The Billings Gazette publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are today's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
LR-129 meant to suppress vote
LR-129 was forced onto the ballot by Republicans in our Legislature as a thinly disguised attempt to suppress voting by the elderly, the disabled, the poor and Native Americans because they fear these groups are less likely to vote for Republican candidates.
LR-129 makes it harder for people to collect someone else’s ballot and turn it in for them. Conservative Republicans argue that it’s needed to insure the integrity of our voting system, but they offer no evidence that this practice ever has led to abuses. It’s purported to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
What LR-129 will do, and what conservative Republicans hope, is make it harder for people who have limited access to transportation to vote. It will prevent non-partisan get-out-the-vote efforts from helping people deliver their ballots.
Our country is founded on the principle of voting. For two centuries we’ve worked to expand the right to vote. We should applaud efforts to make it easier to vote. LR-129 is a step backwards, and those who promote it cannot with a straight face claim they believe in democracy. We should reject LR-129 and any other attempts to suppress voting. Vote no on LR-129.
Tester showed moral courage
Montanans sent Sen. Jon Tester back to Washington for his third term, despite the barrage of personal attacks against him by President Trump. It seems that many politicians are increasingly willing to ignore the needs of their constituents in order to survive the political game. While many mouth empty platitudes about thanking veterans for their service, Tester has consistently gone to bat for veterans. When he released negative information about Adm. Ronny Jackson, Trump's nominee for secretary of veterans affairs, Tester showed that he would not be deterred from protecting veterans' right to adequate medical care, even though his actions were considered "incautious" since he was up for re-election in a red state, which had heavily supported Trump.
So let's hear it for the Big Sandy farm kid with the goofy haircut. He demonstrated great moral courage, which I think has been a trademark of Montana politicians. And Montanans responded by resisting extreme political pressure from the beltway and a heavy influx of out-of-state cash.
I think our Montana independent spirit was best expressed by Tyler Linfesty, the boy in the plaid shirt. After being removed from a Trump rally because his expressions were not enthusiastic enough, he said, "I'm not going to pretend to support something I don't support."
Our veterans fought and died for an electoral process that involves a free exchange of ideas. In a democracy, open debate about political differences is the only way it works.
Is this who we are, Montana?
Amid the ongoing negativity and increasingly ugliness of our political situation it has been tempting to stay out of it. I can no longer be part of the quiet majority. At least I pray I’m part of the majority.
I must ask of my fellow Montanans “is this who we are?” Our president came to Missoula to campaign. And during his remarks he praised our current congressman for body slamming a reporter and said: “my kind of guy.” While comments like this from the president should no longer shock me what horrifies me more is that reportedly people in the crowd loved it. Seriously? Is this who we are Montana?
Would you take a moment, please, and picture the men and women in Billings who are journalists? They live in your neighborhoods and attend your churches. Their children go to our schools. They support with their time and resources the many organizations of our community. They are men and women like you and me. Freedom of the press is critical to a free society. Repressive regimes do not allow such. They suppress it. They kill journalists. For that matter, in those countries average citizens are suppressed or killed if they speak out against those in control. Is that seriously what you want in our country? Think about that the next time you cheer or jeer when our president, our congressman or any other elected official praises beating up on journalists or anyone else that doesn’t agree with them.
Oppose Dialysis Patients Demonstration Act
The Dialysis Patients Demonstration Act attempts to remove patients' choice. All patients should have a choice in their dialysis provider. There is no reason for patients to be involuntarily enrolled into an organization and then be required to opt-out within a specific block of time, in order to preserve their freedom of choice. This puts an unnecessary burden on the patient.
In addition, this model should include chronic kidney disease (CKD) care, palliative, transplantation, medical management and hospice. Unfortunately, this act covers none of those critical services and requires a patient to leave the organization if that care is needed. Patients risk being abandoned by their expanded care team at critical times.
Based on these concerns, please oppose the Dialysis Patients Demonstration Act.
Red Cross reaches Montanans in disasters
The American Red Cross responds to disasters big and small here at home and across the country. This fall, 70 volunteers from our region provided help and hope to families devastated by hurricanes Florence and Michael and California’s wildfires.
In Montana, we helped families recover from spring flooding, house fires and other disasters.
Besides cash donations, the Red Cross needs lifesaving blood. Every two seconds, someone needs blood, and you can make sure those needs are met. The process takes about an hour, and a single donation can save up to three lives.
From Nov. 26 to Nov. 30, U.S. Bank will host drives in Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula. Visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a drive near you.
Lastly, make a new year’s resolution worth keeping by joining the Red Cross volunteer team. There’s an opportunity for almost any interest or skill set. Visit www.montanaredcross.org or call 800-272-6668 to learn more.
We thank everyone who supported us this year with their time, talent and generosity. We simply couldn’t do it without you.
