The Billings Outpost

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Praise for Zinke

I want to thank Congressman Ryan Zinke for his leadership in Congress, especially his vast knowledge and understanding of Middle East issues.

With a president who seems to be absent and is unwilling to develop a strategy, we need leaders like Congressman Zinke to dissect the ISIS incursion and deliver a cogent message to those of us here in Montana.

Zinke has done a great job of that because he spent many years in Iraq and the surrounding countries, leading our special forces troops during a time of war. It’s refreshing to know that he has America’s security as his top priority, keeping us safe at home, and ensuring the future of our children, grandchildren and nation. 

I’m always troubled as the haters continually bash him as he stands up and takes the flak for all Montanans. But he wanted the job, so I have no doubt he can answer their shrill voices and continue to represent all Montanans.

Michael Jennings Sr.


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 12:13

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Willing to debate

While campaigning for a seat on the Montana Supreme Court last year, I made several joint appearances with my opponent, Jim Rice. One of the joint appearances took place in Billings. Just as our founders did, I recognize the power of a jury to determine whether a law is fair and just or whether it is being applied in a just manner, particularly in a criminal trial.

My opponent referred to a jury functioning as our founders intended it to function as a “subversion of democracy.” Apparently he believes there is something sacred about democracy. Our founders actually had a fear of democracy. That is why they launched our nation as a constitutional republic.

Several months ago I had the opportunity to speak with a retired Montana Supreme Court justice about the power and function of the jury. His position on this matter mirrored the one taken by my opponent. When I offered to publicly debate him about this, he promptly declined the offer. Though he apparently is a great proponent of democracy, he does not think that Supreme Court justices should have to stand for  election.

I would be willing to debate, in public, any current or retired member of the judiciary of Montana regarding this issue of jury function. My contact information is available on my website,

For liberty and justice for all,

W. David Herbert


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 12:12

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No merit in lawsuit

Rep. Matthew Monforton, R-Bozeman, is promoting an unnecessary lawsuit to close Montana’s “open primary.” It’s wasting taxpayer money and soon will drain $50,000 from the Montana GOP. 

As a lawyer, Monforton should know the U.S. Supreme Court already ruled that political parties have “a constitutionally protected right of political association under the First Amendment, and this freedom to gather in association for the purpose of advancing shared beliefs is protected by the 14th Amendment from infringement by any state, and necessarily presupposes the freedom to identify the people who constitute the association and to limit the association to those people only.” The political party defines its associative rights in its rules.

Carole Mackin


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 12:11

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Rethinking flat tax

As a staunch opponent of a sales tax, I may have to reconsider the flat tax. We have a user tax on alcohol, tobacco, fuels, hotels and/or resort tax. I haven’t seen too many people who have quit because of the price.

The slogan “Sales tax: The rich love it and the poor pay it” may not be true. Are they poor because they consume more alcohol and tobacco or do they consume more alcohol and tobacco because they are poor?

My main objection to the sales or flat tax would be once enforced, every state, county, city, local area or district would want to add their 2 cents.

Think of the revenue a flat tax would generate. However, politicians never seem to run out of ways to spend money they don’t have. Some agencies seem to have a policy of spend it or lose it. Maybe we might have money to offset healthcare costs, or for real education.

Lauris Byxbe

Pompeys Pillar

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:22

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Compromise on healthcare

[U.S. Sen. Steve] Daines claims to be pragmatic and one who works to find compromise. He recently talked about the Republicans presenting another repeal bill regarding the Affordable Care Act while realizing that [President] Obama will veto it.

Daines says that the ACA is a complex, tangled mess that should be repealed. He acknowledges that Americans expect something to replace it but admitted that Republicans don’t have an alternate plan. He claims there was nothing bipartisan about the ACA, but it was the Republican leadership that plotted to obstruct the President even before he took office by adopting the strategy that if “he is for it, we are against it.”

An obvious example is when Obama incorporated the conservative concept of an insurance mandate; Republicans then cried government overreach. [Rep. Eric] Cantor wanted all Republicans committed to the “against him” strategy because he was afraid if some Republicans voted with the Democrats, they would be able to label the bill “bipartisan.”

If the ACA isn’t bipartisan, it was not Obama’s doing. In 2009 Obama convened a health summit with doctors, insurers, drug companies, consumer advocates and lawmakers. No legislation that brings in so many interests is going to be simple in scope and satisfy everyone.

Obama was re-elected, defeating [Mitt] Romney, who  promised to dismantle the ACA even though Romney’s Massachusetts Health Care legislation was researched for ACA ideas., A true pragmatic approach, and one in the spirit of compromise, would be to forget repealing the ACA and work together to make any changes that are deemed necessary.

Dean Klarich


Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:21

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Oppose Fast Track Authority

Heads up, fellow Montanans! With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Congress is looking to grant the Obama administration blanket approval to sign huge new trade agreements negotiated behind closed doors, without meaningful public input or oversight.

We certainly understand the importance of international trade to our state and to our country, but “fast tracking” a secretive trade deal — with implications for American jobs and U.S. environmental regulations — a deal giving vast new powers to foreign investors, is not the appropriate way to negotiate an agreement.

Public review and input is the best way to ensure trade agreements that raise, not lower, trade standards between nations. Fast Track Authority severely restricts opportunities for public debate and congressional oversight of trade deals. In fact, it restricts Montana’s voice entirely.

While the U.S. Constitution gives the president authority “to manage relations with foreign sovereigns,” it gives Congress the responsibility “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations.” Enacting Fast Track will upset this balance by delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy to the president.

Why would any of our congressional members, Democratic or Republican, support this action? Are they willing to allow foreign corporations to interfere with the ability of our state and local government to make and enforce basic laws? Currently, proposed trade agreements could render even such uncontroversial programs as “Buy Montana” subject to legal attack by foreign corporations.

Will you join me and tell our members of Congress that Montanans don’t want Fast Track? Once that authority is granted to the president, the opportunity to make changes becomes impossible. Whatever happened to our system of checks and balances? This is not the way our democracy is supposed to operate.

Jean Lemire Dahlman


Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:20

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