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.
Trump restored honor to the presidency
I received a post card from “Senor” of Red Lodge.
One side had a picture of Putin and the other side with nonsense, foolish written language pertaining to our latest elected great president, Donald Trump, who is nothing less than a man of integrity, dignity and spirit for the American people, armed forces at home and abroad, and with absolutely no racism in his heart.
Trump’s shocking victory was a great event in history. On Jan. 20, 2017, we bid farewell to an administration of nothing less than a tragedy for the American people, Constitution and abroad, a policy of breaking laws, racism and hatred of our military. An administration that schemed to clear Hillary Clinton and framed our duly elected President Trump, Russian hoax or collusion, all outright lies.
This is the inescapable fact the previous administration was dishonest, unbalance and immoral, sending tax dollars to a country that demonstrates “Death to America.” Unbelievable.
The Obama era did endanger the civil peace and the social fabrics of the U.S.A., simply to satisfy his own appearance and to excite the worst inclinations of his core followers.
Obama, a phony con who did little for his own people — all talk and no action.
Obama’s top officials, the perpetrators, FBI, CIA, Hollywood hypocrites, fake news media and crooked politicians like the Clintons who enriched themselves at the expense of the American people. These swamp rats will be found guilty of their evil and criminal activities.
Let's give the deal maker a deal he can't pass up
Every time the news comes on and he appears, I often start yelling when I hear that loud yelping. If you are like me, you may be suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome or TDS.
It could be triggered by remembering again his 7,000 false statements since he took office, his excessive self-worship, his insults especially toward women and minorities, his attacks on our free press, his total and willful ignorance of even the most basic facts about our Constitution or his slavish adoration of Vlad Putin. He is what the Soviet leader V.I. Lenin called a "useful idiot."
Or perhaps you voted for the big guy and now you have buyer's remorse. I know you're out there. You know he is incompetent and corrupt, but hey, he gave us the Conservative judges he promised and sometimes he says the "best words" to hold me fast like, "Build the wall," or I will destroy the economy."
But wouldn't Mike Pence give the same things to you without all the aggravation? Pence is Conservative, experienced, minimally competent and apparently sane. I don't like Mike Pence. But I love our country more. Let's join together and urge the creation of a bipartisan Congressional coalition that will give him a super-good deal. Resign now, and we promise a full pardon. Just leave. It will be the one and only patriotic thing he will have ever done.
County commission failed to protect community
As citizens living in southwest Billings, we are disappointed in the result of the county commissioner hearing held on Jan. 29. At this meeting, many area residents voiced concerns regarding the proposed gravel pit to be placed at the corner of Wise Lane and Story Road (formerly known as Oscar’s Park).
Among our concerns, is the fact that this proposed mine would exist near the Yellowstone River on a floodplain. We are concerned with how this project might impact the Yellowstone River, and the quality of our water, as the mining could potentially contaminate and/or dry up our wells.
We also worry about road safety, as school bus stops exist in the area. The heavy equipment, associated with the operation of a gravel pit would be passing 150 times a day on Wise Lane, creating a hazard.
Our county commissioners failed us by not placing specific conditions on this potential mine. We understand that they do not have the power to stop the mine, but they do have the power to put conditions on it to protect the citizens of Billings and to preserve its landscape, and they failed to do so. We understand that gravel pits need to exist and operate, but they should not be allowed in existing residential and/or agricultural communities, or near schools or businesses that will suffer once they invade the area. Our health, safety and quality of life are being severely threatened, not to mention how our property values will greatly decrease.
Scott and Julie Prociv
Steve and Marilyn Owen
Rindo and Amy Sironi
We need a wall to protect children, public
We must finish building border barriers for the sake of the children.
Some cartels specialize in opioids. Three hundred Americans per week die because of opioids, 90 percent of which comes across our southern border.
Some cartels specialize in human trafficking, which has millions of child victims. Children are kidnapped from their villages in Central and South America, as well as in the U.S., to become sex slaves. We must build border barriers to keep the drugs out and to keep human-traffickers from abducting the children and turning them into sex slaves.
