Sunday, January 31, 2010

NV-Sen: The Premature and Ill Advised Dancing on Harry Reid's Grave

I know, I know, Harry Reid is supposed to be a "walking dead man" politically. All the DC pundits say so. The Republican talking heads say so. The R-J polls say so.

So why isn't it really so? Why was Harry Reid still able to raise a healthy $1.9 million last quarter?

Let's listen to Jon Ralston on this one.

[E]ven as Reid’s hopes are resting on a post-State of the Union recovery by both the national and state economies and of the president’s standing, the Republican cannibalism cannot be overlooked. It surely is a delicious sight for Team Reid.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki’s decision to reconsider the race has prompted nasty sneering by his GOP opponents behind the scenes and further indicates just how damaging this Republican primary could be. If the GOP had a clean horse to ride until November, Reid probably should be wondering what kind of improvement projects he can do around his Searchlight abode.

But once these Republicans are done with each other — you are witnessing a near-daily to and fro between Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian — the national GOP can pour all the millions it wants into the state. But Reid and national Democrats not only will match that, the Republicans in D.C. Central will be selling a product that some in the base may want to recall and independents may not be so willing to buy once June arrives.

Some Republicans try to argue the “primaries are good” shibboleth, which I didn’t believe even when I was a cub political reporter. You see, Reid doesn’t know which candidate to eviscerate until June, so that is to our advantage — or so the argument goes.

Please. Who would a badly damaged incumbent rather run against — someone bloodied by a primary or someone not wounded? If you don’t believe me, GOP Rep. Dean Heller made the same case on “Face to Face” last week, urging his colleagues to play nice. It will not happen.

He's right yet again. The Republicans are a hot mess. Their messaging is off. Their fundraising is dismal. Their "leadership" is in disarray.

No wonder why Dean Heller has refused to jump into the race. And no wonder why even Barbara Vucanovich has warned her fellow Republicans about Mr. Reid.

Now don't get me wrong, I know Democrats have a tough road ahead this year. Health care reform still needs to be done. Economic recovery is just beginning, and we can't afford for this to be another Bush-era "jobless recovery".

However, there is a way forward. Democrats can bring the base back home, and possibly even rebuild the tattered relationship with those fickle minded independents, by being bolder, more progressive, AND more practical. Pass complete, comprehensive health care reform with a public option that actually helps more people afford decent health care. Pass a climate bill that delivers on green-collar jobs. Pass additional economic recovery with the remaining and repaid TARP funds. (Hint: That's a better way to spend these funds than any more stupid and incredibly unpopular Wall Street bailouts.)

It's OK. I'm not expecting any consultant fees. ;-)

But anyway, combine a renewed and revived progressive and Democratic base with regaining the trust of independents and a continually disheveled Republican Party. What do we have? A 2010 election that looks much better for Harry Reid, Dina Titus, and Democrats down the ballot.

Oh, and remember that person we elected President? He may finally be getting his stride back. Joan Walsh explains.

I wasn't optimistic about Obama's plans to attend the House GOP gathering. I thought it might be more of his wrongheaded bipartisanship. I didn't raise a ruckus; it was his Friday to spend the way he wanted to. I just didn't expect much.

But like a lot of people in both parties -- especially the House GOP aides who set it up and let the TV cameras roll -- I was honstly blown away by Obama's performance. Like a lot of Democrats, I was very happy to see him engage and question and answer -- and at times kick some ill-informed and obstreperous GOP ass. I tried not to ask where this fighting man had been for these last months; he was clearly that president we voted for and I thought better late than never. [...]

[...] I [...] didn't expect someone who fulfilled all of our progressive political dreams when we voted for him in 2008. But we did expect him to tangle with -- and defeat -- his antagonists, politically, rhetorically, intellectually, sometimes morally, far more often than he has this year. So today was a relief and a revelation for a lot of us.

I am looking forward to seeing a whole lot more of this president in the coming months. Everyone who wants bipartisanship should be calling for monthly sessions like this. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Republicans aren't. GOP Rep. Mike Pence told Hardball's Chris Matthews, shortly after his draining session with the president, that he's not anxious for a rerun.

