Helena’s mayoral candidates: Refugee crisis is not a city issue

“Smith has been criticized in the liberal-leaning blog “The Montana Post,” as well as some letters to the editor published by the Independent Record, for his speech at a meeting hosted by Virginia-based ACT for America last year in Helena. The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy nonprofit that specializes in civil rights issues, has classified ACT as an anti-Muslim hate group “because it pushes wild Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam.”

“Smith told the Independent Record he was not aware the organization was listed as a hate group when he attended the meeting, and said, “I’m not sure I agree with the views of either ACT or the SPLC.” More…


Rob Quist Hot Topics – Support for Sanctuary Cities and Gun Registration


Montana musician Rob Quist is touring the state, not performing songs, but meeting with local Democrats who could grant Quist his wish to become their party’s nominee in an anticipated special election.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, the Montana Republican tapped to become the next secretary of the interior, is expected to resign shortly after confirmation later this month.

Quist, 69, the son of Cut Bank ranchers, known for a musical career that began with the Mission Mountain Wood Band in 1971, wants to run for the seat when Zinke vacates.

Several Democratic lawmakers have also said they’ll stand for nomination. And the party’s central committee members would vote internally to choose their candidate.

So on Tuesday, Quist met with Gallatin County Democratic Central Committee members on his tour headed east. He also met with the Chronicle to describe a platform centered on social justice.

“We can never be free until we lift all of humanity,” he said. “We can’t exclude anyone. It has to be inclusive.”

Public lands

In Montana, there’s more than 27 million acres of federally controlled land. Quist opposes transferring those public lands to state governments.

“I grew up so close to the mountains. That was our escape. We would go over to Lake Blaine every summer as a kid for a week at a time vacationing, and I just fell in love with the Flathead Valley. I live about two miles from Lake Blaine, so that’s going to be a very important issue for me,” Quist said.

Advocates of such a transfer say it would allow local management of public resources, which would help small communities rebuild their local economies with mining and logging, all while bettering the environment and protecting against wildfires.

“But as we know our budget is really tight right now and consequently what would happen is we’d have to sell off our lands whereas the federal government has the resources to manage them…. I just don’t want to see it turn into a land grab,” Quist said.

Social Security and health care

“I have many friends that Social Security is the only way they can survive,” Quist said.

And after a gall bladder surgery Quist said he couldn’t find insurance and faced paying out-of-pocket for back surgery because of his pre-existing condition. The ordeal led him to access his Social Security benefits early, before he was 65.

“The whole health care thing, it was originally setup to be a single-payer system,” Quist said. “As we know the powerful forces, the pharmaceutical and insurance companies, they blocked that. Everybody should have a system like Medicare, where you walk in, show your card and you’re covered, no questions asked.”

Military intervention

Quist said he does not support the United States using its military to try and solve other countries’ problems or enact regime change. He cited the war in Afghanistan.

“Russia has been in there for 17 years. What makes us think it’s going to be any different for us. Now it’s the longest running war in our nation’s history and what have we accomplished,” said Quist.

“Here’s all this (war) money put on the backs of the taxpayer. Our federal budget is 64 percent military. That’s money that could be going towards health care or Social Security,” he said. “And this does nothing but make us enemies in the eyes of so many and brings a backlash against the American people.”

Religious tolerance

President Donald Trump’s proposal to establish a registry for Muslims in America and to ban Muslim immigrants is not something Quist supports.

“You have to look at history. There have been ethnicities that have been demonized for various things,” said Quist, recalling the internment of Italians, Japanese and Germans in the U.S.

“The Muslim people are just the latest example of that. We have to realize that we need to seek unity as people of this earth, and find our commonalities. We’ve been led to believe these people are our enemies to take focus away from problems at home.”

While the number of aborted pregnancies in the U.S. has reportedly fallen to its lowest since 1974, some want the medical practice banned.

Quist supports keeping abortion an option. After moving to Nashville to become a songwriter, he said, his wife became the family’s primary provider. When she became pregnant, Quist said, they faced a difficult decision.

“She was the major breadwinner and I was the starving songwriter,” he said. “Just at that time she became pregnant with another child. This was a heavy time for us, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. We made the decision to have this child and my daughter is now the light of my life. I don’t know what I would do without her. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want the government getting in the middle of that decision. That was a decision we needed to make personally.”

Gun ownership

“I come from a ranching-farming tradition where guns are not only a way of life, but it’s something every young man goes through. We learn how to operate weapons in a safe manor and with respect. We learn that bringing meat home is a time-honored tradition,” he said.

But he believes that efforts to increase public safety are being derailed by gun manufacturers, questioning the need to own assault rifles.

“They’re only meant to kill people,” he said. “So maybe there should be some legislation to register those types of things. You register your car to drive, why not register guns. I know that’s a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I think we definitely have the right to bear arms and as I say I’ve been on many hunts myself where I’ve brought home an elk that fed our family and that’s an important thing for Montanans.”

Party politics

Quist said he supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee and was disappointed to see his loss to Hillary Clinton, saying that it had a depressing effect on young people.

“The Democratic National Committee sent him to the sidelines in favor of Hillary Clinton. They tried to control it from top down,” he said, noting that Republicans, through the tea party, had a grassroots network that helped them win elections.

“We know that the pendulum swings both ways and the reason I’m sitting here today is that I decided I wanted to be part of the movement that starts us back on the track to unity and respect for each other. We’ve lost that here in America,” he said.

Can refugees assimilate to life in Montana, or anywhere in America peacefully? [Video]

Of course we know that what many would call “Liberal News Media”, that want to be deemed “humanitarian”, who support refugee resettlement in America, are only going to show you the warm and fuzzy stories about successful and happy immigrants and refugees who have assimilated well to life here in the local newspaper.

