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.

The signs of climate change are all around us.  2012 was the hottest year on record in the country.  Last October Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the nation’s largest city.  And the Southwest is locked in another severe drought this summer.  Here in Montana, it’s hard to travel on any mountain highway and not notice the large swaths of beetle-killed forests, and we had evening fishing closures kick in for a time as early as July this year.  The planet is warming and extreme weather events are becoming more common. 

Assisted living

Aug 7, 2013

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services; the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli Counties. This evening I would like to share some of my perspectives about the issues raised in the recent Frontline episode on public television.  It was called “Life and Death in Assisted Living.” 

Montana’s Extreme Weather

Aug 6, 2013

You know the old saying:  if you don’t like the weather in Montana, just wait five minutes. We’re a state that’s known for its wild weather changes.  But in recent years even our extremes have become extreme.  Our fire seasons start sooner, last longer, burn hotter, and cost more to fight.  Just two years ago the historic floods of 2011 became one of the most expensive natural disasters in state history.  And in the past month alone we’ve seen intense wildfires, and destructive flash floods - both of which have threatened lives and destroyed property.

Food Stamps Work for Montana

Aug 2, 2013

One of these days I am going to get on the radio and talk about how Congress has really put partisan politics aside and gone back to the good ol’ days of legislating - coming together to invest in programs and services that make our families and communities stronger. Well, today is not one of those days. Today, I get to talk about the newest ideological debate - whether we make sure that our neighbors don’t go to bed hungry - today we get to talk about food stamps.

Detroit: Conquering Challenges

Aug 1, 2013

The challenge in Detroit is two-fold: financial and economic.

There are sensible and proven solutions to both challenges.  This country and its leadership need to move beyond dogma and politics to do the right thing for both Detroit and the nation.

The Section 504 Marvel

Jul 31, 2013

It’s strange to me that I know so many parents now who have a child with a debilitating illness.  It’s strange because throughout my own school years, first grade through twelfth, I was aware of only one classmate who was chronically ill.  And over 18 years of teaching high school students, I recall only two with chronic illness.

Regulating Corporate Behavior

Jul 31, 2013

Is Congress doing it's job? Most of us would agree that the answer is no – Congress's approval ratings are at an all time low for good reason. But that doesn't mean they aren't busy.

The House will be voting on 10 bills this week to highlight their headline grabber “Stop Government Abuse Week.” Now, if the name makes you think this might be a renewed effort to rein in the NSA's surveillance program, you'd be wrong. Maybe the name conjures up hope that Congress is looking at how to rein in the TSA before every air traveler is irradiated, no such luck.

The drama and distress of wildfire season is upon us again: Fires sweeping towards homes, families hurriedly evacuating their homes; the constant buzz of fire retardant bombers, water-carrying helicopters, and spotter planes; and exhausted fire-fighters struggling up hill to try to contain a fire while other firefighters stand guard at our homes.

            This drama and distress always raises the question of whether there is something we could have done or should be doing that would better protect us against wildfires.

The Health Care Marketplace

Jul 26, 2013

Beginning on October 1st of this year, just about 2 months away, Montana and the rest of the country will begin a process which will radically change how many people shop for and buy health insurance.

Most people have heard of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, though a survey just a month ago showed that up to 40% of Americans still believe that it has been repealed or is not going to take effect.  This points out the problem of a major new law which many people simply don’t understand.  The ones who could benefit the most are probably the least likely to get it.

A journey of young leaders on global environmental issues

Jul 24, 2013

We represent the group of 20 undergraduate students selected for the Study of the United States Institute   (SUSI) program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, led by Dr. Len Broberg, and hosted by the Mansfield Center of the University of Montana. This is the fourth year that this program has gathered the young and talented future leaders to study about global environmental issues. We all agree that it is a five weeks of brand-new experiences throughout Montana, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

Forestry and the Farm Bill

Jul 23, 2013

As the U.S. House and Senate inched towards a Conference Committee on the farm bill last week, some believe the failure of Congress to pass a farm bill in 2012 (instead passing a nine-month extension), and the current stalemate, illustrates how impotent this policy has become.  Some believed the extension was a gift to the taxpayer, who would have been stuck with paying for potentially exorbitantly expensive insurance, and price support subsidies, while others believed the extension eviscerated a score of important programs.

A New Model for Clean Energy

Jul 22, 2013

Three weeks ago, President Obama laid out his long-awaited plan to address climate change.  As he put it in a speech to college students, “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”  Key components of the President’s plan include limiting carbon pollution from power plants and increasing the production of renewable energy.  This has major implications for electric utilities across the U.S.

Pat Summitt

Jul 22, 2013

For those of you who know me, you know that I am one of the least athletic people you are ever likely to meet.  I don’t have good vision in one eye so I have no depth perception.  I’m not fast or strong.  I’ve long said that my two best sports were bowling and bingo.

Veteran's Viewpoint

Jul 22, 2013

This is Dan Gallagher with Veteran’s Viewpoint.

“To be or not to be…,” Hamlet asked rhetorically.  “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”

Controlling Wildfires: Local versus Global Solutions


Montana’s wildfire season continues to develop slowly, but elsewhere in the American West, the wildfire season started early and violently.  By early June wildfires were raging across Colorado where the Black Forest fire burned 22 square miles and destroyed almost 500 homes, leaving two dead by mid-June. Then at the end of June, in Yarnell, Arizona, 19 “hotshot” firefighters died as a wildfire suddenly surrounded and trapped them.

