Monday, March 19, 2018

Why Climate Activists Must Include Supply-Side Restrictions in Their Recommended Policy Mix


Daily average Arctic surface temperature since 1958. The red line is now — 2018 year-to-date (source: Bill McKibben).

by Gaius Publius

Climate policy recommendations, to date, cluster around a very small number of recommendations, all designed to discourage demand for fossil fuels and encourage demand for renewable energy sources. Few policy recommendations address the plentiful, cheap and growing supply of fossil fuels.

This is a major mistake. It may even prove to be fatal to the great task ahead. And only the climate activist and policy community can fix this error.

Consider the following six points.

The Argument for Restricting the Supply of Fossil Fuels

1. Note the graph above. If it's not already clear that global warming has not just reached truly dangerous proportions, but is accelerating, what's shown in graphs like that should dispel all doubt.

Here's another, from the same series of tweets by climate writer Bill McKibben:
The Chukchi Sea is the region of the Arctic north of the Bering Strait. As you can see, the extent of sea ice is declining precipitously. (See also here and here.) All those tiny lines are measurements from the most recent previous years.

(Both of these graphs come from the website of climate scientist and student Zachary Labe, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Earth System Science at UC Irvine. The site is rich in graphs like these. For Arctic sea ice figures, see here and also the links at the bottom of the page.)

If this isn't an emergency, what is? The World War II analogy would be: Germany has been arming for war for years and has now massed troops on the Polish border. There's no time to waste in preparing the Polish people for the onslaught.

2. If there's no time to waste in addressing the climate crisis, it's necessary not just to restrict the demand for fossil fuels — for example, via carbon taxes and mandatory emissions standards — but also the supply.

This means, in turn, putting the squeeze on the economy to force a conversion to renewable energy supply, rather than simply put pressure on the economy via more gentle restrictions and encouragements that allow the economy to adjust, if it wishes, in a way that's "comfortable."

Examples of "comfortable" demand restrictions include carbon taxes and mandatory cap-and-trade systems. "Comfortable" demand encouragements include subsidies for renewable energy infrastructure.

Supply restrictions, in contrast, tend to be uncomfortable — for consumers because supply is restricted in advance of changes in buying behavior or availability of alternatives; for suppliers because the flow of profit is artificially constrained; and for segments of the economy as a whole because money is forced out of fully operating sectors (fossil fuel production, delivery and use) and forced into alternative, less-developed areas.

The purpose of those restrictions, in fact, is to use that discomfort to force changes in behavior, to force the development of alternatives — not to wait until the market or consumers decide to make these changes on their own.

The World War II analogy would be the transfer of money from the consumer part of the U.S. economy via rationing into the war-making part of the economy, in order to force the production of ships, tanks, guns and other materiel needed by the military. The constriction here, the reason the U.S. couldn't support both parts of the economy at full capacity, is manufacturing capacity. A nation can't double manufacturing capacity in a year, even with all the money in the world to do it. Capacity to make cars, for example, had to be converted to make tanks. In the same way, overall spending had to be diverted, since the ability to expand government spending, while large, isn't infinite.

3. Restrictions on supply, coupled with constrictions on demand, work very well in other areas where public policy intervention is needed to create a positive social change. Consider the attempt to limit tobacco use in Australia, from a recent academic study ("Cutting with both arms of the scissors: the economic and political case for restrictive supply-side climate policies" by Fergus Green & Richard Denniss) that looks at the utility of supply-side restriction in the battle to mitigate climate change (emphasis added):
Significantly, many countries rely on complicated and evolving combinations of these measures, wherein restrictive supply-side policies play an important role complementing demand-side policies.

Policies to control tobacco smoking in Australia provide an instructive example. The policy mix includes prohibitions on producing tobacco without a license, selling tobacco without a license, selling tobacco to children, tobacco advertising, tobacco sponsorship, and smoking cigarettes in confined public spaces. It also includes heavy taxation of tobacco consumption, hard-hitting public information campaigns, “plain packaging” laws, mandatory health warnings on cigarette packages, and the subsidisation of certain substitutes for cigarettes such as nicotine patches.
None of these anti-"free market" measures is considered out of bounds by the public in the war on tobacco use:
Far from being derided as an inefficient mire of “red tape”, Australia’s tobacco regulatory environment is lauded as a global model of effective public health policy, with the country seen as an early mover in innovative regulation in the sector (Chapman and Wakefield 2001). The combination of a wide range of policies, rather than an ‘optimal’ policy, is, moreover, endorsed in the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states that “‘tobacco control’ means a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and their exposure to tobacco smoke…” (article 1(d)).
As the authors also note, supply-side restrictions "have also played an important role in efforts to reduce negative environmental pollution externalities, including chlorofluorocarbons (Haas 1992), asbestos (Kameda et al. 2014), and lead in petroleum products (Needleman 2000)."

4. Restrictions on demand for fossil fuels alone aren't doing the job, certainly not fast enough. The march to a far less human-friendly climate — what I've been calling the Next New Stone Age — is relentless and accelerating. Again, we are now seeing zero degree Celsius days in February in the Arctic. In plain English, that means this: air, warm enough to melt ice, in the Arctic, in winter.

Restrictions on supply are therefore critically needed. Yet restrictions on supply create discomfort, both for producers and consumers. Can counter-arguments that appeal to "discomfort" as a reason not to address fossil fuel supply restrictions be overcome?

5. The surprising answer is yes, those arguments can be overcome. The paper cited above notes both economic and political benefits of restricting the supply of fossil fuels, and shows that, controlling for other factors, those arguments can be popular and effective. To my knowledge, it's the first paper to do so.

It points out that the economic benefits of supply-side restrictions include low administrative and transaction costs, higher certainty of abatement outcomes, positive price and efficiency effects, the avoidance of infrastructure "lock in," and others.

On the political side, the authors assert that "supply-side policies are generally likely to attract higher public support than demand-side policies, all else equal."
Scholars have identified various reasons, related to these factors [perceived benefits, distributional fairness, and so on], why people tend to prefer certain kinds of climate policy instruments over others (e.g. command and control regulation over market-based instruments) (Jenkins 2014; Karplus 2011; Rabe 2010) and, within a given class of policy instrument, certain design features (e.g. explicit earmarking of revenue from market-based instruments) (Drews and van den Bergh 2015, 863; Rabe and Borick 2012). What has not been analysed is the effect on public support resulting from whether the instrument targets the supply side or the demand side (controlling for instrument type and relevant design features such as, where applicable, revenue allocation). 
The point of the study is to support that point by "controlling for instrument type and relevant design features such as, where applicable, revenue allocation".

