And, it's an attack, more than an argument, which completely lacks reasonableness and sensibility.
The result? A skewed, ineffective energy policy that wastes tax dollars in pursuit of unachievable goals, while dismissing and outlawing the biggest and most reliable energy resource we have. It kills reasonable debate, destroys the potential for meaningful progress toward a more sustainable energy future, and along with it, hundreds of the thousands of jobs in every locality in America.
So, why did I travel across the nation to participate in this rally? The reason is simple: to fight back against those who would drown out progress toward a workable energy future by doing the only thing we can—raising our voices to demand that we be heard.
Those of us at the rally support American coal and the vast number of energy jobs it creates. We do that by advocating for sensible, reasonable, workable policies that use our resources wisely and that don't strangle our economy by pursuing extreme political views and goals.
Electricity from coal is not an extreme political or environmental position. It's a reasonable and responsible one. Those who would eliminate it in favor of both unproven and staggeringly expensive alternatives are the extremists.
American coal doesn't just protect coal jobs, it protects and creates jobs and economic growth across our entire economy. The men and women that took part in this rally know that, and by attending, they've taken up a much bigger challenge than just their own interests. They've taken up the challenge of creating responsible energy policies that keep our country working.
It's not a zero sum game; although those who wish to eliminate coal electricity from our national energy mix view it as such. What it is, is a battle for a responsible energy future in a country that puts people to work...and works towards a better tomorrow.
Montana State Building and Construction Trades Council
Montana is a land defined by its waterways. They are some of the healthiest and most pristine in the nation, drawing people from all over the country and world to fish, swim, raft, and admire them. So why risk degrading these precious wonders by letting careless and irresponsible companies such as Arch Coal and Burlington Northern Santa Fe transport coal in such close proximity to them?
In July, environmental groups filed their second joint lawsuit against BNSF after coal was found in the Spokane River. They claimed that coal trains running along waterways in Washington were discharging coal from the bottoms, sides and open tops of rail cars. BNSF argued that it did not violate the Clean Water Act, as the law has no jurisdiction over rail cars ... Rail cars? Jurisdiction? What about pollution?
BNSF is attempting to weasel its way out of responsibility via a legal technicality, leaving the public to clean up its mess.
Much of the same rail line runs along creeks and rivers in Montana, and unless the corporate giants in charge of mining and transporting our coal show a greater respect and sense of responsibility toward those who call Montana home, I would rather see them run out of town on a rail.
I attended the "Death with Dignity" forum on October 14, 2013, featuring Dr. Kress and was intrigued by what was presented. Dr. Kress explained how he came to be a physician who offered aid in dying, and it was apparent that he made this decision with the utmost contemplation and care. Dr. Kress is an inspiration and a hero for speaking out on this controversial issue and making a stand for the rights of those who are at the end of their life.
If I am faced with a terminal illness I want the option to have aid in dying not only to relieve my suffering, but to ensure a peaceful passing. Since the only way this prescription could be given and carried out is if I am competent, the idea of knowing that my death would be my decision and not weighing on my family is of great importance to me. It is very upsetting to have to spend those last moments losing my bodily functions and riled in pain because some people want to impose their idea of morality on my death.
There were some people at my table who shared their story about looking into an aid in dying option for a family member or loved one and I was moved by their willingness to share. It made the aid in dying all that more important as an option that should be offered.
I am very pleased that the City Club of Missoula hosted this event and how much of a service they offer the people of Missoula. I am especially fond of their mission statement, "New Ideas—Free Exchange of Thought."
Why do friends and relatives posting conservative propaganda not realize that at one time or another every single one of our family members had to use food stamps temporarily, or federal student loans, or publicly supported medical insurance? With only family resources we'd have suffered more, and more would be dead by now. Without public education our girls could not have gone to school. If there was no such thing as food stamps I'd have had to prostitute to feed my kids since my parents did not arrange good marriages. If we had been required to pay cash on the day of our grandmother's stroke she'd have been dead years earlier! So when I see postings criticizing the use of public funds to help people who need it, I'm aghast.
Public resources belong to all. Emergencies happen. When did people become so greedy and stingy and hard-hearted? I was taught faith demands compassion. How can anyone who claims to be a Christian be so unkind? We all sacrifice to pay our taxes and I'd pay twice as much to feed children and seniors and poor people—instead of making war all over the globe and creating more widows and orphans and poor people. Why is it so hard to understand that if we educate our neighbor's children it makes the world a better place for our own children, too?
And since I'm expressing my opinions, let me say how offensive it is to hear people labeled "illegal." From now on I'm going to point out that is an overt insult to your own ancestors (unless you are Native American). My people were called Dirty Irish when they came to America, were held in contempt and taken advantage of because they weren't born here. That same prejudice drives attitudes today.
This is in reference to the Lauren M. Fox article about Richard Spencer (see "The Hatemonger next door," Oct. 24). My first thought was how embarrassed I was to be white man, and then I thought why should I be embarrassed about someone's ignorance, which unfortunately gives Mr. Spencer a purpose, friends and pride.
