Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day-- But Not To Señor Trumpanzee And Not To Texas Crackpot Lamar Smith

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Today was the March for Science. It's kind of embarrassing we even need a march like that. But as Bill McKibben wrote in the NY Times this week, The Planet Can't Stand This Presidency. "Trump’s environmental onslaught," he wrote, "will have immediate, dangerous effects... [T]here’s an extra dimension to the environmental damage. What Mr. Trump is trying to do to the planet’s climate will play out over geologic time as well. In fact, it’s time itself that he’s stealing from us. What I mean is, we have only a short window to deal with the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart truly catastrophic heating... [E]ven when we vote him out of office, Trumpism will persist, a dark stratum in the planet’s geological history. In some awful sense, his term could last forever."

The Intercept carried a piece today that mentions Micahel Mann, a climatologist and geophysicist, has pioneered computational models based on patterns of the past 600 years of climate changes. He said he marched today because "Science and scientists are now under attack in this country." Mann is one of the favorite targets of climate deniers, particularly the witch-hunter Ryan placed at the head of the House Science Committee, Texas dangerous crackpot Lamar Smith. "When congressional Republicans are denying basic science,” Mann said, “and the Trump administration-- run largely by polluting interests-- is trying to revoke policies to protect our health and our environment, more than ever we need to hear the voices of scientists, loudly and clearly."

That lunatic freak and earth-wide villain Grand Inquisitor Lamar Smith issued a statement today-- dripping in irony: "I support the right of science supporters to gather and march this weekend. Opening new frontiers of scientific knowledge, on Earth and beyond, will pave the way to a better, more secure future for the next generation. I will continue to support scientific research that furthers our national interest and is of the highest intellectual merit. In the last few months, the Science Committee has enacted three bills that highlight this commitment: the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, and the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017. The Committee also has worked to help ensure new opportunities for the next generation of scientists and engineers by enacting the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act. I look forward to continuing to promote scientific integrity and a healthy, transparent and vibrant research and technology environment in the United States." Smith is ceratinly among the most dangerous and harmful dozen members of Congress. Please help Tom Wakely replace him as the representative for TX-21.

After we saw Smith's statement we called Tom and asked him what he could make of it. He told us that Smith "never ceases to amaze and astound" him. "The press release he sent out today in response to the March for Science, is nothing more than a meager attempt to portray himself as 'pro-women.' By supporting the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act he is hoping his constituents will forget how he really feels about women. His support of these two bills  belie the fact that he has consistently, over his thirty year career in Congress, voted against women. He voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood. As far as his anti-science schtick goes, his policy positions and statements are not only wrong-headed but extremely dangerous. Lamar seems to relish in the thought that by turning back the clock we will somehow be the better for it. Maybe he thinks if we all smoked a little from the Mary Baker Eddy Christian Science pipe we would see the world as he does. This man represents the Texas we all want to forget, the Texas that has consistently been found by the federal courts to discriminate against minorities. I truly believe that Smith wants to return to the days of 'no dogs, no Mexicans allowed' and to days where teaching evolution in our schools was a crime."

This morning cognitive scientist and linguist George Lakoff explained to his followers that "the enormous role played by science-- especially government-sponsored science-- in our everyday lives is barely appreciated." Trump and Trumpists are at war with Science. They have to be stopped.
Start with modern medicine. We, the public, paid for it through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and research universities where the medical researchers, surgeons, doctors and nurses were trained, and where tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) developed. Modern drugs were also developed through basic research sponsored by NIH. Modern medicine is the dividend of our investment over decades in medical science.

Next, computers. Computer science didn’t just appear. It was developed through grants from National Science Foundation (NSF) and Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARP). The Internet was developed by the Defense Department. It was originally called the Arpanet. Satellites were developed through NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Defense Department, with vast amount of new science: rocket fuels, physics, new materials for rocket shells, advances in radio communication, and aerial photography.

Cell phones and GPS systems depend on a system of satellites run by the Defense Department, with four satellites accessible from any point on earth, electromagnetic waves traveling at the speed of light and requiring the physics of relativity, and switching equipment able to receive and pass on signals within nanoseconds-- billionths of a second. A millionth of a second off and your cellphone call is hundreds of miles off. Cellphones are required by business all over the world. American science is supporting not just personal communication but the economy of the world!

And then there is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): No more ozone hole. No more acid rain. The air in Los Angeles is very much cleaner than it used to be. The EPA’s information is valuable beyond measure.

It has scientifically measured and tracked lead in the water -- not just in Flint, but in many cities. It has measured mercury levels in the oceans and in fish. It has alerted us to the effects of global heating, effects that arise from the systemic complexities of the global ecology. Effects like droughts, floods, monster storms, and extreme temperatures. It has monitored poisons in our air and water put there by corporations that have been irresponsible, greedy, and just plain inefficient and careless. Those poisons threaten our food supply because they kill bees that are responsible for 1/3 of our food supply. Mercury in our oceans makes many fish dangerous to eat.

EPA regulations issued and, until recently, enforced, are all that affords us protections from man-made poisons. Every regulation eliminated is a major loss of protections for the public. The administration’s plan for eliminating regulations would wipe out most protections from poisons and other threats.

The Defense Department has issued a report that cites global heating via the use of oil, gas, and coal as a major national security threat. Why? Droughts, and oil, and rising seas start wars. Global heating is matter of life and death in all sorts of ways. It is the moral crisis of our age. Reversing it requires science more than ever!

The positive effects of science on our lives are everywhere. And the needs for more and more responsible science are also everywhere.

Notice science!

And how it has made possible so much of contemporary American life.

Then march for science-- because it is under political threat like never before.



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Chaffetz and Nunes-- Which One Is Heading For Disgrace And Which For A Job At Fox?

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I couldn't make it to Visalia for the anti-devon Nunes town hall at the College of the Sequoias on Wednesday. (Good excuse-- I had to spend the day at City of Hope working with my doctor on a marijuana protocol for the chronic cough that got left behind after a post-stem cell replacement operation bout of pneumonia. All these medicines aren't working; marijuana oil is.) Anyway... good people don't use marijuana but I missed the Nunes-without-Nunes shindig. About 150 people did show up, constituents according to them but "a bunch of left-wing activists" according to Nunes. They invited him to the event and he replied by insulting them. He claimed the event was designed to make him look bad, but could anyone have made him look as bad as Trump already has?
“We aren’t here to scream at him,” said Natasha Moiseyev of Central Valley Indivisible, one of the organizers. “It’s not a fringe left gathering of crazies. We want to get the facts out and speak respectfully. We are dying for a conversation. We have questions and we would like answers.”


...The event was hosted by Together We Will-- Fresno/Central Valley and Central Valley Indivisible, and the costs were covered by Health Access California, according to organizers.

Organizers asked speakers to announce their ZIP codes to show that they lived in Nunes’ 22nd Congressional District.

The format Wednesday consisted of presentations-- including mention of Nunes’ voting record and public statements-- about health care, immigration and government transparency and accountability, followed by questions and statements from people in the audience.

Marsha Comant of Fresno, a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, said if Nunes were there she’d tell him “people in the district without health care will die. This is my question: Do you not care?”

Celeste Cook, 63, a retired teacher from Visalia, led a brief chant of “Not Nunes” as the elected representative in Congress.

Some of the most emotional moments came from advocates of immigration law reform for so-called Dreamers-- young adults brought to the United States as children-- to get legalized.

“These are some the hardest working, most bright people I’ve ever met,” said Alexander Flores, a University of California, Berkeley, graduate in English literature. “They’re scared ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will arrest them.” He said he’d say to Nunes, “Will you protect my friends? Will you protect my community from being torn apart?”