As Ralston himself has said, Reid's political fortunes are strongly tied to Obama's. And if President Obama can make a big comeback, Reid can turn around his poll numbers and pull enough of a winning campaign to really win this.

This is why I'm catching my breath right now, It may look scary now, but let's get to work... And let's get Reid and Obama to get back to work on Capitol Hill. :-)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kiss the Yucca Mountain Nuke Dump Goodbye.

And we want to get rid of Reid, Titus, and Berkley why?

Declaring “We’re done with Yucca Mountain,” the Obama administration today announced the formation of a 15-member panel to study nuclear waste disposal alternatives -- another critical step in killing the proposed waste dump in Nevada.

The White House’s top energy adviser, Carol Browner, said Yucca Mountain is off the table as the new commission headed by Lee Hamilton and Brent Scowcroft begins a two-year process to study alternatives for handling the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

“The debate over Yucca Mountain is over as the president has made clear,” Browner said during a conference call announcing the commission. “We’re done with Yucca. We need to be looking at other alternatives." [...]

Nevada’s Washington lawmakers are confident the commission will take Nevada closer to being done with Yucca Mountain.

“President Obama and I have worked closely to stop dumping taxpayer money into Yucca, and I have fought hard to ensure Yucca Mountain is dead,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “This panel of experts proposing other options for nuclear waste is the logical next step in that process.”

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus called the panel “another critical step forward in the effort to put a stop to Yucca Mountain once and for all.”

“I have been opposed to Yucca Mountain since day one and I have long worked with my colleagues to block it,” Titus said. “Today we are closer than ever to ensuring that Yucca Mountain never becomes a reality.”

Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley said, "By taking Yucca Mountain off the table, commission members will be able to propose a safe and secure solution to America’s nuclear waste problem.”

Thank goodness we have some sort of sane leadership representing us in Washington. Yucca is on its way to being gone for good. And finally, FINALLY, Nevada will no longer be forced into being the nation's big radioactive toxic dump.

It's really about damned time we see an end to that insanity.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Betting on Michelin Stars: Best Bargain Breakfasts, Baby!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear it all the time. Supposedly, dining in Las Vegas sucks. Supposedly, there's nothing original about Vegas eats. Supposedly, one can't live and eat sustainably in Vegas. And supposedly, one can't eat well on a budget.

Well, let me put your "supposing" to rest once and for all!

OK, OK, we'll just talk about cheap eats today. (The rest I'll cover later in the series.)

Now I know I had you salivating on Monday over all those delicious breakfasts. I also know you may have been a little concerned about the prices. Personally, I think a good meal is worth its dollars... But I don't always have the desire or the budget to eat like royalty.

Sometimes I just want a good breakfast, and at those times I always hit these favorite spots off The Strip, away from the limelight, and far from the typical "tourist rip-off" spots.

Hash House a Ginormous!

Let's start with an old favorite of mine from California, Hash House a Go Go. This place got its start long ago in San Diego, and more recently opened a location on the west side of Vegas near Summerlin. Even more recently, they opened another restaurant on The Strip at Imperial Palace. I guess their "twisted farm food" is that popular.

And it should be. They serve HUGE portions at not so huge prices. Oh, and the food is higher quality than one would think for a "hash house". The sundried tomato, basil, and goat cheese egg scramble is perfectly tangry, creamy, fresh, and delicious. The french toast with banana cinnamon cream and maple syrup is another of my BIG guilty pleasures.

Hash House a Go Go
6800 W Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 804-4646

Crack Your Dawn Right at The Cracked Egg

Not too long ago, The Cracked Egg was a great Las Vegas breakfast treasure that only West Siders could enjoy. But today, we have a Cracked Egg here just up Green Valley Parkway near my house and right off the 215 Freeway.

OK, so why is this so important? Try the coffee cake, and you'll figure it out. It's so soft, so buttery, and so amazing that the coffee cake alone will make you want to come back!