Bundy victim of U.S. government
Lynda Caine’s letter published Nov. 1 is wrong about Cliven Bundy.
Bundy's famous 15-second defense was, “I graze my cattle only on Clark County, Nevada, land, and I have no contract with the federal government.” The Bundy family had been ranching there 150 years, long before there was a BLM.
Bundy did not have any “militants.” The patriots were incensed by what they saw being inflicted upon Americans, specifically women, came because they saw Americans being bullied by federal-public-militant-law-enforcement officers. These empathetic patriots — not militants — are people who did not personally know the Bundys nor did the Bundys know them.
The trial proved: The only entity trashing public buildings, vandalizing ancient Indian sites (and generally behaving like bullies) were the federal government hirelings.
Many who came to the wildlife refuge stand up were discovered to be “paid-informants” who altered the outcome. Wake up, do your homework; be more diligent in heralding truth. The Constitution needs to be studied; the founders’ writings need to be studied!
Fear mongering for gun control?
I read Denise Boggs Nov. 11 letter on the NRA and AR-15 rifles and felt compelled to respond.
She called the NRA a "fear mongering organization" and then proceeded to write about "his school being decimated" and "when you are called to identify your child's body" Wasn't she fear mongering, herself?
She resorted to insults, saying gun owners are "missing brain cells and don't have their heads screwed on right." She referred to "gun nuts" and "irrational, fear mongering, paranoid, clowns" and "crazies." She threw race into her exaggerations, saying "... Americans being slaughtered by white men." Name-calling and demonizing is bigotry. No matter how self-righteous, bigotry is bigotry.
In my four years of Navy service, I developed a respect and fondness for the firearms I occasionally qualified with.
I have been instructing a Montana-mandated firearms course curriculum for 26 years (no state endorsement of my opinions implied). I also instructed safety and marksmanship for several years.
What has Ms. Boggs done to improve safety and society? Or is she simply someone with a pen and prejudices?
Leave the disinformation to Trump
What is it with crazy docs these days? We’ve got one who fancies himself an expert on global warming, despite any credentials that would give him the least credibility. Denying the opinion of over 95 percent of the actual climate scientists who received their scientific training in climate, not cadavers. Oh, and not to mention over 190 nations who believe in human-caused global warming. He has as much scientific gravitas as the “stable genius” (that is one smart horse) currently inhabiting the White House. And, like this other scientific “genius,” is not afraid to make unsubstantiated claims with great pomposity.
Recently, another doc from Texas, apparently with considerably more money than any concern with disseminating actual facts, takes out full-page ads in local papers attacking Sen. Jon Tester. Sure, this doc is entitled to his opinion, however much he finds the First Amendment objectionable when utilized by the Fourth Estate. But, what exactly he knows about Tester, or Montana, is not apparent in his diatribe. It is just a collection of half-truths, misrepresentations and outright lies.
These docs should stick to practicing medicine, and leave disinformation to the Trump administration. They don’t need your help.
Thank Tester for protecting military families from financial exploitation
Forty-six U.S. representatives, 49 U.S. senators, and 33 state attorneys general, including Democrats, Republicans and independents, signed letters defending the Military Lending Act. The Department of Defense found service members disproportionately subjected to unfair high-cost and predatory lending; Congress passed MLA to combat this with broad bipartisan support. Historically protected by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, oversight of these protections is being suspended under the bureau’s interim leadership, causing harmful and unnecessary financial strain on military families.
As a former U.S. Air Force air traffic controller, I saw lenders prey on military families. Financial distress is the top reason military personnel take their own lives; MLA gave relief to active-duty service members.
According to the letters mentioned above: “Protection of our nation’s service members against financial exploitation is a bedrock tenet of federal consumer financial protection law … protect(ing) those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation’ by providing special protections. MLA protects against exploitative loans charging more than 36 percent interest or including various predatory features.”
I applaud Sen. Jon Tester, his colleagues, and the state attorneys general who urged the bureau to continue protecting military families. Other Montana officials should do better to protect service members and their families.
What cheap Chinese gifts cost us
Hooray! Hooray! It's time to start shopping for another Made-In-China Christmas!
Can't think of any better way to honor the birth of Jesus than by going out and buying lots of Chinese-made goods.
Yeah, I know some of those goods are made by slave labor and most of the rest in conditions close to that. And I know that buying them helps to finance a Red Chinese military build-up and to pay the prison guards who keep those dissenters locked away.
But who cares? All I care about is getting the stuff I want at a cheap price. That's all anybody should care about!
Demand better from elected representatives
This past Election Day, I read a local city council representative’s post on their personal Facebook page in which they wondered why so many people from out of state were down at MetraPark registering to vote. The direct implication was that voter fraud was being committed. We argued back and forth over registration requirements, etc. At the end of it, I called the person out on their choice to make a statement that effectively was not true. I demanded that, if they had proof, they should seek out authorities and make the voter fraud known to them. It is our duty as citizens. If they felt nervous doing so, I would even be glad to alert the authorities for them. All they had to do was let me know. Suffice to say, I was never asked to alert the authorities. I did not see an article or segment on our local news regarding a bunch of out-of-state voters attempting to stuff ballot boxes here in town, so I can guess that nothing came of it.