Jose Sigala, a Tulare City Council member elected in November, said the event demonstrates that town hall meetings are needed in a democracy.

“I am excited about the momentum that has developed to hold our elected officials accountable,” he said.

But getting support for them from fellow elected officials can be hard, he said. Sigala said he asked the Tulare council to put on its agenda an item about sending a letter asking Nunes to hold a town hall in his hometown. The council split 2-2, with one absent, so the topic won’t be on the agenda.

Republicans have largely avoided town hall meetings on recent visits home. Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, for instance, held one-on-one meetings in Hanford with constituents.

The 22nd Congressional district that Nunes represents includes Tulare, Visalia, Reedley, Clovis and part of Fresno. It’s considered a safe Republican district with 43-33 percent Republican to Democratic registration.

Last year, Nunes won re-election last year with 68 percent of the vote. He was first elected to Congress in 2002.

He’s been in the national news lately as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a strong supporter of President Donald Trump. But he stepped aside from a probe of alleged Russian interference in the presidential election amid intense criticism over his late-night visit to the White House to review purported intelligence documents with the assistance of White House staff.

Retired music teacher Carole Greening of Visalia said she attended the town hall event to send him a message.

“I want him representing the ordinary people,” she said. “He’s in Washington representing the richest people in our area. He goes where the money is. We’re the people in his district. He needs to pay attention to us.”
It's Pelosi's dogged policy to not allow the DCCC to challenge Republican House leaders or committee chairs and Nunes has never had a serious challenge for reelection. Younger fed up Democrats in Congress are working to make sure than regardless of Pelosi's bullshit, Nunes will have a challenge in 2018. Another top candidate for Democratic ire was Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), but as you know, he announced this week that he won't be seeking reelection and then said he's thinking of resigning altogether. Wants to spend more time with the family! That usually needs something's up. Yesterday, the Deseret News set tongues in Salt Lake City and DC wagging... if you could get beyond the GOP propaganda in the first couple of paragraphs. The infamous Chaffetz town-hall in Cottonwood Heights, engineered by Chaffetz to be as far from the heart of his district and as close to leftists as he could get, included protesters "masked and dressed in black. They worried Chaffetz most. They carried guns and, he would later learn, were prowling the parking lot trying to find his car." This is the substitute most Americans get instead of actual journalism.
[H]e parlayed his rising visibility into a chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which he used to go after Planned Parenthood, Hillary Clinton and other favorite punching bags of the right. He became the most high-profile antagonist of the Obama administration, the tormentor-in-chief, and in the final weeks of the campaign he vowed that he would continue to investigate Clinton for using an unclassified email server, improperly staffing the embassy in Benghazi, and any other possible crimes, whether she won re-election or not.

Then Donald Trump got elected and everything changed.

“Trump getting elected was the worst possible thing for him,” says one Utah political insider. “Under a Hillary Clinton presidency, he would have had a nightly gig on Fox News. It would have been Crooked Hillary every night. Instead he got Trump.”

Had Clinton won, Chaffetz would have used the platform to attack the administration at every turn, the subpoena power literally resting in the pen in his pocket. But now, he was suddenly limited by demands to play team ball for a team that was already struggling, fumbling health care right out of the gate. And whatever Trump and the fractious House Republicans did, he would be held accountable, even though he would have little control.

And if the town hall was any indication, he was already being held accountable for his team’s performance. His approval rating in the 3rd District had dropped by 14 points since the election, according to an April Dan Jones and Associates poll.

Money, mostly from out-of-state, had started to pour in for a Democratic challenger with no political experience named Kathryn Allen. Allen had only raised $20,000 in an exploratory account and then her campaign went viral when Chaffetz went on CNN in early March and made one of his most embarrassing gaffes trying to sell the Republican overhaul of Obamacare.

"Americans have choices, and they've got to make a choice," he said. "So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.” In less than a week, Allen’s campaign war chest had skyrocketed to $410,000.

It’s unlikely Allen or any Democrat would have beaten Chaffetz, who still had a 72 percent approval rating in his district, but the amount of money Allen had raised suggested that for the first time since his election, Chaffetz would actually have to campaign and spend a good chunk of the next year aggressively fundraising, a chore he’s never enjoyed. The campaign could get costly, loud and bruising. And for someone who had much greater ambitions than the House, it could do lasting damage to his brand.

Chaffetz says the decision not to run came down to family, and there’s no doubt that was a factor. His wife, Julie, always made a point of never complaining, never being an obstacle to his aspirations, insiders say, but the strain and isolation were wearing on her, and Chaffetz said it was time for him to spend more time with family now that he and Julie were nearly empty nesters.

Among political insiders in Utah and Washington, there was widespread speculation Thursday that Chaffetz was stepping down because of a scandal, and that word of his resignation was imminent. Chaffetz told Politico news of a scandal was “absolutely, positively not” true.

“Not in any way, shape or form,” he told Politico. “I’ve been given more enemas by more people over the last eight years than you can possibly imagine. From the Secret Service to the Democratic Party. I am who I am. If they had something really scandalous, it would’ve come out a long, long time ago.”

And yet, it’s hard to imagine Chaffetz truly stepping away from the spotlight. This is a man who appears on TV so willingly and so often he carries two earpieces with him for live interviews and has the names of Fox News hosts programmed into his phone. As the New York Times recently put it, he practically rushes “toward television cameras with an eager smile.”

Chaffetz’s announcement came the same day Fox News announced it was severing ties with Bill O’Reilly, its most popular host. When asked Wednesday about rumors Fox has offered Chaffetz a hosting gig, he demurred. “None of that can come to fruition until you actually go forward and make this announcement,” Chaffetz said. “Then you can pursue what these opportunities might be.”

Chaffetz hasn’t revealed how long he's going to stay in office, but he probably won’t remain chairman of his committee. A Fox hosting gig would be lucrative-- Sean Hannity makes many millions each year-- and it would provide Chaffetz the sort of platform he had on the committee during the Obama years but with an even wider audience. By 2020 he’d be perfectly poised to run for office again. Already the page for jasoninthehouse.com redirects to jasonforgovernor.com. And that might not be the full extent of Chaffetz’s ambitions. Two weeks ago, Chaffetz’s campaign committee registered domains for a possible presidential run: jason2028.com and jasonchaffetz2028.com.

It’s unlikely this is the end of Jason Chaffetz’s political career, but if his abrupt announcement is a pivot to something bigger and better, what is it? More importantly, how and why did someone so ambitious walk away from one of the most high-profile positions in American politics?

A month or so before Chaffetz announced he wouldn’t seek re-election, he was in Washington on his way to dinner with two reporters. He checked his phone, where he keeps apps for his favorite restaurants: McDonald’s, Dominos and Five Guys. Tonight, he wanted Five Guys. The apps sped things up, he explained, at least in theory. He could order his favorite burger while his press secretary, MJ Henshaw, drove. The apps also saved money. He was always finding deals on the McDonald’s app.

Except tonight the apps weren’t working, and Chaffetz was getting mildly annoyed. As Henshaw slowed for a motorcade of blacked out SUVs, Chaffetz looked up.

“Looks like Mike Pence,” he said. “We love Mike Pence.”

“Would you rather Pence were president?” a reporter in the back seat asked.

Chaffetz nervously chuckled and changed the subject.