But of course, they also serve great food. Try the "Veggie Benny". Loaded with spinach and mushrooms, topped with a hearty hollandaise, and complemented nicely by fresh avocado slices, it's the perfect way to start one's day.

The Cracked Egg
1000 N Green Valley Pky #480
Henderson, NV 89074
(702) 868-5505

It May Not Be Original to Vegas, But I Still Love This Pancake House

OK, so we have a few great Oregonians to thank [And thank you, Jay :-) ] for Original Pancake House. But without a doubt, their arrival has been a blessing to Southern Nevadans looking for classic comfort food in the morning. They recently reopened at Green Valley Ranch Resort & Casino with a larger dining room. And if one must dine at a locals' casino, then please do so here for breakfast.

Why? The apple pancake alone is reason why. It's HUGE, sweet (but not too sweet), fruity, buttery, and all-around delicious.

Another good reason is the potato pancakes. They're perfectly crisp, but still nice and chewy. They have a great savory taste, but the apple sauce adds a sweetness that compliments the dish.

All around good grub at surprisingly low prices.

Original Pancake House
@ Green Valley Ranch
2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy
Henderson, NV 89052

If You Have to Visit the Saloon...

OK, so you're drunk and near broke. And hungry, too. What to do?

Sahara Saloon, that's who!

Honestly, the food is nothing to write home about. But if you need cheap eats and don't want to be totally disgusted by some cheap casino buffet or lousy greasy spoon just off The Strip, then do come eat off this greasy spoon.

I've tried the "daily special" of the spinach, mushrooms, and "swiss cheese" omelet with hash browns and sourdough toast. Now yes, the cheese certainly didn't taste anything "Swiss"... But for less than $6, my breakfast overall had decent flavors and was freshly cooked.

Yes, it's a "mini casino". Yes, you'll smell cigarette smoke from not too far away. But yes, if you really gambled, drank, and lordy knows whatever else you did away all your money, then you shouldn't complain about the hot food here.

Sahara Saloon
3345 E Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 457-2020

The President, The State of the Union, & What Happens Next

So at last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama signaled he would not give up on comprehensive health care reform. Good. Our long-term economic viability depends on getting health care done soon and done right.

And again yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that the easiest way to get health care reform done is by the President, the House, and the Senate agreeing to two companion bills for passage: the Senate bill that passed last month and a companion bill done through reconciliation that fixes the problems in the Senate bill (like the excise tax and the "Nebraska & Louisiana Purchase"). It seems Obama may now be open to this, since he does want "the whole enchilada" done this year. However, it also seems Pelosi will need to win over Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, and convince them that health care reform means long-term economic stability. And we'll need to convince all of them that the only way this health care reform can be trusted by most Americans is if it's complete with a public option for us to choose.

Another major announcement in last night's speech was President Obama's promise to "work to end 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'".

Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.

So will it actually happen this time? Will LGBTQ Americans be allowed to serve openly in the military once and for all? No one knows for sure, but at least we now have an opening to take action and get Congress to do something about it.

Later in the day, I'll have more thoughts on the SOTU speech, the fallout, and what happens next. This will be incredibly important, especially for us in Nevada. Harry Reid's political future depends on it. Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley will be critical for whatever next happens in the House. And of course, we progressives will need a game plan for holding the President's feet to the fire and making sure he delivers on all these promises.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NBC/WSJ Poll: GOP Still Disliked, Dems in Doldrums, But Sparks of Hope Are There

I know it can be frustrating sometimes to look at polls and wonder what the heck most Americans are thinking. Jeez, it can be frustrating to see how Americans are more likely to vote in "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars" than an actual election!

However, not everything is horrible. I noticed this a little earlier, and took a closer look in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. First off, let's look at how people feel about the major actors in Washington.

Summary Table of Images Total Positive Total Negativeive D/S
Barack Obama 52 34 18
The Democratic Party 39 38 1
The Republican Party 32 38 -6
Scott Brown 23 8 15
The Tea Party Movement 28 21 7
Timothy Geithner 11 19 -8
Ben Bernanke 18 18 -

President Obama and Democrats are still viewed more favorably. And take a look at this:

Q4a In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing as president?

