Letters, Published June 28, 2017

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Daines needs to stop hiding from the voters

During the spring recess, Steve Daines chose to duck face to face meetings with his Montana constituents, (you know, the people who employ him).

Daines instead holds “telephone townhalls,” which are a cop-out where he doesn’t have to look fellow Montanans in the eye and answer questions. Questions like: Will he take away a constituent’s medical coverage for pre-existing conditions, or deny access for women’s health care? Whether or not he will vote to privatize Medicare and/or Social Security? Will he vote to give your tax money to private schools? Does he believe in science and where does he stand on climate change? What about opening up federal land to unregulated exploitation? (Your land and my land). Feel free to come up with your own questions.

Recently Steve touted the quick approval of Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice. Do Montanans know that Gorsuch was promoted by a $10 million ad campaign funded by the Judicial Crisis Network, a 501(c)4 Dark Money group? So where is Steve to answer the question of where he stands on “Citizens United” and where he thinks Gorsuch stands after being the beneficiary of Dark Money. Oh wait, Daines has been nowhere to be found to ask (or answer) these and other questions. (Note: He has been available for various photo-ops and campaign appearances, including with Donald Trump Jr. and Greg Gianforte.

Daines, and now Gianforte, imply that they are the arbiters of Donald Trump’s philosophy and ideology. We must emphatically point out that Steve Daines was elected to represent ALL the people of Montana and if he can’t bring himself to meet with us in person maybe he should be looking for another line of work. —Jack Thomson, Lakeside

Get serious about protecting our borders and our people

Not too many years ago on our southern border we had an invasion of over 90,000 underage children come across our open border, thanks in part to past administrations that did nothing to secure our southern border. As a result, in the state of Texas alone, there was a tremendous outbreak of mumps, measles, tuberculosis and other childhood diseases that we as a society had wiped out decades ago. Entire schools were shut down and several children were hospitalized and vaccines had to be created again to fight this pandemic.

The very same thing has also taken place in the state of Minnesota in the suburbs outside Minneapolis, where hundreds of Somali refugees are now living.

Every bit of this Muslim invasion into our country can be laid directly at the feet of our previous president, Barrack Hussein Obama, just the same as the 90,000 children that came across the southern border under his administration. The Immigration and Naturalization department under this president was nothing but a joke with regards to vetting these people.

We heard: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance,” and that was a lie directly from the mouth of Barrack Hussein Obama. It was also a lie to the American People to say, “These people were vetted” before entering this country. —Jim Garvey, Kalispell

Budget must protect the poorest people

Congress is taking on the enormous task of reforming our tax system.

Let’s be clear about one thing: “Tax reform” should never be code for “tax breaks for the wealthy.” Cutting taxes on wealthy people, while slashing vital anti-poverty programs to pay for it, is immoral and unfair. The wealthy enjoy tax breaks, but don’t need them. The working poor, disabled Americans, children and the elderly need programs such as SNAP for their very sustenance. They are a lifeline for our most vulnerable.

Members of Congress must make sure that any reform to the tax code is revenue-neutral, addresses wealth inequality, and protects core anti-poverty programs. —Karen Cunningham, Coram

No one can guarantee the future

I’m sure there are valid points in the Montana Artesian Water Company’s ad from Feb. 26; however, I would like to add myth no. 5: “We will never sell our property.”

It does not seem possible that anyone can guarantee what a future generation will or will not do; in this case, sell the property and business to a corporate giant (or anyone else). The permits are transferable. Enough said. —Diane Myslicki, Kila

Lost hikers get headlines, but rescuers are the true heroes

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as happy as the next person that a lost hiker was recovered from the wilderness in Montana. I’m sure that Madeline Connelly is grateful to be alive, not to mention lucky. But, a hero, no, I don’t think so.

The men and women in our community who spent days searching for her are the heroes of the story.

After reading at least three articles in the newspaper all focusing on the hiker, it’s distressing. Virtually no comment has been made about our fine volunteers (yes, that’s right volunteers who are not paid for their dangerous, emotional work) from North Valley Search and Rescue and Flathead Valley Search and Rescue as well as the dedicated employees of the Forest Service, Flathead Valley Sheriff’s Office and Two Bear Helicopter. These fine, dedicated people I’m sure celebrated the happy ending to this story as much as Madeline’s family did. The ending is frequently not so happy.

That these men and women spend much of their spare time preparing for and conducting rescue operations seems to get lost in the story. That the employers of these people bend their work priorities in many cases to allow these people to walk away from their jobs to participate in these activities should also be recognized.

Let’s stop talking about Madeline, and let’s keep remembering the incredible heroes that we have among us. —Sheri Greene, Columbia Falls

Hostility toward press is scary

It is difficult to know which is worse, that Greg Gianforte lost his temper and body-slammed a reporter, that his spokesperson lied to cover up the facts of the incident afterwards, or that his attack on a journalist for some Montanans was a reason to celebrate. All of these are horrendous, but I would have to go with the latter as the most distressing aspect of this election.

The ambivalence or hostility developing towards our free press in my opinion is the most frightening of recent developments. Equally disturbing is that this attitude is being promoted and stoked by our president, who has called members of the press “the enemy of the people.” The consequences may one day prove to be devastating if we do not check this trend soon.

Freedom of speech, including a free press, is an essential ingredient for democracy. Our Founding Fathers understood this, which is why freedom of speech is one of our First Amendment rights. We cannot have one without the other. Republicans have traditionally been staunch defenders of our constitutional rights, and we need those voices now more than ever.

John Adams once stated: “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of our state.” His good friend, Thomas Jefferson, put it this way: “Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Let’s hope we never forget their wisdom and that we protect our free press as a sacred right of the American people. —Melissa Hartman, Whitefish

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