For example, on the "perceived benefits" of demand-side vs. supply-side climate policies, the authors state:
A common conclusion from climate-related public opinion research is that climate science is poorly understood and concern about the problem, though widespread, is shallow, i.e. it tends to be a low-salience, low-priority concern and individuals have a low “willingness to pay” for solutions (Ansolabehere and Konisky 2014; Guber 2003; Jenkins 2014, 470–72; van der Linden et al. 2015). This is unsurprising: the climate benefits of mitigation policies are diffused widely across time and space; they disproportionately accrue (and are perceived accrue) to future generations and people in other countries; and their magnitude is uncertain, meaning they are likely to be strongly discounted by voters (van der Linden et al. 2015).
Supply-side policies suffer none of these disadvantages:
By contrast, supply-side instruments typically target fossil fuels per se. Survey evidence suggests that people more readily link co-costs/co-benefits (environmental, health, security, social, economic) to specific energy sources than to the more abstract concepts of “carbon”/“climate” (e.g., Ansolabehere and Konisky 2014); and fossil fuels are well-understood commodities that many people more readily associate with a range of higher-priority, more localised and more immediate negative (non-climate) impacts, resulting in negative attitudes toward fossil fuels, especially coal (see Green 2018, section 3.1.1 and references there cited). These features give supply-side policies considerable advantages in attracting public support for climate policy. Relatively high public support for fossil fuel severance (resource extraction) taxes, even in climate-ambivalent, tax-averse north-American states and provinces (Rabe and Borick 2012, 377–79), provides circumstantial empirical support for these arguments.
The paper studied similar support based on perceptions of distributional fairness and lower costs.

6. The bottom line is: This is the first study that controls for other factors in determining support for supply-side climate policies vs. demand-side policies by themselves, and finds much to be encouraged about.

The authors conclude:
In our experience, the climate policy community has for too long been excessively narrow in its preference for certain kinds of policy instruments (carbon taxes, cap-and trade), largely ignoring the characteristics of such instruments that affect their political feasibility and feedback effects. At the very least, then, we hope we have shown that supply-side policies should be in the toolkit, ready to be wielded when circumstances favour.

Better, we think, to cut with both arms of the scissors.
Cutting with "both arms of the scissors" means using both supply-side policies and demand-side policies in addressing the looming climate crisis. It's clearly ineffective to use just one.

Only the Climate Policy Community Can Lead in Making This Change

Note the addressee of the authors' conclusion — the "climate policy community." This recommendation is not addressed primarily to politicians, who in the West are natively "free market" apologists, which means, natively Big Money enablers.

And it's not addressed to the public at large, who fear — and are led to fear — the "discomfort" of supply restrictions. Recent American Petroleum Institute ads, for example, say in effect: "Do you like that big-screen, smart-phone lifestyle of yours? Be sure to keep carbon in the energy mix, or you'll lose it." The reality is, if Mr. and Ms. Consumer truly hope to keep their smart-phone lifestyle intact, they better start now to arrest the devolution to Stone Age life that burning carbon will inevitably cause. Just the opposite of what the API is telling them to do.

It makes sense then, does it not, that messages that clearly explain the benefits of reduction — and destruction — of fossil fuel supply can at first only be carried by leading climate activists and the broader policy community?

I see no one else to offer it. And considering both the existential nature of the coming emergency and its near-suffocational timeline, that leadership needs to start ... well, now.


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Collusion As Far As The Eye Can See-- You Don't Even Need Binoculars To See All The Collusion


When Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intel Committee, got caught colluding with the White House on the investigation and pretended to recuse himself, Mike Conaway (R-TX) supposedly took over as acting chair in all matters Putin-Gate. Conaway represents TX-11, a west Texas district (Midland, Odessa, San Angelo) so red that the PVI is R+32. Trump beat Hillary there 77.8% to 19.1%. In 2012 Obama took 19.6% of the vote. Conaway usually gets reelected with around 80%. He had no Democratic running against him in 2012, 2014 or 2016. It hardly matters to him how imbecilic his sounds. He constituents are even stupider. Yesterday on Meet The Press he admitted that the reason the committee didn't find any collusion was because they weren't looking for any. Nunes and Trump have been running around yelling "no collusion, no collusion." Look at the crazy orange chimp:

On Saturday, Trumpanzee was at it again: "The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime."

Conaway, yesterday, a slow-witted dullard doing his first Sunday morning talk show: "We were focused not so much on that, as it feeds into the collusion issue. Our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea. So we really weren't focused in that direction." In fact a few days ago, Conaway said on a conference call that "we believe that the broader evidence available to us was that they [the Kremlin] favored her [Hillary] over him [Comrade Trumpanski], and the main issue was to sow discord." Watch Chuck Todd interview the poor stumbling, mumbling, simpleminded Conaway:

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) were on CNN yesterday, warning Señor T that he better not fire Mueller and that he had to allow federal investigators looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election to do their jobs. Graham said it was very important that Mueller be allowed to proceed without interference and that many Republicans share this view. Flake said it appeared the baboon’s latest comments were aimed at the firing of Mueller.
“I don’t know what the designs are on Mueller, but it seems to be building towards that, and I just hope it doesn’t go there, because it can’t. We can’t in Congress accept that,” Flake told CNN’s State of the Union.

“So I would expect to see considerable pushback in the next couple of days urging the president not to go there. He can’t go there.”

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Trump accused the FBI leadership of lies, corruption and leaking information. He called the Russia probe a politically motivated witch hunt.

... “The only reason Mr. Mueller could ever be dismissed is for cause. I see no cause when it comes to Mr. Mueller,” Graham said on CNN. “I pledge to the American people as a Republican, to ensure that Mr. Mueller can continue to do his job without any interference.”

“As I have said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation,” Graham said... "As I have said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation."

...Senator Angus King, an independent, also warned Trump against trying to fire Mueller.

“This is a serious investigation, and if the president tries to terminate it prematurely, I think it will be a true constitutional crisis,” he said on CBS.

Trump also drew criticism from fellow Republicans on Sunday over the firing of McCabe, who said he believed he was targeted because he corroborated Comey’s claims that Trump tried to pressure Comey into killing the Russia probe.

“I don’t like the way it happened. He should’ve been allowed to finish through the weekend,” Senator Marco Rubio said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Rubio, who supports the special counsel probe, said the decision to fire McCabe was made before the release of the Justice Department inspector general’s report that Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited in his dismissal.

Flake said the Senate Judiciary Committee would look at the report, which Sessions said concluded McCabe leaked information to reporters and misled investigators about his actions.

“I’m just puzzled by why the White House is going so hard at this, other than that they’re very afraid of what might come out,” he said on CNN.
Rubio seems to be really scared of Trump, like a child afraid of a stove after he's burned his little hand on it. No one can count on him to oppose Trump no matter what he does. Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown was also on Meet the Press yesterday with an interesting way of phrasing that kind of mentality. "I hear so many Republican senators grumble about Trump’s ethics, about his name-calling. … At some point Republican enablers in the House and Senate are going to say publicly what they’ve been saying privately. And that’s when things change and we see a president back off this kind of name-calling, not telling the truth, sending out these tweets, all that." We'll have to see if that ever happens-- at least before November. Speaking of which...