1/23- 25/10
1/10- 14/10
Approve................................... 50 48 47 51 51 51 53 56 61 60
Disapprove............................... 44 43 46 42 41 40 40 34 30 26
Not sure................................. 6 9 7 7 8 9 7 10 9 14

Obama's approval rating actually edged up a bit this month, and it's still net positive. And finally, just for fun, let's take a look at this.

Q14 Let me read you a number of criticisms people have mentioned about what is happening in Washington.
Please tell me if you agree or disagree with each one. (RANDOMIZE)

Agree Disagree Not
There is too much partisan fighting between Democrats and Republicans and very little cooperation 93 5 2
Special interests have too much influence over legislation 84 12 4
Not enough has been done to regulate Wall Street firms and the banking industry 74 22 4
The Democratic majorities in Congress are trying to push through legislation without bi-partisan compromise. 61 32 7
The Republicans in Congress are trying to block any Democratic legislation without bi-partisan compromise. 61 33 6
The federal government has gone too far and tried to do too much 58 39 3
President Obama has failed to provide the kind of leadership needed on the major issues like the economy
and health care. 47 50 3

So to a certain extent, people don't really know what they want. All we can really see is that they've grown weary of the partisan bickering in Congress, tired of the Wall Street bailouts, and frustrated over the lack of progress on the economy.

So what needs to be done?

Maybe President Obama can start tonight's State of the Union address by actually showing some leadership, declaring his commitment to getting health care reform done soon and done right (hint: public option wanted, HMO bailouts not), and starting anew on financial reform with a focus on curbing corporate excesses and Wall Street "robber barons". And no matter what President Obama says, Congressional Democrats need to just go froward with this plan. BTD explains why at Talk Left.

[...] [T]he relative popularity of Obama compared to the Congress does not translate into people coming out to vote for Dems in an election where Obama is not on the ballot. The reality is the Congressional Dems' fate in November is 'inextricably tied' to the BASE, not to Obama. They need the unions and activists and hard core Dems to work for, and VOTE for, them in November. And it is becoming painfully clear that Obama has little effect on that.

True. Unless one President has super strong support (Bush in 2002) or super strong opposition (Bush in 2006), the President only holds so much sway in a midterm election. However, that doesn't mean the President is irrelevant. Here's Greg Sargent's take:

As you can see, public opinion is very volatile right now. The public clearly has turned on the health care plan and has doubts about Obama’s overall priorities. But voters are heaping a heavy amount of the blame on Congress — which is to say, on the process — and still seems to think Obama is providing the level of needed leadership. What’s more, for now, voters are saying their pick in the midterms won’t be about opposition to Obama.

This all suggests the possibility that there’s still room for Obama to transcend the process and to recapture a bit of that reformer mantle that seems to have slipped away from him. Though there’s still obviously a ton of work to do.

And btw, here's what Sargent is referring to:

Q7c Will your vote for Congress this November be a vote to send a signal of support for President Obama, a
signal of opposition to President Obama, or not a signal either way about President Obama?

A vote to send signal of support for Obama.................................. 37
A vote to send signal of opposition to Obama............................... 27
Not a signal either way about Obama........................................... 35
Not sure...................................................................................... 1
+ Results shown reflect responses among registered voters

If voters are still willing to give Obama a chance, then there's hope. And if President Obama can use what's left of his "political capital" to actually get some good stuff done, all may not be lost just yet.

Oh, Jeez. Orly Taitz Is Running for Office.

OMG, and I thought nothing could be weirder than anything in Nevada politics. But now, I guess we have a contender from our next-door neighbors to the west.

Anti-Obama crusader Orly Taitz may be finished with her lawsuit in the Orange County federal courthouse, but that doesn't mean we're done seeing her around here.

In fact, Californians may get to know her even better in 2010--as a candidate for elected office.

