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.

Five-Minute Commencement Speech

May 28, 2014

 

 

This is the time of year for commencement speeches.  You know, that onerous tradition of making graduates suffer through a speech before handing them their diplomas. 

Few commencement speeches are memorable – my high-school one was, because the speaker was the actress Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”  Nobody really listened to the speech; we were all just waiting for her to say, “I’ll get you, my pretty” – which, of course, she did. 

Prior to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, John Steinbeck decided he was out of touch with America.  He took his French poodle Charley on a cross-country road trip, documenting his adventures in his book, Travels with Charley in Search of America. Steinbeck wrote rapturously of Montana, saying, “…I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love….Montana has a spell on me. It is grandeur and warmth….Of all the states, it is my favorite, and my love….”

 

Farms Have So Much More to Offer

May 22, 2014

I love the change of the seasons. In the Flathead we see the farm fields change from white to brown to black to green; and eventually to many colors of bounty before we go back to brown and start again.

Dealing with a “Speculative and Uncertain” Future

When Planning Electric Supply Acquisitions

Pragmatic Conservation Bills

May 16, 2014

Last fall, my wife and I quit working.  We turned off our cell phones and closed our laptops.  We assembled a stack of good books, a pile of knitting, and packed every piece of wool clothing in the house.  Then, we skipped town. 

We pulled off the interstate at the first opportunity and cruised along the Blackfoot River, running low, cold, and sluggish between its banks in mid-November. We climbed over the Continental Divide and descended onto the high plains that stretch eastward for an eternity. 

Our Public Lands - Not From Our Cold, Dead Hands

May 16, 2014
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

“This land is your land, this land is my land.” In 1944 Woody Guthrie made this song famous as the US struggled to lift itself out of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Today those words epitomize a new battle occurring in the American West...one where misguided lawmakers are embroiled in a bitter battle over the future of our public lands. This is land they see fit to exploit and sell to the highest bidder and, sadly enough, Montana is no exception.

A new survey suggests conservation and national parks are as close to a bipartisan issue as you’re ever going to find in Montana.
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

The most recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change indicates that the greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at an alarming rate, with concentrations the highest they have been in at least 800,000 years.  The thousands of international scientists comprising the panel warn that resulting global warming will severely reduce sea ice and continental ice masses, producing rising sea levels, dramatic changes in ocean alkalinity and modifications of the dominant ocean currents that produce weather.

Mental Health & Older Adults

May 15, 2014

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli Counties.  Because May is Mental Health Month, tonight I want to talk about the importance of maintaining good mental health and seeking appropriate treatment if your mental health is suffering, especially as this subject pertains to older adults.

Medicaid Expansion – Good Jobs, Good Health

May 8, 2014

Seldom, if ever, has such a big win-win proposal been put before the Montana Legislature as the opportunity in 2013 to enact an expansion of Medicaid coverage to thousands of Montanans under the Affordable Care Act.

Producing more than 10,000 jobs while at the same time making Montana and Montanans healthier, the bill was a policy bonanza that should have easily passed the Legislature, but was narrowly defeated based upon political dogma, not facts.

Pride In Our Legal System

May 7, 2014

May 1st was Law Day, America's yearly recognition of and reflection upon the unique role our legal system plays in our democracy. Law Day was first proposed by ABA president Charles S. Rhyne in 1957. It was envisioned as a day to honor our strong heritage of liberty, justice and equality under law. A heritage traced back to the English noblemen who met in May 1215 to prepare the Magna Carta, signed by King John in June 1215.

Coping with a New Cold War in Central Europe: Ukraine and Russia

          Our aging old and bellicose new young cold warriors are rattling their rhetorical sabers and urging that the American military machine rattle loudly some real military equipment to chase the Russians out of Ukraine and end the Russian intimidation of the Ukrainian people.

When people talk about hunger and hunger issues, they often picture a homeless man begging on street corner, and while that’s one face of hunger, it’s not completely representative of everyone hunger impacts.  Hunger and food insecurity impact people of all ages, from all walks of life. Our customers at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank are working families, seniors, college students, and people living on fixed incomes that don’t allow them to meet their basic needs, these are people that are your neighbors, your friends, and fellow community members.

Responsible Coal Development

May 2, 2014

This year’s frigid temperatures have been a stark reminder of the importance of reliable and affordable electricity for families in Montana and across the nation.  For many, the electricity that heats homes and keeps the lights on comes from coal produced in southeast Montana.

Building Bridges from the West to the East

Apr 30, 2014

 

Innovation. It is a concept that is promoted from the world of business and technology to education.

Montana Nonprofits: The Economic Engines That Could

Apr 30, 2014

Montana Nonprofits:  The Economic Engines That Could

The other day, I ran into an old friend at the grocery store.  “Are you still with United Way?” she asked.  “Yes,” I said.  “And is that what you do full-time?” she continued.  I gave her the only answer that came to mind:  “I’m trying to get it down to full time,” I said.