By a pretty big 50-40% margin, registered voters want to see Democrats win the congressional midterms in November. Two even more important numbers are that voters over 65, by an 11 point margin, want Democrats to win and Independents, by a 12 point margin, also want Democrats running the House and Senate. Seniors vote in midterms more than any other group. And, in terms of districts not as red as Conaway's, independents, decide the races. So in basically all the Republican districts outside off the Deep South, it could be curtains for congressional Republicans. This is a doomsday scenario building for GOP members like from Maine (Bruce Poliquin) to all of them in New York and New Jersey and more than any Democratic strategists was counting in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio... I wonder if any of them will jump off a bridge or a building. They really should based on what they've been doing to allow Trump to run rabid and wild.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Rather than taxpayers paying for Señor Trumpanzee's weekly golf trips, sleazy fundraisers, and presumed weekend getaways with porn stars, we the taxpayers should make it better known that we consider him making trips to campaign for his fellow Republican goofballs, sociopaths, and total nutbags to be a much better use of our tax dollars. It seems that the more he can campaign for them, the more likely it is that they will lose, and that is money well spent to ensure the survival of both us as individuals and as a nation.

So, get out there Mr. Trumpanzee. Work your magic. Stop asking what your country can do for you, your dirtbag family, and your criminal associates. Ask what you can do for your country, and, just so there's no misunderstanding, by "your country," I mean the United States of America. Got it?

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bill Maher Had Beto O'Rourke On Real Time This Week


Texas' primary was March 6. Incumbent Ted Cruz coasted to victory in the Republican contest-- 1,315,146 votes (85.35%) and El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke coasted to victory in the Democratic race, 640,769 votes (61.82%). 1,036,467 people voted in the Democratic primary and 1,540,890 voted in the Republican primary. As of the February 14 FEC reporting date Cruz had raised $17,452,363 and spent $11,906,543 to Beto's $8,708,746 (and $4,168,970 spent). Cruz's war chest, as of that date, has $6,025,231 and Beto's has $4,938,475. Media is expensive in Texas for statewide races. You have to advertise in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso and you still have over 30 other cities, like Laredo, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Killeen, Odessa, Plano, Waco, Abilene, Brownsville, etc with over 100,000 people.

Goal ThermometerCan a Democrat win statewide in Texas? The last time Texas elected a freshman Democratic senator was in 1970 (Lloyd Bentsen and the last time he was reelected, in 1988, was the last time Texas elected a Democrat to the Senate.) Cruz was first elected in 2012, beating Paul Sadler by over a million votes, 56.4% to 40.6%. Democrats like to point out that Texas is a no-vote state, that millions of Texans don't vote, which is true, and that if they could just get them out to vote... That may be true, but in 2016, Trump beat Hillary statewide 4,685,047 (52.2%) to 3,877,868 (43.2%). There's a lot of ground to make up. Will the Blue Wave sweep Texas in November and rid us of Cruz. The DSCC isn't betting on it. Beto O'Rourke might as well be running as an independent. The Bill Maher audience sure liked him. Watch-- and see if you want to support him by clicking on the Blue America Senate thermometer on the right.

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How Many More GOP Seats Did Trump Lose With His Vile Tweet About Andy McCabe?


Neither my old friend Cynthia in L.A. nor my even older friend Helen in Westchester is a rambunctious kid, at least not any more. Helen is pushing 70 and Cynthia passed that goal post some time ago. Every day, Cynthia says things about Señor Trumpanzee that I hope and pray the Secret Service isn't hearing. And Helen... she hates Trump even more than Cynthia does. I've been worrying about Helen because she tells me she stays up nights tossing and turning and fretting about what he's doing to the country. I know these two gracious ladies aren't the only Americans in this exact frame of mind-- from from it.

Take legal scholar Jeffrey Tubin, for example. "If you wanted to tell the story of an entire Presidency in a single tweet, you could try the one that President Trump posted after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the F.B.I., on Friday night. Every sentence is a lie. Every sentence violates norms established by Presidents of both parties. Every sentence displays the pettiness and the vindictiveness of a man unsuited to the job he holds."
In his statement, McCabe spoke with bracing directness. “Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” he said. In other words, McCabe was fired because he is a crucial witness in the investigation led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. The firing of Comey is the central pillar of a possible obstruction-of-justice case against the President, either in a criminal prosecution or in an impeachment proceeding. By firing McCabe, Trump (through Sessions) has attempted to neuter an important witness; if and when McCabe testifies against Trump, he will now be dismissed by the President’s supporters as an ex-employee embittered by his firing. How this kind of attack on McCabe plays out in a courtroom, or just in the court of public opinion, remains to be seen.

What’s clear, though, is the depth of the President’s determination to prevent Mueller from taking his inquiries to their conclusion, as his personal attorney, John Dowd, made clear. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Dowd said, “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.” Of course, notwithstanding Dowd’s caveat that he was speaking only for himself, Rosenstein is on notice that his failure to fire Mueller might lead to his own departure. And Sessions, too, must know that his craven act in firing McCabe will guarantee him nothing. Trump believes that loyalty goes only one way; the Attorney General may still be fired at any moment.
Former CIA Director John Brennan tried to send his message in the language Trumpanzee understand: Tweetese: "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America... America will triumph over you."

Barry McCaffrey is one of the most highly decorated 4-star generals in America. Trump isn't fit to wipe his ass. I suspect it wasn't easy for him to tweet Friday "Reluctantly I have concluded that President Trump is a serious threat to US national security. He is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr Putin."

Unlike most sane Americans, former FBI Director Jim Comey never refers to Trumpanzee as a pile of dung or something along those lines, and he still addresses him with the inappropriate monicker "Mr. President," as in "Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not."

Sen. Mark Warner is a very conservative Democrat from Virginia. I rarely find myself agreeing with him on much--but this tweet is important: "Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the Special Counsel. Now." Unfortunately, the Republicans are utterly devoid of any semblance of moral leadership. The only Republicans who are speaking up are the ones who have already announced their voluntary retirements-- like Charlie Dent (R-PA), who went on CNN Saturday morning and "harshly criticized the Trump administration’s decision to fire former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, adding that he doesn’t think it bodes well for his party. 'Candidly, it looks like retribution and a bit vindictive,' Dent said. 'And I think it’s unfortunate. The man said he’s resigning, and on a Friday night before his 50th birthday, he’s fired to take away his pension? I don’t like the optics of this. I really don’t.' Dent said he thinks the attorney general made the decision under pressure from President Trump. Trump has repeatedly publicly demanded that Sessions fire McCabe, who is potentially a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president for possible obstruction of justice."