According to recent postings on her blog (caution: malware infected), the Laguna Niguel dentist/lawyer is considering a run for either California Secretary of State or Attorney General. Why? To give her standing to sue Barack Obama, of course.

Considering that Judge David O. Carter threw out her Barnett v. Obama lawsuit largely because of "redressability"--meaning that regardless of a claim's merits (Taitz's have none, but that's another issue), courts can't remove a sitting president--it's not clear how being elected would make a big difference. But Taitz is gonna try anyhow.

And wait, it gets better! Check out her announcement on her blog:

Several of my supporters have recommended that I run for an office of the Secretary of State of Ca or Attorney General. As a secretary of State or attorney general I will have standing to try in court issues that were tabu to all of us as individuals. Here is a situation:
1. we don't need 50 secretaries of state or 50 Attorney Generals suing Obama. If only one sues and gets discovery, we are done
2. in CA the democrat running for this office is an incumbent Deborah Bowen, who was worthless, didn't check Obama's records, and whom I sued on behalf of ambassador Keyes in Keyes et al v Bowen et al and on behalf of vice presidential candidate Gail Lightfoot in Lightfoot v Bowen. I reached the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts decided to hear the case in the conference of all 9 justices on January 23, 2009. On January 21st, right after the inauguration somebody erased the case from the docket. they re-entered it on the 22nd and during the conference on the 23rd decided not to proceed with oral argument. Later, when I talked to Justice Scalia, he didn't remember anything about the case.
3. Republican running for office is Damon Dunn, who admitted to never even vote until last year. He was a football player and later he was in real estate. The only reason he was endorsed so far, is because he is an African American, and Republicans want to have an African American to show diversity. He admits to having no knowledge or experience with law, elections or election law
4. In terms of the office of the Attorney General, incumbent Jerry Brown is not running. From both parties we have state legislators, who termed out and are looking for a new seat to warm. Considering billions of dollars of debt in CA, all of the state legislators are lousy.
5. I will need to raise 3-4 thousand dollars to start with, probably I will need about 100,000 from start to finish
6. I will need to set a separate account, I will need a campaign manager, volunteers.
I need your input. you can e-mail me at put running for office in the heading

I'm almost tempted to email her and suggest she hire a certain Richard Ziser to run her campaign. Come on, you know those two are made for each other! ;-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Station Casinos: Bankruptcy Judge Urges Station & Creditors to Negotiate

So is US Bankruptcy Judge Greg Zive punting? Is he ruling in favor of Station Casinos? Is he ruling in favor of the creditors? Why don't you take a look here.

After six hours of arguments, a federal bankruptcy judge advised Station Casinos and unsecured creditors to hold negotiations over a $2.3 billion debt, rather than face legal action.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Greg Zive withheld a ruling on the petition by the unsecured creditors to be allowed to sue over the arrangement of the 2007 leveraged-buyout deal that took the casino company private.

Susheel Kirpalani, attorney for the creditors, told the judge the creditors “were left holding the bag” while “insiders and fat cats” got big payouts in the $8.9 billion buyout by Colony Capital and the Fertitta family.

“The unsecured creditors were harmed by the transaction,” Kirpalani argued. He called it a fraudulent transfer.

But Thomas Kreller, attorney for Station, said a suit would result in “acrimonious litigation” and would disrupt the chances of coming up with a plan for the company's reorganization.

He said denial of the unsecured creditors' right to sue wouldn't extinguish the money owed. But permitting a suit, Kreller said, would result in “significant and irreparable harm” to Station. [...]

Zive said he didn't see any evidence of fraud in the buyout by Colony and the Fertitta family in taking the company private.

Zive advised Station Casinos to allow the unsecured creditors to be a “meaningful participant” in the talks toward reorganization. He said he believed there would be “unintended consequences” if he permitted a suit go forward at this time.

“I find people negotiate when people have a little bit of risk,” in advising the two sides to talk, Zive said. “The creditors deserve to be heard.”

If there are no negotiations, Zive said “I’m willing to rule. It may not be in the best business interest but it will be on the law.”