Don’t be fooled by false and inflammatory statements

Apr 29, 2014

I simply have to shake my head at the blatantly false accusations and statements made in the press lately by a few fringe environmentalists concerning Governor Bullock’s priority landscape recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The accusations are so false and so out-of-line that they must be corrected.

Forestry provisions in the Farm Bill are the direct result of several national concerns, fire budgets, fire risk to public safety and infrastructure, lack of management on federal lands, litigation and jobs.

Bystander Intervention

Apr 25, 2014

Imagine you and your friends are out at a bar on a Friday night. When you came in you noticed a woman at the bar sitting alone. Later in the evening, you notice her again, now sitting with a man who keeps moving closer to her and buying her drinks. She looks uncomfortable and keeps moving her chair farther back while looking around the bar. A bit later you notice that she stands up and tries to walk away. He follows her and puts his arm on the wall to talk to her further. It looks like she’s cornered. What do you do?

American Oligarchy

Apr 25, 2014

When asked to name one idea that would change the world, venture capitalist Tom Perkins responded that wealthy Americans who pay more taxes should get more votes.  Pay a million dollars in taxes, get a million votes.  His audience laughed.  But Tom Perkins, a very wealthy man, wasn’t joking.  The sad fact is that, in a certain respect, his wish has already come true.

Swift and Substantial Action on Climate Change

Apr 22, 2014

The International Panel on Climate, or IPCC, released another report on Sunday.  Written by thousands of science, policy, and economic experts, this IPCC report, along with others that have been released in the last year, represent a synthesis of existing climate research knowledge.  The findings in the reports are alarming, and while the report is very detailed in its research the results can be summarized rather easily with four main points.  One, the climate is changing.  Two, carbon pollution is almost certainly responsible for the change.  Three, the environmental, social and economic

New Efforts to Fire Proof Our Forests:  The Initiative Built into the 2014 Farm Bill[1]

Good evening Montana! Matt Elsaesser here with Recycle Montana. Next Tuesday, April 22nd, is Earth Day! Earth Day is a great time to discuss day-to-day opportunities to reduce our impact on the planet and build community. The three Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle are always a great way to start the discussion. Reducing our waste by bringing our own mug to the coffee shop or donating our used household items to a local thrift store is pretty strait forward.

Aging-in-Place Safely

Apr 18, 2014

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties.  Tonight I want to talk about Older Americans Month, which takes place during May, and this year’s theme “Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow.” I will also talk about how this theme ties in with a recent keynote address about aging-in-place which I heard at the Montana Gerontology Society conference.

In Defense of the United States Postal Service

Apr 11, 2014

    A while back Charles Osgood, the host of SUNDAY MORNING, a television news magazine presented on (of all times) Sunday morning, made some remarks about the United States Postal Service which I found uncalled for.  I wrote him a letter and it reads: 

Tax Day

Apr 11, 2014

There’s a story in my family that goes back a few decades.  It’s the kind of story people like to pull out and dust off over the holidays, when everyone is enjoying some cheer and good company.  The story goes something like this:

Living Up to the Legacy

Apr 10, 2014

Twenty years ago, Billings, Montana set a national standard for community rejection of hatred and bigotry.  Almost as one, the community shouted a loud “NO” to ultra-right-wing extremist behavior that was racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

The Northwest United Skinheads and, police believed, elements of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation, were equal opportunity bigots, targeting for abuse and intimidation anything that wasn’t “white, American and Christian.”  Whether you were black, Latino, Indian, Jewish or gay, you were not welcome in their America, or their Billings.

After winning Picture of the Year for his film “12 Years a Slave”, celebrated Director Steve McQueen dedicated his Academy Award to the 21 million people around the world still entrapped in slavery.  To many Montanans, this statement may sound a bit strange, even unbelievable.   It is hard to imagine world where men, women, and children are brutally exploited and trafficked like a commercial property.  Such practices, however, not only exist today but also thrive. 

GM, oh GM, what to do about you? You hid dangerous defects from the public and federal regulators, you determined 57 cents was too high a cost, to you, to fix the problem, and as a result Americans have needlessly died. If it weren't for those pesky family members who lost a loved one seeking accountability from you, and the trial lawyers that represent them, you wouldn't be the butt of late night comedy sketches. But, you have somewhat of an explanation, it wasn't all your fault.

Confusing Politics and Economics in Electric Supply Decisions

Collaboration

Apr 2, 2014

Recently, I was asked to speak about collaboration in the nonprofit world:  what it is, why it’s important; what makes it work and what makes it fail.  That got me thinking. 

As a start, I looked up “collaboration” in the dictionary.  Its two definitions amused me.  Collaboration is first defined as “the act of working together with one or more people in order to achieve something”; and second, as “the betrayal of others by working with an enemy, especially an occupying force.”

Building tall with wood supports rural America

Apr 1, 2014

If cities are serious about tackling climate change, then the solution may be found in building the city of tomorrow to look more like the city of yesterday.  As glass and steel towers continue to rise, wood skyscrapers are likely to start sprouting alongside.  Multi-story and high-rise wood buildings are already planned or rising in Europe and Canada.  They are architecturally distinct, and they are made of the original green building material. 

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