At Five Guys, Chaffetz ordered a burger and a jumbo-sized carton of fries and tucked his large frame into a small corner table. He talked with great enthusiasm about how much he loved fast food and how often he ate out of vending machines. He ate out of the one in the basement of his office in the Rayburn Building so often he had the number memorized for his favorite Hostess cupcakes.

Chaffetz seems determined to push the image of the everyman, the guy who eats out of vending machines and drives a truck, even though he lives in one of the most expensive zip codes in Utah and wears camo not to hunt, but to take pictures of wildlife. Every politician has an image, a brand they’d like to push, and this is Chaffetz’s: the tightwad congressman who sleeps on a cot to save his constituents money (even though it actually saves him money). The cot has become his most reliable prop in self-branding, and it still comes up in pretty much every profile written about him, but the thing is, it’s actually uncomfortable, and he said he’s getting a little tired of sleeping on it.

“I’m turning 50 and I’m sleeping on a cot,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate my life.”

Chaffetz seemed constrained by the image he’d created for himself. If he was governor, he could sleep in his own bed.

“I say I’m a definite maybe,” Chaffetz said of running for governor. “You also think about when you hang up the cleats, too. I’m not a lifer. I’m just not.”

It had become clear to him he would have a hard time rising any higher in the House. Two years before, he’d thrown his hat in the ring for speaker, testing the water and he got crickets.

He seemed wistful when asked if another run for speaker was in the cards, as if he wanted it, but couldn’t imagine it happening.

“I don’t know how I would get from here to there,” he said. “I would have to do some things that are very hard. And I’m up for hard and difficult, but I would have to be a prolific fundraiser. That’s part of it. Never say never, but only a handful of people in the nation have ever been able to pull that off. It’s harder than anybody thinks.”

Chaffetz was also struggling to find his footing as oversight chairman in a Republican administration. “I think most people, including myself, expect me to hold the Trump administration to the same high standard, of course they do.”

He pointed out that he had, in fact, opened a number of inquiries into the Trump administration, including Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office building (which Trump turned in to a Trump hotel), and Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, but he’d left most of the heavy lifting on possible collusion with the Russians to the House Intelligence Committee, which had frustrated the Democrat Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the oversight committee.


“When it comes to Russian interference issues, it’s hard for me to tell whether it's his own beliefs that he should not look into that too deeply, or whether that is also coming from higher-ups. I don’t know. I can’t tell,” Cummings said. “… We’ve sent all types of letters to Chaffetz trying to get him to join in on the various things. And he says he wants to wait to see if something is going to go wrong. I keep telling them, I say, ‘Chaffetz, you keep saying we will cross that bridge when we get to it, and as each little thing happens, I keep telling them, we’re on the bridge.’”

Tom Davis, who chaired the oversight committee during the George W. Bush administration, said the very nature of the chairmanship was political, and there was no way Chaffetz could avoid it. “Your job is to over-investigate when the other party is in power and under-investigate when your party is in power,” Davis says. “Part of his job is to protect the quarterback.”

Gowdy, a fellow member of oversight committee, agreed with Davis. If Chaffetz got too aggressive to appease the Do Your Job! crowd back home, his party could turn on him, Davis said.

Chaffetz shook his head when he heard this.

“No, heaven’s no,” he says. “The quickest way to lose all the credibility I’ve built over eight years is to give Donald Trump a pass. That’s not my job... We need to call balls and strikes as we see them.”

...The last three times one party held the Senate, House and presidency, they lost in the midterms, and if history holds, that may happen again.

If Democrats were to take the House, Chaffetz would have been reduced to ranking member on the oversight committee, playing the role of foil and defender for Trump, but mostly having to go along with a committee now doing to the bidding of Democrats who would like nothing more than to see Trump lose re-election, or face impeachment.

By getting out now, Chaffetz clears the path for other Republicans to run in the 3rd District, and by making it clear he won’t run for Senate either, donors can decide if they want to bet on Hatch for one more term, or back Mitt Romney, who is being pushed to enter the race.

Politically, at least, Chaffetz’s most likely path seems the governorship. “My guess is he wants to start rebuilding a base for (governor) in 2020,” a Utah political heavyweight says. “No member of Congress has been elected Utah governor in recent years-- maybe ever-- though many have tried. His PR instincts probably tell him that he can't be seen as coming straight from Congress, therefore some distancing before things get serious.”

Despite the public hectoring Chaffetz got at the town hall, the death threats, the zingers from late night talk show hosts and Saturday Night Live writers, conventional wisdom is that he’d have a good shot of winning in a race for Utah governor, even against Josh Romney, who some see as inexperienced and unqualified. While Chaffetz was initially seen as a policy lightweight, more interested in attention than actually getting anything done, that perception has changed, and he’s now seen as a serious politician with a strong grasp of policy.

“I had initially been pretty skeptical of him,” said someone in the governor’s office who requested anonymity. “But I’ve become very impressed. He’s very intelligent and articulate.”

Then again, maybe Chaffetz is serious about a return to the private sector. On Thursday afternoon, rumors circulated he planned to announce his retirement, and he told Politico he’d already started looking for a job, hoping to “link up with a television network.”

“I started poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there,” Chaffetz said. “And I got a series of ‘Let us know when you’re serious.’ Well now I can say, ‘Can you tell I am serious?’”

Perhaps a Fox deal is already in hand. Joe Scarborough left Congress to become a TV host at MSNBC, and it didn’t kill his political career. As recently as the last election, his name was floated as a potential vice presidential candidate for the Trump ticket.

As for when Chaffetz might leave Congress, only he knows.

“I might depart early. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not next week," he told Politico. "If it is, it’s going to be in the months to come.”

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The Montana House Special Election-- A Guest Post From Mike Lux

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There is a trend developing in this election cycle, and it has the potential to fundamentally redefine the nature of politics in the Trump era.

In February, a Delaware special election that would determine which party controlled the state Senate was heavily targeted by both parties and expected to be very close, despite being a district that the Democrats only won 51-49 in 2014. This year, the Democrat won by over 17 points.

Progressive Democrat James Thompson ran in a very Republican blue-collar Kansas district that Donald Trump won by 27 points. Everyone assumed he would get blown out, but Thompson only lost by seven points. Mind you, that was after Ted Cruz came to Wichita to do a rally; Donald Trump did a GOTV robo-call; and the National Republican Campaign Committee did a last-minute media buy. Thompson, badly outspent, countered with an aggressive and innovative Facebook campaign (using both organic content and paid advertising) and an outstanding GOTV operation, and he almost pulled it off.

Right now in Georgia, there is another House special going on in a heavily Republican district (although it is a suburban Atlanta district that only went to Trump by a single point). Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate, won close to 49% in an 18-candidate primary (30 points more than the 2nd place Republican candidate), has raised more than $8,000,000, and has 7,000 volunteers doing GOTV work. The general election will be tougher because the Republican vote will consolidate behind their candidate, but Ossoff has a great chance to win in a solidly Republican district once held by Newt Gingrich.

We have the beginnings of a political earthquake here, folks. Democratic intensity is the highest I have ever seen in my 40 years of political work. Trump’s approval rating has started out lower than any other president in history. A lot of Trump voters now have mixed feelings about him, which means that their intensity level for turning out for these special elections — and if trends continue, even for the November 2018 election-- is low.