With border walls, drug traffickers and human traffickers would have to try their luck at the ports of entry, where well-trained, sharp-skilled officers, using high-tech monitoring equipment, are more likely to detect human trafficking.
Obviously, we must build the border barriers to avoid American deaths by criminals who were deported multiple times but sneak back into the U.S.
Some say border barriers are not effective. Border Patrol officers say border barriers are effective. Border patrol officers want border barriers. Border walls work in Israel and in locations in the U.S. where they are built. The effectiveness of border walls seem self-evident. Claims that they don’t work ring hollow.
Who doesn’t want border barriers? Drug cartels and also big employers who want cheap labor. This leads me to wonder if U.S. Senators and Representatives who oppose border barriers are being paid off by drug cartels and big employers.
Margaret S. Smetana
Dems support one wall, but not the other
There seems to be some double-standard thinking going on, mainly among liberal Democrats, when it comes to border walls. President Donald Trump's proposed wall is horrible, according to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and most of their fans. But where is their consternation when it comes to Israel's wall? Now there probably are a few liberal Dems somewhere who have criticized Israel's wall. In general, though, that border wall is fine with them. Let Israelis build a wall to keep out Arabs, but for America to build a wall to keep out Hispanics is just so horribly racist.
No great mystery here. Our liberal Democrats need Israel lobby votes and money more than Republicans do. If they start directing serious criticism toward Israel they can kiss such support goodbye and watch the GOP take over Washington for good.
I don't like either wall, but at least Trump's wall — entirely on the U.S. side of the border — would be legal. Back in 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel's wall was not.
APR disrespected neighbors
Thank you Brett French for your article about the American Prairie Reserve's conference in Lewistown. It is an important issue.
One point that is missing about this event is that APR chose to hold it at exactly the same time as the Montana Winter Fair. This Agricultural Fair has been a Montana tradition for 74 years and has been supported widely by our community and ag producers all over Montana.
To have APR deliberately dishonor that tradition, even after the Winter Fair asked them not to have it at the same time, is part of what erodes any trust I may have regarding the intentions of the APR.
I am willing to hear what APR has to say, but I am not willing to turn my back on my friends and neighbors in the process. APR says they want to be good neighbors. Good neighbors I know would honor a community tradition, not schedule their event at the same time. To put people in a position of having to choose between the APR conference and the Winter Fair event is a disgrace. I am disappointed in the community leaders and businesses who supported the APR conference when they knew it was in direct conflict with the Winter Fair.
If APR holds another conference, and is truly interested in "bringing us together," then I hope that they and the Lewistown community leaders and businesses who support them will look closely at the wedge that the timing of their event put between us.
Don't punish terminally ill patients or their doctors
Montanans place a high value on freedom from government interference in their lives and decisions. Sometimes, this value transcends traditional conservative or liberal points of view, as in the case of medical aid in dying.
Some refer to this inaccurately as "assisted suicide." There is a vast difference between the thoughtful decision a suffering, terminally ill person makes to determine the time and manner of their death, surrounded by family and friends, versus the heartbreaking choice made by suicidal people who end their lives, often violently and always tragically.
As a clinical psychologist and cancer survivor, I bring professional and personal experiences and insights to this discussion. People who are approaching the end of their lives due to terminal illness should be able to end their suffering in a thoughtful, carefully-planned act. Making sure that doctors who provide the option known as medical aid in dying are not punished for helping their dying patients achieve their end-of-life wishes is important.
When life draws to a close, not everyone will be interested in accessing medical aid in dying to end their suffering. But some Montanans will, and we should not deny them, or ultimately, ourselves, this very basic human right. House Bill 284 restricts options at the end of life, punishes doctors and is bad public policy for Montana.
Will Congress lessen the danger to democracy?
Treason is an ugly word. But it's being used, on occasion, in response to actions and comments from members of this administration.
