Let’s Talk About Sluts


That got your attention, right? Everyone likes to talk about sluts.  But what about slut-shaming?

yoga pantsEarlier this week, my daughter, Dayah Dover, a junior in high school, addressed the Billings school board regarding changes to the dress code.  Reading the nasty comments made not only directed to her-but to all women- in the comments of the Billings Gazette inspired my return to blogging after a year-long hiatus.

Across the country, middle and high schools are walking a very fine line between dress code enforcement and slut-shaming and increasingly our young women are getting an entirely different sort of education than they one we intended for them.  Skyview High School in Billings recently amended the school’s dress code to address articles of clothing the administration believes are distracting to boys.  Leggings, yoga pants, and jeggings are now banned unless they are worn with skirts, shorts or pants.  I don’t deny that schools  have the right to regulate the attire of students, but the justification of this policy smacks of slut-shaming.  To suggest that the attire of high school girls is responsible for boys’ bad behavior is truly alarming.  That school administrators would treat girls’ bodies as inherently distracting is an attitude deeply-rooted in rape culture and it is truly sad that Skyview Principal Deb Black, a female, continues to perpetuate this.

If boys are indeed unduly distracted by the presence of female curves, why aren’t we having discussions with our boys about respecting women and not objectifying them? This is like asking a rape victim what she was wearing, as if it contributed to her rape. We teach our girls to not get raped rather than teaching our boys to not rape.  “Boys will be boys”, right? Let’s just ban the offending garments, sending the message to our young girls that the behavior of the boys is justified due to the girls’ clothing choices.   We put the onus on our young women to not only assist in educating the boys but to also prevent themselves from being objectified.  This is shameful.  And what message are we sending our boys?  That they are have no free will at all- they are all just latent rapists and girls should modify their behavior to avoid provoking their lust?  Be honest. The articles of clothing aren’t distracting, young women’s bodies are.  julie mccartney

The typically reasonable blogger, James Conners of Flathead Memo today wrote I’m no fan of dress codes, but I’m also no fan of students’ wearing costumes that are intended to win, well, the agitated attention of the opposite sex. There’s a place for that, but it’s not in school. And those leggings clad lasses and their defenders know it.”  What??  I don’t know any woman who ever puts on an article of clothing with the intention of winning the “agitated attention of the opposite sex”, I certainly don’t.  Don’t flatter yourself, guys.  I can assure you that the reason we are wearing leggings is much more likely because we have our period and are bloated and uncomfortable than because we are trying to impress you.

What is the problem here?  Does nobody in Montana understand how these policies and the negative discussion surrounding them harms our teenagers?  Our girls already face inordinate pressure to maintain impossible standards of beauty- teaching them their bodies are something to be ashamed of is permanently damaging to self-esteem.  The teenage years are tough enough, why are school administrators contributing to such inherently negative ideas?

I’m sure there are students pushing dress code limits every day, that is what kids do, and that is why we set limits.  But these limits should promote the education of all students, not just one gender or population.  This isn’t about yoga pants, leggings or jeggings.  This isn’t even about the dress code.  This controversy underscores a serious societal problem that is being bolstered by sexist policies like Skyview’s and eliminating wardrobe items deemed too provocative or distracting addresses only a symptom, not the underlying issue.  This is an affront to equality and panders to a culture of victim blaming and slut shaming.  And is appalling.   Dayah started a petition at change.org to “Unban Yoga Pants and Leggings” at Skyview.  You can sign it here.  

craig moorestripper comments

Montana FINALLY repeals law criminalizing homosexuality


The number of Americans who oppose marriage equality is dwindling fast, but it appears many of those remaining homophobes are representing Montana in the legislature.  In spite of the 34 representatives who voted today to retain Montana’s antiquated law criminalizing homosexual sex.  The statute, which classifies homosexuality as sexual deviance, on par with bestiality has been declared unconstitutional in a 1997 decision by Montana’s Supreme Court, but that fact is apparently of no consequence to these representatives, including Rep. Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula)  who is currently running for the Republican candidate for US Senate.  Ten senators earlier voted against repealing this law.

The final House vote tally on SB 107 is as follows:

SB 107 vote tabulation

 

And the Senate:

SB 107 Senate votes

In case you missed it yesterday, Representative Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip) provided testimony in support of repealing Montana’s ugly and embarrassing law.  Watch his testimony here.  Another Republican supported repealing the law for very different reasons, from the Billings Gazette, (emphasis mine)

Rep. Jonathan McNiven, R- Huntley, said voting for the bill doesn’t mean he endorses homosexuality.

“I don’t support this type of lifestyle,” he said. “I think we need to keep our eye on the ball and start promoting marriage as a union between a man and a woman. …

“But that’s not what this bill says. I am going to vote for this bill because we still love these people. We want to help these people. Every one of us is not perfect.”

Rep. Hagstrom (R-Billings) said he voted no on SB 107 because gay sex doesn’t reproduce people and therefore is a deviant act.  Rep Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) naturally evoked religion as his justification for opposing the bill, claiming it was his moral obligation not to pass the legislation. “There is an enormous biblical principle here. There is a truth. I know public opinion may be swaying with the time but the truth does not sway and so it was default to scripture.”

Despite the hateful church crowd, the time has finally come to repeal Montana’s law criminalizing gay sex. After 20 years of failed attempts- who could forget last session’s “gay recruiting” testimony by Rep Ken Peterson (R-Billings)-  a repeal decidedly passed both houses and is headed to Governor Bullock’s desk, awaiting a certain signature.

Congratulations to sponsors Sen. Tom Facey ( D-Missoula), Nicholas Schwaderer (R-Superior), Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula);  the other legislators who supported this bill as well as Montana’s LGBT community.  It is time that Montana puts this law in our past.

Take some time to thank the Republicans who did the right thing in voting for SB 107.    For those who didn’t, I guess we could pray for them?

 

The Olsens dig a deeper hole


st patty's day jen olsenJust a quick post to let everyone know what Montana Shrugged, the Tea Party Hate Group is up to these days.  Instead of hiding in a cave, apologizing, or entering some sort of rehab like most people do after they are exposed as bigots, Jennifer and Eric Olsen instead sent their entire list of “supporters” an email filled with lies.  Although montanafesto was not mentioned specifically, it isn’t a stretch to assume they were referring to this blog.  All grammatical errors in the following email are theirs:

Since our last memo, the liberal and progressive bloggers have made false accusations against Jennifer.  This is a concerted effort to takedown the good conservative leaders in America. Since forming the Montana Shrugged Teaparty group, we have received a good share of hate mail.  We figure that goes with the territory of conservative causes.  WE are proud to lead the charge in this battle.  The most blatant of these lies which was picked up by the News was manufactured by a local blogger who has shown consistency in the past of promoting false lies about many conservative leaders in Montana. 

We want you to know that there is absolutely no racist bones in our bodies  We are adamantly working against President Obama’s agenda to fundamentally transform America from a free Constitutional Republic to an Oligarchy type government where government rules all.  WE as leaders of the Teaparty, as well as the Country overall, are under attack by the liberal and progressive activists.

Every turn of the pages in the news, shows Obama’s concerted effort to control people’s freedom ever more.  The continuing deficit spending and Obama’s refusal to push for a budget is pushing our great Country to bankruptcy.

We all need to stand up against it more now than ever.  Obama is a lame duck leader without any cause to reform.  He is hell bent on breaking this country and pushing it into a socialist European like nation.  Hmmmmm how well is Europe doing?  Not well.  In fact, many Countries over there are breaking towards a capitalistic society where free enterprise rules.

One way that you all can do to help is come out in force to our rallies and parades.  Volunteer to help us make the gatherings larger and more entertaining.  We are planning the 4th Annual Teaparty Rally in Billings on April 15th.  You can sign up to attend on Facebook page under name of Montana Shrugged TEA Party Patriots.

Please check out Drill Baby Drill radio show every Monday night at 6:30 pm mountain time.  Call in to 760-259-2312 or listen to athttp://www.belladangelo.com.  You can check out archives of past shows too.

Follow us on Facebook too.

Thank you for your continued support. Stand with us and rally for America.

Eric is doing a new blog radio show on Monday Nights through a network setup in North Dakota.  As you recall, he used to to a local interview show in Billings which was very successful in getting the message out and vetting many candidates in previous State Elections.
Even Joe “The Plumber” was on the show via Skype.

Please check Eric’s new radio show out at  www.belladangelo.com or call in to 760-259-2312 to listen in or chat (EVERY MONDAY 6:30 PM).  The show is titled Drill, Baby, Drill.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ONLINE

 

If simply disagreeing with them makes me a liberal, well, I guess I’m guilty as charged, but I think the Olsens need to learn that there are plenty of conservatives who disagree with them, including me. Jennifer Olsen, who posted an image of a racist stereotype on her Facebook page on Feb 15, 2013 seems to be enjoying her infamy.  No word from Brian Kenat, another tea partier/Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee board member bigot, but he was sure to unfriend Facebook friends we shared after montanafesto published screenshots flaunting his incredible prejudice last week. Perhaps we will ask some hard questions on their popular obscure radio show.  Hopefully the bigots have learned a lesson.  Often, however; when actions have no consequences, that isn’t the case.  Too bad for Yellowstone County’s Republicans.

