The Comforting Embrace of the Government Nanny


 Montana’s 62nd legislature, led by a healthy Republican majority, sought repeatedly to overturn citizens initiatives and impose new moralistic standards upon its citizens.  As a result, the hypocritical right; who profess a dedication to smaller, more localized government and less intrusion, is being criticized state-wide by its own members. The left generally looks to the government to solve whatever problems we face but most Montanans are already aware that the government’s solutions are generally more destructive than than any problems presented to us. What ever happened to this? Montana is widely known for its libertarian bend and traditionally has had no problem in the past saying no to the federal government.  Real ID, wolves, firearms…. we generally prefer to rule ourselves.

Forget political ideology, Montanans should be dropping labels and stereotypes and embracing each other in the battle our own federal government is waging against us. Instead we are divided, selectively enforcing components of the constitution to meet political needs.

Gonzales v. Raich, the Tenth Amendment, and Controlled Substances Act

Gonzales v Raich essentially ruled that even intra-state marijuana activity was subject to federal jurisdiction via the Commerce Clause. Federal intervention falls under the category of “powers delegated to the United States by the Constitution” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).

While condemning Republicans for their anti-liberty actions regarding Montana’s medical marijuana industry, I’ve noticed frightening inconsistencies in both sides of the political spectrum.  With great frequency I wonder how the left is able to justify their support of national healthcare reform (Obamacare) considering the very decision- Gonzales v. Raich -that made such a mandate possible is also utilized in federal intervention in medical marijuana states.  On the other hand, many conservatives advocated the federal government’s limitless reading of the commerce clause to fight the war on drugs, but now denounce the use of such power to enforce Obamacare…. selective application.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitution provides that the powers of the federal government are limited and specifically defined. Because the Constitution did not give Congress the authority to regulate alcohol, prohibition required a constitutional amendment.  If we are taking a principled stand on limiting the scope of the federal government, we need to do so consistently.  Medical marijuana or socialized medicine, we need to ask ourselves whether allowing the federal government to regulate anything and everything is acceptable to us.  The Commerce Clause is a double-edged sword.

How many Republicans would be willing to enforce the Tenth Amendment when the issue is marijuana? How do Democrats justify involving the federal government in healthcare but not in regulating cannabis?

IRS

New tax mandates and penalties included in Obamacare will cause the greatest expansion of the Internal Revenue Service since World War II, as 16,500 agents will be hired to enforce the law.  The IRS is also harassing medical marijuana dispensaries.  According to Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, no deductions or credits can be claimed by businesses “trafficking in controlled substances”. So, medical marijuana dispensaries across the state are being audited and disallowed all  business deductions (e.g., buying marijuana, hiring staff, paying for office space, etc.), essentially taxing businesses out of existence.  Using the IRS to enforce health care reform sounds ridiculous, nearly as crazy as involving federal agencies like the EPA, ICE, DHS, or OSHA in medical marijuana raids.

FDA
The Food and Drug Administration wants to hold your hand as well, they essentially believe in no health freedom at all. From the FDA in a dismissal notice filed in Iowa by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”

The FDA believes that it is the only entity granted the authority to decide for you what you are able to eat and drink. The government nanny, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you desire.  This is of course, the same entity that gave us Thalidomide, Vioxx, Phen-fen, and a host of other unsafe pharmaceuticals that were eventually pulled from the market after killing and maiming countless Americans.  Naturally, the FDA has also “definitively established” that marijuana has no medical use or value.

Under the guise of public safety, our populace has been conditioned to believe, despite the overwhelming oppositional evidence, that our government is acting in the name of public safety.  Bans on smoking, including toys with children’s high calorie meals, circumcision, salt, and cell phone use while driving, as well as laws requiring seat belt use can all be easily justified by the sheep.  In reality, they are all affronts to liberty.  Adults should be able to make their own choices, free of government instruction or guidance.   Sure, we all want affordable healthcare- but don’t tell me the federal government has a right to force us all to purchase a product while you claim they have no right to regulate our use of banned substances.