Fresh out of the longest shutdown in history, the president is dangling the possibility of yet another if he doesn't get his way on a "wall." I think the Senate has had about enough and may decide to override if he refuses to sign whatever the bipartisan committee presents to him.
He ordered his treasury secretary to lift sanctions on a Russian oligarch, and the Senate lost the ability to stop him by just two votes.
Just a day after the annual intelligence briefing in the Senate — an event that was televised — he sat in the Oval Office telling bald-faced lies to reporters regarding the public testimony of his top intelligence chiefs. We all heard what they had to say regarding North Korea, Iran and Isis. Yet he insisted that he had "spoken to them, and they said their testimony was taken out of context and misreported and was ‘fake news!’” He insists that he is right (this from a man who can't pay attention long enough to sit through intelligence briefings) and they are wrong. This gaslighting is just the latest thing in this wannabe dictator's history of untrue statements and bad policy decisions.
As more of his cohorts are arrested and charged with lying about their interactions with Russia, maybe the pressure of worrying about what shoe is about to drop next — on either his family or himself — is getting to him. Even Fox News is beginning to show reluctance when it comes to airing some of his most outrageous claims. I don't know why he has allegiance to Russia, an enemy of long standing, but I fervently hope that our Congress — both houses — works to minimize the danger he poses to our democracy.
Before 2020, get the facts on health care
Forty-six percent of adults report they have not heard of a health policy proposal called "Medicare for All," according to researchers at the University of Chicago.
Forty percent say they’ve heard some talk about Medicare for All, and 13 percent say they have heard a lot about it. The idea has come to mean different things to different people. When politicians talk about Medicare for All, they don’t define the specific parameters of health policy they support. The policy is poorly understood, particularly about costs and funding, since there has been at least seven different bills introduced in Congress to expand Medicare coverage in the last three years. Consequently, “Medicare for All” is a term that means something different to everyone.
That’s why it’s hard for the public to understand how it would work. Two common questions are, “Who is eligible, and would it be optional or mandatory?” When asked about concerns, the two main questions were about out-of-pocket costs and what benefits are covered. Forty-nine percent of people believe it would reduce patient costs and 44 percent believe it would increase costs. Washington Rep. Pramela Jayapal, Chairperson of the Rules and Budget Committee in Congress, has been designated as the lead person advocating for HR-676, Expanded and improved Medicare for All policy legislatively. Since health care is one of the leading policy concerns for the upcoming 2020 election, it is imperative that American citizens become more familiar with, and more conversant about health care reform.
The ACA has proven to be good for millions of Americans, but not the best we can do in policy. Urgently, it is time now for Americans to put on their learning hats and upgrade their knowledge about this important socio-economic phenomenon called health policy.
Richard A. Damon, MD
Corporations are not people
Some legislators oppose a constitutional amendment that says, “Corporations are not people and money is not speech.” They claim it restricts freedom of speech. They are misinformed. That amendment preserves our right.
It restores speech, restores Wyoming’s democracy guaranteed by the Constitution (“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government”) and restores the Wyoming Constitution, “In their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.”
That is pretty clear.
It goes further. “Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free state, and shall not be allowed. Corporations being creatures of the state, endowed for the public good with a portion of its sovereign powers, must be subject to its control.”
Some raise another objection. “Corporations are made up of people.”
No, corporations are made up of money, not people — some investment is from people — some from corporations, some from foreign sources.
The purpose of corporations, and their public value, is removing risk from investors. If corporations break the law or go bankrupt, their investors are not responsible. Consequently, no investor is morally or legally responsible for corporate actions.
That makes corporations amoral — no conscience, no loyalty, no feelings. They are not human beings and need outside regulation; must “be subject to (state) control” for the “public good.”
If your needs are ignored because of money’s political influence, tell your state representatives to support HJ8 — because money is not speech!