With this as background, I have a very strong recommendation for Democratic donors and political organizations: over the next five-plus weeks, there is no better use of your money and political muscle than the May 25 Montana special election for the House seat left open by Ryan Zinke, Trump’s new Interior Secretary. If you are already helping Ossoff out in GA 6, that is a great thing, but, frankly, with $8 million plus and 7,000 volunteers already in hand, they are reaching saturation levels and soon won’t need as much help. On the other hand, Montana has not been as much a focus of attention, and the potential to win that district is large. Here’s why you should take a look at this race:

1. Winning in GA 6 would be amazing (winning always is), but it is the kind of district that everyone assumes is trending away from Trump: an electorate that is very suburban, well educated, and professional. If Ossoff wins, it will be a strong accomplishment, but would be more or less expected by the pundits and political pros here in DC. On the other hand, if we were to win in heavily rural and blue-collar Montana, a state and district won by Trump 56-36, it would set off the kind of political earthquake that Scott Brown winning Ted Kennedy’s old seat in MA did in 2010. Republicans would start running for the hills. It’s already been difficult for Republicans to stay united and pass tough legislation, but if we win the Montana special, the panic on their side will be palpable.


Too liberal? Really? Contribute at the thermometer below


2. In spite of Montana being a very red state in presidential elections, it has been surprisingly purple in other statewide races in recent years. Democrat Governor Steve Bullock was just re-elected to a second term last year; Democrat Brian Schweitzer had been governor for two terms prior to Bullock’s two victories; incumbent Democratic Senator Jon Tester is running for his third term next year; and before being named by Obama as ambassador to China, Democrat Max Baucus had been a senator for decades. So clearly there is an openness to electing Democrats to major offices in Montana.

3. Democrats have a strong candidate while Republicans have a relatively weak one. The Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, is the same one who lost to Bullock in the governor’s race in 2016, and he had a lot of negatives exposed in that race. Meanwhile the Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, is a country music singer, who is a local legend in the state. 4. The top two staffers running Quist’s campaign are the same ones who managed Bullock’s successful re-election campaign. They know Gianforte in depth, and they know how to beat him.

5. Quist has already raised $1.4 million, so the campaign is off to a good start. However, the Republicans are beginning to understand the stakes and are dumping massive amounts of money into the race. Quist is going to need help.

6. There is a private poll that shows the race within ten points, despite Gianforte's big lead in name recognition, hot off of his run for governor. When voters read the bios and messages of both candidates, the race becomes a statistical dead heat. This is a winnable race if the Quist campaign gets the money it needs, and if independent efforts to do GOTV with American Indians and young people gain funding. If we win here, it is going to change the nature of the political environment and narrative for the 2018 cycle-- it will help Democrats recruit great candidates, expand the number of districts in play, help the Democrats raise more money, and boost Democratic activist involvement even more. I strongly encourage everyone to get involved in this race.
Goal Thermometer

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Is The Republican Civil War Jeopardizing John Culberson's Houston Seat? Ask Club For Growth

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If you're not from Tennessee, you may never have heard of Congresswoman Diane Black. She's an old racist witch, basically a classic neo-Nazi who's been representing a backward district in central Tennessee that conveniently skirts any cities, since 2010. TN-06 is made up of 19 shit-hole counties that God gave up on and abandoned to the Devil; most of the voters live in Sumner and Wilson counties. The dirt-poor district is almost entirely white-- and pretty much defines "trash." She's the absolute perfect representative-- except that she's a multimillionaire several times over, representing a bunch of poor hicks who don't have the good sense to understand she's screwing them over every single day. What a mess! The district has a PVI of R+21. McCain beat Obama there, 65-34%. Romney beat Obama 69-30% and Señor Trumpanzee beat Hillary 72.6% to 23.7%, Trump's second-best showing in the state.

I believe in the 50-state strategy-- but not for TN-06. Leave that pile of sewage alone. Let it exist as a kind of living museum of what happens when people listen to too much Hate Talk Radio and take too many opioids. It was Andrew Jackson's political base so it's perfect that the only president as corrupt as Jackson should also be so admired there.

Diane Black's record in Congress is the worst of any in Tennessee. Her ProgressivePunch lifetime crucial vote score is a whopping 1.13-- and a ZERO for the current session. She insists on being called a "congressman," not a congresswoman and hatred and bigotry exude from every pore of her hideous hide. But somehow the Club for Growth psychos have found a reason to be angry at her and started running the anti-Diane Black TV spot up top. It doesn't mean a thing. She isn't vulnerable. If the anti-Trump tsunami sweeps across America and the GOP loses 200 seats, Diane Black will be one of the ones left standing. Club for Growth knows that. The ad is symbolic (or something you have to be a right-wing loon to fully understand).

The ad below, though does mean something. It's from the same series of Club for Growth ads attacking Republican incumbents they're not happy with. Except this one attacks John Culberson in TX-07. This one is serious. Culberson is nearly as extreme right as Black-- but in a much more mainstream, diverse and well-educated district. His ProgressivePunch score for the current session is also a ZERO and his lifetime score is 2.12. But TX-07 has a PVI of R+13. It includes west Houston (just beyond the Rice campus), west through Bellaire and out past Bunker Hill Village and Barker Reservoir. Romney won it with 60% and Culberson usually does even better than that. Last November, though, he was reelected against a weak Democratic candidate, James Cargas, 143,369 (56.2%) to 111,774 (43.8%), the worst Culberson had ever done. Looks like he was dragged down by Trump, who didn't match Romney's 60% win. In fact Hillary beat Trumpy-the-Clown in the district 48.5% to 47.1%.



We reached Jason Westin, the cancer doctor campaigning hard against Culberson, and he told us that he never thought he'd say these words: "these are strange times: I agree with the Club for Growth about Mr Culberson. I agree that Career Congressman Culberson should oppose the border adjustment tax. In 2015, Texas alone had $84 Billion in imports from Mexico. A 20% tax on these goods would devastate the Texas 7th economy-- hardly putting 'America first.' I also agree the congressional seat currently occupied by the empty suit Culberson has a huge target on it for 2018. The district was won by Clinton in 2016, is increasingly diverse, and is highly educated and affluent-- all of which means 'not Trump territory.' Mr Culberson has attached himself to Mr Trump, going so far as to call him 'the father of the interplanetary highway system,' and has voted with Mr Trump 100% of the time. Even if Mr Culberson wanted to soften his radical right wing positions, being targeted by the Club for Growth this early shows he is in a very dangerous position. I hope he survives his Republican primary so I can face him in 2018, although I highly doubt the Club for Growth ads will continue to run then."

The district's been changing. Only 44% of the population is white now. Nearly a third is Hispanic and there are large, motivated Black and Asian populations too. It's a wealthy district, way better off than a hellish backwater like Diane Black's. And Trump is not anyone's idea of an American president. There are already 4 Democrats vying to take on Culberson next year-- Jason Westin, Debra Kerner, Joshua Butler and James Cargas-- and the DCCC has identified TX-07 as a top target. Let's hope Club for Growth spends plenty of money running the ad:



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French Elections Tomorrow-- Putin Gambling Big On Neo-Nazi Marine Le Pen

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French elections are on weekends, when most people aren't at work and find it easier to vote. Makes sense, right? Tomorrow is the first round of the presidential election. The two top contenders will face-off on May 7. (Elections of the National Assembly come in mid-June.) Last we looked at the race, it appeared neo-Nazi Marine Le Pen would make it into the run-off. It still looks that way. Her polling numbers are stayed steady at around 23%. And the conventional wisdom at the time that an old right-wing-- though not neo-Nazi-- crook (crook as in dripping with corruption), Republican François Fillon would be the alternative. The French would be left to pick between a version of Trump and a version of Ted Cruz. Then a couple of Fillon's corruption cases exploded and he lost most of his credibility, causing the anti-Le Pen center to coalesce around independent Emmanuel Macron. So it looks like he is the most likely to face off against Le Pen in May. The tracking polls released yesterday show Macron with between 23% and 24.5%, Le Pen with between 22.5% and 23%, the left-wing candidate, Fillon with between 19% and 19.5%, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon with between 18.5% and 19.5%. No one else is in double digits.