Do they hope it erupts into rape, murder or terrorism so that they have a great news story later or are they just naive? Do they not realize terrorists lie and will exploit a weak system? That some of them are literally born, raised and trained into a mission to destroy our way of life? Of course they are not all terrorists, but definitely some.

That once these people, devious or not, get to any state in America, that they can easily cross state lines and go anywhere they want, just like you and me? This has to be a national question, not just for each state.


Thirty-three of the 72 individuals from the seven terror-associated countries were convicted of very serious terror-related crimes, and were sentenced to at least three years imprisonment. The crimes included use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit a terror act, material support of a terrorist or terror group, international money laundering conspiracy, possession of explosives or missiles, and unlawful possession of a machine gun.

Can refugees assimilate peacefully?

Can all refugees brought into Montana, or anywhere in the United States, assimilate to life here peacefully? Even if a majority can, is it worth the potential risk, even when they may come from countries that don’t have law enforcement and the record keeping processes for background checks that we have in America? Sweden, and The 60 minutes reporters in Sweden in the video below may agree that this idea is questionable and should be reconsidered.

What do you think? Do you feel less neighborly or humanitarian if we insist on “extreme vetting” before we allow refugees into Montana?

Bill would prohibit state courts from applying Islamic Sharia Law


HELENA — More than 25 people testified at a Senate Judiciary Hearing Tuesday in favor of a bill that would ban the application of foreign law in state courts.

While Senate Bill 97 doesn’t specifically mention Islamic sharia law, proponents repeatedly expressed fears that immigrants and refugees coming to the United States would eventually demand sharia law supersede the constitutions of the United States and Montana.

Opponents said the bill doesn’t accomplish anything other than furthering an anti-Muslim sentiment.

Similar legislation has been enacted in nine states and is currently up for debate in several others.

Sharia law is the religious governance followed by people practicing Islam. Sharia utilizes religious texts to determine divine will. Its implementation varies across the world, with Saudi Arabia adhering to strict punishments like stoning, while in other countries it is most regularly used in personal law such as marriage and divorce.

Proponents expressed concern that people practicing Islam would be allowed to abuse women or marry minors in the United States or Montana. Though they were not able to reference a case in which sharia law superseded U.S. law, American courts do consider provisions of Sharia law, Jewish law or canon law as long as they don’t violate the Constitution.

A 2009 case in New Jersey has been referenced in states where legislators introduced a ban on the application of foreign law. In this case, a judge didn’t grant a protective order to a woman abused by her Muslim husband after it was found he was following his beliefs. That decision was later reversed and scrutinized by legal scholars.

Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, said he was carrying the bill to protect the fundamental liberties of all Americans. He said he’d received more than 150 letters and emails from proponents of the bill and about five from opponents since introducing the legislation.

Many of the proponents were residents in Regier’s district and the surrounding area. Several had a military or law enforcement background. One proponent called anyone who objected to the bill un-American.

Some proponents took issue with the idea of practicing Islam and people who don’t assimilate to a specific aspect of American culture. Sandy Bradford, a Helena resident, said Islam is not peaceful and is an enemy to all. Sandy Montgomery, from the Flathead, said the bill was long overdue.
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“We have allowed legal immigrants, illegal immigrants and now refugees to take advantage of our law and culture to take up their own agendas,” Montgomery said. “They have no intention to abide by our laws, nor are they interested in assimilating to our culture.”

“We as a nation and state do not have to wait as a forced host to witness the growing population for this foreign law to implement its totalitarian system,” she said.

William Briggs, who served 47 months in Iraq, said he witnessed the punishment for violating foreign law, which still haunts him.

Some in the crowd voiced opposition to a comment made by SK Rossi, director of advocacy and public policy for ACLU Montana, who said the fears expressed at the hearing were unfounded. Rossi emphasized that sharia law has not been prioritized by any court, and that an Oklahoma law specifically mentioning banning sharia law was found unconstitutional.

“We need to start trusting our judicial system to apply the correct law,” Rossi said.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said the bill is sold as a commitment to constitutional rights, but instead targets the Islamic faith.

“These tactics are meant to divide, not unite our country,” she said. “The effort is not solving a problem but is based on an out-of-state model of policy that is a direct reaction to Islamophobia.”

The Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Montana Association of Christians also spoke against the bill.

Refugees from Africa, Iraq find homes near in Missoula


MISSOULA, Mont. — Missoula has become a refuge for more than 40 men, women and children from war-ravaged lands in Africa and Iraq, more than 30 years after last of some 550 refugees from Southeast Asia, most of them Hmong who supported U.S. efforts in the secret war in Laos, were brought to western Montana.

The International Rescue Committee and volunteers of Soft Landing Missoula stepped in to help after the community offered to help the latest refugees resettle in Montana.

County Commissioner Jean Curtiss said in an email that her office hasn’t been in contact with any of the refugees, but she believes community members are doing all they can to welcome the families.

“These refugee families have been through a lot so having a safe and supportive community to relocate (in) is a blessing for them,” Curtiss said. “In return the fabric of the Missoula community has been made even more beautiful with the culture, experiences, music and lives of our new neighbors from around the globe.”

The move has not been without controversy. Incumbent Ryan Zinke, in his successful run for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House, joined a number of Republican lawmakers calling for Syrian refugees to be blocked from entering the United States until screening can be tightened. Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines expressed a similar view, as did Greg Gianforte in his unsuccessful bid to unseat Democratic governor Steve Bullock, the Missoulian reported.

The majority of the refugees are Congolese, many of whom were born in refugee camps in east Africa after their parents fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Officials say 19 refugees who’ve arrived in the first three months of the fiscal year puts Missoula behind pace to reach the goal set out in Missoula’s “Reception and Placement Abstract” filed in May, but resettlement officials are confident more will be coming.