We're lucky to have Larry Mayer
The beautiful picture on the front page of today’s (Feb. 1) Gazette stimulated me to comment that The Gazette and its readers are blessed to have Larry Mayer on staff.
Edwin L. Stickney, MD
Boy Scout fine with girls in the ranks
Hi, everyone. I am a scout of Troop 23 in Billings, Montana. One of our many merit badges requires us to write to the editor of our local newspaper about a subject of our choice (preferably about Scouts). I chose to talk about the new rule allowing girls to join Boy Scouts. I personally am fine with girls joining Boy Scouts. However, I have many friends in scouting that are against it quite a bit.
A point that they bring up a lot is that it is called Boy Scouts, and that girls can just join Girl Scouts. Well “Boy Scouts” is just a name, in fact we have been told that we now should just call it Scouts and remove the boy part.
A good point I have been told supporting the change is that Boy Scouts have a prestigious rank called Eagle Scout. Once you turn 18 in Boy Scouts, you are still a scout as long as you have earned the rank Eagle Scout and you continue to be an Eagle Scout for the rest of your life. In Girl Scouts, there isn't really any rank to match up to the rank Eagle Scout. The only one requires you to make a global impact on the world, which is a lot harder to do than earning Eagle Scout, but it’s unfortunately less respected.
This is still a very controversial topic that a 12-year-old like me can't really grasp. Thanks for reading!
Lawmakers want to punish people for being poor
The mean, cruel, ill-begotten, judgmental stance to penalize our most needy Montanans by requiring drug testing and employment for people to get insurance should not be a part of much-needed health care coverage.
Sen. Scott Sales' chauvinistic statement, “get a good job and buy insurance” begs the question: Who is going to do the full-time jobs required to keep our communities running that do not pay enough? How can people get jobs paying $75,000 or more without a high level of education which many cannot afford? Repeating and supporting this arrogant, narrow-minded attitude is out of touch with reality. It is easy to be judgmental. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Montanans who suffer from PTSD or are physically handicapped and cannot work are among those who should not be punished as they seek medical care. People may be using medical marijuana to control their pain, but they will not be able to work or pass a drug test. People who have been injured and are trying to get back to work comprise another group which will be penalized by this irresponsible, punitive legislation.
Legislators are elected not to figure out who they can hurt, but who they can help be productive. Punitive legislation is a form of intolerance and hate.
Please encourage legislators to keep Medicaid requirements as they are.
C-PACE would allow commercial, non-profits to invest in energy efficiency
Editor, thank you for the Jan. 28 editorial reminding us of the benefits School District 2 has realized from its investments in energy efficiencies during the past 10 years. While solar panels are visible and sexy, they make little sense unless the power is used as efficiently as possible.
Commercial properties, churches and other non-profits can realize the same benefits from energy efficiency retrofits, reducing energy bills and leaving more revenue to fulfill their missions and business goals. One obstacle is finding the upfront money to make these investments.
A bill soon to be introduced into the Legislature, named Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy and currently numbered LC 1835, would make no-money-down financing available from private lenders for commercial properties and non-profits. The loans would create a lien on the property to be paid back through a property assessment. The repayments are structured so that the payments are always less than the savings, creating a positive cash flow from the first month. Counties, which participate voluntarily, distribute the payments to lenders, as just another account paid by property taxes, similar to accounts for sidewalks and parks.
PACE makes this option available for counties and property owners to use, if they wish. No coercion or public money is involved. The benefits include economic development, contractor jobs, decreased operating expenses, higher wages, lower rents, more comfortable buildings.
Montana needs better trapping laws
The purpose of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ Best Management Practices Program is evaluating trapping devices, techniques and educating those who use traps about the most humane, safe, selective, efficient and practical devices. According to the AFWA, trappers should check their traps at least once every day.
The American Society of Mammalogists Guidelines state, “Snares or foot-hold traps should be checked at least daily, but more frequent depending upon target species, the potential for capture of nontarget species, and environmental conditions. Frequent checking of traps is the most effective means of minimizing mortality or injury to animals in live traps."
