Archives index, 1–15 November 2016
15 November 2016
Time to replace Nancy Pelosi as leader of House Democrats
I like Nancy Pelosi, and appreciate her accomplishments and skills. But she’s 76 years old. Her deputy leader, Steny Hoyer, is 77. As Congressional Democrats gird themselves for years in the wilderness, and for bitter and desperate battles with Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, and the reactionary, radical, Republican Party, they need new and younger leaders. Both Pelosi and Hoyer should voluntarily step aside for the good of the party and nation.
14 November 2016
Rep. Ballance requests two bills on raw milk
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R-Hamilton) has requested two bills (LC0662 and LC0533) on raw milk or the 2017 session of the Montana Legislature. The drafts are not ready for review, but in the 2013 and 2015 sessions, Ballance led unsuccessful attempts to allow the sale of raw milk — a known health hazard — in Montana.
This is an attack on public health practices — in particular, an attack on Pasteurization — and laws that have prevented disease and improved the health, and thus the longevity, of the American people. The people behind this attack are anti-science, natural food zealots, and fanatical Libertarians.
Although Ballance’s bill have been beaten back in the past two sessions, the votes have been close and many legislators have not exercised good judgement. Montana’s sanitarians led the opposition, but they received virtually no public help from Montana’s medical community. Unless Montana’s health care professionals and scientists muster swift and massive support of pasteurization, the sale of raw milk could be legalized this session.
Face the facts, Clinton partisans: although an affront to
democracy, Trump’s election is Constitutionally legitimate
Hillary Clinton appears to have won the popular vote, thus denying Donald Trump’s policy agenda a popular mandate. But Donald Trump won enough states that he will win the electoral vote, the vote by which we elect Presidents. His victory is constitutionally legitimate.
That should go without saying, but, reports the Washington Post, a sizable number of people who voted for Clinton do not consider Trump’s election legitimate:
A 58 percent majority of Clinton supporters say they accept Trump’s election, while 33 percent do not. Questions about Trump’s victory are passionate — 27 percent of Clinton supporters feel “strongly” he did not win legitimately.
There are sharp racial and gender differences in Clinton supporters’ acceptance of the results. Only 18 percent of whites who supported Clinton say Trump is not the legitimate winner, identical to the public overall, but fully 51 percent of black, Hispanic and other nonwhite Clinton supporters say Trump’s victory was illegitimate. Women who supported Clinton are twice as likely as men to question the legitimacy of Trump’s victory, 42 vs. 21 percent.
Undoubtedly, some of the Clinton partisans now questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s winning the Presidency — the people howling “we wuz robbed!” — are the same people who mustered impressive outrage and indignation when during a debate Trump refused to swear he would accept the verdict of the voters.
Denying the election’s Constitutional legitimacy, taking to the streets, blocking freeways and worse, festooning oneself with safety pins, and other inchoate expressions of primal rage and despair, do nothing to muster effective opposition to the policy initiatives of Trump and the Congressional Republicans. That conduct only embarrasses the nation and what’s left of the Democratic Party, and provides Trump and the GOP with aid, comfort, and encouragement.
13 November 2016
Gail Gutsche’s last hurrah
Former state legislator Gail Gutsche won the District 4 seat on the Montana Public Service Commission by 3,617 votes in 2008, winning Missoula County by 11,394 votes but losing every other county in the district.
Four years later, she lost to Republican legislator Bob Lake by 2,678 votes, again winning only Missoula County.
Five days ago, Gutsche again lost to Lake, this time by 10,632 votes. Once again, she won Missoula County, but her margin declined to 8,733 votes — and her share of the registered voters in Missoula County declined to 38.6 percent.
By contrast, Steve Bullock won Missoula County by 3,079 more votes than in 2012.
Gutsche campaigned hard, and had the active support of the Democratic Party, but she was a weaker candidate than in 2008 and 2012. This was her last hurrah for the PSC. Democrats need a new candidate for PSC 4 in 2020, and if possible, they should settle on one by 2018. That candidate must roll up a huge margin in Missoula, and shrink the margins in the other counties to have a chance.
