LETTERS, published Jan. 10, 2017

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•Zinke — Leader or lapdog?

Rep. Ryan Zinke — soon to be secretary of the interior — tells us that he’s a Teddy Roosevelt Republican and believes in the conservation viewpoint of that famous former president. However, it’s not clear at all that such statements go beyond throw-away soundbites — designed to sound good on the campaign trail, but without substance or reality.

Teddy Roosevelt (TR) was a reform-minded Republican who regularly locked horns with a party totally in bed with big business and corporate monopolies. To his party’s consternation, TR advocated justice for all regardless of wealth or connections. In his first annual address he called for laws to end abuses by industrial conglomerates.

Along the way, he established the national Forest Service and set up forest reserves in six Western states; established Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation; encouraged state/federal cooperation to protect the nation’s natural resources; and signed the National Monuments Act allowing presidents to protect lands with significant natural attributes — a law loathed by Republicans to this day because it prevents them and their corporate cronies from pillaging public lands for private profit.

In contrast, Rep. Zinke has mindlessly followed the conservative party line on public lands in nearly all cases, showing not even a hint of the firm conservation ethic that TR made a cornerstone of his presidency.

Zinke supports dramatic increases in public lands logging, not based on science, economics, or need, but on political expediency. He’s a big supporter of ramped-up coal mining, even though much of it will end up in communist Chinese power plants with few environmental protections. They get the power, we get the pollution. He’s a big backer of the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring Alberta tar sands — the dirtiest fuel on earth — down through the U.S., providing few American jobs, and no energy independence since most is headed overseas to foul the entire planet’s air. And unlike Roosevelt, who was a champion for wildlife, Zinke has voted to remove protection from lynx, sage grouse, and wolves, and is a backer of prematurely delisting grizzlies — all based on party-line politics rather than science.

Now I suppose it’s possible that Zinke will follow TR’s lead, stiffen his spine, and stand up for American public lands and wildlife, but since he’s hitched his future and his ego to a Trump administration chock full of environmental “Darth Vaders,” that seems unlikely. While we all hope a Secretary Zinke will be a conservation leader at Interior, it’s far more likely he’ll be just another industrial lapdog. —Brian Peck, Columbia Falls

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•Term limits make sense

Trump was not my first choice for president but I like the fact that he is not in the presidential position for a career. He already has a successful career and has not relied on the taxpayer for his income. Our Founding Fathers all had careers. Some were farmers, some blacksmiths, and some businessmen. They considered public service as a patriotic sacrifice.

Term limits would curb those candidates looking for income on the taxpayer dollar and encourage candidates who want to do what’s best for our country and not what’s best to get reelected. —Dee Armstrong, Bigfork

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•Carlson makes his case for replacing Zinke

Senate hearings are beginning to confirm Trump nominees including Rep. Zinke as interior secretary. It is easy to determine who should replace the congressman because the choice should be based upon who Montanans would prefer!

Montanans love veterans, and I am a Marine Corps combat vet having served in Vietnam in 1968-1969. Montanans loved Ronald Reagan, and I was an appointee of his from 1986-1988. Montanans love our Montana Guard and Reserve, and I was the architect of the currents laws on the Guard/Reserve that President Clinton signed into law. Montanans love the U.S. Constitution, and I am a college Constitution professor. Montanans wore POW-MIA bracelets, and Joan and I were two of the originators of that movement. Many Montanans love our monthly White Hat Express newsletters. Last of all Montanans love attractive and sharp ladies and my wife, Joan, is tops.

There you have it. —Gary K. Carlson, Corvallis

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•2017 offers a new hope

As another year fades away and a new one comes into view, many of us stand at the divide and reflect on our blessings (or not) of the old and our hope for the blessings to come in the new.

Looking back as an individual, 2016 was a great year for me; at my advanced age just being here and still able to live comfortably in my own home in this wondrous part of God’s creation in this great nation is an awesome blessing for which I am very grateful.

Looking back as a citizen, a veteran and a patriot who loves his nation, my heart sinks and my soul weeps as I think of the awful desecration that has been heaped on our beloved nation over the past decade. The slaughter of the unborn continues unabated; our debt continues to rise exponentially; those in our military forces are being punished for their Christian faith; morale of the troops is at an all-time low and our streets are dotted with homeless veterans; our borders are still wide open for any and all comers, the good and the bad alike; we have abandoned Israel; Obama’s extremely racist attitude and continual racist remarks have set race relations back at least 50 years and have resulted in a terrorist war against our law enforcement personnel wherein many good cops have already lost their lives; many of our colleges and universities are nothing more than ultra-liberal indoctrination centers where constitutional freedoms don’t exist and participation degrees in the fine arts of political Marxism and political correctness are passed out to semi-illiterate graduates who can no longer think for themselves, many of whom you saw on TV protesting and rioting after Mr. Trump was elected; the list is much longer but there’s only so much space.

Looking ahead I see a big question mark. The incoming president, Donald Trump, is totally apolitical with zero experience in government, but his Cabinet selections and nominees thus far have been of highly experienced and successful individuals in politics, business, industry, education, the military, law, etc. This gives me reason to be optimistic that, if he can establish a cooperative working relationship with the Congress, he just might pull off the weirdest presidency in our nation’s history by doing a credible job of damage control and cleanup of the deplorable mess he will be handed on Jan. 20.

I will be praying daily for the success of this new administration, please join me. —Larry Metzger, Bigfork

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