This isn’t about Republicans, it isn’t about Democrats. This isn’t about health care or medical cannabis, this is about liberty.  This is our future and we can’t have it both ways.  We need to forget partisan politics and defend the constitution.  Where is the Tea party now?


A Greed Lecture from a Politician/Attorney….. and one from ME.


In today’s Billings Gazette, Senator Jeff Essmann, sponsor of SB 423 “The Black Market Bill” said:

“Montana voters should be concerned about any group that is selling a schedule-one controlled substance that can raise $50,000 in less than a week,” he said, referring to federal law. “I don’t believe Montana voters wanted to have that kind of activity in the state of Montana.  It should be very obvious that this is no longer about the medicine or the therapy. This is about the money for these people.”

“This is about the money for these people”……. I love being lectured by a politician and attorney about greed.  He is concerned that the cannabis industry could raise $50,000 in less than a week.  What exactly would that entail, I wonder.

  • Each of Montana’s approximately 30,000 patients could donate $1.67
  • Each of Montana’s nearly 5000 caregivers could donate $10
  • Each of our GOP legislators could have done their job at the biennial legislative session and we wouldn’t need the services of attorney Jim Goetz.

I find it so interesting that Essmann mentions that marijuana is a controlled schedule I substance.  Considering he is a fan of ignoring the federal government on wolf protection and Obamacare implementation, one wonders why he is so concerned about the Controlled Substances Act. It is the responsibility and duty of the state Legislature and our governor to protect our state and its citizens from federal intrusion. If our elected officials refuse to defend our citizens from the unconstitutional overreach of the federal government, they need to be replaced.  Our most recent legislative session was led by a Republican/Tea people backed majority focused almost solely on invasive, oppressive bigger government and our populist Governor Schweitzer has expressed his intentions to “hold his nose” as he allows SB 423 to become law.  Oh my.

While I am offended at the implication by Essmann that we are greedy, I’m also reminded that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of those sending you emails, blogging, holding meetings and conference calls are NOT paid representatives of the industry.  They are donating their time to this cause and deserve our thanks. I am not comfortable asking anyone for money and I am well aware that most people in the industry are only one harvest away from bankruptcy. I also know very well the costs associated with this business, but unless we are prepared to make unemployment and insolvency part of our plans for the VERY near future, we owe it to everyone involved to put some money where our mouths are. Posting Facebook rants may be liberating, but it isn’t what we need to survive.

I’m begging not only patients, caregivers, and Montanans to donate to this cause, but AMERICANS.  There is far more at stake than simply the medical use of cannabis in our great state, our very liberty is under fire. While disguised as a reform/regulatory bill, anyone who has read SB 423 knows it intends to eliminate the use of medical cannabis in Montana which is in opposition to the will of Montana voters who approved I-148 by a landslide in 2004.

Please go to http://www.mtcia.org/ to assist in preserving Montana’s liberty.  Protect us from the tyrannical religious zealots we unfortunately elected to represent us.   Our goal is $50,000 by the end of today and we are currently short $15,000.  The amount is necessary to retain the legal services of attorney Jim Goetz. On behalf of caregivers and patients statewide, Goetz intends to employ legal actions initially delaying the new law’s implementation as well as  eventually striking down the law in its entirety.  He is the right attorney for this endeavor and we need your help.  Please donate whatever you can, whether it is a significant amount or a few dollars.  The entire nation is watching Montana right now, let’s show them our strength!

The Trust of Montana’s Innocent


 This is the initial segment in a series investigating the motivations of Montana’s anti-cannabis crusaders. Today’s post  features “Pinocchio” Pat Keim, big Tobacco/private prisons/wheat exporter lobbyist.

It has been said that the trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session hearings were rife with exaggerations, unfounded accusations, omissions, and blatant lies.  No oath is required when testifying before legislative committees in Montana.  Legislators appeared happy sifting through the lies, choosing the very best to repeat in future testimony and closing arguments.  Video and audio archives are available online  in case private citizens are interested in fact-checking testimony and testimony clips are available on you tube as well.    Meet Pat Keim, a Montanan typically lobbying for Big Tobacco companies (like Altria and Philip Morris) who, in testimony on behalf of Columbia Grain of Montana, claims the company is unable to find job applicants who test negative for medical marijuana.  Mr. Keim alleges that 100% of applicants were unable to pass necessary pre-employment drug screenings because of their medical marijuana use.