 

Jennifer Olsen… not the only bigot in the Yellowstone County GOP


brian kenatIn what has been explained away as the unfortunate result of a hacking and a liberal conspiracy, the chairwoman of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee who posted an image of a racist stereotype on her Facebook page, Jennifer Olsen, appears to be in good company on the executive board.  Brian Kenat, Congressional Committeeman for the YCRCC, also enjoys inflammatory posts.  His bigotry isn’t confined to blacks though, he also hates the LGBT community, women in general, overweight people, the media, academia, immigrants, and of course, liberals.  Before you call him a racist though, let me remind you, he recently attended a party to celebrate Black History Month and suggested that the YCRCC donate to a black charity in reparation for Olsen’s alleged racist post.

For those of you who haven’t been following this story, I’ve been accused of hacking into Olsen’s computer to post the offensive watermelon trap image, conspiring with liberals to discredit her, and actually photoshopping a fake image so it APPEARS to have been shared by Jennifer, when in reality, it wasn’t.  A more plausible defense would have been “I made a mistake and I am sorry.,” but instead, the embattled GOP chairwoman invented ridiculous story after ridiculous story ranging from “Facebook discovered Jennifer was hacked by someone in Pennsylvania” to “Facebook has shut down two profiles in New Jersey who were impersonating me.”  She’s claimed to have received at least 5 death threats.  Oddly, no police are investigating the hacking or the death threats.

The Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee does not apparently believe it is harboring any racists on its board.  The organization isn’t yet willing to ask Olsen to resign as they believe an investigation will fully vindicate her.  So I ask you, Yellowstone County Republicans, to PLEASE consider running in the next YCRCC election to replace the nasty people on this board.  I honestly do not believe that Republicans are inherently racist and it disgusts me that people of this quality are publicly representing us.   Our party was founded on abolishing slavery. These bigots do NOT represent us!  To those of you dismissing this as a catfight or the result of two ladies having a “falling out,” think again.  Anyone who makes such claims has no idea who I am and what I represent. Call me names, laugh at me, I don’t care.  Lie about me and we are going to have problems….. but, an apology goes a long way.  I don’t hold a grudge.

Anyway, here’s a brief look into Tea person/Congressional Committeeman of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee, Brian Kenat’s views on homosexuality.  In the following screenshots, Kenat compares “choosing” homosexuality to choosing to be a bitch or an asshole. He goes on to declare that if his daughter was gay, he would first pray that she outgrew the “phase”.  If she didn’t, he would accept it, but would likely choose to give his estate to a suitable charity instead of her, his sole heir.  In the third screenshot, Kenat claims that all of the gay people he knows who have “chosen that lifestyle” (which means all of them since he believes homosexuality is a “choice of behavior”, are drugged-up, overgrown children, and irresponsible drama queens. Kenat “jokes” about bringing hollow bullets and wearing Kevlar as he rolls around LoDo with homosexuals.  He’s also an expert on the differences between homosexual and bisexual ladies. Brian Kenat homosexuals genetic

Kenat implies that if his daughter, his sole heir,  was gay, he would give his estate to a charity.

Kenat implies that if his daughter, his sole heir, was gay, he would give his estate to a charity.

"Tongue in cheek" or not, a series of absolutely appalling comments

“Tongue in cheek” or not, a series of absolutely appalling comments

All of the homosexuals Kenat knows are drugged-up, irresponsible drama queens.

All of the homosexuals Kenat knows are drugged-up, irresponsible drama queens.

Brian Kenat homosexuality bisexuality

Kenat is an expert on sexuality

How does Kenat feel about brown people?  First of all, he doesn’t understand how posting a watermelon trap to catch President Obama (who he lovingly refers to on his Facebook page as “Hussein”) is perpetuating a racist stereotype. I found it only a little odd that he was debating whether or not the post was racist as Jennifer claimed she didn’t post it.  Why are we debating its merits if she didn’t post it anyway?  Even Olsen must have believed it was racist or she wouldn’t have invented a crazy story to explain why it appeared on her page. But I digress.  Kenat respects the President enough to “spit on him” and he believes dressing as the President (complete with massive toothy grin) is a perfectly lovely idea.  He also posted horrific racist commentary by a CBC commentator which was “liked” by fellow YCRCC state committeewoman Amy Hanson and Tim Ravndal, the Tea Party leader forced to resign after making comments insensitive (an understatement) to homosexuals, found the commentary “too entertaining”.

brian kenat shit eating racism

No clue what makes a watermelon trap to catch the President racist…

1  Brian Kenat spit obama

Kenat showing great respect for President Obama

1  Brian Kenat ravndal

YCRCC State Committeewoman Amy Hansen “liked” this commentary. Tim Ravndal (of low-hanging fruits infamy) found it “way too entertaining!)

Barry sucks Brian Kenat halloween mask

Just a little Halloween fun

If you haven’t seen enough to convince you yet, the following screenshots are evidence of his hatred of…. well, basically everything.

1  Brian Kenat food stamps

Brian Kenat republicans destroying themselves

Kenat thinks overweight people are lazy.

Kenat thinks overweight people are lazy.

We’ve probably all made a few gaffes in our lives, myself included.  Owning up to them and improving ourselves separates us from those who refuse to accept responsibility and blame others.  It is time for the YCRCC to clean house.  And stop blaming me!

No Confidence in the Champ-ion?


champ-edmundsChamp Edmunds, a relatively unknown Montana legislator (R-Missoula)  is reportedly announcing his run for vulnerable US Senator Max Baucus’s seat at 12:30 pm on Thursday, February 28. Just two days after his blast motion on HB 480, a bill to increase Montana’s incentives to attract movie and television businesses, failed due to a lack of support from Republicans, Edmunds apparently feels confident enough to launch his US Senate campaign.  A no-confidence vote from his own party isn’t a great message for Champ.

Earlier this month, Edmunds sent a letter to his supporters begging for soliciting donations.  In the message, he blasted “establishment Republicans”- presumably GOP opponent Corey Stapleton, former State Senate Minority Leader.   Apparently Champ is campaigning as the Ken Miller in this race, running to the right of Stapleton.  This is an effective strategy in Montana’s statewide races- to elect Democrats.  If Edmunds hasn’t noticed, there aren’t many Republicans holding elected state office in Montana outside of the legislature.

Edmunds’ “conservative across the board” rhetoric may rally the dwindling base of tea people, but moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats opposed to Max Baucus will likely be repelled.  I predict fundraising struggles in Champ’s future. Karl Rove won’t likely be throwing him cash.  From his Feb 8, 2013 letter:

You may have read that Karl Rove is trying to suppress grass roots conservatives in the next election cycle. But there’s good news! Here in Montana, we have a choice between a party establishment-backed candidate, and an authentic conservative.

While “authentic conservative” Edmunds isn’t likely to offer much competition to either six-term Democrat incumbent Max Baucus or to “party establishment-backed candidate” (what?) Corey Stapleton, his goofiness and tea-approved social views will surely add entertainment to the campaign.  A liberal blog already called him the “Craziest Candiate (so far) of the 2014 Election Cycle”.  Support from the embattled racist chairperson of the Yellowstone County GOP/Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots co-founder, Jennifer Olsen is likely.

 

Who is the real Hiedi Handford?


According to Mike Hyde, father of four-year-old Cash Hyde, who passed away last November, the Cash Hyde Foundation has been defrauded by a Hiedi Handford, aka Hiedi Fields, a cannabis activist currently on probation for convictions on numerous felony charges, including deceptive practices.  Handford is no longer a registered Montana medical marijuana patient as her probationer status precludes her from legally using marijuana. No word on whether she now uses marijuana illegally, but we have heard Handford now utilizes a “service dog” to relieve her crippling symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Earlier this evening, Mike Hyde posted the following status on his Facebook page.

mike hyde

Handford was long-ago ostracized by leading cannabis activists in Montana due to allegations of duplicitous behavior including sales of ad space in issues of her magazine, Montana Connect,  that were never published, the long-term and fraudulent use of another activist’s cell phone that she claimed was lost and a host of other allegations.

Although Handford’s maniacal social media rants attracted a fair number of devoted followers, posts on Handford’s wall tonight were overwhelmingly angry and disappointed, including “the cannabis community is waiting on an explanation”, “if what was posted about Cashy is true, you should be ashamed of yourself.” ,”You stole in the name of a dead child? How could you Hiedi? Cashy was all about love! How could he be otherwise? He was an angel before he ever made it here. Praying for you. You must need it!” Cashy Hyde captured the hearts of thousands as his valiant battles with cancer were public and his use of medical marijuana well-known.   The Hyde family has endured more in the last few years than many of us in a lifetime. My thoughts are with them as they sort out the details of these appalling allegations.

