Montana’s Politicians… An Impotent Lot


We tell the feds to get lost when it comes to healthcare, wolves, and guns, but those we elected beg for help from the federal government to enforce marijuana laws? Please.

Today we learned that Montana medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert was able to negotiate a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Daubert is the founder of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He was influential in the drafting of I-148, the initiative that Montana voters approved overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2004.  Daubert was also a one of a handful of partners in Montana Cannabis, one of several caregivers who were raided in March of 2011.  Others involved in Montana Cannabis have not been quite so fortunate as they were recently indicted on multiple federal counts of conspiracy, cultivation, and gun charges.  According to news reports,  Daubert has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises”. Unlike the charges Daubert’s former partners are facing, his doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence.  Recent federal cases have indicated that this is an increasingly common charge by the feds- especially when cases against the accused are relatively weak and built primarily on circumstantial evidence.

Montana’s indicted cannabis caregivers have accepted plea deals featuring significant charge and sentence reductions (most sentences range from 6 – 18 months in federal prison) although they were also subject to massive asset forfeitures and additional fines.  So far though, it appears nearly everyone has been negotiating with the feds, but what happens to those who refuse the plea deals?

Lindsey's legal practice is built upon helping clients adhere to state law. He now faces mandatory minimum sentences of 690 years as a result.

Take, for instance; Chris Lindsey.  He is a soft-spoken, educated, non-violent intellectual. He is a husband and a father to a young son.  Lindsey, a Missoula attorney, served as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis (yes, Tom Daubert’s company) for less than a year.  He left the company a full fourteen months before the March 2011 raids that preceded these federal indictments.  He was indicted last week on a long list of federal conspiracy, drug, and gun charges.  The guns weren’t his. He wasn’t a drug dealer and as far as conspiracy goes, well, I suppose I’m breaking some of those federal statutes simply by writing this post.  Chris has built his legal practice around helping Montana’s medical marijuana patients adhere to state law.  He has not been accused of breaking any of Montana’s statutes and yet he is unable legally to use his clear compliance with state law in his federal defense.  He says he can’t accept a plea deal on something he believes in. So what does that mean for Chris?  Brace yourself.

Mandatory minimums on his charges amass sentences of 690 years in federal prison.  Maximum sentences are 25 consecutive life terms plus an additional 85 years.  What purpose do we serve by incarcerating a productive professional with no history of criminal activity- someone who has never been accused of any sort of violence?  This is a travesty of epic proportions.  Keep in mind that there is no parole in federal prison and that convicts must serve 85% of their sentences.  Doesn’t this make you wonder why those who make a deal (thus maintaining frightening and artificially high federal conviction rates ) are criminals who upon acceptance of a plea deal, are instantly benign enough to warrant sentences averaging one year yet those who value their principles enough to defend them in a court of law are scary enough for consecutive life sentences?

Our state government allows this injustice, without so much as a complaint. While politicians from other states protest the federal crackdown medical marijuana, those from Montana are silent. Montana politicians typically claim to exhibit a sort of libertarian-streak that is native to our people- people who just want to be left alone.  In reality however, our politicians are pussies.  Nearly every one of them.  They are too worried about being reelected to actually take a stand to protect the very people who elected them.  From our Congressional delegation to our local sheriffs, Montana politicians LOVE federal intervention on marijuana cases.  In fact, instead of actually working with our existing state law, state law enforcement often refused to prosecute those in defiance of the law in order to set up a repeal of I-148 in our last legislative session.  Rumor has it, to ensure a repeal, our elected officials even worked with federal agents to schedule a key legislative vote simultaneously with dramatic federal raids taking place in the state capital, as well as cities across the state.  On one Republican state representative’s Facebook page, he declared immediately after the raids  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds”.  I guess these faux Libertarian-minded Montanans believe they can deal with everything on the state level- healthcare, wolves, guns- everything but the “scourge of Montana” (yes, another state legislator called it that), marijuana.