11 November 2016
Montana voter turnout up slightly from 2012
Sixty-three-point-five percent of Montana’s voting eligible population voted in the 2016 general election, a 0.6 percent increase over 2012. The turnout rate varied considerably depending on the statewide office or ballot issue.
Although the number of voters registered and ballots cast reached record highs, the percentage of the voting eligible population that registered to vote continued to decline, an unsettling trend. For detailed data, download our comprehensive spreadsheet on Montana turnout for 1920–2016. Below, some of those data presented as graphics:
10 November 2016
Steve Bullock's impressive re-election victory
This time, Steve Bullock was elected with a majority, defeating Greg Gianforte by 3.8 points, 50.2 to 46.4 percent. The margin was more than double Bullock’s 1.7 percent over Rick Hill in 2012. Libertarian Ted Dunlap received fewer votes than his running mate, Ron Vandevender, did in 2012.
Although Bullock was not the top vote getter in Montana — Republican Tim Fox earned that honor — he was the top Democratic vote getter, and more votes were cast in the election for Governor than in any other statewide partisan election. More than 14,000 fewer votes were cast for President than for governor, an unusual outcome suggesting widespread dissatisfaction with the two major Presidential candidates.
Compared to 2012, Bullock lost votes in some smaller and eastern Montana Counties, but as the graph below reveals, more than made up the difference in the state’s largest and western counties. Download detailed county-level spreadsheet.
Given this year’s political climate, Bullock was sailing against the wind while Gianforte was sailing on a broad reach, yet his boat reached the finish line first. Gianforte, a political tyro with a big wad of banknotes, made mistakes that helped Bullock. But give Bullock credit for running a metrics driven campaign that, other than lying that Gianforte was a New Jersey multimillionaire, made few mistakes.
Bullock’s campaign manager, Eric Hyers, will be in demand for 2018, and rightly so.
Gianforte joins Meg Whitman in the society of business based candidates who spent like drunken sailors, which is to say generously but not wisely, and were left with shallower pockets and a splitting headache after the votes were counted.
An afternoon on two wheels & thoughts on a shrinking coalition
After Donald Trump took democracy for a ride, I found myself becoming so riled that yesterday I worked off the steam by bicycling around northwest Kalispell on a fine Global Warming afternoon. Great views, good exercise. Upon returning home, of coure, I once again became exercised about the election.
Some interesting things happened in Montana’s elections. Later this morning, I’ll post an initial analysis of Steve Bullock’s impressive victory.
In the meantime, I want to gently caution my Democratic and progressive friends that the Democratic Party’s real problem is not the electoral college, the eighteenth century constitutional artifact that destabilizes our democracy, but that might never be replaced by direct election of the President by popular vote. The real problem is the conversion of the party into an unstable coalition that’s concentrated in urban areas, principally along the west and northeast coasts.
Geographically, the coalition’s boundaries continue to shrink because the party’s message to the white working class, to the working Joes and Jills who work hard and deserve to be treated with respect, is: “stay out of our party, you deplorable homophobes and racists.” Even if the President were elected by popular vote, a Democratic coalition so geographically narrow cannot win majorities in Congress and state legislatures. Democrats must broaden their coalition and return to their roots, or their party will continue to be buried at the polls.
9 November 2016
14:31:20 MST. Progressive organizations, including some that promoted Hillary Clinton when they could have promoted a candidate who could win, are flooding my email box with frenzied appeals for “emergency donations” to keep the monster from the Trump Tower from devouring civilization before the sun rises tomorrow. Nonprofit “development” staff have no shame, much chutzpah, think like bill collectors, and will stop at nothing to separate the poorest of the poor from their last dollar in the name of saving civilization. These outfits are not getting my money. But they are, figuratively speaking, getting my boot on their southern exposures.
Democrats and Hillary bungle election, Trump wins
Democrats intent on making history by putting a woman in the White House nominated Hillary Clinton, her high negatives notwithstanding. She and they then ran an identity politics campaign that confirmed for many Americans that the Democratic Party considers the white working class deplorable bigots who are, and should be, second class Americans.
Once the backbone of the Democratic Party, the white working class, shunned, shamed, and deplored by Hillary Clinton and her political party, turned, in anger and despair, to Donald Trump, a strongman whose finger in the establishment’s face and promise to “Make America Great Again” resonated.