Every single poll going back to January, 2016 shows Macron beating Le Pen by a landslide-- over 60% for him, mid-30s for her. Should Fillon somehow win tomorrow, polls show him also beating Le Pen comfortably. Ditto for Mélenchon-- he would beat either Le Pen or Fillon in May, but would be beaten by Macron.

Macron is a 39 year old ex-bankster (at Rothschild & Cie Banque) and an ex-Socialist, but more like a Blue Dog than what we think of as a socialist. He's straight down the middle politically, mostly hiding a platform and just campaigning on bullshit and claptrap. He finally released a program in March. His policies fit in perfectly with establishment conservatives like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. A couple of days ago he was kind of endorsed by Obama. A year ago he was Hollande's right-of-center Economy Minister but he has managed to recast himself as "an outsider."

Seeing Obama, who is well-regarded and admired in France, endorse Macron, Trump couldn't prevent himself from rising to the bait and more or less endorsing the neo-Nazi Le Pen. Trump is viewed as a figure of derision in France and he is widely disliked. After Trump jumped into the GA-06 first round against Ossoff, Ossoff's 43% polling shot up by 5 points in 4 days to finish just north of 48%. And the French have even more disdain for Trump than the suburban voters north of Atlanta do. It will be interesting to see if Trump's little kiss of death drives Le Pen's numbers down tomorrow. A friend of mine in Bordeaux told me not to count on it and that French voters wouldn't be likely to pay any more attention to a Trump endorsement than to a Putin endorsement or an endorsement from a random mime. "Trump has no credibility in France," he told me. "People here either laugh at him or worry what happened to America."

Gallup reported yesterday that "Trump averaged 41% job approval during his first quarter as president, 14 percentage points lower than any other president in Gallup's polling history. Bill Clinton had the previous low mark of 55%. The average first-quarter rating among post-World War II presidents elected to their first term is 61%, with John Kennedy's 74% the highest." He's far less popular in France.

Trump, in his incoherent way of off-the-cuff speaking, channeled fascist advisor Steve Bannon in telling the Associated Press that Le Pen is "strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France." Le Pen, firmly allied with Vladimir Putin (who gave her $10 million), wants to take France out of NATO and out of the EU. After Trump's victory in November, Le Pen told CNN that Monsieur Trumpanzéé "has made possible what was presented as completely impossible. So it's a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization. They cannot bear the political life led by the elites."
Echoing Trump's "Make America Great Again" election slogan, she vowed to oversee a return to France's glory days, saying if she were in power, the country would be "nothing like you have seen in the last 30 years."

"It would be very different. It would be the comeback of France, of the France that you like, of the France that hundreds of millions inhabitants of the earth love."

She said there would be no place for multiculturalism under a Le Pen presidency.

"I am opposed to a multicultural France, I think that those who have a different culture and who arrive in France have to submit themselves to French culture. Like the old saying, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' I think that in France we should do like the French people.

"That doesn't mean discriminating against, (or) persecuting; it means we have a culture, we have values, and all those who come to our place have to submit themselves to this culture and these values. ... Saying ... 'Come as you are, keep living like you do, keep your culture and we will add all that together,' doesn't work. Multicultural societies are multi-conflict societies."

Le Pen praised the US President-elect for what she called "his willingness to break with the idea that the USA has to police the world."
Oops. I guess Trump is disappointing European neo-Nazis the same way he's disappointing his moron supporters in America. Our old friend emorej a Hong Kong came up with a way to map what he calls French Presidential Candidates’ Weirdness by using American equivalents that he encouraged me to share with you:

One way for Americans to keep track of the five major French Presidential candidates (especially the favored Centrist), in tomorrow’s ‘jungle primary,’ is by equating them with American politicians.

This works best by in a counter-history where:

Barack Obama did not become a national figure; and
The 2008-2016 Tim Geithner-guided bailout and “recovery” (and the US occupation of Libya and Syria) was presided over by President Hillary and her Vice-President Tim Kaine.
In this counter-history’s 2016 US Presidential election:
The American version of Benoit Hamon is Democratic nominee Martin O’Malley (who defeated Hillary-backed Tim Kaine in the primary), who then faded in opinion polls;
The American version of Jean-Luc Melenchon is Bernie Sanders, running as an independent (with platform written by Jill Stein and Noam Chomsky), who has surprised everybody with a late surge in opinion polls;
The American version of Marine Le Pen is Steve Bannon;
The American version of Francois Fillon is Republican nominee Dick Cheney (with a mouth transplant from Spiro Agnew), whose corruption scandals have undercut his moralizing rhetoric; and...
--Now we get to “the weird part” (!)--
The American version of Emmanuel Macron (the “favorite” running ‘up the middle’), is Tim Geithner!
Yes, the young architect of reviled President Hillary’s most-reviled economic policies, who has never before stood for election, even for High School Class dog-catcher, has been projected as the round-two run-off winner in virtually every poll.

So what will happen?
If Brexit and Trump-ocalypse are any guide, then the undecided (who are numerous), along with late mind-changing voters, should break heavily against Macron-Geithner.
If moderate Left voters feel any debt towards the harder Left, which has held its nose to help elect many moderate Left politicians, then supporters of the fading Hamon-O’Malley should break heavily towards the surging Melenchon-Sanders.
A majority of downwardly mobile small-town Whites (does this sound familiar?) will vote for Le Pen-Bannon, out of anger at Muslims, other Browns and Blacks.
The big question is whether a substantial minority of these voters will vote for Melenchon-Sanders out of anger at German economic dominance and American strategic recklessness.
And then two weeks later comes the top-two run-off, when:
The Macron-Geithner central platform plank,
to ‘reduce government spending, and
share what's left with more immigrants’,
makes him the perfect foil to lose to either of the
previously “unelectable” candidates Le Pen-Bannon or Melenchon-Sanders.
Of course the MSM insists that President Melenchon would be catastrophic but, from a Progressive perspective, many of Melenchon’s most extreme platform planks are easy to see as negotiating positions that could result in useful compromises.

In contrast, the truly terrifying (and probably most-likely) scenario of President Le Pen, pushing France out of Europe and “foreigners” out of France, would put much of Europe into freefall, towards a bottom that nobody can predict.



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Friday, April 21, 2017

Yes, Let's Have A Big Tent-- While Not Stinking It Up With Anti-Choice Dirt-Bags And Racists

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Yesterday, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), speaking at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, noted how the supporters of the Jim Crow laws that the 60s generation was still fighting are very much alive and well inside the Republican Party, particularly inside the Trump Regime. Thankfully, at this point, we've mostly driven them out of the Democratic Party. Hopefully, forever. "While Jim Crow may be dead, he's got some nieces and nephews that are alive and well. And a few of them are running around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," explained Jeffries to an appreciative audience. Too bad Elijah Cummings and Tom Perez weren't in it.

When I was growing up, the members of Congress who prevented civil rights legislation from passing-- many of them untouchably powerful committee chairmen-- were Democrats, mostly, though not entirely, from the South. Someone should ask Elijah Cummings if he'd want them to be part of his Big Tent too... because I can't imagine many of them would be interested in being in a tent with him if he's being treated equally. Cummings was on Morning Joe yesterday extolling the virtues of the big tent and how fabulous the Blue Dogs-- like the Trumpists, the nieces and nephews of Jim Crow-- are. "Because it's one thing to say, 'OK, I don't want to be bothered with these folks.' It's another thing to say, 'Let's pull them under the tent, so we can be effective and efficient in getting something done.' Period." Tom Perez was on ABC News and very much on the same page: "If you’re going to be a big tent party as we are, and you're going to help elect Democrats who have generated support in their communities ... the will of those voters is the will that we must respect."

