Jessica Karjala Endorses John Mues

Jessica Karjala of Billings and Yellowstone County issued the following statement today, officially endorsing the candidacy of John Mues to serve as Montana’s next U.S. Senator, replacing extreme right-wing U.S. Senator Steve Daines. ____________________________________ Though my endorsement may come as one of many, I am asking my supporters and Montana voters to throw their support … Continued

KRTV 3
Candidate filing for 2020 MT elections is under way

About 100 candidates for Montana office, from U.S. Senate to the Public Service Commission, paid their filing fees Thursday on this official opening day of the 2020 campaign season.

Some high-profile candidates for the top Montana races clocked in Thursday, including Democratic U.S. House contender Kathleen Williams and Supreme Court Justice Laurie McKinnon, as well as at least six dozen legislative hopefuls from across the state.

Candidates for U.S. Senate, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and superintendent of public instruction also were among the earlier filers, paying the requisite fee to appear on the 2020 ballot.

But what’s considered the top 2020 race in Montana – the open governor’s seat – had none of its candidates file on this opening day.

Most candidates filed electronically with the secretary of state. But some still showed up in person, including state Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena, who was at the Capitol before 7:30 a.m. and was first in line when the office doors opened at 8 a.m.

Candidate filing will close in two months, on March 9.

Republican state auditor candidate Troy Downing of Gallatin Gateway also drove to Helena to file, saying he just likes the idea of visiting the state’s political and physical Capitol.

“I’ve got a guy working on my campaign and he’s never actually been in the Capitol before, and he was talking about how neat it is to just pull up to the building and know what happened there,” he told MTN News. “I still have a little bit of that as well.”

Downing ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 but lost in the GOP primary. This year, he has competition in the GOP primary from Nelly Nicol, for the open auditor’s seat.

While Dunwell was the first to file in person, right behind her was Democratic attorney general candidate Raph Graybill – who walked down the hallway from his office as chief counsel to Gov. Steve Bullock.

Graybill, 30, was accompanied by his wife, Marisa, and their nine-month-old daughter, Genevieve. He’s one of several younger candidates vying for statewide office this year.

“The number of candidates in their 30s that are running for statewide office right now has got to be a record for the state, and I think that’s because everyone recognizes the stakes are so big in this election,” he said. “We know on both sides that so much could change after 2020.”

Five of Montana’s top eight statewide contests are open seats this year: U.S. House, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and governor.

Many of those races have contested primaries. Graybill’s opponent in the Democratic primary for attorney general, state Rep. Kim Dudik, also filed Thursday.

Williams, who lost the 2018 race for Montana’s only U.S. House seat, is back competing for the office, which is open because incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte is running for governor.

“It’s going to be different this time because we’re going to win,” she told MTN News after she filed. “I had a lot of independents and moderate Republicans voting for me last time … and we’re just going to build on that.”

Yet she wasn’t the only person, or woman, to file for the seat Thursday.

Republican Debra Lamm of Livingston came to the Capitol to pay her filing fee and declared herself the “grassroots” candidate among Republicans, saying that many in the GOP would like to see her take on Williams.

However, both Lamm and Williams have plenty of competition in the primary. Two other Democrats and five other Republicans are in the race – including a surprise entry Thursday, political unknown John Evankovich of Butte, as a Republican.

Other statewide candidates who filed Thursday include Democrat John Mues for the U.S. Senate, Republican Christi Jacobsen for secretary of state, Mike Black for Supreme Court (against McKinnon), Supreme Court Justice Jim Shea (for his own seat) and Melissa Romano for state superintendent of public instruction.

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Flathead Beacon
Stark Reality of U.S.-Russian Relations

In 2004, I represented COMSUBGRU EIGHT, a U.S. overseas flag command, at the BALTOPS exercise planning conference in Norfolk, Virginia, home of our country’s largest naval base. Among the audience was a cadre of Russian Federation officers, as Russia would be a participant in the exercise. What I presented caused somewhat of a stir: I suggested exploring the feasibility of a joint U.S.-Russian nuclear submarine exercise within the larger BALTOPS exercise framework.

Though U.S. and Russian ground forces had conducted joint exercises before, bringing together our nations’ strategic-level military assets had never happened. After all, each nation’s nuclear submarine force had been a fundamental leg of the “nuclear triad” that had helped keep the Cold War between the Soviet Union and America “cold,” averting war. The idea of such assets intermingling in an exercise in the Baltic Sea was a bold step with, potentially, deep impact.

