MTPR

Opinion

Commentary from a variety of Montana citizens expressing a range of viewpoints.

Views expressed by the commentators do not necessarily reflect the views of this station.

Commentary: Fight For What Really Matters

Jul 3, 2017

Too often, policy debates in Washington, D.C. devolve into partisan fistfights. Each side becomes so focused on landing a punch that they forget why they climbed into the ring in the first place.

Just a few years ago, one in five Montanans did not have access to health insurance, and people couldn’t afford to get sick.

Montana’s two U.S. Senators are split on the vote to confirm or not confirm Neil Gorsuch as the next lifetime member of the US Supreme Court. Senior Senator Jon Tester has decided to vote against confirmation, citing Gorsuch’s propensity to judge cases in a way that empowers corporations over individuals. 

A Congressional death in 1945 and a federal judgeship appointment in 1969 triggered two Montana special Congressional elections like the one we have scheduled for May 23, now that Rep. Ryan Zinke has been sworn in as Interior Secretary.

The death of a congressman in 1945 and a federal judgeship appointment in 1969 triggered Montana's two previous special congressional elections like the one we’ll have in 2017 once Rep. Ryan Zinke is sworn in as Interior Secretary.

An Open Letter to the President-elect:

Perhaps we can help you bring us together on the most important issue facing humankind. More than 97% of climate scientists have given you a flying start. They've proven that global warming is real, and we are causing it by burning too much fossil fuel.

My commentaries try to call for a common sense perspective in our government and politics.  While I approach things from a progressive or liberal bent, in my comments I try to bring facts and reason to bear.  In that vein, I believe the impact of Montana’s current medical marijuana legal situation on over 12,000 patients calls for the immediate application of some common sense from our state courts.

'Feelin' The Bern' Or Nixon Redux

Apr 29, 2016

I respect all who are “feelin’ the Bern.” Bernie Sanders has best articulated the challenges of the economically repressed American middle-class, helping many, including Hillary Clinton, find our voices about how badly the economic playing field is tilted to the advantage of the uber-rich and giant corporations and needs to be changed.

Montana Democratic Party Rules Increase Fairness

Apr 29, 2016

I am an active Democrat. I know little about how Montana Republicans select the delegates to their national presidential convention, but do understand the Montana Democratic Party approach.

History Says Keep An Eye On Federal Coal Payments

Apr 5, 2016

The Department of Interior recently announced a comprehensive review of federal coal leasing and a pause in most new leases. This has been done twice before during the Nixon and Reagan Administrations. Then, like now, those reviews and moratoria arose from concerns the public was being denied a fair return on the coal it owns. Seems like every time the system is fixed, it turns up broken again, leaving taxpayers on the short end of full and fair payment from the coal companies profiting from the people’s resources. How could that keep happening?

Who’s In Charge: The 'People' Or The One Percent?

Feb 29, 2016

“The people,” said a farmer’s wife in a Minnesota country store while her husband was buying a new post-hole digger, “The people,” she went on, “will stick around a long time. “The people run the works, only they don’t know it yet – you wait and see.”

Carl Sandberg in “The People, Yes” (1936) 

Opinion: Protecting People And The Environment

Feb 11, 2016

Republican/Tea Party political mantra includes phrases like “government is the problem,” “any business regulation is bad,” and we just need to “trust the marketplace” and the companies that inhabit it.

In an unusual nexus, Donald Trump’s latest excess against “Muslims,” a religion of 1.6 billion humans -- 23% of global population, coincides with the Christian season of Advent. The nexus is that on the tube we each can see two radically different versions of America. One view can be found by watching the political news, dominated by the face of Donald Trump, while the other view can be seen by viewing a presentation of the movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which runs every Christmas season.

The Montana Conservation Ethic

Dec 2, 2015

The Clean Power Plan is designed to reduce Montana’s contribution to the carbon pollution now affecting our climate and every person on earth. The steady flow of scientific verification along with daily weather reports demand action and political acknowledgement of a reality that must be addressed.

Is America About Doors Or Walls, Fear Or Hope?

Dec 2, 2015

Here on Thanksgiving Day my thoughts go to my family, which is like the face of America. My Catholic father was mostly Irish with a little Scottish, Welsh and English thrown in. My mother was Jewish with ancestors from Germany, Russia, Poland, Austria and England. One of my six brothers is married to a wonderful lady from Mexico. Their daughter is married to a Moroccan. One of my daughters married an African American. One of my brothers is gay and his partner is from Mexico. Our family includes a Native American and several Asian-Americans. We include Jews, Christians and Muslims. Parents and siblings, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, we are certainly part of that great jumble of differentness that is humanity – that is America.

Dorothy Eck: Building Bridges, Not Playing Bridge

Sep 28, 2015

Bozeman’s Dorothy Eck, 91, is the Grand Dame of Montana government and politics who is being recognized and honored at a dinner September 11. Over the years I have been privileged to work with Dorothy as a leader of the Montana League of Women Voters, a Constitutional Convention delegate & officer, and a 20-year State Senator. Dorothy Eck has been a mentor for many and an inspiration to us all, testimony that one person can really make a difference.