Climate and Carbon

Jul 12, 2013

Health professionals last month applauded President Obama for making a long-awaited announcement regarding his plans to address carbon pollution and climate change.

By making this announcement, the president put forth a framework for addressing the very real risks to public health posed by our warming climate.

Scientists warn that the buildup of carbon pollution creates warmer temperatures, which increase the risk of unhealthy ozone levels. More ozone, which is also known as smog, means more childhood asthma attacks and more complications for people with lung disease.


Jul 12, 2013

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties.  This month I celebrate 30 years at Missoula Aging Services and 34 years working in the field of aging. Tonight I would like to pay tribute to all the older adults who have served as my mentors and helped shape my personal and professional journey.

CSKT tribal water compact a good deal for Montana

Jul 9, 2013

Never underestimate the ability of fire-breathing propaganda to tie good natural resource policy in knots -- even when the misinformation operates against the very interests it purports to defend.

Good policy is exactly what the proposed water compact between the State of Montana and Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes represents. However, thanks to extremist opponents – and some otherwise reasonable non-tribal irrigators scared by fear mongering -- the Compact, years in the works, was high-centered at the last Montana Legislature, a necessary stop for its ratification.

A federal budget that works for women and families

Jul 8, 2013

The summer of 2013 is shaping up to be anything but slow in the news department. Last week alone, the US Supreme Court issued three huge rulings and the US Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform.

Counterfeit Constitutionalists

Jul 4, 2013

Today our hearts swelled with pride as the Stars & Stripes led our local Fourth of July Parades.  That flag reflects an American reality of which we are rightfully proud.  For, despite its imperfections, we live in a great country, with a remarkable democracy and governmental structure that are the envy of the world – the bedrock of our national identity.  We are a government of, by and for the people.  We are a nation of laws, not of men and their whims and fancies.

Revolutionary Women

Jul 3, 2013

In his book, Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen levels a scathing criticism at the subject of American history as it was taught back when most of us were in high school.  Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to discover America, and his treatment of the New World’s indigenous people is pretty hard to condone.  The Pilgrims were not benefactors to the Indian tribes in Massachusetts; the reverse was the case.   Manifest destiny, slavery, war … all were sugar-coated beyond recognition and peopled by a monolithic parade of white male heroes.

US Supreme Court's Fireworks

Jul 3, 2013

With so many things happening in Montana and across the country affecting the civil justice system, I had a hard time picking a topic for tonight. The U.S. Supreme Court ended it's term in June with a bang. There was the Windsor case striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the Perry case that the Court sidestepped but in effect allowed the nullification of California's Propisition.

Both the proponents and opponents of the Keystone Pipeline were encouraged by President Obama’s recent statement that he would approve that pipeline as long as it did not “exacerbate” greenhouse gas emissions.

My Mom’s Birthday

Jun 26, 2013

Today is my mom’s birthday.  She has been going around her house singing 76 Trombones.  That should give you a clue as to how old she is. My mom and I are lucky to have a close relationship and a very strong friendship.  She and I were together for my first four years of life and then she married my step-dad.  By everyone’s admission, including hers, that was a big mistake.  She was single, 24 years old with a 4 year old child living in Hot Springs Montana and not too many prospects. 

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center of The University of Montana pursues a dual mission:  to foster mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and Asia, as well as to foster ethics in public affairs.  Over the past thirty years, we have developed a number of programs in support of this vision -- always with the spirit of Mike Mansfield as the driving force in our carefully designed programming. 

Nothing is quite as loud as the silence of a sawmill not running.  Unfortunately, the sound of the closure of 28 sawmills in Montana since 1990, and the loss of over 3,200 direct, good paying, mill manufacturing jobs has been deafening.  These closures and job losses are the direct result of the increase in federal timber harvest litigation during that same time.

Finding Wildness at Home

Jun 20, 2013

Could it be that the simple act of planting a native snowberry shrub or quaking aspen in your back yard is more than an expression of decorative taste?  I’m willing to say that it’s actually a simple but highly significant act of conservation that fosters a way of relating to nature that we, and the natural world, could sorely use.  The ecological problems we face now require solutions on a mammoth scale—a paralyzing thought for those who care.  But perhaps before we can achieve the elusive political will to take on these problems, a more personal, psychological change must be nurtured.

Millennials Making Change

Jun 20, 2013

We all hear it, all the time: “The trouble with kids these days is… ” This line is often followed by a string of complaints that detail the sense of entitlement and addiction to Facebook and other social media we often associate with the Millennial Generation.  But what if that’s just not true?  I’ve had the opportunity to work with young people from across Montana and I’m here to tell you:  not only are many of them motivated, intelligent, and selfless— they’re here to make change.

          One important justification for having an armed citizenry is to keep the government from having a monopoly on the means of violence. If the government has that advantage over its citizens, so the logic goes, there is nothing to keep the government from using its armed advantage to displace democracy with authoritarian rule.

Elder Abuse Awareness

Jun 12, 2013

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 raise the unpleasant but important topic of elder abuse.  By defining what it is and giving examples, I hope to increase your awareness of this growing “silent epidemic” and suggest ways we can all help stop its spread.