Though a critic of today’s Russian Federation, I once believed in true rapprochement with Russia and contributed to that end. As a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman, I studied Russian literature – from Dostoevsky to Akhmatova – and the language. In the business sector, I was an engineer based in eastern Russia working on the largest foreign direct investment project in Russia. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), I was a post-command exercise manager, with Russia being a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. I’ve traveled to Russia many times, from St. Petersburg to Moscow to Sakhalin Island – though never to meet with Russia’s foreign minister for inexplicable reasons on July 4, after Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, as U.S. Senator Daines.

Unlike Daines, I would approach U.S. relations with Russia in a way that is clear-eyed about the threat that Russia presents to America and the world. I would support our intelligence agencies, with whom I’ve worked, and rebuke efforts to politicize their conclusions.

America’s security in the 21st century depends on being honest about what the Russian Federation has become under Vladimir Putin: an authoritarian oligarchic petro-state that murders journalists, dissidents, and business competitors, invades sovereign nations, interferes in elections, and threatens Western nations with conflict, including nuclear strike.

We need to stop being naïve regarding Russia, before it’s too late. That means, however contrary to the Trump Administration:

• Demand cessation of Russian aggression, including its withdrawal from the sovereign territories it has invaded: eastern Ukraine (Donetsk), southern Ukraine (Crimea), northwestern Georgia (Abkhazia), and north central Georgia (South Ossetia).

• Improve our resiliency against Russian nuclear blackmail. Reestablish the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, from which the Trump Administration withdrew, fortify missile defense systems, and work to reduce nuclear weapons, globally.

• Firm up America’s commitment to NATO’s Article V, which states that an attack on any NATO member is an attack on NATO itself.

• Fortify America’s electoral processes and critical facilities from cyber attacks.

• Request withdrawal of Russian forces from the former U.S. base in northern Syria, leading to the establishment of a safe zone for our (abandoned) Kurdish allies.

• Defend the Magnitsky Act and apply it towards Russian human rights abuses, including assassinations.

Perhaps these items seem too ambitious to achieve, as several would require Russia’s cooperation. Yet, Russia is fragile, as its economy is overwhelmingly dependent on oil and gas sales.

If America, with its massive energy demand, leads on clean, renewable energy, thereby placing real pressure on the Russian economy, Putin would have no choice but to come to the negotiating table on the widest range of issues.

America ought to have transitioned to clean energy the day after 9/11, as an answer to oil-funded terrorism. Given brazen Russian petro-state aggression, the continuance of oil-funded terrorism, and climate change, the case for it today could not be stronger.

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Letter to Fellow Montana U.S. Senate 2020 Democratic Primary Candidates

Dear Montana U.S. Senate 2020 Democratic Primary Candidates, The role of our U.S. Senators is very important to all of us living in Montana and the United States. There are very real and important consequences when somebody who is not qualified, or more interested in a political agenda rather than the interest of hard-working Montana … Continued

The Montana Post
Do Not Take the Bait, America: Avoid War with Iran

America’s 21st century Middle East wars have cost our country thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of injured soldiers, the burden of having contributed to nearly a million Afghan and Iraqi deaths, and, per the latest estimate, $6 trillion, over a quarter of the entire U.S. federal debt.

If that money had been wisely spent, it could have modernized America’s infrastructure, including for clean energy, creating millions of good-paying jobs. Instead, we are left with Middle East destabilization, with no benefit to our nation. Most lamentably, countless sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, would be in the thick of our communities, rather than buried or maimed.

Given the strikes against Iranian assets and people, including General Suleimani, with American blood on his hands, we ought to recall the strategic mistake of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), to which I contributed as an active-duty naval officer stationed abroad.

Alongside others readying their respective units for war, my colleagues and I coordinated the largest nuclear submarine task force in history as part of the “shock and awe” phase of OIF – a war premised on stopping Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program, which turned out not to exist. Moreover, as one who worked with the CIA and SOCOM on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) nonproliferation, American resources were being diverted from monitoring other illicit nuclear sites in order to find the non-existent WMD in Iraq. Perhaps this is why Iran’s nuclear program, among other cases, was able to flourish as American servicepersons fought and died next door in Iraq.

Though I was disappointed that former President Obama had allowed, however inadvertently, ISIS to establish a large caliphate in Iraq and Syria, I was highly supportive of the Iran Nuclear Deal that he forged to avoid the third gulf war since 1991 (an imperfect deal but essential for the times). Similarly, I was appalled when President Trump withdrew America from the Iran Nuclear Deal (as well as abandoning our Kurdish allies in northern Syria and embracing tyrants around the world).