Montanafesto has received information that Mr. Keim’s testimony is not only misleading, but patently false.  In the last six months, we know of at LEAST 3 people, all from the same Columbia Grain facility in Plentywood, MT; who have passed all necessary drug tests and have been hired by Columbia Grain.   Mike Preemer was hired approximately 6 months ago, Mike Fraiser was hired at the beginning of the year, and Nick Chase was hired shortly before the March 11 testimony Keim provided in the preceding clip.  While Fraiser has since left the company, Preemer  and Chase are current Columbia Grain employees.  In Helena last month, an industry activist confronted Keim about the company hiring Nick Chase. Keim reluctantly acknowledged the hire but justified his testimony, claiming the statistics he used in testimony were completed prior to Chase’s employment.

Keim, whose clients in Montana’s most recent session were Alternatives, Inc (a non-profit corporation providing incarceration and treatment facilities for criminals)  and Columbia Grains International (Montana’s largest international grain exporter) for some reason wasn’t working for his typical Big Tobacco clients this session…. or was he?

Perhaps we should examine Columbia Grain’s great concern for eliminating the option for Montana’s ill to use medical cannabis as treatment for their debilitating symptoms.  From Montana’s Office of Political Practices:

I find it somewhat strange that EVERY bill of concern for Columbia Grains International concerned medical marijuana.  Although in limited capacity, I can appreciate the company’s interest in HB 43, which sought to clarify employers’ rights regarding employees who use medical cannabis, it does seem rather suspicious that none of the bills actually involve grain, exports, or anything agricultural.

Patrick Keim provided testimony that was utilized and repeated frequently by GOP cannabis repeal advocates.  If we can discover THREE employees from only ONE of their numerous facilities across the state who were indeed hired recently, it seems all of Keim’s testimony is suddenly suspect. Out of a total number of employees of the company- a number ranging from 93-100- which varied depending on Keim’s particular testimony, it only requires ONE to blow the credibility of his “100% failure” claims.

If medical cannabis is indeed such a dangerous substance, why do opponents of its use need to exaggerate claims and use fictitious figures to project their points?

When testifying in court on very minor offenses, which likely affect only the person cited for the offense; we must swear before the court to provide honest testimony.  Why do we allow lawmakers to rely on flawed and dishonest testimony to create legislation that affects all of our state’s citizens?  If  safety is our goal, we owe our children and communities policies based on facts- not fictitious, profit-driven, religious, or ignorant agendas.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session was truly a disgrace.

What can we, as private Montana citizens, do to combat this disgrace?  First of all, REGISTER TO VOTE.  If you aren’t certain of your registration status, check here.  

Montana Conservatives Not Sold on Rick Hill


Establishment Republicans Hill and Conrad Burns

While it appears GOP Gubernatorial candidate  Rick Hill has the reluctant? support of the typical establishment Republicans in Montana, the new breed of Montana conservative isn’t so sure.  While I love a guy with confidence- anyone with confidence for that matter- there is a fine line between that and arrogance.  If a candidate is going to mention, in a newspaper interview; that he was part of the TEA party before it was cool, he better have the voting record to back up such claims.  In the case of Rick Hill, he clearly does not.    This morning, a prominent Montana conservative forwarded me the following email thread which was sent to a list of other prominent liberty-minded Montana Republicans:

Hello everyone,

I went to the JBS web site and looked up the old Freedom Indexes for when Rick Hill served in Congress 1996-2000.  Can you say RINO?  I have attached them if you are interested.