I remember when I was young, a person told me how good looking he was. I realized immediately how ugly that person was. It is the same with people telling me how smart they are—it is clear to me how dumb they are, and I don't mean "dumb" in a mocking sense.
I noticed Mr. Spencer referred to his folly as creating an intellectual class of white separatists. First, the statement is oxymoronic. Second, this is a great example of someone calling himself/herself smart. Maybe the saddest part of Mr. Spencer's cause is his desire to make America a white state, when it has been a relatively short amount time since we slaughtered the indigenous peoples. I remember a professor telling that the best way to beat the Klan was to ignore them and not show up at their pansy marches where they don't have the ba, uh, I mean, the confidence to even show their identity (robes and masks). Sadly, the foundation of Mr. Spencer's religion, his god, finds his behavior abhorrent. Could you imagine how horrific it would be waking up and thinking like Mr. Spencer? It is precisely in this context I believe prayer was developed.
In all seriousness, I also believe we need to pray for Mr. Spencer and think positively that he will find compassion and start to take care of his real brothers and sisters.
Will the real Rep. Steve Daines please stand up?
So which is it, Mr. Daines? Are you the fellow that Montanans thought they were sending to Congress—the guy who listens to all sides of an issue and champions ideas from Montana? Or is Daines swept up in the nonsense that is too prevalent in Washington, D.C.? Is he just listening to political operatives more bent on gouging the eyes of their opponents than in actually solving this nation's problems?
Sadly, Rep. Daines appears to be falling into the camp with the partisan radicals.
Case in point: Daines has recently signed on with a radical national forest management bill being forwarded by Tea Party favorite Doc Hastings. The bill is a fantasy of those with a simplistic, narrow-minded view of national forests.
Now, Montanans want their forests managed. That's no secret. But the Hastings bill won't actually accomplish that because it's overly broad, unrealistic and driven more by ideology that pragmatic solutions. It's classic, winner-takes-all politics.
Does that sound familiar? Doc Hastings would manage Montana's national forests the way his Tea Party friends managed the federal budget.
Across Montana, folks from sawmills, conservation groups and sportsmen's organizations have hammered out real, practical visions for bringing people together and getting things done on the land. These balance both the conservation of and the wise utilization of natural resources.
It's gut-check time for Rep. Daines. Whose side are you on, Montana's or Washington, D.C.'s?
My congratulations to Matt Rosendale for officially announcing his run for U.S. Congress. This takes the speculation away, and now gives reporters the obligation and opportunity to cover the competition equally.
Great job by Mr. Rosendale for selecting Makoshika State Park as the perfect location for this event, a magical place in eastern Montana that is rich in landmarks and artifacts that date back hundreds, thousands and, for some misinformed geologists and members of the public, millions of years. Your speech about conservative values must have warmed the hearts of those departed dinosaurs. Why, they probably said, "Finally, a politician with old ideas like us."
Someone who supports criminalizing a woman's right to an abortion—even in cases of rape or incest, an interpretation of his religion that has been around for years. Someone who wanted Montana to be able to secede from the uniona thought that goes back to at least the Civil War. Finally, a dinosaur favorite who wanted to keep an unconstitutional law on the books, making it a crime to be a homosexual. Mr. Rosendale's conservative reasoning is "the Bible forbids it."
To Mr. Rosendale's credit, he will devote his entire time to the U.S. House race. It remains to be seen if his entire Tea Party conservative agenda will translate statewide.
I like your paper and read every issue cover to cover, but I was surprised to find a tirade by a poorly informed hypocrite in the food section (see "Hunting just got harder," Oct. 17). In the article, the writer complains of an ammo shortage—an ammo shortage caused by anti-gunners like Obama, the Clintons and Bloomberg trying to restrict guns and ammo purchases. Gunners are all stocking up, thus leaving the writer no ammo to hunt with. Too bad.
This writer is a hypocrite because he thinks it's okay to use his rifle but not others. AR originally stood for armalite rifle, not automatic rifle. Today, they are called Modern Sporting Rifles, or MSRs. They look different than bolt action rifles but function same way. One pull of the trigger causes one bullet to come out of the barrel. Everybody wants to use the best tool available to do a job. The MSR is the most reliable, durable and accurate rifle a hunter can get.
MSRs can be had in any caliber, not just the stupid zombie .223 caliber that hunters never use. The writer of this article is an idiot and should be given an IQ test before getting a hunting license. MSRs do not mow things down—lawnmowers do. Use of these rifles does not, as the writer says, open the door to irresponsible and unethical shooting, such the unfathomable practice of hunting at night. Hunting with an MSR is not an insane practice, it's as safe and responsible as using any other weapon. It all depends on person using weapon.
I hope this writer never finds his .270 ammo because the woods will be much safer without this person running around with a gun.
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