They were both talking about anti-Choice Democrats. I don't want to kill them or hurt them or say they can't register as Democrats and vote for Democratic candidates. They're more than welcome to. But they can't be leaders of the party and they can't drag the Democratic Party backwards towards the bad old days. After all, that's what we have a Republican Party to represent. The Democratic Party is a pro-Choice party, the same way the Democratic Party is a pro-equality party. Cummings and Perez might need a little refresher course.

That poll PPP released yesterday showing a mammoth 2018 enthusiasm gap developing for the Democrats is not because the Democrats want to welcome racists and anti-Choice freaks into the party leadership. "Democrats," reports PPP, "lead the generic Congressional ballot 47-41. But what's more notable is the enthusiasm imbalance. 63% of Democrats say they're 'very excited' about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans who express that sentiment. When you look at the 2018 House picture just among the voters most excited about turning out next year, the lead for Democrats grows to 19 points at 57-38. Republican leaning voters are comparatively disengaged, with the GOP holding advantages only among voters who are 'somewhat excited' (48- 40) and 'not that excited' (46-31)... One reason for the comparative lack of Republican excitement may be the continued unpopularity of Donald Trump. Only 43% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 50% who disapprove. The core promise of Trump's campaign was to 'Make America Great Again,' but only 35% of voters actually think he's accomplished that goal to 55% who think he hasn't... One finding that may best sum it all up when it comes to how down voters are on Trump: by a 42/40 spread, they have a higher opinion of United Airlines than they do of him."

Ryan and McConnell, tied to the Republican Party's despised anti-Choice and racist policies, are colossally unpopular. Who wants to invite that stinking pile of garbage into the Democratic tent? Oh, right: Elijah Cummings, Tom Perez and, of course, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If the Democratic Party doesn't stand for something besides coddling Wall Street campaign donors, it will wind up as hated as the Republican Party-- and deservedly so.



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Tulsi Gabbard's Republican Friends Aren't Doing Well

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Tulsi with Miriam Adelson and Rabbi Shmuley

Tulsi Gabbard was born into a staunchly Republican family. Her father, Mike Gabbard, a religious-right whackadoodle obsessed with homosexuality ran as a Republican, for the congressional seat Tulsi now represents. He lost. Two years later (2006) he was elected to an open state Senate seat as a Republican. He was basically a one issue asshole: it was all about his crackpot homophobia. Seeing there wasn't much he could accomplish as a Republican, he switched parties-- keep all his right-wing baggage and bullshit but ran with a "D" next to his name, while rejecting much of the party agenda. It saw how well being a conservaDem was working for his daughter who was in the state legislature leading the anti-LGBT jihad there. What a truly disgusting pair they were! In 2012 EMILY's List helped get her into Congress.

Tulsa's always known how to get along with Republicans. It's in her DNA. Once she got to Congress she started dating Republican Mafia thug Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm and palling around with another GOP criminal Aaron Schock (R-IL) who was hoping to use her to get into Grimm's pants. Both Grimm and Schock were forced to resign in disgrace. Grimm went to prison. Schock is still trying to avoid prison. Meanwhile, ProgressivePunch rates her lifetime crucial vote score an "F." So far this session she has a score of 50, voting for and against progressive initiatives an equal amount of times. With the exception of a few issues, she's right down in the trash pile with the Blue Dogs and New Dems.

And she's developed a strong relationship with the Adelsons. In fact 2 years after first being elected, she teamed up with Jason Chaffetz and a gaggle of other Republicans eager to kiss Adelson's fat ass by introducing a bill to ban internet gambling, one of his obsessions.




She and Chaffetz-- now one of the most prominent and hated faces of Republican fecklessness-- became friends and now it looks like he's resigning as well-- although the reasons haven't become clear yet. What is clear though is that whichever Republican malefactor she teams up with soon winds up destroying his own career. And you know who else she's close with? Steve Bannon. He tried persuading Trump to appoint her to a big State Department job. Trump met with her at Trump Tower and... didn't appoint her to anything. And Bannon, as you know, still hasn't resigned... at least not yet. At a townhall in Hilo on Wednesday, Gabbard says she's looking into what impeaching Trump would mean. She told her constituents that she understands "the calls for impeachment, but what I am being cautious about and what I give you food for thought about is that if President Trump is impeached, the problems don't go away, because then you have a Vice President Pence who becomes President Pence. If you do your research on his positions on many of the issues we've talked, many of the issues that I get phone calls about from people all across the state, the issue of war and peace, he's about as hawkish as they come. Issues relating to the environment, education, healthcare-- I disagree with so many of the positions that he has. In some ways given the fact that he's a former member of Congress and very well connected within the Republican establishment in Washington, he'd be able to, I believe, be far more effective in furthering his agenda than we have seen so far in President Trump's first 100 days."



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Will Trump Allow Sessions To Set The Agenda On Marijuana?

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A new poll from CBS News may come as something of a shock to Trump Regime Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is working on amping up the failed and disastrous Republican war on drugs. The poll shows that 61% of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a 5-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded by CBS. An overwhelming 88% favor medical marijuana use! But significant numbers of Republican elected officials haven't moved out of their grandparents' perspective and are completely out of sync with where the country is on marijuana use. Even most Republicans (63%) are against Sessions' plans to interfere with marijuana sales in states that have legalized it-- as do 71% of all Americans.

65% of respondents say marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs and only 23% buy into the ancient GOP claptrap that legalizing marijuana leads to an increase violent crime. Most of the opposition to legalization comes from the elderly, a group still brainwashed by Republican Party pieties going back decades and long disproven.

Earlier today we were talking about the hot special election race in Montana. One metric we used was how Trump beat Hillary in the state 279,240 (56.2%) to 177,709 (35.7%). On that same day, it's worth noting, that a ballot measure making it easier to buy medical marijuana in Montana passed 291,334 (57.9%) to 212,089 (42.1%). Yeah, that's right-- medical marijuana was more popular in Montana than either Trump or Clinton.

One long-time Trump crony and advisor, Roger Stone, violently disagrees with Sessions' approach and is urging Trump to slap Sessions down. Soon after Trump was named president, Stone wrote that one of the most controversial decisions Trump will have to make is whether to continue the federal stand-down by the Justice department "in which DOJ does not enforce federal marijuana laws where they contradict state laws legalizing the legal use and sale of marijuana in the 37 states where it is currently legal in some form. Canceling the order by Obama attorney general Eric Holder to stand down on marijuana would cause a major dislocation in multiple states that are currently budgeting millions in state revenue from the taxation of marijuana and un-employing hundreds of thousands of people currently working in an industry legalized by the states." He urged Trump to "view this as a business man; U.S. government cannot turn back the clock on federal marijuana law enforcement."

Trump has always been pro-medical marijuana. His views on legalization have been, as with most things, muddled and incoherent. In an interview with the Washington Post just before Halloween, 2015 candidate Trump said "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. And of course, you have Colorado. There’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free." At CPAC the same year, Trump said legalization "is bad... Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad, and I feel strongly about it."