105th Congress:  Aug ’97   –   60%

Jan ’98 –      40%      July ’98 –     70%

Oct ’98   –    39%  (yes, that’s what it was)

106th Congress:  Aug ’99    –   80%     Jan ’00   –     65%

July ’00  –     65%          Nov ’00   –    65%

And a reply from another prominent Republican:

Good job XXXXXXXXXX!
These are the real issues of this man who calls himself a Republican but does not pay much attention to the Republican platform, not to mention the Constitution. He is a pretty polished and experienced showman, but what about the heart of the man? Shouldn’t that be what matters? He is a politician. Is that what we need? NO!!! We need statesmen who revere the Constitution and the Republican platform. Lipservice Republicans are repulsive and devastating to our state and nation. This is what has put us in the shape we are in!
People, DO NOT fall for this empty show biz!
I took the liberty to put labels on his unconstitutional and socialist votes.
Take a look for yourself. I don’t think we want this man at the helm in our state.
Congress 105-1
1. Extension of  rural multifamily rental housing loans, guarenteed by the taxpayer.Please show me where this is listed in the enumerated powers of the Constitution. Either amend the constituion or abide in it, we can not continue to ignore it. HR 28
2. Build more prisons. HR 30. We need to use capitol punsihment or other deterances to keep people out of prison. We don’t have enough money to educate our kids, but we choose to lock people up to the tune of $100,000 per year. If a body can not control the disease within it, it will die.
3. $20 billion spending for socialist programs. HR5
4. Auto pilot federal spending. HR 1469
5. He opposes withdrawl from UN. HR 1757
6. Spending. FEMA, Peace keeping in Bosnia. Disaster relief. HR 1871
7. Most favored nation trading status for China. HJ 79
Congress 105-2
1. Opposed constitutional disclosure of intelegence spending. HR 1775
2. For Federal block grants. HR 1818. Where is in the enumerated powers? Either amend the constituion or abide in it, we can not continue to ignore it.
3. He opposed eliminating the national endowment for humanities. HR 2107
4. Opposed eliminating sugar loan subsidies. HR 2160. The Constituion does not allow for charity. Either amend the constituion or abide in it, we can not continue to ignore it.
5. Opposed eliminating of market access programs. Subsidising overseas advertising for big corporations. HR 2160
6. Opposed eliminating export subsidies. HR 2159
7. Opposed eliminating population controls and foreign aide. HR 2159
Congress 105-3
1. He favored VA/HUD appropriations. HR 2158 The constitution provides no provision for charity. People are to give freely if they choose. Government has nothing to give unless it takes it from someone first.
2. For foreign aide. HR 2159
3. For a global crime court. H.Con res 137
4. For dismissing Dornan election fraud. HR 355
5. For IMF Bailout. HR 3579
6. Dissanster assistance to Bosnia. HR 3579. If people or organizations choose to be charitable, great. Government has no provision for charity. Either amend the constituion or abide in it, we can not continue to ignore it.
7. For more federal involvement in public schools, stealing the local schools autonomy.HR 6
Congress 105-4
1. For super pork. HR 2400
2. Monkeying around with the 1st amendment. HJR 78
3. For food stamps etc. S 1150
4. Against 150 billion in tax cuts. HJR 284
5. Opposed Elimination of corporate welfare. HR 4101
6. For Agriculture subsidies. HR 4101
7. For funding welfare for women, infants and children (WIC). HR 3874 Again, no charity. Either amend the constituion or abide in it, we can not continue to ignore it.
8. For taxpayers subsidizing trade with China. HJR 121
Have ya had enough? There is more
Congress 106-1
1. Voted against Clinton impeachment article. HR 611
2. Voted for wild and scenic rivers land grabs. HR 193
3. For more AG subsidies. HR 1906
Congress 106-2
1. More support for China. HJR57
2. Opposed slight farm aide cut. HR 2606
3. Supported corporate welfare. HR 2606
4. Supported more foreign aide. HR 2606
5. Opposed transparency in campaign dislcosure in Doolittle campaign finance legislation.
6. Supported assult on 1st amendment and free speech. HR 417
7. Supported more Ag subsidies. HR 1906
8. More Federal Education subsidies, removing local autonomy. HR2
9. For Federal Education grants. HR 2
10. For labor/ HHS / Education spending. Where is does the Constituion address education? Either amend the constituion or abide in it, we can not continue to ignore it. HR 3064
Congress 106-3
1. For small business admin. corporate welfare. HR 3843
2. Opposed 2001 budget by conservative action team. This bill wanted $270 Billion in tax cuts.
3. Supported HUD expansion. HR 1776
4. Supported providing TV for “underserved areas. HR 3615
5. Supported funding for disabilities education. HR 4055. Note: Veterans need to be taken care of under the well funded department of defense.
6. Supported monies for more land grabs by Feds. HR 701
7. Supported permanent normal trade status with China. HR 4444
Congress 106-4
1. Automatic funding of the welfare state. HR 853
2. Opposed disclosure of intelegence spending to Congress. HR 4392
3. Supported the welfare state mother load. > 7% spending increase. HR 4577
4. Assault on the seconf amendment. June 21, 2000, Roll call 308.
5. More Ag subsidies. HR 4461
6. Foreign aide giveaways. HR 4461
7. More normal trade relations with communists. HJ 103
And another reply:
Let’s nip this one in the Bud. We don’t need another fake Republican!!
It appears the establishment Republicans would like us to believe that Rick Hill has this locked up.  AJ Otjen, who along with Mark French lost to Denny Rehberg in the 2010 GOP primary race for US Congress, has expressed her support for Hill publicly.  Otjen claimed her  reasons for supporting Rick Hill were the same reasons she supports Barack Obama.  Does Rick Hill share her Keynesian belief of spending our way out of crises? Sources close to Hill say he told them that even Montana Democrats were urging him to run because he was the most moderate in the race.  That doesn’t sound very “tea party” to me nor does his voting record.  If these rumors are true, Steve Daines who is hoping to unseat Senator Jon Tester may be wise to distance himself from Rick Hill.