Montana has no mandatory trap check time. Only bobcat trap sets in designated lynx protection zones and traps set for wolves require checking every 48 hours. An average annual 55,000 wildlife reported trapped can linger trapped for days, even weeks, injured, exposed to the elements, at risk of frostbite and predation.
"The longer that animal is in a trap, the more likely you have foot injury, shoulder sprains, vascular damage, neural damage,” said Carter Niemeyer, a retired wildlife biologist.
Thirty-six states have 24-hour/daily trap checks in their trapping regulations. Montana needs to evolve. House Bill 287 requires daily trap checks and allows for exceptions if a trapper cannot tend to the traps. HB-287 helps end prolonged suffering of trapped animals and gives the trap released non-targets, for instance, raptors, mountain lions, grizzly, deer, lynx and beloved dogs a better chance to survive. No surprise, trapping is a bipartisan issue.
The wall is just a temper tantrum
Let’s be clear, President Donald Trump’s “wall” was never a serious budget or policy proposal. It was an election prop so that a race-baiting populist could make the point that brown people from the south, along with Muslims from the Middle East and blacks from “s*hole countries” in Africa, are the problem for aggrieved Americans, not globalization and the nation’s failure to deal adequately with its effects on workers.
The Trump decision to shutter much of government in a fit of pique can be best described as unnecessary, irresponsible, unconscionable and incompetent. Republicans in Congress, sadly including our own Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte, proved themselves equally irresponsible in condoning Trump’s egregious, improper behavior.
The shutdown was never a debate about border security. Most Americans strongly favor border security. Most do not favor Trump’s wall, and an even greater majority do not consider the wall any reason to shut down the government. This is all about Trump playing to the bottom feeders in his base at the expense of hardship for millions of Americans and long-term damage to the nation.
Experts agree that barriers in some locations, together with increased staffing and modern technology, represent the best solution to border security. Perhaps the current conference committee will actually debate border security and find some common ground. But they will have to ignore an uninformed, irrational president to do so.
Lawmakers should work harder for benefits
I noticed where the Republican proposal to renew Medicaid expansion was to include the requirement that recipients work or volunteer an average of 20 hours per week. I am just curious if they will introduce a similar requirement for legislators who take government funded health care?
Given that legislators work for 90 days every two years, that works out to an average of five hours per week for their two years of health care benefits. Now I know that some do have public meetings, but most legislators who aren't retired are able to hold full-time jobs for the 21 months they aren't in session, which leads me to believe they aren't spending very much time on state business outside of session. If tax dollars are funding health care, it shouldn't matter whether it’s a poor person or a legislator, the rules should be the same.
How do you know Ozzy wasn't devouring the losers?
I read the story of Ozzy, the 5-1 grizzly bear who eats the cake and predicts the Super Bowl winner with interest. How do you know he is not predicting the loser (eating them) and is actually 1-5?
Santa Fe, N.M.
A government for moral and religious people
Government in charge of way too much. Where is the USA in which I was raised?
Just after he and his colleagues had hammered out an agreement on the U.S. Constitution, a woman came up to Benjamin Franklin and asked, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"
He answered, "A republic, Madam, if you can keep it."
And that has been the question ever since. Can we keep it?
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French aristocrat who traveled extensively in the United States as he studied American democracy in the 1830s. As an aristocrat, he feared the volatility of a government vulnerable to the whims of the masses. He was also a religious skeptic. But in America, he found a force that calmed democracy's inherent instability. That steadying influence was Christianity. He called America's religious faith, "the great counterbalancing force to the instability and tyranny of democracy."
His words remind me of John Adams' famous quote on the same topic. "We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
SD2 filters promote ignorance
As a high school student, I am adamantly opposed to the new internet filters introduced by School District 2.