So reading the tea leaves, it seems the judge thinks the creditors are making some sort of legitimate claim, but they're overplaying their hand and Station isn't helping by not even wanting to listen to them. And who knows, maybe a judge ordered "mediation" can do the trick? Nah, they're all still bickering and more law suits are being threatened every day.

So the creditors won't be getting their new law suit, but it looks like they'll be getting something out of Station soon... And Station remains in a precarious situation as they teeter on the edge of fading out of existence. I'm sure Boyd Gaming is loving every minute of this...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Betting on Michelin Stars: That's What You Get for Waking up in Vegas!

Yes, this song still haunts me. No really, we hear it everywhere here. But in this case, I guess Katy Perry really is right...

That's what you get for waking up in Vegas!

So what do you get for waking up in Vegas? Well, you get some great choices for breakfast. Let me explain on all your mouthwatering choices for starting the day off right in "Sin City".

Society: The Classy Way to Start One's Day







Tucked away in a corner in the fabulous Encore at Wynn Las Vegas is Society Cafe. Chef Kim Canteenwalla presides over this lovely little "casual cafe cum upscale comfort food given a major makeover" joint and cooks quite the tasty breakfast. Start off with some freshly squeezed and organic fruit juice while you peruse the menu and make those tough decisions.

The omelette or the frittata? The "XL Sticky Bun" or the buckwheat pancakes? Decisions, decisions!

My favorite is the Frosted Flake (coated) French Toast with caramelized bananas, chocolate cream, and organic maple syrup. It may sound like "sugar overload", but just give it a taste... And you'll see why it's become my "breakfast of champions".

First Food & Bar: Oh So Hipster, But Oh So Satisfying






OK, so you're hungover and you just stumbled out of bed totally drunk, dazed, and confused. What to do? Trust Chef Sammy DeMarco to wake you up gently and "just the right way" at First Food & Bar at The Palazzo.

Just look at this breakfast menu! How can you say no to freshly baked donuts? You just can't!

One also can't resist a good ol' fashioned 'shroom omelette with goat cheese. I knew I couldn't, so I ordered one... With a cup of fresh fruit salad and a wedge of bread pudding. Everything tasted great, especially that omelette full of tangy cheese and juicy mushrooms!

And since I was there for Sunday Brunch, I only had to pay $7 extra to make it a "Champagne Brunch" with a bottle of nice California bubbly. Isn't that sweet!

When Simon Says "Brunch", Just Do It!










Now speaking of Sunday Brunch, there's one place that absolutely can't be missed for the best fresh plates, best made to order "buffet" variety, and best drinks to cure (or is that add to?) the hangover. Yes, my dears, I'm talking about Simon at Palms Place!

"Celebrity Chef" Kerry Simon was out to make "food that makes a statement" when he opened his namesake restaurant at The Palms' new "condotel" tower, and he's certainly achieved it so far with his much celebrated Sunday Brunch. Utilizing the best seasonal and organic ingredients, his culinary team has turned simple brunch fare into something quite extraordinary.

Start with a saunter over to the bar for a good bellini or bloody mary ($7-8 extra for unlimited booze), then stop and admire the freshly baked pastries... And start devouring those bear claws and beignets! It's OK, you're in Vegas now so you're supposed to commit some sin!

Once you're done gorging off the pastry baskets, try something lighter. Have the sushi chef make you a divine avocado roll that's spicy yet still creamy and refreshing. Or perhaps, have the panini chef make you a panino with fig jam and bleu cheese that's simultaneously sweeet, tangy, savory, tart, and oh so yummy!

Oh, and don't leave without ordering off the menu. It's included in the $38 "admission fare". My favorite so far is the Frosted Flake (coated) Brioche French Toast paired with fresh blueberries and raspberries, then topped with organic maple syrup. If there's one french toast that can give Society's a real competition, it's this one!