The results: President-elect Donald J. Trump, and a Congress controlled by Republicans.
Every program that helps the middle class and poor — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Food Stamps, nutrition programs for women and children — is in jeopardy as the most reactionary and selfish major political party in American history seizes control of our national government.
Democrats who wonder who is responsible for this debacle will find the answer by looking in the mirror.
8 November 2016 (Election Day)
Note to readers
It’s a beautiful day in the Flathead, and I’m getting ready to walk to my polling place at the Fairgrounds, which is approximately 1.4 miles from FM’s HQ. Later, I’ll try to post some photographs of the scene there. Otherwise, unless something big happens, I’m probably done posting for today. Tomorrow, I’ll begin providing analysis.
Useful Election Day Information
Major newspapers are turning off their paywalls. Among them, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Foreign Policy magazine’s paywall is off. Other publications will turn off their paywalls, but I do not know whether newspapers in Montana will.
Slate is providing real-time estimates of vote tallies. Slate is using Votecastr information. Be sure the attach wide error bars to these data, especially early in the day.
Electoral college information and history. I recommend:
- The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections, by Thomas Neale of the Congressional Research Service. April, 2016.
- The Electoral College, by William Kimberling, Federal Election Commission, May, 1992.
- Presidential Election Inequality, by FairVote. Last modified in 2016.
- Registration and absentee ballots. Includes a comparison with 2012.
- Election for Governor, 2012 and 2016. Includes an estimate of county level vote totals for 2016 if the only change from 2012 is the registration total for the county.
Election returns for Montana will be posted on the SecST website once the polls close at 2000 this evening.
An Election Day song for candidates: Out of Time
The clock has just about run out. In another 12.5 hours, the counting begins in Montana. Here’s a song with an on-point name for Election Day, the old rock standard Out of Time, performed by Brian Cadd and Suzannah Espie. Old timers will recognize Australian Cadd, an accomplished singer and keyboard artist, as a former member of the Flying Burrito Brothers,. In his sixties when this was recorded, he resembled a polar bear under the stage lights, but proved he can still sing and play at a high level. Espie is a generation, or two, younger, but has a rapport with Cadd and her affection for the old rocker is obvious.
7 November 2016
Thanks, candidates, volunteers, sources, fellow bloggers, and readers
Wednesday morning, all candidates will be weary. Slightly more than half will be unhappy and at least momentarily depressed. Most have been working hard for two years, raising money, recruiting volunteers, educating themselves on the issues, and talking to thousands of voters. Although the polls close tomorrow evening, the campaign is not over for the candidates: yard signs must be collected, bills must be paid, volunteers thanked, and final campaign finance reports prepared and filed.
Behind almost all candidates are groups of dedicated volunteers, some working directly for the candidates, others for the candidates’ political parties, who make thousands of telephone calls, knock on, or deliver literature to, thousands of doors, always at the expense of time spent with their families and friends.
The treachery of Washington’s faithless Democratic elector
appears linked to the anti-pipeline protests at Standing Rock
Robert Satiacum is not a man who allows himself to be governed by pledges he has signed. A member of the Puyallup Tribe in Washington, son of a famous (and now dead) fugitive, colorful and outspoken, he’s one of 12 Democrats that party chose to cast votes in the Electoral College if Hillary Clinton carries Washington. As a condition of becoming an elector, he signed a pledge to vote for the Democratic nominee for President.
Satiacum’s father led high-profile protests in support of Indian fishing rights in the northwest in the 1960s and 70s. The Associated Press reported, when the elder Satiacum died in 1991, that Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda appeared with him at these protests. He later became a fugitive from justice on “racketeering charges that involved trafficking in contraband cigarettes, arson and the attempted murder of a rival tribal leader.” In 1989, awaiting sentencing on molestation charges, he fled again and died a week after his capture. [Politico] Internal link added by FM.
Now, reports the Seattle Times, Satiacum says he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton:
6 November 2016
Latest on Montana voter registration and absentee balloting
Updated at 22:06:14 MDT. A new Huffington Post Pollster-Survey Monkey poll has Bullock and Gianforte tied at 46 percent, Libertarian Ted Dunlap at seven percent, and one percent undecided. The sample was 403 likely voters, and was taken 28 October through 3 November. The margin of error is 4.9 percent. The methodology was not disclosed.