Although some of these limitations are reasonable, many of them infringe on our fundamental rights as students to freely access information. I am currently a senior and during the past four years I have had an incredible education at West High. Many classes have required me and other students to delve into international issues and develop informed opinions. We are asked to learn with open minds, engage in intellectual discussions, and understand each other’s perspectives, despite our inevitable disagreements. These essential strengths can only be taught from exposure to sometimes uncomfortable information, and it is disheartening that the recent censorship efforts will prohibit future students from learning these life skills.
Without access to information about “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles” and “Religion/Beliefs,” the school district is creating a future of intolerant citizens. With restrictions placed on “Alcohol,” “Illicit Drugs,” “Crime/Terrorism,” and “Guns & Weapons,” students will not learn about risks of substances or about significant events, including 9/11 and school shootings. Censorship leads to ignorance, and I ask that we, as a community, encourage the school district to remove the unreasonable blockades. A sheltered education is an extreme disservice to students and to the future of our world.
TSA workers thank the public
On behalf of TSA employees statewide, I want to express my appreciation to people in communities across Montana who showed incredible generosity and concern during the recent partial government shutdown. Your kind words supplemented by donations motivated our workforce and allowed us to stay focused on our mission to keep the traveling public safe and secure during this uncertain time.
I cannot overstate the impact of the community’s donations. You delivered food and refreshments directly to the breakrooms, provided gift cards to help defray the cost of day-to-day needs and worked with the airport community in Billings to ensure that our employees were well taken care of. Perhaps most importantly, through your words and actions, you recognized the critical role TSA plays in securing our nation’s transportation system.
Looking ahead, we will always remember the encouragement and support we received from you. Thank you for coming together to support the Montana TSA team in Billings.
Federal Security for Montana
Transportation Security Administration
Dems would do well to consider Bullock
As a Republican I seldom agree with Gov. Steve Bullock but his recent admittance of a mistake he made compels me to praise him because of a righteous unselfish act that few men in public office do these days. It involved a former staff member who, though he has an unblemished record while serving the Bullock administration in Montana, committed sexual harassment acts while working in New York and at the Democratic Governors Association.
Bullock said he was naive and wrong for not informing the New York mayor about the problems of the former aid, Kevin O’Brien had while at the DGA. Bullock was head of the DGA at the time O’Brien was fired and the governor admitted he was wrong for not alerting New York Mayor Bill De Blaiso about O’Brien.
“By terminating him at the DGA, we took appropriate steps,” Bullock said. “I felt sick at the realization I hadn’t done enough. Looking backward, I was wrong...”
That’s a man of integrity speaking. I applaud the governor and long for the day other public officials have the fortitude to confess their wrongdoings and mistakes. Democrats would do well to consider Gov. Bullock for a presidential run in 2020.
One Big Sky is just too risky
Hammes/Landmark LLC, is both conducting the feasibility studies and would also be the developer of One Big Sky District. More than $500,000 of taxpayer-generated funds, meant for this “study,” are also being used to lobby our elected officials and the public on the need for this $2.5 billion joint business venture. This is an egregious conflict of interests.
Professor Heywood Sanders in his exhaustive book, “Convention Center Follies,” destroys the notion that convention centers contribute to urban economic development. Instead, he describes how convention centers are promoted, but fail to deliver on their promised benefits, showing how forecasts have been manipulated and proven false.
“Only a tiny handful of convention centers in the U.S. actually make an operating profit.” And, “some lose humongous amounts of money.”
Our county commissioners have told us that taxpayers are currently subsidizing MetraPark and that a new convention center such as OBSD would compete directly with this venue. Will taxpayers now be required to fund and subsidize both MetraPark and OBSD, and by extension downtown businesses?
The IMF is warning that another global recession is looming by 2020, and that governments and financial institutions are not properly prepared. It would therefore be prudent to limit risky and questionable multi-billion dollar ventures that are not based on either sound economic principles or sound business practices.
Please contact your representatives to let them know that OBSD is way too risky, too dangerous, and will be an unnecessary burden for our city and its residents.