Last week, my grandmother received a polling call asking if she intended to vote for Steve Bullock or Rick Hill for Governor in 2012.  She refused to answer.   The 2012 elections are nearly 2 entire years away and my grandmother is hopeful that there will be a clearer choice after primaries as she is tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.  I sure hope so too.

Montana Governor Isn’t a Fan of Tourism


King Schweitzer Hates Tourism

So what is a glory-hound bully king governor to do when it appears he will eventually lose his ill-conceived battle? He changes the rules, of course.

Through Governor Schweitzer,  Montana is sending quite the message to the more than a dozen online travel booking agencies that he is suing in his quest extract more tax revenue.  That message is: “Hey, promote some other state, we don’t like tourism.”  Perhaps those companies will treat us like they did Columbus, Georgia.  After a court ruled that the online travel companies should indeed be paying more taxes, most major booking agencies simply dropped the city from their listings all together.

In Montana, the difference between the bed tax revenue that is paid and the amount the governor thinks it should be is estimated at a paltry $100,000  annually.  One of the agencies targeted by Schweitzer, Travelocity, had just announced a half-million dollar promotion plan for our state when Schweitzer thanked them with a bright, shiny, new lawsuit.

Many jurisdictions across the nation have filed similar lawsuits across the nation and nearly all rulings have favored the travel booking companies.  A representative of Expedia said the lawsuits are a question of whether the companies should pay taxes on their margins and fees. Cities and states that levy taxes on the Expedia’s commission lower its incentive for doing business there, he said.  Some cities, after failing to win similar lawsuits, have amended their laws and informed hotels that if they cannot force the agencies to pay, they will force the hotels to do so.  It is expected that, in the event the cities prevail, the booking agencies will do whatever it takes to recoup the taxes from the hotels.

Claiming that it is just the usual housekeeping, the Montana Department of  Revenue plans to publish new rules that apparently recast implementation of the hotel bed tax which clarify the the taxes. The new rules specify that the agencies need to pay tax on the retail amount received from customers, not the wholesale  value of the room.

In Montana, the online booking agencies have some help in the ongoing dispute.  The Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Taxpayers Association say the Department of Revenue is wrong to use a rule-making process to go after the online companies.