As of sunrise this morning, Montana had 684,635 registered voters and had mailed absentee ballots to 345,832 voters. Registration is now slightly ahead of 2012, but the gains are not distributed evenly across the state (download spreadsheet).
Heavily Republican Flathead County leads the state with 5,308 new voter registrations since 2012, while Democratic stronghold Silver Bow County is down 2,182 registrations.
Eighty percent of the absentee ballots have been returned. The turnout of registered voters is now 40.6 percent. In 2012, the turnout of registered voters was 71.4 percent.
The shifting distribution of registered voters could have an impact on the statewide elections. I therefore asked what would happen if on a county level basis Steve Bullock received the same percentage of registered voters as in 2012, and Greg Gianforte received the same percentage as Rick Hill did in 2012. After the numbers were crunched (download spreadsheet), Bullock prevailed by 5,399 votes, down from his margin of 7,571 in 2012.
Am I predicting that Bullock will win by 5,399 votes? No. I’m simply using the exercise to demonstrate that the changes in voter registration are not favorable to Bullock, but not fatal, either.
Both the Bullock and Gianforte campaign frequently poll the electorate and thus have a fairly good idea where they stand with the voters. That information is held tightly. The only available public polls now are almost a month old, and thus have limited to no predictive power.
My sense is that Bullock is ahead, but by a very narrow margin, and that much depends on the effectiveness of the Democrats’ get out the vote operation.
This will be my last update on registration and absentee voting before the election.
5 November 2016
Goodbye Daylight Saving Time, hello dark and gloomy evenings
Mountain Standard Time returns early tomorrow morning, and we’re condemned to its early sunsets until Daylight Saving Time returns on 12 March 2017. Not everyone shares my love of DST: see today’s post at Logicosity.
There are numerous sunrise-sunset apps for smartphones and tablets. Unless I’m in the field, where I use my GPS receiver’s sunrise-sunset function, I use a sunrise-sunset-civil twilight table I calculate using algorithms used by the U.S. Naval Observatory. You can download a spreadsheet with these values for 6 November 2016 through 11 March 2017 for Flathead Electric’s Stillwater solar array. Because the algorithm assumes a flat horizon, you’ll need to time a few sunrises and sunsets to determine a local correction.
Vote YES! on I-177 and I-182
I-177, the limited trapping ban. I’m voting for I-177, which would ban trapping on public lands, and I-182, which would liberalize Montana’s law on medical marijuana — and I urge Flathead Memo’s readers to do the same.
I-177 bans trapping, a barbaric means of killing that decent people rightly reject, on public land in Montana. Trapping is equally deplorable wherever practiced, so there’s no policy justification for limiting the ban to public land. The initiative’s proponents made a political decision to exclude private land in a failed effort to diminish opposition to the measure, but that mistake does not vitiate the case for I-177. The initiative has strong backing from veterinarians. Historian James Rogers also delivers a powerful argument for banning trapping.
I-182 restores balance to Montana’s medical marijuana law. Twelve years ago, Montana’s voters approved an initiative to allow marijuana to be used as a medication for relieving pain. The legalize-recreational-marijuana immediately tried to hijack the law, prompting a backlash leading to a gutting of the law by our Republican controlled legislature. I-182 restores the law to usefulness.
Former Montana speaker of the House, John Vincent, describes what’s at stake:
The Legislature overreacted to the abuses we saw in 2010, like the cannabis caravans. It’s unfortunate that a few bad actors sparked a massive backlash by the Legislature. Those abuses were corrected well before SB 423 went into effect by proper enforcement of the law. But five years later, sick and dying patients are paying the price for the Legislature’s heavy-handed and politically motivated decision.
Of 12,730 registered patients in Montana, 11,850 lost access to a provider. That’s 93 percent of Montana’s registered medical marijuana patients. It’s worth noting that patients who did not yet get their registration are not counted in that tally. Those patients have given up, and are waiting for the voters to decide on I-182. These are Montanans with debilitating conditions like cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. These are our friends, neighbors and loved ones. In my case, this is my wife.