Red Lodge support sends a powerful message
Red Lodge High supporting Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples was powerful for me. A grand thank you to Red Lodge High for their support.
It's a huge win to gain a sense of solidarity with white locals for two reasons. First, perhaps this is the start of a cowboys and Indians reconciliation period where we can heal historical trauma and improve race relations. Secondly, maybe we as united Montanans can finally work together to resolve the systemic racism which enables part of MMIP.
A contributing factor to MMIP is poor race relations between indigenous and white people. Each race copes with its own set of struggles; however, indigenous people cope with a statistically proven higher frequency of disparities proliferated by reservation jurisdiction issues which are held in place by systemic racism.
Indigenous people need white advocates holding legislators accountable and tasking them to work towards solutions to fix these centuries old jurisdiction issues. Reservation law enforcement agencies have botched MMIP investigations for decades and their efficacy on reservation is unacceptably substandard.
MMIP is a symptom of systemic racism that affects Billings in various ways like chronic inebriation, the foster care system, overcrowded jails, etc. A person may not be racist, but systemic racism affects us all. If we want to avoid increased costs like a safety mill levy, we have to work together to address the many issues that cause MMIP.
It's a challenge, but Red Lodge lifted my spirits. There's hope for healing and reconciliation yet.
We shouldn't debate the 'defect'
My name is Rich Palm, and I have been a Special Olympics golf coach for the last seven years. I am not that politically motivated, but I have learned of initiatives in other states that actually put up for "debate" the living or dying of babies that have some sort of "defect." I am thankful that this didn't happen to Joey, Garrison, Josh, Josh, Paul, Chandra, Jake, Lee Ray, John, Shauna, Austin, Chris, TJ, Ben, Blaine, Jason and Brian. They give so much joy to others!
Fox's energy policy is dangerous
Last week gubernatorial candidate Tim Fox called for an "all of the above" energy policy. While this sounds nice, it's little more than the way political elite kowtow to the oil, gas and coal industries.
Those industries pay good money to get politicians to say things like that, because that sort of energy policy gives them free reign to keep digging up and burning fossil fuels. But recent events around the American West clearly demonstrate that we don't have any more time for "all of the above" energy. Last year, entire towns in California were destroyed in wildfires, leaving tens of thousands homeless. Those Americans are now climate refugees, forced from their homes by the increase in intense climatic events that comes part and parcel with human-caused climate change. If we continue burning more and more fossil fuels, it's only a matter of time before that kind of catastrophe happens in Montana, and significant numbers in our state are left to find new lives amid the charred ruins of their homes.
Is that what Tim Fox wants? It's certainly a clear consequence of his energy policy.
The Constitution does what the NDO would do
I would like to thank John Odermott for his response to my letter regarding the lack of need for a nondiscrimination ordinance in Billings (The Billings Gazette, Jan. 27, 2019).
His letter supports my point, not his.
He recalls “last winter’s episodes of anti-Semitic and homophobic vandalism…” He seems to have forgotten that Billings rose up against those acts; that the newspaper soundly excoriated the bad actors and that the police actively sought the perpetrators. Here’s the point: It is already illegal to discriminate in these ways. There is no need for a new law. There is no need for a special class of citizens.
I notice that the original plea for a nondiscrimination ordinance did not mention Jews. They are already protected under the Constitution. But if the goal is to create a list, in law, of everyone that is protected then the Jews must be listed. If the Jews are listed, then the Muslims must be listed. If the Muslims are listed, then the Lutherans must be listed. If the Lutherans are listed, then the Catholics must be listed. When writing law this quickly becomes absurd.
If the LGBTs are in the list of specially classed citizens, who has been left out? Which gender or sexual orientation will feel offended and sue the city for not representing them as a special class? I am simply arguing for laws of common sense. The Constitution already prohibits discrimination against sex, and religion. Mr. Odermott has reminded us that Billings readily agrees.