So I hope this helps. Whenever you wake up in Vegas, remember these places for breakfast/brunch. This will make you want to wake up in Vegas more often. Trust me. ;-)

Society Cafe
@ Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 248-3463

First Food & Bar
@ The Palazzo
3327 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 607-3478

Simon Restaurant & Lounge
@ Palms Place
4381 W Flamingo Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 944-3292

LATE BREAKING: Oscar Goodman Will NOT Run for Governor!

Jon Ralston just broke this story...

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who has been telling the media for about six months he's considering running for governor, might have finally made a decision.

Sun political columnist Jon Ralston says his sources tell him Goodman will not run. Ralston just put up a message on his twitter page that says "LV Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian confirms Oscar Goodman called to tell her he's not running. Press conference to say no! Only in Oscarworld."

Goodman is calling a press conference to discuss his political future at 2 p.m. today in his office at City Hall.

Goodman, a former Democrat, changed his affiliation to non-partisan in Dec. 15, just to keep his options open to run as an independent for governor.

So I guess all that fan fare last month was over nothing. So does this mean Mayor Oscar won't be running for something else? I guess we'll find out in the coming days. I really didn't expect him to stir up so much controversy not to run.

Rory Reid's campaign must be breathing a sigh of relief today...

NV-03: Report from the Dina Titus BBQ

So what exactly happened on Saturday? Well, Dina Titus kicked off her 2010 reelection campaign. She told us she isn't taking anything for granted, but she is hopeful we'll do again what we did in 2008.

She did mention the Massachusetts special election that went horribly wrong this month, but still congratulated all of us here who made calls to MA for the election. And while she did say it will be tougher to get anything sent to the President's desk to be signed into law, she will be working her hardest to get something done on the economy and bring more jobs to Southern Nevada. Oh yes, it looks like her 2010 theme will be all about jobs and the economy.

That's good. But if anything was a little disappointing for me, it would be what Dina said on health care. She said she'd like to see some bill on the President's desk this year, but she seemed resigned to the "likelihood" it will be a limited bill only covering "health insurance reforms" (like ending preexisting condition discrimination and requiring HMOs to spend more revenue on patient care). She mentioned something about the American people "not wanting 2,000 page bills and confusing processes and backdoor negotiations"... I understand that, but it seemed she was using all of this to refer to the reconciliation process and I disagree with Dina on that.

While people are frustrated about where the health care debate has gone, most of us don't want to see the whole thing sidelined or reduced to just a few insurance reforms. We want comprehensive reform, and we don't mind them using the perfectly legal and perfectly ethical path of reconciliation to pass a full package with the public option and with the Medicare buy-in. (Ironically, these are the most popular reforms!) I chatted for a few minutes with Gavin, one of her fantastic campaign staffers, afterward and I told him that we're not upset over her "doing too much". If anything, we want her and Harry Reid to do MORE and we'll fully support them if they keep their eyes on the prize and pass comprehensive reform with the public option and with the Medicare buy-in.

I'm hoping she changes her mind... And I hope you can help me convince Dina to (once again) support comprehensive health care reform that will really work and actually help her win reelection this fall.

Otherwise, I overall liked what Dina said on Saturday. She knows that we can't afford any more Wall Street fat cat corporate bailouts, and that Congress needs to instead focus on job creation for all of us "Main Street folk". She seems ready to take on the Republicans (again), and I feel ready to help her do so (again). And perhaps when she agrees to that better health care option, I'll throw in some extra change here.

So the 2010 campaign is officially on. Dina's running again, and I wish her the best of luck. And as long as she shows some leadership, shows some real backbone, and fights as hard as she can for Nevada's working families, I'll do my part to make sure she can keep up the good work in 2011. :-)

NV-03: Scenes from the Dina Titus BBQ

Write-up coming soon. In the mean time, enjoy the pics from Saturday's event.













Saturday, January 23, 2010

Betting on Michelin Stars: My New Series on Eating in Las Vegas

It's all their fault. My La Vida Locavore friends have inspired me to do this. Starting next week, I'll be working on an ongoing series on my culinary adventures in this town.

Why? Well, why not? A whole bunch of progressive bloggers will be "invading our town" in July, so they'll need some advice on where to go. And even if that weren't happening here, I'm still a crazy foodie who likes to chat about food.