Goal ThermometerThe best realistic outcome we can hope for at this point is that something like 100 House Republicans-- some of the ones not speaking up (especially Paul Ryan)-- lose their seats in November. Sounds far-fetched? Not nearly as far-fetched as a candidate as mediocre as Conor Lamb in a district as red as PA-18 (R+11) could have beat Trump, Pence and Ryan's $10 million. Now, that's far-fetched! Don't listen to the media. They have no clue what's going on with electoral politics until the day after the election-- if then. Instead, be proactive: speak to friends-- persuade someone who wouldn't otherwise vote that his or her country needs them-- or volunteer on a campaign or contribute to a solid progressive candidate who is going to be vigilant against Trumpist tyranny and kakistocracy in general. (If you want to contribute... that's what that thermometer on the right is for. Click on it and give what you can-- even if you've never done so before.)

Friday night, by the way, I tweeted as well... in response to NBC host Andrea Mitchell:

By early Saturday morning congressmen Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) + Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) had already offered to hire Andrew McCabe in their congressional offices. We need more like them in Congress... and fewer like Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy. Joe Walsh is a hate talk radio host and a former far right-- far, far right-- congressman from Chicagoland. The way his former colleagues are enabling Trump is even too much for him! Today he fulminated that "Republicans have no freaking clue about what is going to hit them in November. They're in denial."

NY Daily News sports commentator Mike Lupica, hit the nail on the head for a lot of us yesterday: "People keep saying that Trump will never fire Mueller, because that would touch off a constitutional crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen since Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in the heat of Watergate, when Nixon fired independent prosecutor Archibald Cox, which led to the resignations of his own attorney general and deputy attorney general. But every time you read or hear that, you have the same thought: What, we’re not having a constitutional crisis already?" And mainstream conservatives are losing their shit-- like Nicolle Wallace, former Communications Director for the George W. Bush White House and then a senior strategist for McCain.

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Republicans On The Wrong Side Of History... On The NRA And On Putin-Gate


Teachers with Guns by Nancy Ohanian

On the extreme right, the Freedom Caucus has decided they can replace Ryan with neo-fascist Mark Meadows (R-NC) as Speaker and they are doing everything they can to undermine Ryan and bolster Meadows. Mainstream conservatives have their own problems with the incompetent and ineffectual Ryan and are also eager for him to announce his retirement and move on. (Ryan is widely rumored to be waiting 'til after Easter to announce he isn't running, saving himself the career-tarnishing embarrassment of being beaten-- possibly heavily beaten-- by a construction worker in November.)

On Friday Elaina Plott, reporting for The Atlantic, noted that growing numbers of congressional Republicans are pressing for action on guns... pressing on Ryan. Needless to say, Meadows and the Freedom caucus aren't among them. And she noted that it's a month since the Parkland NRA/GOP massacre and a month since Señor Trumpanzee "told lawmakers he didn’t want to wait 'two weeks, three weeks, four weeks' to address gun violence in America, when 'people sort of forget and we go on.'...[S]students have helped keep the issue alive. And as Trump has backtracked on proposals he supported one month ago, including universal background checks and some kind of assault-weapons ban, reporters are continuing to ask questions."
As many Americans call for tighter gun laws after a mass shooting, Republicans are usually silent. According to the Republican lawmakers I spoke to for this story, there are several reasons why this is the case, from fears of primary challengers to the gun lobby. But, in the wake of the Parkland shooting, an increasing number of Republicans appear ready to abandon these concerns in favor of a more proactive response to gun violence. Now, they’re eager for their leadership to do the same, meaning an issue that has long united the party could suddenly expose even more rifts in an already fractured conference.

“There is a genuine lack of serious discussion on these issues,” Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who chairs the Second Amendment Caucus, told me. “Our leadership seems like the sheriff deputies at the Florida shooting: They don’t want to go in and take fire, and instead just hope the issue will burn itself out.”
Since 1990, the NRA and other so-called "gun rights" groups have given members of Congress and candidates for Congress $37,225,077 of which $32,287,496 went to Republicans and $4,257,394 went to Democrats, almost exclusively to Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. (Note: the DCCC is still actively-- very actively-- recruiting NRA-backed candidates for Congress, examples this cycle being Anthony Brindisi in New York, Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona, Elaine Luria in Virginia and, perhaps worst of all, Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey.) Below are the dozen worst House members in terms of how much blood money they've taken-- but not including the millions of dollars the NRA spends helping their favorite candidates with independent expenditures-- from the NRA and other gun groups (since 1990).

So far this cycle the dozen biggest bribe takers from the gun groups are listed here... but remember, the really big spending will come in the next seven and a half months, as we close in on the midterm elections, when the NRA will be fighting to defend their top congressional allies-- at least in part with illegal Russian money.

As the progressive winner of the TX-23 primary Rick Trevino is in the late May runoff to determine which Democrat will go up against Republican gun-extremist Will Hurd. This morning he told us that "Since I've been running for US Congress 3 of the top 10 worst mass shootings in US history have taken place. As long as we have NRA backed candidates like Will Hurd in the House and Senate, nothing will change. If the American people want gun reform they need to look at who takes money from the NRA and vote them out. Also, this is not just a GOP problem. In my home town of Laredo, Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX-28) has an A+ rating from the NRA. Any NRA backed candidate is garbage and needs to go and Democrats have to call out not just the GOP but NRA Dems within their ranks." That's why we love Rick-- outspoken and courageous. Please support his campaign here.

Brent Welder is running in an even redder district, and against an NRA favorite, Kevin Yoder in Kansas. "It is shameful," he told us, "that Rep. Kevin Yoder has decided that kowtowing to the corporate gun lobby and the NRA is more important than the lives of our children. We need leaders now more than ever on this issue and I will lead the efforts of reform and call out all gun lobby bootlickers like Rep. Kevin Yoder."

Levi Tillemann, the newest candidate Blue America is supporting, is running for the suburban Denver seat NRA ally Mike Coffman occupies. "It is becoming more and more evident," he told us, "that Republicans like Mike Coffman really have no empathy or real concern for the victims of gun violence.  The only thing that matters to GOP members is the continuing flow of green cash from the NRA spigot.  I call on Mike Coffman to return every penny he has accepted from the NRA and to stand up to the NRA and protect our children by passing safe gun laws."