Dan Harrington: Mensch Who Made A Difference

Sep 28, 2015

I have been siting before my computer, hands above the keyboard, trying to start one of my regular commentaries. There were so many tempting topics to choose from. The Montana GOP effort to force citizens to publicly register their political party preference. The unique combination of Cry-baby and Bully that makes up Donald Trump. The Pope telling the U.S. Congress to deal the human causes of global climate change. And more.

Opinion: History Bodes Well for Bullock Reelection

Aug 27, 2015

Analyzing historical electoral patterns may seem like an exercise for the back rooms of a university political science department.  But active practitioners in the political arena dive into history to find patterns that are indicative, if not predictive, of what might happen in current and future election cycles. 

John Whalen Remembered

Jun 17, 2015

Teachers, all teachers, but especially gifted teachers, shape lives on an individual basis, one student at a time, one day at a time.

Fatal Gaps In Montana Background Check Laws

Jun 9, 2015

We're home from the whirlwind of the 64th legislative session. Thanks to rolling up our sleeves and committing to bipartisan work, there were huge wins for the people of the State of Montana: Medicaid expansion, the water compact, and campaign finance reform. I saw the passage of seven of my own bills. However, despite legislative victories, Montanans need to urgently pay attention to a bill that didn't pass.

Montana Style: The Koch Bros. & Talking Cows

Jun 8, 2015

As I stood in the State Capitol rotunda on April 29 and watched Governor Steve Bullock sign the expansion of Medicaid, I was proud of our state and its people.  Sure, I went to watch because I had written three columns about the issue over the previous year.  I went because the signing symbolized the triumph of moderation and compromise over ideology, partisanship and extremism. 

I went because good policy for people was trumping soiled politics.  I went because I wanted to celebrate Montana saying NO once again to out-of-state moneyed interests who were trying to dictate policy to the people of Montana, but came up short.

Once again, for the third time, the Montana GOP has trotted out a plan to break and cap the Coal Tax Trust Fund that has been one of Montana’s biggest financial and policy success stories. In this attempt to steal your savings, they have demonstrated their lack of prudent money management skills and their propensity for trying to turn your savings account into their political slush fund, with no respect for the visionaries of the past who figured out how to protect our children and grandchildren's future.

Commentary: Politics Or Prudent Money Management?

Mar 3, 2015

Here are some givens, some just plain facts. Public infrastructure investments are for the long-term, they serve both now and future generations. Also, public infrastructure is public: Montana’s citizens (and businesses) enjoy the benefits of having backbone infrastructure in place that is not the obligation of private companies. And because of those facts, public infrastructure is normally funded (totally or partially) through long-term bonding (borrowing) so that those folks who use infrastructure into the future help pay for the infrastructure they are using.

Martin Luther King And Montana Medicaid Expansion

Feb 11, 2015

As we recently celebrated Martin Luther King, we were not just celebrating the actual impact of the man but also his inspiring vision of an equal America. That vision was an America of racial equality but also an America of economic justice. Martin Luther King saw the two as inextricably intertwined.

Consider his emphasis in the weeks before he was assassinated in 1968, when he spoke eloquently of two Americas.

Speaking Up

Nov 14, 2014

This is my last commentary for Montana Public Radio. I know they need this time for news, but I’ll miss being one of the public voices on Montana Public Radio.

So what’s on my mind as I sing my radio swan song? The election is over, thank heavens. I’m moving on to focus on the upcoming legislative sessions, both in Helena and in DC.

Honoring Mike Mansfield’s Legacy of Leadership

Nov 13, 2014

Hello, I’m Deena Mansour, Associate Director of the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. For several years, we’ve had the honor and the pleasure of engaging directly with you through our monthly commentaries.  As I deliver this final commentary on behalf of our Center, I reflect on who we are, and how we can best serve the people of Montana.

Going Forward

Nov 7, 2014

Montanans love rivers.  We float them, fish them; we hike and drive next to them.  We just watch them go by.  And sometimes we toss stones into them.

Imparted Montana Values And The Election

Oct 23, 2014

Yesterday would've been my father's 95th birthday. On Monday, my mother will be celebrating her 95th with all six of her sons and some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with her.

Last month seven former Montana Supreme Court justices had an opinion piece published in the Missoulian. The title of the piece was Will Montana Judges Be For Sale?

Twenty five years ago Senator Mike Mansfield said, “We are living in a fast changing world.

You are living in a world that is shrinking, the globe is becoming a neighborhood. It’s going to shrink further still. We’re going to become closer neighbors still. We are going to have to understand each other better.”

Suggestions for Civility

Oct 15, 2014

Lately I’ve been thinking about civility.  Or the lack of it.  I know – what a quaint notion in the 21st Century; the thought that – even in an election year – we can discuss important, provocative and even divisive issues with civility and mutual respect.  It sounds so…archaic.

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