Hiedi Handford is the current mistress girlfriend of Irvin Rosenfeld, one of four remaining federal marijuana patients.  Requests for comments from Handford received no immediate response.

hiedi fields handford mug shot copy

The Racist Screenshot in Full


In response to continued allegations that montanafesto photoshopped the screenshot of Jennifer Olsen’s racist post, I felt the need to provide the entire screenshot for public perusal.  It is my position that the racist post was Jennifer Olsen’s and that the person who provided it to me as well as the names and photos of his/her friends are irrelevant to the story.  The names and personal details have thus been blacklined to protect the innocent.  I am not an image expert but its legitimacy was never in question for me or I wouldn’t have posted the image.

I am utterly disappointed that Olsen has continued to lie about her actions. To those who have suggested that I created an impostor profile of her to discredit her- after a burst of laughter- I say the words “Don’t flatter yourself.”.  I am very busy, as evidenced by the lack of blog posts the last year.  I would never do such a thing even if I had the time.  Anyway, take a look.  And then, PLEASE, stop defending her.  Stop embarrassing the Republican Party, we have a big election to win next year.

J Olsen

Bagging a Baguette: MT GOP/TEA’s Jennifer Olsen too racist for KKK


KKKAmid accounts that the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee (!warning! aesthetically obnoxious webpage design) has been reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center for consideration as a hate group as long as Jennifer Olsen is the chairwoman, it occurred to me that Olsen may soon be looking for political work in other states.  I briefly considered that the Ku Klux Klan was perhaps hiring but soon discovered this. That’s right…. the KKK is now under Christian leadership and is hoping to shed its racist reputation.  Shucks.  The KKK’s membership is down while other hate groups are enjoying tremendous growth.  One has to wonder if the Klan members were simply absorbed into the Tea Party or even (gasp!) the GOP.

Olsen, the embattled Chairwoman of the Yellowstone County Republicans and co-founder of Montana Shrugged, TEA Party Patriots, managed to attract quite a lot of media attention after posting a racist photo shortly after she was honored in the Billings Gazette‘s “40 Under 40″ segment recognizing Yellowstone County’s upstanding twenty and thirty-somethings.  The photo, which depicted a watermelon trap designed to catch President Obama appears to have trapped none other than Olsen herself.  Montanafesto posted a link to the Yellowstone County Republicans Facebook page and officers of the group almost immediately defended the racist post and projected allegations on to the author of the post.  It appears that breaking the sacred “11th Commandment” is an offense more egregious than overt bigotry.  Screenshots below. Yellowstone County Republicansthread

1  Yellowstone County Republicanskenat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even a former Montana legislator (Rep. James Knox (R), HD 47) disagreed that the post was racist and alleged that I instead was the racist.

knoxious

A Yellowstone County Republican Central Committeeman forwarded a board member of the YCRCC several links depicting the GOP in a negative light.  His response was “It seems they are linking it more to TEA party and not GOP. ”  Apparently that excuses the gaffe.

According to the editor of Billings Blog, in response to a question emailed by one of the Billings Outpost’s journalists, Jennifer’s response included the following (note, all grammatical errors hers).

“The blog posting this about me is all fabricated. This is not the first time they have made up stories about me as writer, nicole french, and I had a falling out a few years ago and since then she writes this nonsense.
“Liberals always try to take our focus away from real issues by doing things like this. It is absolutely not true.”

So there you have it.  It is the fault of liberals.  Problem is, montanafesto isn’t liberal.

For those of you who have missed some of the attention our resident racist has attracted, I’ve compiled just a taste of the negative exposure Montana is receiving as a result.

Montanafesto    Daily Kos    Montana Cowgirl      4 and 20 Blackbirds      Billings Blog     Montana Streetfighter  The New Civil Rights Movement   Patheos    Hackwhackers   Drasties   and the list goes on and on.

Olsen is apparently hiding something as she also changed the privacy settings of the Yellowstone County Republicans from “open” to “secret”.

Olsen changed the privacy of the group Yellowstone County Republicans from Open to Secret.   nicolefrench88 gmail.com   Gmail copy

 

And since we are discussing bigotry, the following reading material was delivered to each Montana legislator this morning just in time for a House Judiciary Hearing on whether to repeal Montana’s archaic and unconstitutional law making homosexual sex a felony punishable by a decade in prison. Perhaps the hateful YCRCC is responsible, or perhaps not.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the culprit is not a Democrat.

sodomites

Before anyone comments (again) that a watermelon under a cardboard box intended to trap the President is not racist, I invite you to peruse this link.   To disagree with a President’s policies is inherently American but to poke fun at his color using well-known racist stereotypes makes us all look bad.  Montana Republicans deserve an apology from Jennifer Olsen.  I won’t hold my breath.  I would like to think that perhaps this happened because Ms. Olsen is naive about social media, but the following screenshot taken from the Yellowstone Republican Women’s Facebook page suggests otherwise, Olsen claims to be the organization’s “media guru”.

jennifer olsen media guru

I wasn’t prepared to be called a lazy pothead, drug dealer, shameless liar, a failure of a person, unapologetically divisive, or (drum roll please) a Democrat for exposing a political figure as a bigot. I’m offended.

If you too are offended and embarrassed by the racism displayed by this group through its chairperson and other officers,  contact Jennifer Olsen at 406-672-1170 or email jolsen@augustenergy.net. Her Facebook account has reportedly been deactivated but the url is http://facebook.com/noczars and her Twitter account is @oilpatchkid.  Tell your legislators, the Montana GOP, the YCRCC, The Billings Gazette, The Dickinson Press and the world that Montana is intolerant of bigotry.

 

The quaint notion of controlling one’s own life and death


nursing home handsOn Dec. 31, 2009, Montana’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that addressed the question of whether the state’s constitution guaranteed terminally ill patients a right to lethal prescription medication from their physicians.  The court stated that while the state’s Constitution did not guarantee a right to physician-assisted suicide, there was “nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy. Representative Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel)  hopes to change that with HB 505, a bill which “clarifies” the law and ensures that physicians who assist their terminally ill patients in dying with dignity are imprisoned and fined.  Although aid in dying isn’t expressly illegal in Montana, under the provisions of this legislation, anyone who actually assists in any manner with a terminally ill patient’s decision to end their life on their terms will be prosecuted   According to a Montana board member of the National Right To  Life, physicians who respect their patients’ autonomy, including their wish to end their suffering, will be charged with homicide.

Note: The “aid” component of physician aid-in-dying involves only the dispensing of the medication. the patient decides if and when to self-administer the medication.

Perhaps your religious beliefs  preclude you from ever choosing to end your own suffering.   That is entirely understandable, but surely you aren’t arrogant enough to think that your personal religious beliefs bestow upon you the power to decide for another, who holds different beliefs, whether his life is worth living?   Should those people be prohibited from dying with dignity purely because YOUR religious beliefs oppose such decisions? We aren’t talking about the unborn, who as some claim “cannot advocate for themselves”, nor are we talking about forcing anyone to end their own life.  We are talking about terminally ill, adult human beings of sound mind who desire the right to live and die on their own terms. How is prolonged suffering  a pro-life view?

Who do you trust with your important health decisions, your physician or your legislature?  Tell your legislators, especially members of the House Judiciary Committee not to interfere with doctor-patient relationships.   A peaceful and dignified exit is an option we should all have.  Recent polls indicate a majority of Americans support allowing physician aid-in-dying,  let’s kill this bill in committee before it embarrasses Montanans. Giving patients a choice benefits those who desire it while care of those who object to it is not affected in any way.  It seems the Montana GOP is using this legislative session to further indulge the cumbrous embrace of the big government nanny.

In related news, SB 220, a bill establishing procedures and regulations to Montanans’ end of life decisions was tabled last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  

 

Racism and the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee Chair


olsenJennifer Olsen, a petroleum engineer who was unemployed for years while the oil and gas  industry was booming around her was recently honored in the Billings Gazette’s annual “40 under 40″ segment.  The newspaper lists her many jobs, never mentioning that each employer was actually her father (Eric Olsen)  and the companies were often idle due to “government oppression” or some other excuse Jennifer and Eric Olsen used while soliciting donations to progress their political agenda.  During their long period of unemployment, Jennifer and her father founded Montana Shrugged, a “tea party” group that advocates selective federalism and operates in a divisive and dishonest manner.  Jennifer Olsen also holds the chairwoman position on the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee.  In her free time, she files frivolous and unfounded political practices complaints and apparently scours the internet searching for racist anti-Obama material.

My disdain for the Olsen family is obvious.  Posts like the one captured in the following screenshot from Jennifer Olsen’s Facebook page today are why.

olsen screenshot

Thanks to the first amendment, Americans are able to think whatever they would like as well as express those thoughts, but such expression does has consequences.  I discourage Yellowstone County Republican precinct chairs and legislators from turning a blind eye to this blatantly racist post.  If Ms Olsen is not held responsible for her actions, we send a message that this behavior is acceptable and perhaps these views are even condoned by the GOP.  The Republican Party was founded on abolishing slavery.  Why do we now tolerate our leaders advocating bigotry in a public forum? Bigotry is rooted in ignorance and the Republican Party should purge this cancer from the party.  Shame on you, Jennifer Olsen.  You are a disgrace to your party, to the central committee you chair,  to Montana, and to America.