Stone also pointed out that Florida's Amendment 2 (approving medical marijuana) was on the ballot the same day Trump won the state's 29 electoral votes. 4,617,886 Floridians voted for Trump (49%). But 6,518,919 Floridians (71.3%) voted to legalize medical marijuana. That's a very significant disparity. Stone warned that "If, after winning the election, Donald Trump listens to the likes of Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions he risks alienating his base and his newly won supporters in a very tangible way. Both Sessions and Christie come from 'Old World' War on Drugs thinking. Criminalized marijuana has directly lead to the persecution of countless individuals, the vast majority of whom are poor and minorities. That this was the desired result of the designers of the system of criminalization cannot be reasonable doubted."





Stone keeps warning Trump about Sessions' reactionary instincts. Early this month he was at it again:
Jeff Sessions states his position plainly: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana”. This plainly false statement, made in all earnestness, clearly demonstrates how far from the mainstream Sessions is on this topic. Very few Americans would agree with him on this, as evidenced in the wave of legalization that washed over the United States over the past five years. More importantly, sick people use marijuana whose medicinal value is proven yet strangely still denied by the Federal Government.

In many States, the road to medical legalization was hard fought, often with State Constitutional amendments requiring over 60% of the popular vote. The Trump Administration should be mindful that the recreational marijuana measures that passed in several states all passed this same way, with overwhelming popular support. This was clearly the Will of the People. It is not Jeff Sessions place to prosecute his version of morality and President Trump should not allow him to do so.

Just the idea of Sessions re-ignites the marijuana drug war has caused consternation within the fledgling State Legal Marijuana Industry. Investments have floundered, confusion introduced, and little in the way of relief has been forthcoming from the White House. This chaos has opened the door for the Cartels.They were being driven out of shriveling black markets, but are now able to reconstitute their distribution networks, filling the gaps left open by patchwork Federal enforcement and by the industries fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Cracking down on legalized marijuana will starve States out of much needed revenue streams. Colorado is a great success story when looked at from a tax base point of view, and much needed revenue is coming in to fund education and government services. Colorado generated over sixty-six million dollars in tax revenue in 2015 and has increased by double digits’ year over year since. Losing that money will put them deep into the red and cause a burden upon the whole State, as well as throwing thousands of people out of work while destroying a billion-dollar industry.

I urge President Trump to honor his word and keep his promise, irrespective of what his Cabinet members may say.  There are so many other ways that law enforcement can be put to good use rather than to persecute harmless farmers and shopkeepers who are abiding by State law.
Meanwhile, last week the Canadian Government announced new legislation to legalize marijuana, fulfilling a promise Trudeau made while he was campaigning. By the summer of 2018 it should be legal in Canada for people to possess small amounts of pot and there will be guidelines in place for growing and selling marijuana.

Canadian companies are making a play for investment dollars to head north. InMed Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian pre-clinical biotechnology company saw its stock double after the government announced legalization plans.
When compared to the American market, which did in fact grow 34% last year, people are saying that “the industry has matured to a certain point,” indicating that there are still many obstacles on the road to full legalization in the states. Obstacles such as political players like Attorney General Jeff Sessions releasing a memo that his newly created task force will be “evaluating marijuana enforcement policy,” or the fact that the CJS amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from using any funds to interfere in state medical cannabis programs and bars ongoing federal cases-- expires April 28th. If it is not renewed, patients, caregivers, doctors, and industry workers abiding by their state's medical cannabis law will no longer be protected from federal prosecution.

One big difference is the Canadian cannabis industry offers investors more compelling opportunities because medical cannabis is legal at the federal level. The government’s plan to legalize cannabis has made several licensed medical cannabis producers attractive investment opportunities to institutional investors, hedge funds and investment banks. Additionally, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supporting full legalization and bankers, lawyers and accountants operating without fear of prosecution making sure medical marijuana producers have access to these much-needed services.


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As Usual, The DCCC And The Beltway Dems Are Failing The Grassroots In Montana

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Last night, we tried explaining why we think Jon Ossoff is a good choice for progressives... in if he isn't a clone of Elizabeth Warren or Pramila Jayapal. After all, that's not how politics works. Ossoff is progressive enough and the effect on Trump's legislative agenda if he beats Karen Handel in GA-06 on June 20 is something every progressive should be focused on. (And, no, if Ossoff were a Blue Dog or New Dem, I would not have written that and Blue America would not have endorsed him. But he's not and we did.) There seems to be a lot of anger from what appears to be Hillary dead-enders but could possibly be Russian hackers pretending to be Hillary dead-enders about Bernie Sanders these days. If my twitter feed is any indication, the most popular political leader in America is just loathed by a bunch of unbelievably dumb and ill-informed Hillary-bots. I think they must be mostly from Macedonia and Albania.

As for Bernie not campaigning for Ossoff, that's his decision. I would like to point out that, unlike the DCCC, DNC and Kansas Democratic Party, Bernie and Our Revolution tried helping James Thompson in KS-04 (an area Bernie is more popular in than GA-06 anyway). And now Bernie is also helping-- so far without the DNC or DCCC-- in Montana. Bernie's big in Montana. Although the corrupt and hated Democratic establishment had rigged the rules so that Hillary would get the bulk of the delegates, Bernie beat her in the primary-- 51.1% to 44.6%. In many places it was close but in some counties the disparity was eye-popping, In Missoula Bernie took 60.4% of the vote to Hillary's 36.9%. In Wibaux County Hillary only got 26.7% of the primary vote. This is a state Bernie where Bernie has a lot to offer. Obviously no one is calling on Hillary to campaign for anyone anywhere. Her muddled inauthentic message would be poison in any of these seats. None of these candidates want visits from Schumer or Pelosi either. I bet they'd welcome Ted Lieu with open arms.

In Montana, Trump beat Hillary 279,240 (55.6%) to 177,709 (35.4%). Trump won all but 6 counties in the general. Those Bernie voters up in Missoula County, though, they dutifully turned out for Hillary and gave her one of her only bright spots in the state, winning the county 53.4% to 37.7%. Montana, of course, is anything but a lost cause, even if the feeble minds at the DCCC see it that way. On the same day Trump won, Montanans reelected their Democratic governor-- and he was running against the same multimillionaire crackpot, Greg Gianforte, who's running for the open congressional seat. One of Montana's senators, Jon Tester, is a Democrat and when he first ran, he ran as a populist and took on the establishment hack Schumer tried shoving down Montana Democrats' throats. Tester beat Schumer's hack and then beat the Republican incumbent.

So now the Democrats have nominated another non-establishment candidate, Rob Quist, and, as they habitually do, the DNC and DCCC are dragging their fat asses about supporting him. The election is next month and it may be too late already. When James Thompson took the nomination away from the establishment piece of crap the DCCC wanted in the KS-04 race, the DCCC immediately pulled out of the state. That's their pattern. They despise the Democratic grassroots as much as the Democratic grassroots despise them. Now they look ready to let Quist fail rather than allow the choice of grassroots Democrats to for their hand into backing a progressive. Reading Jonathan Martin's Beltway-centric analysis of the Montana race in the NY Times, you don't get that perspective although you walk away from his piece wondering why the Democratic establishment isn't helping Quist. Journalists aren't allowed to write about DCCC, DNC and DSCC motivations; strictly verboten.