I-182’s not perfect, but on balance it deserves support. Pain, especially chronic pain, is a terrible thing that makes the living wish they were dead. At a time when hysterical anti-opioid crusaders are campaigning to limit, or even eliminate, access to Mother Morphine on the long discredited theory that painkillers deprive patients of the opportunity to build character by nobly enduring agony, arguing that cannabis derived relief must also be denied is the ultimate in hypocrisy and cruelty.
Is the great wall of the Kalispell westside bypass
bike trail the most scenic urban trail in the Flathead?
Between Three and Four Mile Drives, an asphalt bicycle and walking path runs on both sides of the Kalispell westside bypass. The paths are between the sound wall and the backyards of the residents of Empire Loop on the west, and Barron Way on the east.
Late yesterday afternoon, I walked the paths, taking the eastern path north to Four Mile Drive, and the western path south to where Parkridge Drive used to cross where the bypass now runs. From my home, which is a bit less than a mile from the Three Mile overpass, it was a pleasant and generally scenic 3.8-mile stroll. This highly scenic route will be highly popular. The eastern path is best traveled before the sun's meridian transit. The western path is best after solar noon.
4 November 2016
Vote NO! on I-181
Ostensibly, I-181 is about funding research to find cures for brain diseases, injuries, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological pathologies. It sets up a Biomedical Research Authority that reviews and approves applications for grants, which would be funded by state of Montana bonds at the rate of $20 million per year for ten years.
That sounds good, but it isn’t. As noted by State Senator Richard Barrett and former State Senate President Bob Story:
The initiative explicitly calls for funding research that has failed to receive funding from competitive national granting organizations such as the National Institutes of Health. As any Montanan who’s recently been a patient knows, the innovations in medical technology, treatments and medications that we benefit from almost all come from some place outside Montana. We believe that the best way to help patients is to make sure that the most effective and promising of these innovations are available to Montanans. And the best way to do that may well be to support the training and recruitment of health care providers, rather than funding research proposals that have already been judged to not be competitive with the best in the nation.
Vote NO! on CI-116
Known as Marsy’s Law, CI-116, which pretends to be a victim’s rights amendment to Montana’s constitution, is an example of the havoc that a billionaire deranged by grief can wreak. Thirty-three years ago in California, Henry Nicholas’s sister, Marsy, was stalked and killed by her boyfriend. He and his mother took issue with they way they were treated and kept informed (or, as Nicholas argues, not kept fully informed) about the case by lawmen and prosecutors. In 2008, California’s voters approved Nicholas’ so-called victims’ rights amendment, popularly known as Marsy’s Law, to the state’s constitution, the opposition of almost every major newspaper in the state notwithstanding.
3 November 2016
Montana Democratic absentee ballot minders
need to stop interrogating voters at their doors
Operatives of Montana’s Democratic Party, which preaches and practices the gospel of the absentee ballot with the zeal and fervor of the lately come to Jesus, are knocking on the doors of voters who have not yet returned their ballots — and after scolding the voters to stop procrastinating and vote, are interrogating those voters on their choices for governor and Congress. Here’s part of a note I received from a reader this evening:
…great day was working outside and a fellow came by said was from Montana Demo party. Asked me 2 questions. Who I would vote for for governor and Congress. He had a list of voters who had not turned in absentee ballots. As I just turned mine in today was still on list.
This is not the same as being approached by an exit poller after you have voted. The exit poller does not know your name, and does not ask for it. But these Democratic operatives do know your name, and they’re going to make a record of how you voted.
I always vote in person on election day, but if a get out the vote representative of any political party or campaign came to my door to remind me to vote — I’ve voted in every election starting in 1968, and do not need to be reminded to vote — and then wanted to strip away the privacy of the secret ballot and learn of my choices, I would be tempted to bust him in the nose or give the squirt a bit of seasoning with a whiff of bear spray.
Getting out the vote by knocking on doors is aggressive, but effective, and within bounds. Trying to violate the privacy of the secret ballot during the same encounter with the voter is not. Back off, Democrats, before you start suffering broken noses and bootprints on your butts.