UPDATE:  According to David Crisp of Billings Blog, in a question post by a Billings Outpost freelancer, Jennifer Olsen responded as follows:

“The blog posting this about me is all fabricated. This is not the first time they have made up stories about me as writer, nicole french, and I had a falling out a few years ago and since then she writes this nonsense.
“Liberals always try to take our focus away from real issues by doing things like this. It is absolutely not true.”

 

The Injunction is Back!


From the MTCIA website

 

In a decision handed down late today, the Judge Reynolds in MTCIA et al., v. State of Montana, ordered that a preliminary injunction should again be in place in order to protect medical marijuana patients from irreparable harm.

This means that medical marijuana providers may (1) have more than 3 patients and (2) receive compensation for their service. The specific parts of the current medical marijuana law that have been BLOCKED by the court order are as follows:

50-46-308, MCA
(3) (a) (i) A provider or marijuana-infused products provider may assist a maximum of three registered cardholders.
(ii) A person who is registered as both a provider and a marijuana-infused products provider may assist no more than three registered cardholders.
(b) If the provider or marijuana-infused products provider is a registered cardholder, the provider or marijuana-infused products provider may assist a maximum of two registered cardholders other than the provider or marijuana-infused products provider.
(4) A provider or marijuana-infused products provider may accept reimbursement from a cardholder only for the provider’s application or renewal fee for a registry identification card issued under this section.
(5) Marijuana for use pursuant to this part must be cultivated and manufactured in Montana.
(6) A provider or marijuana-infused products provider may not:
(a) accept anything of value, including monetary remuneration, for any services or products provided to a registered cardholder;
(b) buy or sell mature marijuana plants, seedlings, cuttings, clones, usable marijuana, or marijuana-infused products.

A link to a copy of the order is below.

Other portions were previously blocked and those continue in place, including the prohibition on advertising and the mandatory investigation of doctors who make more than 25 medical marijuana recommendations per year.

This is outstanding news. DPHHS will NOT be sending notice out to approximately 5500 patients that they need to grow their own. Our attorneys Jim Goetz and Devlin Geddes have, again, done an amazing job protecting the rights of Montana’s patients and those who provide to them.

THANK YOU to all the supporters out there who have made this possible through you donations. You have done the patients in our state an incredible service in your faith in the MTCIA, our attorney and the case against the state.

We would also like to thank, posthumously, Lori Burnham, who made the long journey to Helena to testify on our behalf. She brought the courtroom to tears, and I have no doubt her testimony made a big impression on the judge. I will say it again, thank you Lori.

Chris

Order on Preliminary Injunction

Guest Post: Lessons I learned from Montana’s Medical Marijuana Movement


Written by: ScienceNerd

I have never been particularly politically active, but the de facto repeal of Montana’s Medical Marijuana Program by the 2011 legislature got me fired up.  Adding insult to injury was the defeat of I-124.  What events or attitudes on the part of supporters and those opposed led to the defeat of our MMJ program?  Why did a program with the initial support of 60%+ of the population of Montana go down so decisively?

We can all agree that it is a multi-faceted issue involving diverse attitudes and motivations.  We have the vested interest of the judicial and correctional systems and the prison industrial complex which derive income from the illegality of cannabis.  Then there’s the ignorance of legislators like Rep. David Howard, who contend that “Marijuana Kills!”, and rely on fear in order to stay in power.  We can’t neglect to mention the “Think of the Children” faction lead by the good Cherrie Brady and Church Ladies Inc.  The aspect I would like to focus on, however, is how we defeated ourselves.

At the height of the movement there were some 30,000 people in Montana with medical marijuana cards.  Thousands of cultivators and supportive businesses accommodated the cardholders.  In my view, it was the perfect example of the free market acting as it should.  Growers were in competition with each other to produce the best product at the lowest price, yet stay viable as a business.  You could see the results.  MMJ was available readily, and the price was cut in half from the black market price.  Businesses were popping up and thriving.  And yet, I heard members of the MMJ community talking about the “greed” of the growers.  These people apparently wanted access to marijuana, didn’t want to grow their own, but didn’t want the growers to make a good profit either.  So what if the growers might face life in prison for conducting their business.  In the eyes of these entitled individuals, that was no excuse for wanting to have a profitable business and not selling it dirt cheap. In my opinion, profitable small businesses contribute to affordability and quality of the product, and ensure a constant supply.  Yet members of the MMJ community were angered by those who sought to make a sustainable business with a profit.

When Patients For Reform Not Repeal was formed, I was amazed at what they were able to accomplish.  To obtain the number of signatures they gathered was a feat that should be admired by all of us, and gratitude should go out to those that made it happen.  And yet, even within that group, there was fighting and posturing.  The good of the cause was threatened by some who felt they weren’t appreciated enough or didn’t like how the organization was being run.  The same could be said of the MTCIA.  These people are solely responsible for the fact that those who cannot grow have access to their medicine now.   The service they have done to the community is HUGE.  And yet they are attacked on all sides by their alleged supporters.

One aspect of the MMJ movement that I was not at all prepared for was the resistance by many in the movement to modern medicine.  Some of the most vocal proponents were also vocal proponents of alternative medicine, and vocal opponents of modern medicine, doctors and medications.  I think the choice one makes when it comes to the philosophy of medicine one practices is a personal thing, and that all choices should be respected.  I, personally, use both alternative and modern medical approaches to health issues and decide which I think is appropriate for the particular issue.  But many in the MMJ movement came in fighting both FOR the use as marijuana as medicine and AGAINST modern medicine at the same time.  They wanted marijuana to be accepted as a medicine when it hadn’t undergone the rigorous testing and evaluations that other approved medicines have been subjected to.  In the next breath they denounced accepted medicines and medical research, and even discounted medical theories that have long been proven and accepted by the scientific community and general population.  I can’t list how many times I heard “Look at the science,” from people who didn’t believe in vaccines, antibiotics or cancer treatments.  I think this ruined much of the credibility for the movement in the portion of the populace that is not involved in the movement but that had formerly been in favor of medical marijuana.

The way medicine works in America today is that drugs go through a rigorous process to be approved to be used as prescribed medicine.  Usually cell studies are followed by studies in animals that are followed by studies in humans.  It is estimated that it takes at least $1.3 billion and an average of 12 years to bring a new drug to market.  Much of this money is spent figuring out exactly what diseases and conditions the drug works on and what the effective doses are.  Routes of administration are investigated and the most efficient ways determined.  The fact is that not enough of these studies have been done yet with MMJ.  There are a lot of promising pilot studies, but the details have not been worked out.  Legalization of MMJ has helped a lot, but not enough time has passed to do all that needs to be done.  The only way marijuana will enter mainstream medicine will be via the approach of the makers of Marinol and Sativex .  They have spent billions of dollars to do the studies with the purified components that they can deliver in a constant dose each and every time.   In my opinion, this will never be done with the whole plant product because it is too variable, too expensive and too scientifically difficult. Smoking as a delivery route is problematic in the medical community because there is probable harm associated with it.  While I am quite sure that marijuana has medicinal properties, the extent of the properties and the appropriate dosages are still being determined.

I think that the way to get marijuana into our society in a mainstream way is not to fight modern medicine and Big Pharma, but to fight for the basic rights we have as American citizens to do what we want with our bodies as long as it hurts no one else.  We need to fight for full-out legalization.  We deserve to have the choice of marijuana as both a medical and a recreational substance.  Legal marijuana will benefit not just those who use it medicinally, but the millions of us who just plain like to relax with it too. And if we are to win this fight, we need to do it selflessly and without the need for gratitude.  Let’s do it for ourselves!

 

Guest Post: Election 2012 Marijuana in Montana


by rideyourax

Updated Nov. 14, 2012

The votes are counted. Below is some Montana election 2012 trivia when it comes to the cannabis issue.

I-124 was the initiative that gave Montanans the opportunity to vote on the law passed by the 2011 legislature to dismantle medical marijuana access. The initiative was put on the ballot by the efforts of medical marijuana advocates.

Some trivia:

The ballot item most voters voted on was the Tester/Rehberg race for Montana’s lone Senate seat: 486,098 votes

The number of voters who voted on I-124: 469,631

The number of voters who skipped voting on I-124: 16,467

If all those who skipped voting on I-124 voted against the initiative, the number the initiative still would have passed by is: 51,610 votes

There were 16 ballot items that all Montana voters had the opportuniy to vote on. The three items that received the  least attention from voters (were skipped on the ballot)

  1. Supreme Court Justice #6 Brian Morris yes/no: 418,898I-166
  2. Supreme Court Justice# 5 McKinnon/Sheehy: 419,691
  3. Clerk of the Supreme Court Smith/Fellows: 429,870I-124

I-124 came in 6th for least voted on ballot item.

In September, the poll most referenced by I-124 sponsoring group, Patients for Reform Not Repeal, indicated 30% against the initiative and 46% for. These numbers were often presented by the group as “good” numbers as it is generally believed an initiative needs 60% going in to win and that the undecided or confused would break “against.” About 25% were undecided.

Of the undecideds (about 121,524 voters):

About 14% remained undecided

About 65%  voted against

About 37% voted for

I-124 passsed by 14.5% with 57.25% for and 42.75 against for a net gain of about 1.5% against the initiative since the September poll.

Only Galletin county reached 50% for an “against” vote on I-124 at 50.10%

9 counties broke 45% against I-124

Top three counties for an “against” vote:

Gallatin: 50.10%

Park: 49.85%

Missoula: 49.25%

Overall outcomes:

  • Success of  an initiative advocates wanted to fail
  • SB 423  supported by voters
  • The campaign serves a tool to club the advocates with (“the voters’ will”)
  • Advocates can’t claim it passed because voters didn’t understand because when those opposed to medical marijuana said it was confusing, PFRNR suggested their  inability to understand the ballot was a matter of them being too dumb to understand it. (Of course, it was confusing. Obfuscating, even. Everybody knows that. The crafters knew that. It was discussed as confusing since  July/August of 2011 . If “confusing” was a strategy, whether it was or wasn’t a “bad” strategy might be debated. But empirically, it was a failed one.  However, crafters say this wasn’t the case.)
  • The data from the election provides very little information about support for reasonable marijuana legislation and medical access because of the language. With the signature gathering campaign to get I-124 on the ballot, for example, even if it had failed, it provided a resource  – a list of names of people willing to sign in a supportive way a petition regarding marijuana. Even if some were signing from a voters’ rights perspective, the fact that it was about marijuana didn’t scare them off. If the election data had meaning it could be used to discuss with future candidates the level of support in their districts. It provides some information as is, but not much and it’s not reliable. Losing isn’t always losing if you get something out of it, and in a long term movement, a campaign should be designed from the start to make sure that happens.  That way, even a defeat gives you something to build on. All this left was a wake of floating junk.

This is a bad outcome. Blame is silly. Evaluation is important. Many citizen-advocates of Montana have worked hard and many far beyond the call of any duty. Patients for Reform Not Repeal and Montana First are the same folks, from both in-state and out-of-state. Same bankroll. This outcome was foreseen from more than a year out as the likely result without the proper follow-thru. Their legalization initiative earlier this year was another effort that failed to pan out not because of lack of support in the electorate, but lack of strategy, poor interpersonal relations, and failed implementation. At least $100,000 has been wasted. Those with the purse run the show. If they will continue to be doing so in Montana, hopefully, there will be some evaluation of efforts and some troubleshooting so that future efforts might be more successful.

At this time, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association’s (MTCIA)  lawsuit, once again, is the only tool for protecting access.

On the success side, two critical elections in Montana do appear to have been impacted by the cannabis voter. In the Governor’s race, Steve Bullock won by a narrow 1.55%.  Up until quite late in the race, single issue cannabis voters were intending to withhold their vote or throw it to Libertarian candidate Ron Vandevender who received 3.75 % of the vote. When Bullock came out against I-124, many Democrat- leaning cannabis voters threw their support his way. Rick Hill did not give Republican-leaning cannabis voters the same choice. In this Red-leaning state, it is no stretch to see the cannabis vote, both for Bullock and Vanevender, having had played a decisive role in the race.

In the race for Montana’s lone Senate seat, Libertarian candidate Dan Cox earned a respectable 6.55% of the vote. Though neither Tester nor Rehberg were considered good on the cannabis issue, Cox’s pro-cannabis position pulled votes from the Rehberg pile handing Tester the race by 3.73%. So though not electing a pro-cannabis candidate, the cannabis vote, nonetheless, demonstrated the ability to tip an election, and despite the outcome on I-124, the cannabis vote proved its mettle.

SRelated articles

Green Envy


While prohibitionists in Montana were celebrating the elimination of access for medical marijuana patients, Colorado and Washington were making history by voting to end prohibition in their states. Marijuana activists in Montana were unsuccessful in the 2012 election in an attempt to overturn SB-423, state Senator Jeff Essmann‘s draconian measure that essentially eliminates medical cannabis providers and thus access for most medical marijuana patients.  Although the results were not as we hoped, we actually did win on several levels.

First of all, marijuana patients, providers and activists were incredibly successful in making marijuana reform a mainstream issue that Montana’s politicians can no longer ignore.  Now that American support for ending prohibition is greater than support for either political party, we know that it is only a matter of time before Montana’s prohibitionist politicians realize that legalizing marijuana is a winning proposition.  Besides creating jobs and improving our economy, virtually all data indicates we can make our communities safer through thoughtful regulation than through prohibition.  Colorado and Washington’s absolutely historic decisions further weaken the already failed  war on drugs.  We are confident that science and compassion will eventually prevail in our state as well.

Republicans were largely unsuccessful in the 2012 general elections.  If the party cannot produce a candidate capable of beating the unpopular and polarizing Obama, Republicans need to conduct some serious self-examination.  Unless the party can somehow attract younger and independent voters the GOP will continue to lose national and statewide elections.  Independents and young voters are generally repelled by bigoted, prohibitionist platforms reminiscent of policies from a century ago.  Disturbing references like “legitimate rapes”  or calling babies conceived in the act of rape “gifts from God” serve to only to alienate women as well as compassionate and thinking human beings and this was confirmed by election results.

All is not lost for Montana Republicans though. The 2011 GOP God Squad lineup remains largely intact (with several additions and the removal of Knox)  as Montana’s prohibitionist legislators were rather successful in their bids for reelection. Some of Montana’s best and brightest Republicans will again be representing us in the state legislature.  John “I’ll only vote for marijuana if it is to put it on the noxious weeds list” Brenden won in SD 18 by a wide margin, as did Sarah Laszloffy, Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry alumnus and daughter of gay-hater Jeff Laszloffy of Montana Family Foundation infamy.  Park City Rep. David Howard, who we all remember from his Facebook post claiming that one could “catch AIDS from sharing used marijuana” won his race for HD 60 in a landslide.  We cannot forget to mention Rep. Cary Smith, husband of co-founded of Safe Communities, Safe Kids Susan Smith who easily beat Democrat and (also) prohibitionist Bob Winger easily.  Other notable prohibitionist winners were Krayton Kerns, Joanne Blyton, Bruce Tutvedt, Dennis Lenz, Doug Kary, Taylor Brown, Janna Taylor, Keith Regier, Scott Reichner, Wendy Warburton, Liz Bangerter, and Champ Edmunds.  Let’s not forget about Scott Sales, whose wife embezzled thousands of dollars from her own mother; dog murderer Roger Webb, and accused rapist Nicholas Schwaderer, who will also each be proudly representing their districts in Helena in January.

Although I generally think that the Republicans need to embrace the party’s fiscally conservative roots and to utilize their brains more effectively than their bibles in creating legislation, this advice obviously doesn’t apply to Montana, where the GOP’s new lineup promises more (humiliating) entertainment than the disastrous 2011 legislative session.

Meanwhile, I’m perusing Denver real estate listings.

 

 

What exactly IS AG candidate Pam Bucy’s position on medical marijuana? UPDATED WITH BUCY’S RESPONSE


The following collection of statements from Montana Attorney General Candidate Pam Bucy (D) indicates her position on medical marijuana is confusing at best.

From Q2 News:  As Montana’s top law enforcement official, how do you plan on enforcing the state’s medical marijuana law while balancing federal law which says marijuana is illegal?

“I support the people’s right to pass law by initiative, and I will enforce Montana’s medical marijuana law to ensure that the patients who need this therapy have access without fear of prosecution.

One of the issues Montana has faced in regard to our medical cannabis law is a lack of clarity on how the federal government will enforce their laws. As attorney general I’ll work with other attorneys general in the country to get clarification from the federal government on their enforcement strategy. This will allow us to have a clear picture of how we can enforce the law in a way that will protect patients while ensuring that law enforcement have no question about the law and are supported in their enforcement of the law as passed by the people of Montana.”

Bucy, while representing the Police Protective Association in 2011 Legislative hearings, opposed SB326, which expanded the list of  the list of diseases treatable by medical marijuana to include diabetes, hepatitis C and post-traumatic stress disorder. Bucy said

“We respectfully disagree with proponents that this is in line with what the voters of Montana agreed to.”

And the latest twist in the Bucy flip-flopping saga is the following email sent from a reader (name and email address removed).

Yet, in the Lone Tree Lookout, Bucy said the following in response to the question “What’s your perspective on citizen created ballot initiatives?”

To be honest, I love the process. It’s such a grassroots way for people to participate in making policy. It is direct legislation by the people. It is refreshing and you don’t find that everywhere. I really do support it but it allows some reactionary issues to make their way to the ballot. Because some of them haven’t been necessarily well vetted, there are often problems. But, I spent a lot of my time in the Attorney General’s office defending citizen initiatives, and I will continue to do that because I think it’s an important role in Montana, to make sure people continue to have direct access to legislating.

If we are to believe Bucy’s own words, we are rather confused on her stance.  She supports the right to pass legislation by initiative yet she opposes I-148, an initiative passed by 62% of Montanans. She opposes SB-423, the ridiculous stealth repeal that Sen. Jeff Essmann sponsored and passed right before the ending bell of the 2011 Legislative Session but she also opposes opposes allowing Hepatitis C patients access to medical marijuana.  I recently took some heat from the medical marijuana community for refusing to note Bucy as cannabis-friendly in the montanafesto 2012 Cannabis Voters Guide.  I stand by my assessment- she is listed as neutral as the jury is still out of Pam.

Hopefully Pam’s campaign will clarify her position on this important issue.  Her opponent, Tim Fox has a significant lead according to the most recent polling data.

10/29/2012:  Bucy’s response is as follows:

I strongly support the citizen’s right to initiative, and I support I-148.  I oppose efforts to repeal initiatives as passed by the citizens of the state of Montana. I voted against IR-124. While on the road, I mistakenly responded to an email where I mixed up the initiative numbers. This was a typo, not a switch in position.  In my work with law enforcement, we strove to implement this law in a way that stayed true to the spirit of the initiative. As you know, there is a fundamental conflict of law with the federal government which has made patients fearful of prosecution. As Attorney General, I will work with the federal government and with other states who have passed this initiative to find a workable solution to ensure patients get the therapy they need.

Please continue to reach out to me if you have further questions about my positions on these important issues.– Pam

 

AGAINST Senate Bill 423


Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or something else entirely, please vote AGAINST Senate Bill 423.  Disease and suffering transcend political ideology and this bill hurts the people that Montana’s medical marijuana program was enacted to protect.  Any questions?

Rep. Dave Howard shares his infinite wisdom


The following photo was posted on the Facebook wall of Rep. David Howard (R-HD-60).  I’m not sure any further commentary is necessary.

Marijuana according to Rep. Dave Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was posted along with this letter from Safe Community, Safe Kids.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association has organized an effort to repeal SB423.THE LANGUAGE FOR THEIR INITIATIVE, I-124, IS CONFUSING ON PURPOSE!! THIS IS TO TRICK YOU INTO VOTING AGAINST, WHICH IS VOTING FOR, AN UNCONTROLLED CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE.

The Legislature did not overturn the will of the people with SB423, instead they took medical marijuana back to what voters initially voted for.SB423 effectively eliminates the FOR PROFIT CRIMINAL MARIJUANA industry that Montanans never voted for and do not want.

SENATE BILL 423 IS WORKING.
Since it’s passing, the number of registered medical marijuana users has dropped from 30,000 to 8,849, the number of providers has dropped from 4,800 to 395, and many of the storefronts are disappearing. With the law imposing additional requirements for minors to obtain cards, there are now only 2 cards holders under the age of 18.

On Initiative 124 vote[X] FOR Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program.

[ ]AGAINST Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program. A vote against Senate Bill 423 will restore I-148.

Stop the Pot Industry
Please SHARE with family and friends.

Montana Cannabis Voter’s Guide 2012


As always, cannabis law reform is a big campaign issue this election year although Montana’s “moral” majority is unlikely to acknowledge that inconvenient fact.  Montanans understand that there is nothing “moral” about maintaining harsh criminal penalties, limiting (and in most cases, eliminating) access to necessary medicines, and allowing and/or inviting federal intervention in our state’s medical marijuana program.  We are confident that Montana will vote accordingly.

The 2012 Montana Cannabis Voter’s Guide serves as a resource for Montana voters who consider liberty a priority.  In numerous districts, prohibitionists are running unopposed unfortunately, but in others, we have an opportunity to make a difference.  We’ve compiled statements, video from previous sessions, actual voting records, endorsements and other sources of information when deciding if a candidate is supportive or opposed to our cause. We have heard very little from some candidates but are hopeful we will know more by the time that absentee ballots arrive in our mailboxes in a few weeks.      As we are apprised of new information-  additional MTCIA endorsements, statements to the media, etc- this guide will be updated to reflect such data.

Should any candidates or voters have any questions about specific races or candidates or wish to provide relevant information, please email Nic (montanafesto@live.com).

GOP’s Fork in the Road (updated with statement from Corey Stapleton)


Today our following post appears on Montana Cowgirl as a guest analysis. Update:  Includes statement from Corey Stapleton following post.

GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stapleton’s latest ad, by highlighting elderly opponent Rick Hill’s various policy failures, accuses him of having “too much baggage” to effectively govern Montana.  The direct “baggage” in question includes supporting a state sales tax, chairing a board that supports Obamacare, and receiving “sweetheart real estate deals”. Among the indirect baggage (displayed in the ad on various pieces of luggage) is Jack Abramoff (Hill received substantial campaign donations from Abramoff, a lobbyist convicted of bilking tens of millions of dollars from Native American tribes), Ponzi Scheme (Hill fell victim to a Ponzi scheme and lost millions), Vietnam (Hill is allegedly a draft dodger) and Worker’s Comp (the program Hill claims to have reformed boasts the highest rates in the nation).   Not only has Rick Hill failed to deny any of these allegations, the Democrats conducted a fact check of the points made in Stapleton’s ad and determined it was factual.  Hill has consistently been absent from primary season’s conservative debates… perhaps to avoid answering tough questions.

What does Stapleton have to lose by “going negative” in this ad?  Unfortunately for Hill, sometimes the truth is negative and when one files to run for political office, ALL past actions are fair fodder. Stapleton was smart to focus on Hill’s various political inadequacies.  If he had instead created an ad to hit Hill personally by further exposing his extramarital affair with a Sip N’ Dip cocktail waitress, or Hill’s ex-wife publicly stating that Hill had abused her emotionally and had criticized her appearance and lack of education,  perhaps such a piece would qualify as an attack ad, and one taken right from Hill’s own playbook.

From High Country News:

“Rick Hill was so far behind in the polls last winter that his two Republican primary opponents said Hill wasn’t even a contender for Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives. So Hill tried something. He went negative.  He attacked his Republican opponents, who both complained he was being nasty and unfair when he called them tax-and-spend liberals in bad disguises. But the strategy worked. Hill rallied in the final weeks of the campaign and won the primary with 44 percent of the vote, eight points more than his closest opponent.”

Hill’s record is chock-full of relevant accomplishments, there is no need to attack him personally.   For instance,

  • Hill edged out 433 other competitors to win the dubious honor of runner-up in the Worst Boss in Congress contest, which took into consideration that Hill had once thrown a letter opener at an aide and screamed “I don’t eat deli” when a staffer brought him the wrong type of sandwich.
  • Hill’s infamous criticism of childless opponent Nancy Keenan- Keenan had no choice in the matter due to a hysterectomy, an experience she called “devastating”.
  • Hill’s abysmal voting record
  • Hill’s ties to Triad Management, Inc; a shadowy shell group accused of numerous campaign finance law violations. After Hill expressed to Triad a need for a third party to attack opponent Bill Yellowtail for “wife beating”, the management firm funded brutal campaign ad attacks on Yellowtail. Particularly hypocritical was Hill’s statement “I stood up for my kids, he left his.” considering Hill’s refusal to leave a seedy lounge after his wife discovered him carousing with his younger lover while his young children waited in the car.

Vilifying Hill by citing any of his aforementioned imperfections seems more like educating voters than attacking an opponent.  Montanans have a right to hear the good, bad and in this case, the ugly truth about our candidates.   Rick Hill represents the worst part of the Republican party- the lobbyist fourth branch of government and for decades has said one thing and done another–all the while profiting handsomely off the political system. When Rick Hill quit Congress, more Montanans viewed him unfavorably than favorably, Stapleton’s ad addressing Rick Hill’s “baggage” simply reminds them why.

UPDATE:  Corey Stapleton has released the following statement:

To all who are interested,We received some interest surrounding the different allegations in my
campaign’s latest ad “Baggage”, which highlights some of my opponent Rick
Hill’s public choices.  I hide behind no lawyers, no employees, no spokesmen
who can say whatever–and then recant the following day (as we just saw with
Brock Lowrance, Hill’s campaign manager, switching his narrative from “not
only false but entirely fabricated” to admitting Hill did own the Helena
properties referenced as “Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”.)And of course, Rick Hill has not made any statements denying the bags.  It’s
important to know, as governor, the contrast of my openness and Hill’s hiding
behind spokesmen and lawyers, is germane to the character and integrity issues
brought up in ‘Baggage’, and further underscores our argument of his
unelectability as Governor.  We think it’s important to have transparency and
openness in our political leaders.  I will be that kind of Governor.I strongly stand by the ‘bags’ in our ad:“Vietnam”:  Selective Service record enclosed.

“Obamacare”:  Actions, not words.  When you sit on a board of directors you
are accountable for the actions of the organization.  When a ship runs aground
the captain is accountable, regardless.  This is a big deal in leadership, and
I feel passionately about this bag because it displays Hill’s hypocrisy:  Blue
Cross Blue shield is one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of Obamacare.
They spent $9.7 million in 2009 alone, lobbying for Obamacare.  They currently
have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court—supporting the
‘individual mandate’ which is the backbone of Obamacare!  It is what it
is–Blue Cross/Blue Shield supported and is supporting Obamacare.  And Rick
Hill bragged on two occasions of “chairing a board of directors for one of
the largest insurance companies in America” at Republican Lincoln Reagan
dinners that I attended in 2011.  I took his statement at his word.  If it is
untrue that he chaired, but was rather a director, that is because we based
our statement on his.  And all directors of the Board are accountable to Blue
Cross’s actions.

I copy and paste right off Google (Mar 26, 2012):
legitgov
ShareThis
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mass. filed amicus brief in support of Obama’s
health-care law –In SCOTUS case, Obamacare has industry allies 26 Mar 2012
Lawyers from the health insurance and hospital industries have petitioned the
Supreme Court to save President Obama’s health-care law from a constitutional
challenge by 26 states and a small-business group, while other big-business
lobbies have stayed neutral. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts filed an
amicus brief with the court in support of Obama’s Department of Health & Human
Services. The insurer writes that it played a central role in crafting Mitt
Romney’s Massachusetts health-care law that served as the prototype of
Obamacare… On the question of constitutionality, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of
Massachusetts argues that the individual mandate is “a valid exercise of the
Commerce Power because Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in
the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care
substantially affects interstate commerce.”

My plea to Montana:  Do not be fooled by the entities or politicians who hide
their actions behind confusing words and legal mumbo jumbo.  Blue Cross is a
good company, but their corporate structure allows them scalability when it
suits their purpose and deniability when it doesn’t.  We need leaders to hold
both our corporations, unions AND our government accountable.

“Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”:  Rick Hill admitted on Aaron Flint’s “Voices
of Montana” radio show last year to a caller’s question regarding such real
estate.  Hill responded that he hadn’t had that property “since 2002 or 2003″.

“$400 million tax”:  Hill lobbied for passage of former Gov. Marc Racicot’s
sales tax proposal.

“Workers Comp”:  Hill routinely takes credit for his role in the 1990′s
workers comp overhaul…fastforward: Montana’s Workers Comp was routinely
panned as one of the worst in the country in the 2011 Legislature.  If you
want credit for the fix you get credit for the failure, too.

“Jack Abramoff”:  Congressman Hill received donations from Jack Abramoff.

“Ponzi Scheme Lawsuit”:  Rick Hill constantly touts his success in business on
the campaign trail.  He made millions of dollars in the insurance business,
but then lost those millions in the investment business.  Victim or Baggage?
You decide..because I can’t—Hill’s pre-emptive lawsuit, and his role in the
investment scam, won’t be determined until sometime after the Primary
election–when it would be too late for Republicans to act (should they
nominate Hill).  Montanans deserve to know why Hill filed a lawsuit several
months after filing for office.  See enclosure

“Lobbyist”:  Rick Hill was a registered lobbyist for the past decade, since he
left Congress.

All of the bags in “Rick Hill’s Baggage” are tied to public records.  While
“Baggage” might be tough on Hill, it is fair.

Sincerely,

Corey Stapleton
Candidate for Montana Governor

 Click on the links below for more information:

Ken Miller Campaign Above the Law


In a blunder only a true idiot could make, the Ken Miller campaign robo-called the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices office yesterday.  Automated, or “robo” calls are illegal under Montana law.  When confronted about the calls, Miller said he thought that former Attorney General Mike McGrath had declared the law “unenforceable”. Hmm.  I suppose I would consider Montana’s law prohibiting homosexuality unenforceable considering it has been held unconstitutional, but I’m pretty sure when your campaign is stupid enough to call the COPP, which is already investigating a complaint alleging rampant campaign finance fraud in the Miller campaign, that you deserve to be prosecuted.  In reality, McGrath did not declare the law unenforceable anyway, in 2004, he issued a press release reminding campaigns that such activity was illegal.  Commissioner Murry has referred the case to the Lewis & Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher.  Although robo call cases have not be prosecuted in the past, Gallagher did not rule out the possibility.  Most likely, the Miller campaign will be sent a letter warning that such campaign activity is illegal.

Earlier this week,  Ken Miller asked that the campaign finance fraud complaint alleged by a former campaign employee be dismissed because he believed the uncertainty could cloud early voting.  The political practices office declined to dismiss the complaint and says the investigation will continue.

Call Ken Miller’s cell phone number (406) 670-8318 and ask him why he believes he is above the law.  Then ask yourself if someone this dull is suited to serve as Governor of our great state.

2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide


The 2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide is out and we are asking readers, including candidates, for input.  Due to the high number of filings this year as well as space limitations, we didn’t list every contributing factor in our decision whether we rated the candidate as mixed record/unclear, friendly or unfriendly to our cause.  We took into consideration established voting records (especially votes in favor of HB-161, the repeal bill), legislative hearing testimony, public statements, and conversations with constituents and activists.  We also ensured that any statements candidates made about the issue were consistent with their votes.  In most cases, this was not the case.

Several candidates and activists have emailed us with additional information about themselves, their opponents, or others running for office in Montana and we have updated the guide to reflect the new information.Thank you to all who have contributed, we encourage you to continue contacting candidates. This issue is contentious and assessing the information has been rather difficult.  Many legislators who supported regulating medical marijuana in Montana actually voted to repeal its use entirely and the legislative hearings were rife with miscalculations, exaggerations, and blatant lies.  Sorting through all of this was quite a feat.

Among the helpful sources (in addition to Montana news media and political blogs) we used in making our determinations were the following:

Montana LAWS website      Project Vote Smart       Montana Drug Policy             MTConnect’s YouTube channel

Interestingly enough, yesterday montanafesto had the highest daily number of hits ever, which is quite an accomplishment considering the number of hits during the last legislative session- and nearly all of the hits were on the cannabis voting guide.  This is very encouraging to us as it suggests that our community is engaged and interested.  Please help prove, by voting in upcoming elections, that we are a powerful voting bloc.  We do not profess to be the definitive authority on the cannabis stance of candidates so please use this guide in addition to your own research. Continue checking this guide as we are adding new information everyday.

Attn candidates and readers:  Please comment on this post or email us at montanafesto@live.com (to maintain anonymity)  if you would like to add information about a candidate.  Thanks!

 

 

Not All Outlaws are Criminals: “Code of the West” Film Review


On the eve of the day in which approximately half of all voting Montanans will receive their 2012 primary election mail-in ballots, I dedicated some time to reviewing “Code of the West“, a documentary account of the rise and fall of Montana’s medical marijuana industry, thanks to the Montana Legislature’s obsession with eliminating this “scourge” from Montana.  Directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen, an Emmy award nominated filmmaker, “Code of the West” was a grim but generally accurate portrayal of the events surrounding Montana’s 62nd legislative session.  The footage of our great state was beautiful and the final result was a truly impartial look at medical marijuana in Montana.

Medical marijuana is a contentious issue in Montana and emotions run high on all sides of the topic. Richman Cohen accomplished something I thought was impossible.  While still unlikable, I didn’t despise Cherrie Brady, whose group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” was largely responsible for the rapid decline of legislative support for regulatory marijuana legislation,  nearly as much as I did during the legislative session.  The movie portrayed Brady as someone who was convinced of her beliefs and obviously committed to maintaining the lies behind prohibition.  It seems like many religious people feel they need to remove all temptation and risk from the lives of their children and spouses in order to live a virtuous existence and Cherrie is no exception.  With those thoughts in mind, I have decided she is no longer deserving of my enmity, I’ve decided instead to pity her.  Education is the key to overcoming ignorance, but first we must overcome fear.

I am very thankful that some of the clowns Montanans elected to represent us in our legislature won’t be returning in the 2013 session.  Mike Milburn, Speaker of the House and sponsor of HB 161, the marijuana repeal bill is termed out of the house.  Rep. James Knox, sobbing on cue in the documentary footage as he claimed the repeal was necessary to “save other people’s brothers” from the evils of marijuana, has thankfully moved to Texas.  The entire house of representatives and over half of the senate is up for reelection this June (primary) and November (general election).

Although each election is portrayed as the most important in our lifetime, this election is crucial to Montana’s future.  Marijuana didn’t destroy our state’s rough and tough cowboy image… the blame for that is placed squarely on our elected officials. They are quick to tell the feds to stay out of our healthcare, let us deal with our own wolves, and that they will pry our guns from our cold, dead hands yet when marijuana providers were being raided and robbed by our government, they not only didn’t protest, they welcomed federal intrusion.  Montana isn’t represented by strong, rugged leaders, we have spineless yes-men eager to toe the party line to protect their political future.  It is time we stand up to them and send a serious message on election day, that we are a force to be reckoned with.

Much has occurred since completion of the documentary.  Parts of SB 423, the legislature’s virtual repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law have yet to be implemented as a result of a temporary court injunction.  Naturally, the state of Montana has appealed that ruling and oral arguments are scheduled before Montana’s Supreme Court on May 30.  Countless Montanans have lost everything they own as a result of asset forfeiture, whether or not they were ever indicted by the feds.  Those who were indicted also lost their freedom to the federal government’s unconscionable war on drugs.  Tom Daubert, one of the film’s primary characters, an indicted co-owner of Montana Cannabis, has cut a deal with the government as have nearly all of those indicted as a result of the March 2011 raids.  So far, nobody has been brave enough to test the government in court and the feds have in most cases offered very attractive deals to cooperative witnesses.  Perhaps though, the tides are changing.  Chris Lindsey, one of Daubert’s former business partners plans to take the case to trial.  Although he essentially faces a mandatory minimum life sentence, he believes in the cause enough to fight for his freedom and thus, for our rights.  As Chris faces a lifetime behind bars, the least we can all do is show up in vast numbers to vote for the candidates who are friendly to our cause.  For more information on those candidates, see the 2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide.  As more information becomes available, the guide will be updated.  Primary elections are Tuesday, June 5.

Want to see “Code of the West” for yourself?  Screenings of the film will be shown in cities across Montana May 15 – May 23.  For details on dates, times and locations- as well as information about the discussion panels to follow the screening, check this link.  We realize that this is an emotional issue,  but we would ask that those attending the screening refrain from any negative behavior.  We have the truth on our side, why contribute to the inaccurate image our opposition has painted for us?  Tolerance may not provide instant gratification, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Pastimes of the Virtuous


                                                                                                                                             

Righteous David Howard, whose is apparently a minister of the Lord, enjoys very interesting videos in his spare time.

Screenshots like this don’t require further commentary.  Thankfully Rep. David Howard, of Montana’s GOP God Squad infamy, has a contested primary June 5.  Republicans may want to check out his conservative competition- Kathy Harman and Dale Milligan.  Democrat Jim Dickey will face the winner of the primary in November to battle for HD 60.

Other than that, I’m pretty speechless.

 

UPDATED: Honest Abe or Smarmy Swindler: Who is the Real Ken Miller?


A Pinocchio costume may be more appropriate

In the nick of time, about a week before absentee ballots are mailed, the Great Falls Tribune today broke shocking allegations of GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller‘s corrupt campaign finance practices. View the Office of Political Practices complaint here. According to the Tribune,

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller’s former chief fundraiser on Wednesday accused Miller’s campaign of misreporting funds, accepting campaign donations over the statutory contribution limits, accepting anonymous donations, and failing to disclose certain campaign expenditures.

Ken Miller’s utterly laughable response appeared in today’s Billings Gazette:

“We’re obviously viewed as a threat and seen as a front-runner,” Miller said in a telephone interview. “I think for the most part people will see through it.”

Miller, the tea people favorite, bills himself as the honest, Christian conservative.  In fact, his own campaign website humbly mentions,

 It has been whispered that Ken Miller is “too honest for politics”.   Ken Miller is guilty as charged.

In his latest campaign video, Susan Smith, wife of legislator Cary Smith and co-founder of the delightful group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” extols the many virtues of Mr. Miller.  According to Susan, who “knows Ken to be a humble, God-fearing man”, Miller believes in traditional family values and the sanctity of life.  She says “he is a man in whom we can trust”, that he believes in the Constitution and would uphold it.  One supporter mentions how she and her husband met Ken Miller at a parade in which he was donning an Abraham Lincoln costume.  All very interesting.  Watch the campaign video here.

According to Kelly Bishop, who served as his campaign finance director from January until April 14, when she resigned, she found at least $14,000 in campaign contributions that were not reported in Miller’s C-5.  Bishop said she left the position with the Miller campaign after seeing practices within the campaign that made her sick to her stomach. She claims that numerous anonymous donations and credit card transactions were not reported properly, that Miller accepted donations over Montana’s statutory limits and that Miller wasn’t reporting payroll taxes.  This directly affected Bishop’s pay as her salary was commission based on the total fundraising receipts she generated. Bishop said:

“I inquired about it in March, I brought it up to Ken and (his wife) Peggy at the time.  They said it was none of my business and I was not to worry about that part of the campaign.”

Naturally, Miller denies her allegations and throws Bishop under the bus states,

 “My family, campaign staff and I hold no ill will toward Mrs. Bishop, but are saddened by her decision to attack our campaign with frivolous, untruthful accusations. We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the (Commissioner) will agree.”

In response, Miller said, “We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the COPP (commissioner of political practices) will agree.”

“We kind of got blindsided. Unfortunately, she’s not being truthful.”

These allegations cast serious doubt not only on Miller’s integrity, but on his ability to govern our state.  Even if these discrepancies are proven to be unintentional, how on earth can we trust him as Governor of the state of Montana?  The Miller campaign is usually the first to lob nasty allegations at the other candidates and party insiders have long, borrowing Ken’s word, “whispered” that Miller mismanaged funds as State Chairman of the Republican Party.  Perhaps this is simply political karma.

These allegations will surely come as a disappointment to Miller’s base- the conservative, Christian, constitutional segment of Montanans.   In a crowded (7 way) Republican Gubernatorial campaign, this is likely the end for the Miller campaign.  For the family values conservatives, I would suggest donating to the Corey Stapleton campaign and for the mermaid/insurance/lobbyist/quitter lovers out there, Rick Hill.

Bishop’s sudden departure isn’t the only shake up within the Miller camp, his former campaign manager William Mutch’s tenure with the sinking ship was similarly brief. One can only imagine why Mr Mutch abruptly left the campaign, especially after stating on the campaign website that his entire career had culminated on that moment.  I tend to be especially critical of religious hypocrites, remember Harris Himes? I can only imagine how disheartened Miller’s supporters are right now.   I think it is time Ken Miller finds a new costume for parades, Honest Abe doesn’t seem fitting.  Might I suggest Pinocchio?

Tampering Jury Pools with Federal “Truth”


Today Montana’s headlines blare “Federal Warrant Issued for 1980′s Montana Mountain Man” after federal indictments of former partners of the now-defunct medical marijuana business, Montana Cannabis Inc. were unsealed.  Montana’s media offers a sensational headline as well as a dramatic, emotional story to match- that is, if you are willing to buy the federal government’s version of the truth.

You may recall the story of the Nichols duo, Don and his son Dan, who kidnapped world class biathlete Kari Swenson while she was training in the mountains near Big Sky, Montana.   The notorious Montana “mountain men” also murdered one of Swenson’s friends after he stumbled upon their hideout in the woods.  Kari Swenson’s lung was punctured after Dan Nichols accidentally shot her during an armed standoff. She survived the injury and went on to win a bronze medal in the world biathlon championships after being rescued.  Dan Nichols was released in 1991 after serving six years in prison for the crimes.  His father is still in prison but is up for parole April 27.

Dan Nichols has been charged as an indicted co-conspirator with Chris Williams as well as Chris Lindsey, a Missoula attorney who actually left Montana Cannabis in January of 2010.  What is so outrageous about the indictment is the bizarre conspiracy that the government has invented.  First of all, Chris Lindsey, to the best of his knowledge, has never laid eyes upon Dan Nichols, nor has he heard of him.  He was apparently brought on board by Chris Williams, who remained with Montana Cannabis until March of 2011, when federal raids shut down the business.

Apparently, in the eyes of the feds, if you are EVER involved with a “criminal enterprise”, you are not allowed to quit.  You are also responsible for all  crimes that are committed by any subsequent partner or employee of said “criminal enterprise” for eternity.  Fourteen months prior to the 2011 federal raids, Chris Lindsey left Montana Cannabis after disputes over the manner in which the business was being operated.  Apparently that isn’t good enough for the feds.  He is now being lumped in with a kidnapper and murderer who he has never met, never spoken to, never even heard of.  Why?  Because sexy stories sell newspapers and when people read them, they believe them.  The feds know that prohibition is on shaky ground in the US, jurors across the nation are not only expressing reluctance to convict marijuana “criminals”, many consider prosecution of these people, especially in states that have legalized medical use of marijuana, to be a colossal waste of taxpayer funds.   Fortunately for the feds, the media is easily manipulated.  We already know the truth doesn’t matter to US federal government as marijuana wouldn’t be illegal if they were interested in science or any factual evidence.  They continue to promote their failed policies by utilizing fear.  Americans are afraid of crazed, murderous mountain men who would dare kidnap a world-class athlete.  Dan Nichols is considered armed and dangerous.  I certainly wouldn’t approach him, that fear is most likely warranted.  Chris Lindsey, on the other hand, is someone I would trust to watch my daughter.  He is a kind, compassionate intellectual.  He is an educated professional.  He isn’t a firearm enthusiast and he isn’t the least bit violent.  The actual truth isn’t nearly as scandalous though, so the feds will do their best to ensure Chris Lindsey’s story is suppressed.  It appears that the indictment of the exciting “mountain man” was necessary to substantiate the sentences Chris Lindsey is facing for spending 10 months as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis, if convicted of the federal crimes in which he is accused- mandatory minimum sentences total 690 years.

Another former partner of Montana Cannabis, Tom Daubert, who authored Montana’s original medical marijuana law, is scheduled to offer a guilty plea to a federal charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises” on May 3.  Like Lindsey, Daubert divested his interest in Montana Cannabis long before the raids.  Why he wasn’t also indicted with Williams, Nichols, and Lindsey is unclear at this time.

The recent indictments as well as sentences handed down to others charged and convicted (via plea deals) as a result of the March 2011 raids have indicated that Montana’s state law umbrella offers zero protection from federal prosecution, whether the accused was operating in “clear and unambiguous compliance with state law” or not. One can only wonder why Montana’s DPHHS employees, legislators who pretended to deliver created regulatory legislation, and electric companies (the only REAL marijuana millionaires in the state) are not also indicted co-conspirators.