From Joe or Jane Citizen, the above comment is, if not acceptable, at least understandable. Party lines and willful ignorance I can understand, though I don’t excuse them. From our representatives, however, it should be cause for question. To that end, I implore all our citizens: We have just endured another round of elections and horrible rhetoric; demand that our current batch of representatives rise above the partisanship and do better.
Trump faces vicious resistance
I get it why many don’t like our president. He’s brash, crude, very direct and can be offensive. But we live in difficult times. After eight years of being a laughingstock to the world, supporting Islamic advances everywhere and an abysmal economy, we are in trouble as a nation.
Tough times need tough leaders. In two short years we have a booming economy, North Korea came to the table, Iran has been put in their place and exposed for the paper tiger they are, and we’ve recognized the only sane country in the Middle East, Israel, right to have their capital where they choose. He has cut foreign aid to the United Nations and a few other countries that don’t deserve our support, and he is on the way to rebuilding our military decimated by President Obama.
He’s accomplished all that with one hand tied behind his back. Imagine what he could do if the Democrats and half the Republicans actually cared more about solving America’s problems than they did getting Trump out of office? He has faced the most vicious resistance of any president in our history. He won in spite of the Democratic machine, the money of George Soros and his cronies and the propaganda machine that is our mainstream media today.
People want to heal the divide, the one left by Obama, it’s simple. Grow up, start acting like adults and start working for the good of America, not being hyphenated Americans.
After the election, a new beginning
Hooray! Election Day is finally over. No more offensive nasty commercials. No more name calling.
Congratulations to all the winners. Many thanks for all who ran for an office.
Now with the new Senate and the new House of Representatives, let's hope that it will bring some civility and respect to Washington, D.C., and the United States.
When you watch the news nightly, it is embarrassing to see and hear the lack of respect for each other.
Again, congratulations to all the winners locally, statewide and nationally. We are all looking forward to a new beginning!
LaVon D. Brillhart
Press conference showed disrespect for president
If there is any question in the minds of the American people about the major effect and inclusion of the media on the divisiveness in this country, then that question should have been answered while viewing the White House press conference after the midterm elections. The behavior of the press was like that of a disruptive classroom with people screaming, "Mr. President, Mr. President," in order to be recognized.
While a few intelligent questions were asked, they were followed by those of racist intent and accusatory remarks rather than a question. A CNN reporter would not give up the microphone. It was embarrassing and disgusting.
Although I don't agree with the president that the press is the "enemy of the people," they certainly displayed their true colors with the total disrespect for the president of the United States. Rather than a question-and-answer session to clarify the president's position on certain issues, it appeared more like an angry mob.
I believe in the freedom of the press, however the other protection of the amendment states the right to peaceable assemble. That certainly wasn't the case during this press conference and while the president can often be too vocal he maintained an admirable restraint.
Don't scrap consumer loan protection
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s acting director, Mick Mulvaney, and deputy director Brian Johnson are at it again. When Mulvaney was in Congress he represented one of the largest payday lenders in the country, and took in $62,000 in campaign contributions from them. It makes sense that as acting director he would see to their best interests, and not those of the consumers the agency was created to protect.
In 2017, the consumer bureau issued a rule to protect Americans from predatory payday loans by requiring lenders to make sure borrowers have the ability to repay the loan, taking into account living expenses.
This rule as written would result in fewer families falling into financial ruin. Unfortunately, the bureau announced plans to “reconsider” the “ability-to-repay provisions” of the rule. The rule offers vital protections for payday, car title, and some longer term loan borrowers to keep them out of debt traps. The basis of the rule is common sense, and the consumer bureau should keep it that way.
Is Zinke above the law?
In an Associated Press article published in The Billings Gazette on Oct. 2, 2017, and updated on Oct. 3, 2017, Interior Secretary Zinke, in response to criticism over expensive charter plane flights, says he works hard to "make sure I am above the law and I follow the law."
Since there has been no retraction or correction in the 13 months following that publication one can assume he was quoted accurately. Therefore, we have two diametrically opposed actions in one quote of 12 words.
Still scum to clean up
The election is finally over!
And it looks as though the Democrats have drained the swamp but we still have to clean the scum from the top of the swamp.
Save U.S. family farms
We can’t lose our family farms. In a trade war, they become collateral damage because they don’t have endless resources like Wall Street corporations do.
We must do everything possible to help save our family farms, including lawsuits.
Trump’s market manipulation strategy is costing durum wheat farmers contracts with China and $65 million in sales. Stop the market manipulation!