Meet Montana’s most endangered Democratic legislator
Updated. Democrat Zac Perry won HD-3 (map) in 2014 with a 48-vote plurality over incumbent Republican Jerry O’Neil. Libertarian Chris Colvin received 138 votes. Perry, who received 48.6 percent of the vote, was the only Democratic candidate for Montana’s house of representatives to win with less than a majority. This year, no Libertarian is on the ballot for HD-3. That probably makes Perry the most endangered Democratic incumbent in Montana, and may be why Edward R. Burrow at Logicosity thinks he’ll lose.
Perry’s Republican opponent is Taylor Rose, an affable but far right political operative who is a much stronger and smarter candidate than Jerry O’Neil. Although Rose is a tyro as a candidate, he’s not a newcomer to political campaigns. His political views and activities earned several posts on the Montana Cowgirl blog. The Flathead Beacon, Hungry Horse News, and Daily InterLake reported he swims far from the mainstream. And he’s been profiled on Flathead Memo.
This promises to be a close election, but don’t write off Perry just because there’s not a Libertarian on the ballot for HD-3. In the 2014 midterm election, an awful election for Democrats, Perry defeated an incumbent Republican legislator with a long record of legislative service. Perry did so by running much better in his district than the top of the ticket Democrats, Amanda Curtis and John Lewis.
Democratic turnout should be much higher this year than in 2014. That can only help Perry, who is running his fourth campaign in his district and is well known and liked in his community. Top of the ticket statewide Democrat Steve Bullock was running around 45 percent in the Mason-Dixon and MSU Billings polls taken in early October (the only public polls available). Congressional candidate Denise Juneau was at 40 percent in the Mason-Dixon poll. If Perry outperforms them by 134 percent, his margin in 2014, he could receive a majority of the vote.
2 November 2016
Gov. Steve Bullock leads Democratic GOTV rally in Kalispell
If this is 1200 MDT, this must be Kalispell. Clad in traveling clothes and boots, most of Montana’s most prominent statewide Democratic politicians stopped in Kalispell to talk with local Democrats and generate enthusiasm and resolve for the get out the vote campaign that may make the difference between victory and defeat. Sen. Jon Tester an attorney general candidate Larry Jent were no-shows.
Here are a few photographs of the event:
MT Registered voters for 2016 election now matches number for 2012
There are now 345 more registered voters in Montana than there were at the end of election day in 2012. That number will grow between now and the closing of the polls on 8 November. But, as displayed in the table below, the percentage of the voting eligible population that’s registered today is almost three points behind 2012. To reach percentage of VEP parity with 2012, the final tally of registered voters for 2016 would be approximately 704,500. You can download the spreadsheet that’s the basis for the table.
Gianforte becomes one of the biggest self-spenders ever
Bozeman businessman, right wing philanthropist, and Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Greg Gianforte just wrote his campaign another check for five hundred grand, bringing his self-funding total to $5.8 million. On a per registered voter basis, that puts him right up there with Meg Whitman, who burned $144 million of her own bankroll trying to beat Jerry Brown in 2010.
1 November 2016
H2O compact book, SD-7 write-in, more on Bundy, more on not voting
New book on the Flathead water compact. I just bought for $2.99 my Kindle edition of Dr. Ed Berry’s Montana’s Last Indian Water Compact. That price will hold through election day. Although a conservative Republican, Berry supported the compact and spent considerable time debunking many of the crackpot arguments advanced by its opponents.
Sen. Jennifer Fielder gets a write-in opponent. Glenn Ferren, who lost the Republican primary for Senate District 7 (mostly Sanders County, and a few acres of Flathead County out Marion way), is running as a write-in candidate for SD-7. Mark Sheets is the Democratic candidate for the seat. There’s a very high probability that Fielder, who wants federal lands turned over to the state, will be re-elected.
The Bundy bunch’s acquittal has people worried, perhaps unduly so. The initial reaction by most was “Jury Nullification!” Indeed, that was my initial reaction. But as we learn more about the jurors’ deliberations, the clearer it becomes that this was not jury nullification — the jurors were frustrated they couldn’t convict Ammon, et al — but a bungled prosecution. That will take a bit of time to sink in with some of Bundy’s admirers, but sink it it will, especially if he’s convicted in Nevada next year. Nevada’s U.S. Attorney will not repeat the mistakes of Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams.