Letters published on Dec. 3, 2017

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Stop worrying about 2016, and face the future

I am so sick and t ired of those sleazy self-serving politicans who are more interested in so-called Russian collusion and interference in the 2016 election, rather than getting on with more pressing and important business, like tax and health-care reform. The election is over and done with. If anything is to be done, be more alert and aware the next election.

President Trump has accomplished and done more, in one year, to help our country and advance the role of freedom than Obama did in eight years. Obama did more to harm the USA than any previous President, and I am not sure if it was deliberate or just plain ignorance. Obama’s only grace was his ability to speak, but then that was also Hitler’s strength.

Our elected officials have been lining their own pockets; no required health care, built in obscene retirement, considering the lack of business completed. Both parties need to forget political affiliation and get on with backing the president, cleaning the “swamp,” build the military AND the wall, and fix immigration policies. Sign me, one angry citizen. —Lanny Gorman, Kalispell

As predicted, water compact was fair deal

The water-compact opponents lost — as I said they would — when the Montana Supreme Court heard their case.

Montana’s right-wing “tea party” Republicans fought the Salish-Kootenai Water Compact every step of the way. They claimed it was “unconstitutional.” They claimed it would give Montana’s water to the Indians. They claimed it was unfair.

In Montana’s Legislature, they came within one vote of stopping the compact. Had they succeeded, they would have done irreparable economic and social harm to Montana. They would have forced Montanans to pay for a generation of the most costly legal bills in Montana’s history.

Fortunately, mainstream Republicans and Democrats wisely backed the compact.

I wrote in my book, “Montana’s Last Indian Water Compact,” that compact opponents had no case. I said their “unconstitutional” claim would not pass the Montana Supreme Court.

Read my book to understand why they were wrong.

I am as “conservative” as they are, but I don’t go over their right-wing radical cliff. I told them the Salish-Kootenai Water Compact was critical for Montana.

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled the compact is constitutional.

Now, it is time for Montana’s U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte to do what is best for Montana and support Montana’s last Indian water compact. —Ed Berry, Bigfork

Surviving Trump together

The toxic narratives woven through today’s political culture are exhausting. President Trump is not only the logical end point of these unhealthy stories, he has normalized them. Hate, mindless nationalism, misogyny, racism, callous indifference to refugees and the poor, dismissal of science, and disdain for the common good are all stories that President Trump has retold in his narcissistic version of “America First.” And the same restless fingers that regularly tweet his buffoonery into our national discussion hover dangerously over the nuclear button.

After a while, a kind of hopelessness sets in, crippling our attention. And it is easy to give up on the world. But there are stories of resistance that celebrate life as well as those that revel in death. And maybe those are the stories we need to hear. Maybe they can even save us.

Recently, my wife and I had the privilege of working in Glacier as backcountry ranger volunteers. The following is a story from this past summer’s journal:

“Yesterday, as Laurie and I were returning from a patrol to Cobalt Lake in the Two Medicine Valley, we noticed a couple hiking up the South Lakeshore Trail. Their step was spry, but I noticed something a bit off. Both the man and woman looked to be in their mid to late sixties, and the man appeared to be leading the woman. We exchanged our usual ranger pleasantries: “Nice to see you.” “Where are you headed?” “Are you enjoying your trip?” “Encounter any bears or moose on the trail?” As often happens, our conversation deepened. And as if to answer unasked questions, the woman shared that she was completely blind due to radiation for a sinus cancer years ago. And that they were having a wonderful time in Glacier. This was their easy day after hiking over Siyeh Pass and down Sunrift Gorge the day before. She excitedly recounted the grizzly sow and yearling they “saw” on the snowfield just above the pass. The man was carrying a length of PVC pipe that appeared to be about two feet long. His wife held on as he led the way and softly spoke the trail shape and contour to her.”

I wish I would have told this couple how their lives were a reassuring sign of grace. And how, in our brief encounter, they helped me to understand that how we go down the trail is important, not our destination. But more importantly, I wish I could thank them for reminding me that we are all native species bound together by the common language of love. And we will get through this together. —Bob Muth, Kalispell

Legislature gets praise; legislator gets skepticism

To protect us from additional taxpayer burden of $75 million proposed by Gov. Bullock, many legislators opposed the special session. This 2.5 day session forced by Bullock cost the taxpayers almost $200,000.

I am grateful to Republicans who successfully held the line against raising taxes. My gratitude notwithstanding, property tax increases are a strong possibility as costs are deferred to bloated local governments such as school districts. Furthermore, I am alarmed after researching Republican Sen. Llew Jones, the “key architect of the final compromise,” and wonder how this man got the job.

The Americans for Prosperity scorecard is based on 22 bills impacting private enterprise. Llew Jones scored 44 (an F), tied with one other for lowest Republican score. To put this in perspective, Flathead’s Gas Tax Garner scored 68 (a D). Fifteen Republicans got a perfect 100 score, and the mean/median were low 90s. Another source, the TAB score, ranked voting records of Montana Legislators from 2005-2013, based on bills impacting government spending, taxing, and regulation. A perfect score is 100, a passing score above 70. Llew Jones scored among the lowest of Republicans and worse than most Democrats: 49 (2005), 5 (2007), 17 (2009), 23 (2011) and 10 (2013).

Watch closely the final product from key architect Llew Jones and Gov. Bullock with their penchant for growing government at the expense of private enterprise. I expect a shell game, with the burden ultimately carried on the backs of hard-working Montana taxpayers. —Annie Bukacek, Bigfork

Stop the tax plan

It’s clear who will benefit from the new tax plan in Washington: the rich. What we’re hearing less about is who will pay the consequences — and that’s hardworking, low-income Americans.

This year we’ve already seen attempts to gut essential programs like Medicaid and SNAP (formerly food stamps). So after giving away $1.5 trillion in tax breaks to millionaires, those same critical programs would likely wind up back on the chopping block. Meanwhile, the bill would unravel our health-care system by repealing the individual mandate.

With one in eight Americans below the poverty line, this is both bad public policy and just plain wrong. I hope we can count on Congress to stand up against this plan. —Karen Cunningham, Coram

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