On Friday, the editorial board of the Washington Post declared flatly that History Won't Be Kind, Republicans. The Republicans who care enough to have bothered to read it would have found out the board is furious at them for enabling Trump, Nunes and Putin. They blame the same guy who is getting all the pushback on a dysfunctional gun policy: Paul Ryan. "The nation's intelligence community," they wrote, "concluded long ago that the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to hurt the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. In the face of this unprecedented attack on U.S. democracy, House Republicans have produced a report that casts doubt on the work of U.S. intelligence professionals whose conclusions were politically damaging to the White House. This was a new low for the Republican majority and their leader, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI)."
On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Republicans officially stopped pretending to investigate Russian election meddling, handing over a draft report to their Democratic colleagues. They did not deny what is plainly impossible to refute, that the Russians aggressively interfered in the race to sow discord and undermine U.S. political institutions. But they disputed the intelligence community’s finding that the Russians engaged in these activities to help Mr. Trump. In fact, House Republicans are trying to draw connections between the Kremlin’s influence campaign and Ms. Clinton, always a convenient GOP punching bag, deflecting awkward questions about Russia’s clear affinity for Mr. Trump in 2016.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (CA), the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, and former intelligence officials decried the attempt to cast doubt on Russian intentions. “The four intelligence chiefs all agreed with the assessment, which was based on highly classified intelligence,” former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. told CNN. “This is a case of people living in their own reality bubbles when we can’t agree on basic facts.” Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III recently indicted 13 Russians for, among other things, “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump... and disparaging Hillary Clinton.” It is already on the record that the Russians selectively released damaging information on Democrats but not Republicans.

Perhaps sensing that their position was untenable, Republican Intelligence Committee members admitted to reporters later on Tuesday that the Russians had, indeed, attempted to harm Ms. Clinton, if not to help Mr. Trump, as though doing the former does not imply the latter.

If they’re unclear about Russian intentions, leaders won’t draw the right lessons, or even ask the right questions. Why did the Kremlin dislike Ms. Clinton and favor Mr. Trump? What kinds of candidates will the Russians attack, or help? How should voters assess the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin?

House Intelligence Committee Republicans also insisted that they found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, just evidence of “bad judgment” in a few circumstances. It’s easy not to find evidence when you don’t look. Many potentially relevant witnesses went un-interviewed, and witnesses who refused to answer questions were let off the hook. Fortunately, while House lawmakers have decided that their work is done, the Senate Intelligence Committee continues investigating, as does Mr. Mueller. History will not judge kindly these legislators who abased themselves and their institution.
Anyone think it's just a coincidence that Putin laundered many millions of dollars into the Trump campaign through the NRA? And Paul Ryan... and the Republican Party-- on the wrong side of history? Yes, on everything.

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Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm Shits On Andrew McCabe For Trump


In case you missed Chris Hayes' jaw-dropping interview with double (or triple) agent Felix Sater Friday night, MSNBC has actually posted it in embeddable form. That's it above. Sater is the kind of instinctual career criminal who will work for the Mob one day, the FBI or CIA the next day and the Russians the day after-- at the time, of course-- working for no one but Felix Sater. They don't come lower. But they do come as low. Remember Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm? Like Sater, he likes to immunize himself from criticism by screaming how he served in the military. But, like Sater, Grimm has flitted from one thuggish outfit after another, betraying each in turn and always looking out for Number One.

And, like Sater, Grimm is currently out of prison and trying to rehabilitate his image-- except he's going about it by running for his old Staten Island/South Brooklyn congressional seat-- the most Mafia-oriented House seat in the country. Staten Island is the last redoubt of the Italian Mafia and south Brooklyn is America's top Russian Mafia territory. Both areas voted for Trump in 2016. The district as a whole gave Trump 53.6% of the vote to Hillary's 43.8%. The current congressman, Dan Donovan is a conventional mainstream conservative, a Republican whose voting record is pretty much identical to what Grimm's was like before he got hauled away to prison. He's a former district attorney, fighting for his political life in a district that is evenly split between the cops and robbers.

Grimm was Steve Bannon's first House recruit, just before Bannon was unceremoniously banished from Trumpville-- his project to destroy the Republican Party establishment shelved. Grimm, who spent a couple months with his head up Bannon's ass, now routinely denounces him. Long before Grimm ever imagined he would run for Congress, he was an undercover agent for the FBI. And an undercover agent for the Mafia-- a double agent. I started following Mikey Suits before he got into politics, when he was just the lowlife bag man who took the Duke Cunningham long-disappeared and unaccounted for $400,000 bribe from Thomas Kontogiannis to George W. Bush. Funny how Grimm, Cunningham and Kontogiannis all went to prison but the "missing" $400K has never been recovered. So much water under the bridge in the last decade and a half!

And last night, while many of us were watching slime bucket Felix Sater spinning his lies on MSNBC, Grimm-- remember, an ex-FBI agent-- released a statement about Andrew McCabe's firing.
"The firing of Andrew McCabe is the first time I've seen true justice on the federal level since the corrupt witch hunt I personally endured. Don't be shocked when Peter Strzok, Loretta Lynch and James Comey are the next to be revealed for the corrupt partisans that they are. As a former FBI agent that was investigated and fully exonerated by Office of Professional Responsibility and the Office of the Inspector General, I can attest to the integrity of that team of watchdogs. The FBI and DOJ's highest echelon of political appointees needs to be cleaned out and this was a necessary step in preserving the faith we all have in the nation's premier law enforcement agency and its brave rank and file."
Interesting perspective from the former Gambino Crime family operative! During the Romney campaign, when Grimm was already in Congress, enough Mikey Suits dirty laundry started leaking out that Romney staffers made the Staten Island congressman a persona non-grata and removed him from his campaign position and took his name off the official Romney website. The specific impetus was when Grimm snuck off from the the GOP frat party at the Sea of Galilee to visit some organized crime connections in Cyprus. The FBI was in hot pursuit and one of Grimm's Cyprus connections, Panayiotis "Peter" Papanicolaou, currently in prison. At the time, both the NY Times and the NY Post ran stories they'd been working on for a very long time... about Grimm's connection to the Mafia here at home, specifically he Gambino connection. Ironically, Grimm's first conversation with then Speaker John Boehner was to demand that Members of Congress be allowed to pack heat on the House floor. Instead Boehner had him banned from his office. The Post got excited about Grimm's Gambino connection.
Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm investigated the Gambino crime family as an FBI agent-- before opening a restaurant with a business partner so close to one of the mob clan’s capos, he considers him an “uncle,” according to sources and court documents.

The first-term Republican’s ex-business partner, Bennett Orfaly, regularly travels to the federal lockup in Fort Dix, NJ, to visit his pal Anthony "Fat Tony" Morelli, Brooklyn federal prosecutors said.

Morelli’s mob assignments included overseeing the family’s investments in pornography, labor racketeering and illegal dumping, law-enforcement sources said.

Late Gambino boss John Gotti put him in charge of the family’s Florida rackets, one source said.

Morelli, who is serving time on several convictions, is “like an uncle” to Orfaly, another source said.

Asked about his Gambino connections, Orfaly declined to comment. Grimm is under investigation for alleged fund-raising irregularities in his 2010 campaign.

As an FBI agent, Grimm was responsible for keeping tabs on John Gotti’s brother Peter. He also worked undercover on a case that resulted in the arrest of Gambino soldier Greg DePalma.

...An Israeli named Ofer Biton, who until recently was jailed on an a charge of immigration fraud.

He was released to house arrest on a $1.5 million bond after Orfaly posted his stake in several restaurants co-owned with Biton, according to court papers.

Biton’s lawyer, John Meringolo, says the feds are threatening his client with more serious charges unless he testifies against Grimm in the fund-raising probe.

...Before his election to Congress in 2010, Grimm and Orfaly had been partners in an Upper East Side eatery, Healthalicious.

McGinley [Grimm's lawyer] says that prior to making his run, Grimm sold his share of that business to Orfaly.

But three sources familiar with the ongoing probe, told The Post the purchaser was Biton. Either way, Biton now owns Healthalicious outright, sources said-- and he is partners with Orfaly in several Manhattan pita restaurants.

As far as Biton goes, prosecutors claim that a decade ago, he was a member of an ecstasy ring in California and was wiretapped talking to a senior Israeli organized-crime associate. Biton was never charged with any drug crime.

In addition to his problems with the feds, Grimm also faces a civil lawsuit by Healthalicious workers, alleging wage violations when he was part-owner.

A lawyer for the workers, Michael Faillace, said they settled with Orfaly, but Grimm asked that an agreement with him be postponed until after the election.
Now keep in mind that before Grimm ran for Congress, he had been kicked out of the FBI, mostly for taking payoffs from Kontogiannis. Kontogiannis' story would be the biggest political blockbuster of our lifetimes. He's been told he'd be found dead in his cell if he ever tries to tell it though-- and it involves Saudis, Greeks, a $400,000 cash bribe to George Bush and... Grimm. In August, 2013, Grimm's fundraiser Ofer Biton plead guilty in a sweet deal that saved Grimm a lot of trouble.
A former fund-raiser for Representative Michael G. Grimm, whose campaign finances are under investigation by federal prosecutors, pleaded guilty on Friday to visa fraud.

The former fund-raiser, Ofer Biton, an Israeli immigrant who helped direct hundreds of thousands of dollars from supporters of a revered rabbi to Mr. Grimm’s campaign before his election to Congress in 2010, was arrested last August and charged with lying on his visa application.

Followers of the rabbi, Yoshiyahu Pinto, have said in interviews that Mr. Grimm or Mr. Biton told them that the campaign would find a way to accept donations that were over the legal limit, were given in cash or were given by foreigners who did not have permanent resident status.
Is it any wonder Grimm hates the FBI today. Too bad they don't talk about what he was up to when he was a double agent. It would make the Bureau look too bad.

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MI-06: One Candidate Has a 41% Favorability And One Has A 13% Favorability. Guess Which One The DCCC Backs


The ultimate establishment polling firm Democrats use for unbiased polling is Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Last week they did a poll of the MI-06 primary to see who the likeliest candidate against Fred Upton will be. So just likely Democratic primary voters. The most progressive in the 6-person race, Paul Clemens led the field-- "braced by impressive favorability ratings, a solid regional base and superior name recognition." Their finding were pretty straight forward:
Clements is the best known, most popular candidate. At this point in the race, Paul Clements holds at least a 27 point advantage in name recognition compared to every other Democrat running. He also posts an exceptional 4:1 positive-to-negative ratio in favorability.

Clements holds a lead in the trial heat. Buoyed by a strong regional base in Kalamazoo (26 percent Clements), Paul Clements leads the field with 21 percent of the vote share. Only one other candidate breaks 10 percent: 12 percent Eponine Garrod, 6 percent Matt Longjohn, 5 percent Rich Eichholz, 5 percent George Franklin, 4 percent David Benac. A 48 percent plurality of are undecided.

Sixth District Democrats are looking for change and looking to send a signal to Donald Trump. By far, voters identify “standing up to Trump” as the leading priority for a candidate for Congress this area. They are finding that candidate in Paul Clements.
Right after the polling was completed a second woman joined the list of candidates, Aida Gray from Galesburg. Tuesday night she'll be joining Clements, David Benac, Eponine Garrod, George Franklin, Matt Longjohn, and Rich Eichholz at the Greater Niles Senior Center for a candidates forum. Michigan primary day isn't until August 7th.

I asked a friend at the DCCC who the DCCC is backing in this primary. After the usual bullshit about how they don't support anyone in primaries, he admitted they have two horses in the race. Both are right-of-center establishment guys, physician Mark Longjohn, who claims they recruited him, and lobbyist George Franklin. Franklin is the bizarre candidate in the race-- he also has a bizarre $100,000 "contribution" in his war-chest that doesn't seem to have come from anywhere. Franklin is a conservative Democrat, a corrupt lobbyist, who has been helping to finance the career of the Republican incumbent, Fred Upton, who they're all running against. He doesn't make a persuasive argument that anyone should back him now. Sure the DC Dems like him, but he comes in dead last in local favorability (typical of candidates the DCCC likes).

Goal ThermometerBlue America has endorsed Paul Clements. Maybe his favorability rating is so much higher than any of his competitors is because his agenda is the clearest and most well-thought out. His opponents speak in cliches. Clements lays out actual plans. He wrote that "In southwest Michigan and across America people are working longer hours for less pay than at the end of the 20th century. This is not right. We have the strongest entrepreneurial spirit in the world, but to release its power we need to fix the things that are holding us back: a health care system that costs twice as much but delivers worse health outcomes than those in other countries; education that is failing to prepare many Americans for the 21st century; laws that reward moving American assets overseas; crumbling infrastructure; and the the largest prison population in the world-- which is incredibly costly and keeps many people from being contributing members of the community. Tax cuts will not bring more jobs and better pay to southwest Michigan, but fixing our health, education, infrastructure, and criminal justice systems will." And then he explains what he wants to do about it in Congress. I'm going to give some examples of how he wants to tackle the problems he's identified. If you like them, please consider contributing to his campaign by clicking on the Blue America thermometer on the right.
We spend over $10,000 per person on health care in 2016, compared with Canada, which spends less than US$5,000 per person. In addition, Canada, which has a universal health care system, had longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality. With Medicare for All we can reduce paperwork administrative costs, advertising, and insurance company profits-- and move to zero co-pays for essential services, including dental, vision, and mental health services-- while covering all Americans. We can strengthen prevention and empower patients.

In Congress, I will vote for Medicare for All such as through H.R. 676, the United States National Health Care Act, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers.

I will also support legislation to lower prescription drug costs and to improve women’s access to reproductive healthcare.

Our tax system should encourage investment in the United States, not overseas:

1- No more corporate inversions – you can’t escape American taxes by moving your headquarters overseas
2- End tax havens and tax breaks for corporations that send jobs and profits offshore.

Strengthen leadership in leading technologies for 21st-century economies

1- Promote solar, wind, and other renewable energy technologies; end subsidies for carbon pollution
2- Global warming, a growing world population, and harm to the environment mean the world could once again face chronic food shortages, but federal funding for agricultural research has fallen. In 2009 we fell behind China. Strengthen agricultural research and development so America can continue to feed the world.