Opinion piece ignored the reality of abortion
I was pleased to see that the author of your Gazette Opinion in today's paper (Jan. 27, 2019) believes that a pregnant woman is actually carrying a baby in her womb. Science, using DNA evidence, clearly proves this is a unique human baby. The author states that the baby's life is affected by the mother's behavior even before it is born: "Exposed to alcohol, meth, opioids and other drugs in utero is another major risk factor for Montana babies."
However, the author did not realize that by stating the fact that the mother was carrying a Montana baby, it made the introductory statement incorrect. The leading cause of death for Montana children under the age of one is not "unsafe sleeping," as was stated in the first sentence. Since the mother is carrying a human baby, whose life is too often ended by an abortion, the leading cause of death for Montana children under the age of one is abortion. It is sad that we don't believe the truth of science in this regard. Thus we continue to allow the killing of our own Montana babies.
Quoting Judge Katherine Curtis from the article: "We identified really young children as the most vulnerable and most likely to suffer fatality or near fatality from child abuse." There are no babies more vulnerable than those in the womb, and no child abuse more fatal to them than an abortion. Yet, sadly, we allow abortions to continue!
It's time for the state to bond
Recent press stated, “Some Republican lawmakers have said they are reluctant to go into debt to pay for infrastructure.”
Traditionally, local, state and national governments have used borrowing to cover critical needs greater than their annual revenues can meet. Whether through issuing bonds or through government loans, governments have incurred debt over time to meet long-term infrastructure needs. We use longer-term debt to make needed purchases affordable. The key consideration is whether the repayment period is consistent with the expected life of the asset we are borrowing for and whether the financing cost is reasonable.
By those standards, the investment in infrastructure proposed by Gov. Steve Bullock is more than reasonable. The governor’s infrastructure budget provides an opportunity for Montanans to invest in themselves and their communities, schools, the university system, our historical society and other needed public facilities. These investments would enhance the quality of life in our communities and increase our economic competitiveness in a national and world economy. Rejecting affordable debt that would allow us to address critical long-term infrastructure needs would be truly “penny wise and pound foolish.” Those needs are not going away and will only be more costly tomorrow.
Remember: Call your leaders
What can we do when the majority of the population favors the opposite of what a minority are calling for? (“Simple solutions,” by Bob Schulze, The Billings Gazette, Jan. 25, 2019.)
Call, write or visit those who represent you and talk to them. That worked recently when constituents asked their representatives to sign a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for America’s continued leadership in supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. One hundred thirty six members of the House from both parties signed this letter, and no wonder, the Global Fund has saved more than 27 million lives in the previous 16 years. Continued support now protects us locally by battling these three pandemics globally and is on the path to control these diseases. So take the time to speak up and help create a safer country and more prosperous world.
Daines, Gianforte favor cement over technology
Clearly, Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianoforte have forgotten each were lauded as "technology scientists." They have chosen cement and steel over technology, including artificial intelligence, to provide border security. In the process each has ceded advances in artificial intelligence to the Chinese and ceded thousands of acres of land to Mexico. Instead of Mexico paying for the wall, Mexico is being given acres of valuable land, taken from American ranchers, farmers and private preserves.
Take the Trump-style wall that has begun to be built through the National Butterfly Center in Texas. To quote to a House Committee: “If our portion of wall (across National Butterfly Center) is allowed to proceed, President Trump will be effectively ceding a portion of the U.S. to Mexico … doing what General Santa Ana was never able to do,” said Center Manager Treviño-Wright, telling the members of the committee. “When did the U.S. government get in the business of giving away the United States of America?”
Not only giving away 70 percent of the NBC to Mexico, but destroying a significant source of tourism income for Americans, and destroying prime butterfly habitat. Mexico gains both income and habitat.
Any foreigner who wants a child to be born in the U.S., thus the child becoming a U.S. citizen, will now have a swath of U.S. territory beyond the wall upon which to give birth amongst the butterflies.
That would not happen if the Trump wall were converted to a barrier of artificial intelligence.
John Bowen Hollow