However things play out, it is obvious that these lawsuits will hurt our state’s entire tourism industry.  The economic impact will remain to be seen but surely it will be larger than $100,000/annually.   And in the event  Travelocity and the other number of agencies are victorious, perhaps Governor Schweitzer will send  his brother Walt, who has been described as “Helena’s 800-pound gorilla and state government’s elephant in the room” to shake them down.

Injustice: Marc Racicot’s Montana Legacy: Part III


Was Judge Swandal a Casualty of Cronyism?

In March 2008, Judge Cybulski rejected Beach’s request for a hearing based on the testimony before the state parole board, including witnesses who said they heard two women talk about being involved in the killing. Judge Nels Swandal was assigned the case on April 2 after the Montana Supreme Court ordered Cybulski to appoint a new judge.

Although the Department of Justice refused to specify why,  the state asked that Swandal be removed from the case. As a result, District Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown will preside over the hearing scheduled in August of 2011.

It seems to be a somewhat logical conclusion that politics was at play here.  The conservative Nels Swandal was likely not the favored candidate of the Montana Department of Justice- a group of liberal lawyers.  Were they were afraid that the Beach case, which is sure to garner national attention, would provide publicity for Swandal and thus endanger their candidate, a Department of Justice/Helena insider?  Perhaps it simply suited Marc Racicot to have a friend on the Supreme Court?  I’d love to believe that Racicot’s endorsement was heartfelt and driven solely by belief that Baker is the best candidate for the job, but I’m not convinced.

For all of these years, Marc Racicot has maintained that Barry Beach was responsible for the death of Kim Nees.  I wonder how he is able to sleep at night although maybe, just MAYBE; he is convinced that his prosecution was fair, along with a host of other big decisions he made for our state that impact us to this day.  Had the internet been more prevalent during his tenure, I wonder if he would be remembered as Montana’s most popular governor or as a ruthless narcotics smuggler, Mr Deregulation, Enron lawyer/lobbyist, or the guy who stole Barry Beach’s entire life simply because he was overly ambitious and more concerned about his future than the truth.

From the Montanan online:

Racicot makes no apologies for deregulation or any other policy decision, although without giving specifics does admit “not everything I did was right.” He hopes his legacy is his approach, saying he will be remembered for “the character of my service and the civility of it.”

Injustice: Marc Racicot’s Montana Legacy: Part I


Questions Surround Racicot’s Endorsement of Beth Baker

RINO Racicot

Former “Republican” Montana Governor Marc Racicot‘s letter to the editor (QCN, Sept. 29, 2010) endorsing Beth Baker for Montana Supreme Court Justice, may not be as puzzling as it appears at first glance….

Beth Baker beat Nels Swandal in the race for Montana Supreme Court Justice earlier this week.  Although Swandal was, from the beginning, the underdog in the race, many consider Racicot’s endorsement as one that sealed Swandal’s fate.  While Baker campaigned as a non-partisan candidate, Swandal refused to deny his conservative values. While she may portray herself otherwise, an analysis of Beth Baker’s political contributions (to only democrats or “non-partisan” judicial candidates over the last 17 years) combined with her endorsements from liberal environmentalist groups (her husband Tim Baker is former head of Montana Wilderness Association and currently their legislative campaign coordinator) imply that Baker is hardly non-partisan.

Let’s look at Baker and Racicot’s history…. In 1989, Beth Baker became an assistant attorney general with the Montana Department of Justice after four years as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell.  As assistant attorney general, Baker worked under Republican Attorney General Marc Racicot and Democrat Attorney General Joe Mazurek and became chief deputy of the department in 1997.  She is currently in private practice as the managing partner for the law firm Hughes, Kellner, Sullivan and Alke, PLLP in Helena.  Racicot said in his letter to the editor, in reference to Baker:

…Montanans could elect no better candidate to their Supreme Court than Beth Baker.

…we both believe that Beth is the embodiment of what a judge ought to be.

…In this race, and especially with this candidate, our party affiliations are irrelevant.

One questions why a “conservative” former governor/RNC Chair/Bush campaign manager/DC lobbyist would publicly endorse- jointly with a Democrat- a clearly liberal environmentalist with no judicial experience.

Next:  Part II