People know our infrastructure is collapsing. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives America’s infrastructure a grade of D+. This raises costs for all of us and weakens our global competitiveness.

Investment Program

We need a trillion-dollar infrastructure program paid for by ending tax loopholes for corporations. This will bring good jobs across the country that pay for themselves in higher productivity.We cannot have another crime like the Flint water crisis

Mass Transit

1- High-speed trains
2- Less time stuck in traffic and waiting at airports

Unions brought us the 40 hour work week, the end of child labor, and paid vacations. In recent years all the gains from increased productivity have gone to owners and management – none to workers. The median wage is below where it was two decades ago, while the stock market has more than doubled. To restore fairness to workers we need stronger unions. Workers have a right to participate in decisions about the workplace, and workers’ input is needed to build American competitiveness in the 21st century global market.

Global warming and climate change threaten human civilization. We need American leadership now to keep global warming below 2° Celsius, the target from the Paris Climate Agreement, and to help communities around the world to adapt to the effects of climate change and to care for its victims. There are also great economic opportunities from climate change, for southwest Michigan and for America, particularly in worldwide transitions to renewable energy. In Congress, I will work for American leadership in international organizations that address challenges from climate change. I will promote a rapid transition to energy that does not produce carbon pollution, to increased energy efficiency, and for American leadership in the clean energy global economy.

In Michigan, we are blessed with many gifts of nature, particularly the Great Lakes. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of these blessings, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy them as we have. We need to consistently apply the lessons of science to maintain their ecological integrity and to minimize threats from economic activities.

Oil pipelines under the Great Lakes present an undue risk. We have seen too many burst pipelines, and the companies that own and profit from these pipelines have not been reliable in assessing their risks. In particular, it is time to close the Line 5 pipelines, built in 1953 in the Mackinac Straits, where an oil spill would have devastating consequences for people, fish and wildlife, and the economy.

Money in politics is the main reason government is not working for the people. For democracy to succeed, politicians need to be accountable to voters-- not to big donors, or to billionaires who can fund advertising campaigns.

Candidates for certain offices should get free airtime on television and radio so voters can learn what they stand for.

We need public funding for elections. Perhaps each eligible voter could allocate $5 in public funds to the candidate of his or her choice.

Corporations are not people. I support overturning or working around Citizen’s United. Elected officials should be responsible to the voters in their districts, not to corporations.

Politicians should not be able to choose their voters. After each census, new district boundaries should be drawn by non-partisan commissions based on transparent principles, not by the party in power. I support Michigan’s Voters, not Politicians ballot initiative.

We owe our seniors a dignified retirement. Social Security is not in crisis, but to protect it for the long term we should remove the cap on income subject to Social Security tax. This would also permit larger Social Security payments to seniors living in poverty. We must continue to increase Social Security payments in line with inflation.

Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever. At $1.45 trillion, student loan debt is almost twice as high as total US credit card debt. Many graduates from my university and across the county are living with their parents; many can’t buy homes or cars or start a business; some even delay marriage due to debt.

For the 21st Century, a high school diploma is not enough. But while global competition demands a better educated workforce, funding for public colleges and universities has declined. While the Federal Reserve lends to banks at less than 2% interest, many students pay 8-9%. The federal government should not profit from student loans-- it should refinance loans at today’s low rates.

As a Democrat, I am ashamed that my party has failed to maintain the fairness that we stand for in society. The Democratic National Committee’s bias in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders before the conclusion of the primaries was unworthy of our party. Also, to restore the practice on one person—one vote, we should end the “superdelegate” system at our party conventions. Democratic Party practices should demonstrate the democratic equality we promote.
That's a sample of what Paul Clements hopes accomplish in Congress. He makes a good case for why voters in Kalamazoo, Niles, Sturgis, Benton Harbor, South Haven, Allegan and Three Rivers should vote for him. It helps explain the lopsided favorability in the new polls.

Obama won this district in 2008 (53-45%) and lost it narrowly in 2012 (50-49%), But in 2016 Trump crushed Hillary-- 51.3% to 42.9%. People in southwest Michigan wanted change, not the status quo. Bernie beat Hillary by a wide margin. Take Kalamazoo County, the biggest in the district. Not only did Bernie beat Hillary 60.6%, his 20,146 vote total was significantly moire than Trump's 8,655 total. This district is ready to come back to home to Democrats... but not with a Republican-lite status quo candidate. MI-06 is the wrong district for an establishment corporate Democrat.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

An open letter to Melania:

Dear Melania,

We've been going over various statistics relating to your husband's failure of a life and failure of a career (if one can call it that). After this examination, it appears that you are, to use, a precise, scientific term, slacking off. You have not, yet, reached the standards of your set by your husband's other business ventures. To do that, you would have to join his other wives and whatevers and walk out of the "relationship." If nothing else, ask yourself if that thing you call a husband is a good role model for Baron. Do you really want him to turn out hideously, almost freakishly, like Don Jr., Eric, or Ivanka? It's not too late, and we'd like to point out that there are plenty of children being well-raised in single parent households.

I know you probably think that you are trapped in some sort of ironclad prenup or other contract, but, as Stormy Daniels has shown, sometimes an agreement is not an agreement. I'm sure that there are plenty of lawyers that are ready willing and very able to be of assistance to you and Baron. From what we've seen, you can certainly find a lawyer that is better than any who will work for your husband at this point.

So, Melania, why not trade in your humiliation for some redemption? In fact, if you want to go the extra mile, you could lead the entire White House staff right out the door with you. Now, that's the kind of parade that your husband deserves!



PS. No, I am not a Russian Bot.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Marijuana Legalization And The 2018 Congressional Elections


Goal ThermometerAs you may know, Blue America has been working with the Greenwave PAC to help candidates campaigning on marijuana legalization with ads like the one above-- and the one below. Progressive candidates campaigning on legalization can be found-- and supported-- by clicking on the Blue America Green Wave thermometer on the right. NORML is also working hard for candidates including legalization in their platforms. This week they released an awesome Marijuana Law Reform Candidate Packet. The packet encourages candidates to consider adding the issue to their platforms by providing them with important scientific research and statistics related to the legalization of marijuana for both adult and medicinal use and deals with these 7 points:

●  Sixty-four percent of Americans support legalization; including outright majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans (Gallup, 2017).

●  Seventy-six percent of Americans oppose federal intervention in state-lawful marijuana programs (Survey USA, 2017).

●  Ninety-four percent of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017).