While the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” approach to Iran may work, it probably will not. Iran may counterstrike in a way that could kill Americans and lead to all-out war, or it could reconstitute and accelerate its nuclear weapons program, as it just implied by ending its own commitment to the Iran Nuclear Deal.

We as Americans need to ask ourselves: do we want another gulf war (perhaps with tactical nuclear bombs being used, designed for Iran), or do we want to stabilize the situation and focus on value-add projects, like rebuilding our country? If our answer is the latter, then we need to – once emotions have receded from the boiling point – renew Iran’s and our commitment to the Iran Nuclear Deal and get back to things that improve our nations, like job creation.

The right answer, though, may not be so apparent in the White House. Domestic and foreign special interests – including Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Bin Salman who loathes Iran and may have financial ties with President Trump and his family, those seeking a distraction from President Trump’s impeachment, oil companies which need higher prices from a Middle East war to stay financially solvent, certain segments of the military-industrial complex that prefer war to peace, AIPAC and Israel’s Netanyahu (non-representative of all Israel) who needs a distraction from corruption charges, and even Russia and China who may see a third U.S.-led gulf war as the death-knell of America as a superpower – may be pushing, behind the scenes, for war against Iran.

We, as citizens, must not let that happen.

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Billings Gazette
Why I support food security for all Americans

At the U.S. Naval Academy, as a plebe, our squad leader, a future Navy SEAL, asked our table: “Who here believes in the concept of food stamps?”

Of ten plebes, each of us seated on the front two inches of our seats, our backs ramrod straight and our chins and necks conjoined into what is referred to as a “brace”, only an Irish-Catholic New Yorker and I put out our “paws”, signaling that we did.

I was asked how I could defend that position. I replied: “Sir, because without food stamps as a kid growing up in Montana, I probably wouldn’t be here at Annapolis.” Food assistance programs – from food stamps to free school lunches – enabled my talent to become realized, facilitated, as well, by excellent Montana public school teachers.

On Dec. 4, 2019, with Thanksgiving just past and Christmas approaching, the Trump Administration passed a rule via the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), ostensibly supported by U.S. Senator Daines and U.S. Representative Gianforte, that will deepen cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – our food stamp program — worsening hunger and food insecurity in Montana and throughout America. Based on analysis, the cuts – however couched in base-appealing, partisan rhetoric – will impact nearly 50,000 Montanans receiving SNAP and 20% of SNAP recipients nationally.

President Trump, Daines and Gianforte – all of whom grew up wealthy and privileged – have never known the threat of hunger. And that’s OK – in fact, that’s the way we’d like it to be for everyone. Yet, one needn’t personally experience food insecurity to grasp the morality (including longstanding Christian morality) and talent unlocking mechanism of government food assistance. Either out of a sense of decency or a belief that society runs best when talent is not suppressed by hunger, countless Americans – rich and poor alike – support government programs, free of the constant threat of budgetary cuts, that tackle food insecurity.

Why then, during the holiday season, would such a rule be proposed that will devastate the lives of so many?

It’s important to understand that, in 2017, Daines and Gianforte voted for the Trump tax bill that gave massive tax breaks to America’s wealthiest families and powerful multinational corporations. This resulted in a record $1 trillion annual federal deficit and is projected to add trillions more to an already formidable $23 trillion federal debt.

Contrary to widespread belief, the number of jobs created under Trump has lagged that added during the Obama administration (given the same amount of time), many must work multiple jobs just to put food on the table, and economic inequality is soaring. In addition, publicly-traded corporations used most of the tax cut largess to buy back their own stock or increase their dividends, rather than invest in capital projects and hiring, resulting in an artificial boost to the U.S. stock market, mostly benefiting the ultra-wealthy, including foreign investors.

I believe in tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses. But the 2017 tax bill was an unpatriotic act, burdening us and countless future generations with a runaway federal debt without improving our nation.

President Trump, Senator Daines, and Representative Gianforte, among others, convinced Americans that the 2017 tax bill would result in lower federal deficits and big corporate investments in people. Yet, it was merely a once-in-a-lifetime cash grab by America’s wealthiest families and multinational corporations.

Now, they are scrambling to make cuts everywhere, including to SNAP right before Christmas, in order to appease their base and cover their fiscally negligent tracks before election day.

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