Our governor, Brian Schweitzer, did absolutely nothing to protect Montanans from federal intervention.  Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester are fighting for Tester’s US Senate seat.  Conveniently, neither of them have stood up to federal medical marijuana intervention.  Max Baucus recently announced his intent to run for reelection in 2014- has he taken a stand?  Nope.  Our attorney general, Steve Bullock, who has continuously opposed legislation as well as legal maneuvers designed to protect patients, now wants to be our governor.  Nearly all of the prohibitionists in our state legislature are running for either reelection or election to yet another state office.  If our state governments refuse to protect us from the tyrannical federal government by use of the “supremacy clause” and a disgustingly broad interpretation of the commerce clause via Raich v Gonzales, what is the point of having state governments at all?
As we head farther into campaign season, let me remind you all that politicians are the biggest criminals alive.  We reward them with our votes and pay them healthy salaries with our taxes. We subsidize the failed war on drugs by allowing our government to perpetuate violent crime on our borders in the name of security. I am BEGGING you all, please do NOT disappoint me.  Get your asses out June 5 in primary elections and don’t you DARE neglect to vote in the general election November 6.   I do not feel safer with Chris Lindsey behind bars- or Tom Daubert, for that matter, do you?

Montana’s politicians are vacillating, submissive cowards and it is high time for some outrage from Montana’s citizens, this is embarrassing. 

Saint Essmann: The Innocence of Malignant Narcissism


Thanks to Montana Cowgirl for picking up my slack…. Senator Jeff Essmann stammered while attempting to answer a question on Aaron Flint’s Voices of Montana this morning.  That question?  “Senator Essmann, have you ever smoked marijuana?” reminded me of the time Rep James Knox (RWNJ-Billings Heights) was asked if he’d ever sold drugs.   Unfortunately, I’m far too busy coordinating the eastern side of the state in the Patients for Reform, Not Repeal quest to actually fulfill voter intent by allowing the actual voters to decide whether Jeff Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a hot mess or a brilliant piece of legislation.  Hypocrisy reigns in the prohibition crowd….

I don’t really care if Essmann has smoked marijuana nor did I really care if President Clinton was receiving extra-curricular blowjobs, but I don’t appreciate liars- especially those who feed at the public trough. On the other hand, maybe Essmann is just that much of a dork. He could in fact be the only adult human being I’ve ever met who hasn’t tried marijuana… but I doubt it.

The Obama Administration’s Schizophrenic Marijuana Policy: Ogden, Haag, and Cole


Prior to his election, Obama had a reasonable outlook on medical marijuana

“I don’t think that should be a top priority of us, raiding people who are using … medical marijuana. With all the things we’ve got to worry about, and our Justice Department should be doing, that probably shouldn’t be a high priority.” — June 2, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire

“You know, it’s really not a good use of Justice Department resources.” — responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire

Nearly year after Obama was elected President, his administration, with great fanfare; released the Ogden memo. The memo essentially informed US Attorneys that the US government wouldn’t be focusing federal resources on the prosecution of individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.  As a result of this policy shift, the number of legal medical marijuana patients increased substantially in states allowing the use of medical marijuana.

On February 1, 2011, US Attorney Melinda Haag sent what is now known as the “Haag Memo”, to John Russo, Oakland City Attorney in response to Russo’s request of clarification of the federal stance. From the memo:

We will enforce the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law…. . ….Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law.

Although hardly publicized, the Haag memo is consistent with federal action the following month:

On Wednesday, for the second time in this year, the Obama administration released a memo on  medical marijuana, the text of which can be viewed here.  This memo purports to provide clarification of previous memos yet seems more like a warning to anyone involved in any level of cannabusiness.  The text of the memo seems to acknowledge that state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis is alright, but good luck obtaining it, because the federal government is waging a war against those who grow it.  This clarification certainly clears things up.

Americans were accustomed to raids under the Bush administration, but Obama promised a different approach, giving a very false sense of security to cannabis patients.  In reality, Obama is on target to in four years, double the number of raids under 8 years of the Bush administration.  At least Bush’s actions were consistent with his words.  Some are speculating that US Atty Holder or rogue US Attys are acting without authorization, but launching raids IS policy and the number, scope, and focus of these violent raids suggests that they are orchestrated from the top.

How’s your badass president now?  I’ve had enough “change”  Perhaps it is time for a President whose actions are consistent with his words, has a decades long history of consistent messages and dedication to individual liberties, constitutional government and sound monetary policy.  Or maybe not.  Maybe you prefer wondering if federal agents will gun down your children as well as your dogs in the next early morning raid.  H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act is currently in Congress.  To urge your Representatives and Senators to support this historic legislation, use this handy web form.

Breaking….. Yes, Denny is Challenging Jon Tester (Is anyone really surprised?)


All of the speculation surrounding Denny Rehberg‘s political plans for the future is being put to rest. Thankfully rollcall.com is breaking the “news” that Denny Rehberg is indeed challenging Jon Tester‘s senate seat.  I was getting really tired of sitting on the info while political insiders claimed he was focusing on his House seat now in light of the successful fundraising by Steve Daines.   Michele Bachmann is speaking at the Lewis & Clark Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner where Rehberg is expected to make his announcement.

Steve Daines is expected to announce Thursday that he will be dropping his senate challenge to Tester and instead running for  Rehberg’s empty house seat.  Daines was off to a great start fundraising and it is doubtful that he could have raised so much so quickly running for US Congress.

Tester has made quite a few enemies on the left lately, in part due to his vote against granting amnesty for children of illegal aliens.  He’s managed to run under the radar in Montana however, voting exactly like Max Baucus most of the time while escaping criticism.  Will Rehberg’s challenge produce a Republican senator from Montana or will our state lose all GOP representation in DC?

 

Denny’s Fresh New Deterrent to 2012 Senate Run


Will chairing powerful subcommittee be enough to deter Denny Rehberg from challenging Senator Jon Tester in 2012?

Montana’s Representative Denny Rehberg,  was today named chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, one of three subcommittees within the powerful  House Appropriations Committee.  Congressman Rehberg’s approval by Speaker Boehner and the House Republican Steering Committee was unanimous, he has served on the committee since 2005.

The question of Rehberg’s 2012 political intentions remains.  Will he be satisfied with his higher profile role in Congress or will he finally decide to run for Senator Jon Tester‘s US Senate seat in 2012?

Rumors have been circulating for months and the Rehberg camp has been relatively silent on the Congressman’s plans for the future.  Republican businessman Steve Daines of Bozeman has already announced a challenge to US Senator Jon Tester and many Montanans would prefer to avoid placing Rehberg and Daines in a contested primary.  Some speculate Daines would drop out as a courtesy to Rehberg and would instead run for the Rehberg’s US Representative seat, but neither side has confirmed any such plans. Interestingly, Rehberg was also rumored, albeit to a lesser extent, to be considering running for Montana governor.  Some Montana Republicans are frustrated with Rehberg, accusing him of actively thwarting the fundraising efforts of Republican candidates for both positions in question and are encouraging him to make a decision. When asked about Rehberg’s Senate prospects in 2012, spokesman Jed Link said “Denny is focused on doing the job the overwhelming majority of Montana voters sent him to Washington to do.”

Personally, I’d like Denny to remain where he is. I’m not a fan of lifelong politicians but since he apparently intends to be one, I think he will have far more power to advance a conservative agenda  while chairing a powerful subcommittee than he would as a freshman senator.  I think Steve Daines is a likeable candidate but his alignment with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill is concerning.  I’d hate for Hill’s baggage to adversely affect Daines’s viability.  According to recent polls, US Congressman Hill currently has better name recognition but that recognition is highly negative. Daines, who is a relatively new face in politics (although he’s been involved on many levels for decades) may be wise to distance himself from the Hill campaign and instead capitalize on the current anti-incumbent/establishment politician wave.  The only one who stands to benefit from the alignment is Rick Hill, whose advanced age, health concerns, unimpressive voting record, and tendency to bail in stressful situations makes many  apprehensive about electing him to any office let alone crowning him the CEO of an entire state.

Lefty Love Affair With Endangered Democrat Jon Tester Ends Like a Bad DREAM


The End of a DREAM

Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester have had few successes in recent years.  Conservatives feel they have  ignored the wishes of their constituency in pushing through national healthcare reform mandates and other unpopular legislation while progressives feel they haven’t done enough.  Some liberals now refer to the Montana Senators as “blue dog democrats” and describe their political ideology as “right of center”.

You know things are really bad  when your most vocal and loyal fans turn on you though.  In a tragedy befitting a political Harlequin romance novel,   Markos  Moulitsas, the influential founder of the lefty website DailyKos, has broken up with Senator Jon Tester.   After the desperate Senator expressed his intent to vote against the controversial DREAM act,  Moulitsas took to publicly criticizing the man he’d once described as the “future of the Democratic party”.   Moulitsas tweeted “Good luck getting reelected now A**hole” as well as a host other disparaging Twitter comments about the man he’d once loved.

The DREAM act is over, possibly forever; and with it ends the liberal dream of millions of new undocumented Democrats becoming legal voters.  Moulitsas and other progressives have been betrayed by Tester’s desperation as he is facing a difficult reelection bid in 2012.  Montana voters would not forgive the Senator’s support of the DREAM  act on top of the national healthcare reform mandates so Tester caved.  It remains to be seen whether liberals will forgive Tester or express their disappointment in the Senator by closing their checkbooks but it is certain they will not soon forget.  Steve Daines,  a Republican Montana businessman is thus far Tester’s only opponent in the 2012 election although there is speculation that Montana’s lone Congressman Republican Denny Rehberg will seek Tester’s seat in the US Senate.

 

End of a DREAM, Loyal Supporters Turn on Tester

 

 

Montana GOP Candidates Pick Up Early Endorsements


Gun Owners of America announced this week they are endorsing Steve Daines, a Republican who recently announced his bid to unseat US Senator Jon Tester from Montana.

GOA endorses Steve Daines for US Senate

“In this race for United States Senate, we’ve found a pro-Second Amendment candidate with real leadership skills in Steve Daines,” said GOA’s Vice-Chairman Tim Macy.

Steve understands that protecting the Second Amendment is not just about gun control—it’s about control.  Elitists in Washington want to control our economy, control our ability to protect ourselves and our families and, in effect, control every aspect of the lives of Americans.”

"I'm a Republican for Rick Hill" says AJ Otjen

Gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill picked up an endorsement from liberal Republican Agnes Otjen this week. “AJ” Otjen ran unsuccessfully (as a self-described “Teddy Roosevelt Republican”) for Montana’s GOP nomination for congress earlier this year, gathering just 6% of the June primary vote. Otjen may be best remembered for her 2008 vote for Democrat Barack Obama.   She agreed that this was the very same reason she voted for Barack Obama, who ironically enough has been described recently as “too far left” by European leaders.  Hill has told friends that several Democrats have been encouraging him to run for Governor in 2012, because he “would be the moderate in the field”, although Hill’s more recent statements have attempted to court conservatives. About Hill, Otjen said “I believe Rick will build a broad coalition and focus on the things with which we can all agree.” Hill has joined former state senators Ken Miller of Laurel and Corey Stapleton of Billings in what is expected to be a crowded field for the open seat. Democrat Brian Schweitzer is barred from running again due to term limits.

Steve Daines Makes it Official


Steve and Cindy Daines

RightNow Technologies Vice President Steve Daines (R) has ended speculation on his political aspirations by officially announcing this morning his campaign to unseat Senator Jon Tester.   The fifth-generation Montanan intends to take his years of  private sector experience to Washington D.C after sending Tester back to his organic farm near Big Sandy.

Progressive Democrat Jon Tester has seen his popularity in Montana wane after voting for the stimulus and healthcare bills that Montanans largely opposed.  His voting behavior puts him in the mainstream of his party, having sided with Senate Democrats in over 90% of votes, With his partner in crime, Max Baucus, he managed to avoid virtually all contact with Montanans- most of them angry- prior to voting on the bills. In at least one instance, Baucus and Tester arrived at a listening session in Billings to find protesters outside the venue.  They promptly left the event instead of facing the anger of their constituents.  In contrast, Republican Representative Denny Rehberg held countless listening sessions and town hall meetings across the state.

Baucus has received most of the criticism over the stimulus and healthcare, in part due to his position chairing the US Senate Finance Committee as well as his public role in passing the sweeping healthcare legislation that he authored yet later admitted not ever reading.  Montanans need to remember however that Tester is just as out of touch with Montanans as Max Baucus.  In fact, Tester votes even worse than Baucus.  According to the JBS Freedom Index, a congressional scorecard based on the US Constitution, Baucus receives an overall score of 8% while Tester’s score is a paltry 5%.  Montanans should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for electing these thieves in the first place.  In contrast, while far from perfect, US Representative Rehberg’s overall score is 79% with the most recent session scoring of 90%.

Let’s send someone who has a long history of success and job creation to the  US Senate.  Running on a platform of more jobs, less government, Steve Daines is the real deal.