●  Twenty-two percent of Veterans consume marijuana to alleviate symptoms of a physical or mental ailment (American Legion, 2017).
Sample text for policy platform
The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant's medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. As your voice in Congress, I will support the descheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Once marijuana is federally descheduled similarly to alcohol, states will possess the autonomy to set their own cannabis regulatory policies, free from federal interference.
Suggested stump speech paragraph
A crucial component to reforming our nation’s criminal justice system is the reform of America’s marijuana laws. Over 600,000 Americans are arrested every year for minor marijuana possession offenses. These individuals, overwhelmingly young people and individuals of color, are often saddled with a lifelong criminal record as well as the stigma and lost opportunities associated with it-- such as the loss of student financial aid or employment. We should not be squandering precious law enforcement and judicial resources to target these otherwise law-abiding citizens.

By continuing to criminally prohibit the use, production, and sale of marijuana, we are ceding control to the black market. Doing so denies states’ crucial tax revenue that could fund important social services, and leaves marijuana production and distribution in the control of unregulated dealers who have no incentive to keep it out of the hands of our youth. If our 13-year experiment with alcohol prohibition in this country is deemed a failure, then how else can anyone define the 80-year long prohibition on marijuana? It is time to end this failed and morally bankrupt policy, remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act where it is currently considered on par with dangerous substances such as heroin, and allow states to set their own policies on this issue.

The majority of the American people agree that it is time to legalize and regulate marijuana, and it is time our state and federal laws reflect that reality.
Key points on the benefits of marijuana legalization

●  The legal market for adult and medical use of marijuana accounted for 149,304 jobs in 2017, a 22 percent increase since 2016. Equating to 26,490 new jobs added over a 12 month period.

●  In 2016, Colorado alone generated over $1.4 billion in combined recreational and medical marijuana sales. This accounted for nearly $200 million in tax and fees revenue, which was mostly designated for new school construction projects in the state. The state is expected to exceed $225 million in tax and fees revenue for 2017.
●  Oregon collected a total of $108.6 million in state and local taxes between Jan. 4, 2016, and Aug. 31, 2017. That revenue was divided between multiple agencies and programs: the state school fund receives 40 percent, or $34 million; mental health, alcoholism and drug services receive 20 percent, or $17 million; Oregon State Police receive 15 percent, or $12.75 million, and the Oregon Health Authority receives five percent, or $4.25 million.
●  Nevada generated $3.8 million in tax and fee revenue in just the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales.

●  Legal cannabis markets are estimated to reach sales of $24.5 billion by 2021.

Social and Racial Justice

 ●  Even with a growing number of states reforming their marijuana laws, over 650,000 individuals nationwide were charged for marijuana related offenses in 2016.

 ●  Despite similar use rates to their white counterparts, African Americans are more 
than four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses nationwide.

 ●  After legalization, Colorado experienced nearly a 50 percent decline in the number of traffic searches of black drivers and Washington State experienced a 33 percent decline.
Key points on the benefits of medical marijuana
Marijuana has been part of humanity's medicine cabinet for almost as long as history has been recorded.
Of all the negative consequences of marijuana prohibition, few are as tragic as the denial of medicinal cannabis to the tens of thousands of patients who could benefit from its therapeutic use.
Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a medical cannabis program and an additional 16 states have enacted more limited medical cannabis laws for access to CBD to treat qualifying conditions such as intractable epilepsy.

Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief-- particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage)-- nausea, spasticity, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that marijuana's medicinal properties are neuroprotective and may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors.

Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

Currently, more than sixty U.S. and international health organizations support granting patients immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician's supervision.
Data dispelling the common myths around cannabis
Despite what opponents of marijuana legalization claim, the legalization and regulation of marijuana for medical or recreational use is NOT associated with an increase in automobile accidents, traffic fatalities, youth use rates, crime, or workplace injuries.

Drugged Driving

●  Fatal traffic accident rates in legal marijuana states are no different than those in states where cannabis remains illegal.

●  "We (the state of Colorado) have not experienced any significant issue as a 
result of legalization. ... We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI's since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here."

Youth Use

●  "For adults and adolescents [in Colorado], past-month marijuana use has not 
changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the 
frequency of use among users. Based on the most comprehensive data 
available, past month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly 
identical to the national average."


 ●  "There is evidence in this table that the legalization of recreational cannabis enacted in Washington caused a decrease in crime rates. The point estimates for rape, assault, robbery, burglary and theft are all negative. This conclusion is reinforced by the statistical significance of the drop in rapes and thefts. ... Our estimates reveal that the legalization decreased... both ordinary alcohol and binge alcohol... These effects on consumption suggest that one of the mechanisms underlying the reduction in crime may be a substitution away from other drugs ... such as alcohol, which makes consumers more aggressive than if consuming cannabis."

●  "[T]he introduction of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) leads to a decrease in violent crime in states that border Mexico. The reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350 kilometres) and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking. In addition, we find that MMLs in inland states lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state. Our results are consistent with the theory that decriminalization of the production and distribution of marijuana leads to a reduction in violent crime in markets that are traditionally controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organizations."

Impact on the Workplace

●  "There is no or insufficient evidence to support ... a statistical association between cannabis use and ... occupational accidents or injuries."
●  Employees who test positive for marijuana in workplace drug tests are no more likely to be involved in occupational accidents as compared to those who test negative. "This study fell short of finding an association between marijuana use and involvement of workplace accidents... This study cannot be taken as 
definitive evidence of absence of an association between marijuana and work 
related accidents but the findings are compelling."

●  "Utilizing the Current Population Survey, the study identifies that absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana... The results of this paper therefore suggest that medical marijuana legalization would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues."
●  The enactment of medical marijuana laws is associated with a "9.4 percent increase in the probability of employment and a 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent increase in hours worked per week" among those over the age of 50. "Medical marijuana law implementation leads to increases in labor supply among older 
adult men and women."
●  Marijuana decriminalization is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. African American males experienced the greatest average wage increase. "This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes... This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."
How marijuana can be used to combat the opioid crisis
With our nation in the midst of a serious opioid crisis, recent research has revealed that access to marijuana is one proven strategy for helping curb the harms caused by opioid abuse.

Cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid- related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, opioid-related drug treatment admissions, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Below are excerpts of important medical research highlighting these effects:
● “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

● “We used an interrupted time-series design (2000-2015) to compare changes in level and slope of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado stores began selling recreational cannabis. ... Colorado's legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado."

● Compared to non-users, medical cannabis enrollees "were more likely either to reduce daily opioid prescription dosages between the beginning and end of the sample period (83.8 percent versus 44.8 percent) or to cease filling opioid prescriptions altogether (40.5 percent versus 3.4 percent)." Enrollees were also more likely to report an improved quality of life. "The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain."

● "Medical marijuana policies were significantly associated with reduced opioid pain reliever-related hospitalizations but had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations. ... Medical marijuana legalization was associated with 23% (p=0.008) and 13% (p=0.025) reductions in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse and OPR overdose, respectively; lagged effects were observed after policy implementation."

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