Martin quotes Quist at the top of his report about the Betway Dems: "They’ve been on the sidelines a little too long, and it’s time for them to get in the game... they're coming." Are they? Bernie is? How about some cash though? Grassroots Dems are furious at the DNC and DCCC. DNC Chair Tom Perez is being boo-ed by large crowds on his tour of red and purple states with Bernie-- but not by red and purple voters, by Democrats. "A groundswell of new activism on the left," wrote Martin, "is demanding attention... [G]grass-roots liberals are not about to let party leaders lapse back into traditional red state, blue state assumptions. Instead, the Democrats’ enthusiastic base is demanding to compete on terrain that once seemed forbidding, a formula for disputes now and in 2018 about where to put the party’s money and field operations."
“The party clearly has no clue how to build and nurture a movement,” said Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the liberal website Daily Kos, which has taken the lead in raising money for Democratic candidates first in Georgia, then Kansas and now Montana. “‘We’re going to lose, so stay out’ is not a winning message, ever, and it certainly doesn’t work in these times, when we have a national resistance energized and looking for ways to engage.”

...Hillary Clinton and the Democrats waged a campaign that was overly cautious and insufficiently populist, they say, resulting in the election of perhaps the most detested candidate in the left’s modern history. Now the left wants to go for broke.

The internecine dispute over where to play could last well beyond this season of special elections and into the 2018 midterm elections. At issue is whether the campaign arm of the House Democrats and the Democratic National Committee should dedicate money and staff to campaigns that may appear to be a reach but that could still galvanize small-dollar donors and activists hungry to compete.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont says they should, expressing regret that the party did not help its nominee in Kansas and vowing to campaign for Mr. Quist. Senior union officials have also urged party leaders to lean in to this series of special elections, which will continue in South Carolina in June and potentially in Pennsylvania should Representative Tom Marino become drug czar, according to Democratic sources briefed on the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Democratic officials make no apology for their decision to stay away from the Kansas race, where their nominee lost by less than seven percentage points in a Wichita-based district that Mr. Trump carried by 27 points in November. They say their money has been better spent helping Mr. Ossoff.

“I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense to spend resources where you don’t have a shot at winning,” Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, said. “People tend to get disappointed.”

Mr. Clyburn noted that few leading Kansas Democrats said they “thought they were headed to a victory” rather than just a “closer than expected” finish.

But that is not the case in Montana, where a preference for Republican presidential candidates belies the state’s enduring Democratic tradition. Its governor, Steve Bullock, is a Democrat. One of its senators, Jon Tester, is a Democrat. And now its one House seat is vacant.

“National folks should be coming in here,” Governor Bullock said. “It is a winnable race.”

Mr. Bullock should know. His re-election last year, by four percentage points against the Republican Greg Gianforte, was the fourth consecutive gubernatorial race that Democrats have won in Big Sky country. The state has also not sent two Republican senators to Washington at the same time since the Constitution was amended to require the popular election of senators.

Goal Thermometer Yet to the frustration of Democrats here, Mr. Quist has received no defense from national third-party groups-- and he’s running against Mr. Gianforte, who was just beaten statewide. Mr. Gianforte and three Washington-based conservative organizations have spent more than $1.4 million on television and radio since February, much of it attacking Mr. Quist.

Democratic officials, contributors and activists in Montana, which Mr. Sanders carried in the presidential primary, are clearly agitated over their Washington-based party. They say the top-down leadership never misses an opportunity to play it safe.

Echoing the demands that progressives made just over a decade ago when another Republican president ignited the liberal rank-and-file, Montana Democrats express irritation that they must persuade their party to contest red-tinged seats. And in some cases, they are even borrowing the animating language from the backlash to President George W. Bush’s second term.

“This is the time for the 50-state strategy. What are they waiting for?” said Julia Shaida, a 60-year-old Bozeman yoga teacher who recently moved here from New York. “The energy is here. I read that they didn’t support the Kansas candidate. That’s very upsetting to me.”

Standing outside Mr. Quist’s new Bozeman headquarters on Saturday, a few hours after a spring snow shower and before she was to begin canvassing, Ms. Shaida made a plea: “Don’t be afraid of a populist message.”

The irony of that message may have been lost on a crowd heavier on Patagonia and North Face outerwear than well-worn Carhartt trousers, packed into an old labor hall still replete with Teamsters logos.

But the combination of old and new-- Montana’s enduring union tradition alongside its new, liberal transplants-- is keeping the state competitive for Democrats.

Mr. Quist, 69, is an unmistakable product of the older Montana, quick to note the depth of his roots (third-generation Montanan) and to explain how his ancestors made their way to Cut Bank, not far from the Canadian border. In his cowboy hat, boots and black jeans, the mustachioed Mr. Quist could be mistaken for the Marlboro Man, if that icon of Western grit had spent much of the last few decades playing gigs in fraternity house basements as frontman for the Mission Mountain Wood Band.

His Republican opponent reflects the changing nature of the state, although he is more conservative than many of the new arrivals. A New Jersey native, Mr. Gianforte, 56, became a billionaire when he sold the software company he founded, RightNow Technologies, to Oracle.

Some Democrats here complain that no money has been spent focusing attention on the same issues that sank Mr. Gianforte’s run for governor last year, like his lawsuit to stop access to a river near his Bozeman home. Access to public lands is a perennial hot-button issue in vast Western states, particularly in pristine Montana.

“They need to come in and rip the scab off the message that hurt Gianforte last year,” said Evan Barrett, a nearly 50-year veteran of Montana Democratic politics, alluding to the ad assault Democrats unleashed over Mr. Gianforte’s lawsuit. “Those wounds are still very fresh.”

In his address at the headquarters opening, Mr. Quist invoked “Texas oil tycoons” funding national conservative groups who, he charged, would like to have their way with the state.

And little is being done by Democrats to prop up the Libertarian nominee on the ballot, who could siphon votes from the Republican. Usually, Democrats are not shy about such political mischief-making.

Mr. Gianforte is leading the race, according to private surveys that both parties have conducted, although a Democratic group, House Majority PAC, was to gauge the race with a new poll this week. While Mr. Trump remains more popular here than in most states, there is ample anti-Trump energy on the left: Organizers estimated that as many as 10,000 people turned out in 20-degree weather for the January Women’s March in Helena, a gathering Mr. Bullock said was the largest crowd ever to rally in front of the state capitol.

Becky Weed, a sheep rancher from Belgrade, Mont., said after an agriculture-focused event for Mr. Quist that her party needed to open its eyes to what such a turnout meant.

“The first thing they could start doing is listening to campaigns like this,” said Ms. Weed. (“Bad name for a farmer,” she joked.) “We got into trouble because they weren’t really listening to people at a grass-roots level. They were trying to direct things from on high, and it’s reparable-- but we got to do it fast.”

Nancy Keenan, the Montana Democratic chairwoman, said the seeds for an upset had been sown.

“Get in the game, get in the game,” she said in an interview at the state party office in Helena, “because you’re not going to take credit for it after we’ve won it.”
UPDATE: DCCC Felt The Pain

Enough pressure was applied to... ah... to... to what? That's the question. The DCCC has tossed in a small amount of money into the Montana race, nothing like the millions it takes to win a congressional race but a little something. The DCCC was bragging by late yesterday that they've put "six figures" into Montana. That could be $100,000 or $100,001. I bet it's not $900,000. First some good news: they're leaving it to the state party to decide how to use the money. That's great because the DCCC always uses their investments in races badly and state parties generally know how to do it better and more cost effectively. So that's good. But $100,000 doesn't go very far. Last cycle, the DCCC and Pelosi's House Majority PAC spent $3,832,352 on behalf of Jersey Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer. And they spent another $6,562,478 on behalf of less-than-worthless conservative Jacky Rosen in Nevada. Now that kind of spending helps win races. We'll soon see if they're serious about helping in Montana or just trying to placate angry Democrats around the country. What's your guess? I bet you know mine.



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