Oh, and did I mention I have this insane habit of dining out at what I think are some of the most interesting spots in town?

So there you have it. "Betting on Michelin Stars" is born. And by the way, I'll also be talking about my hotel and casino experiences, so we'll have plenty to talk about. :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Las Vegas: Then & Now (More to Be Seen!)

I thought you'd enjoy another lovely trip down Memory Lane... Also known here as Las Vegas Blvd! Notice all the changes to The Strip over the years?

Btw, I'm reading Super Casino (by Pete Earley) and Sharks in the Desert (by John L. Smith) this weekend. Next week, I'll have more stuff up on Vegas history (with tie-ins to today's politics and culture in Southern Nevada) here on the blog. Get ready! :-p

Happy Friday... From Red Rock Canyon!

OK, it's been a wild and crazy week. It's now time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the view. Courtesy of Video Drive-in:

Feeling better? I do. Enjoy the weekend. :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Called Harry Reid's Office. AGAIN. Let's See How They Respond.

Did you see this today? I did... And I did something.

If Nancy Pelosi is willing to stop with the "Chicken Little" games and forge a game plan for finishing health care reform, then there's still hope. Now we just have to convince Harry Reid to ignore the naysayers and move forward.

At this point it seems the best option is for the House to pass what the Senate passed last month, then finish it off with both chambers of Congress moving forward with a reconciliation bill including things like the public option that most Americans want. Nancy Pelosi gets this, so we just need for Reid and Obama to get it as well.

I don't know what's in Obama's head right now, but judging from the phone call I just had with one of Reid's Las Vegas staffers he's open to it. The staffer was very friendly with me and appreciated my call of support and my urge for Reid to keep moving forward on health care, so long as he includes the public option and the Medicare buy-in, and uses reconciliation to do it if necessary.

So if you can, please call Harry Reid's office and tell them this:

Americans need real reform and access to affordable healthcare. We can move in the right direction with RECONCILIATION.

What can we pass through reconciliation? The public option. The Medicare expansion. The Medicaid expansion.

And what about the Senate bill as it currently stands? It might not pass the House because of the excise tax on Cadillac Plans, and over 190 House members are against this tax. It's why we need to PUSH for reconciliation to let Democrats know that we support it, and will back them to the hilt on real health care reform.

Let's wipe the grin off those Republicans' faces by showing them that Democrats CAN and WILL go for RECONCILIATION.

We'll deliver your message, loud and clear, to Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid in D.C.!

Harry Reid's Offices to Call

Carson City
600 East William Street, #302
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-882-7343 / Fax: 775-883-1980

Las Vegas
Lloyd D. George Building
333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Suite 8016
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Phone: 702-388-5020 / Fax: 702-388-5030

Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and Federal Building
400 South Virginia Street, Suite 902
Reno, NV 89501
Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

Rural Nevada Outreach Contact
Matt Tuma
Phone: 775-686-5750 / Fax: 775-686-5757

528 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3542 / Fax: 202-224-7327
Toll Free for Nevadans: 1-866-SEN-REID (736-7343) -Restricted to calls originating from area codes 775 and 702

The only thing I differ on is that the Senate bill doesn't need to be scrapped. The House can pass it, so long as a companion reconciliation bill with the public option and Medicare buy-in is done ASAP. Of course, I also wouldn't mind scrapping the Senate bill altogether if it means we'll only see good reforms (like the new insurance regulations and Medicare/Medicaid expansions) without the HMO & PhRMA bailouts. I'm just saying that as long as we either see health care done, done right, and done soon with things that people actually want, we can turn these lemons into good lemonade that people will appreciate. :-)

Corporate $tate$ of America? SCOTUS Opens the Door

Thanks, Supremes! Just when we need the big multinationals to finally take control of everything...

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

The court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns and threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

We're fucked. From Justice Stevens' dissent (full decision PDF here):

In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant.Although they make enormous contributions to our society,
corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests mayconflict in fundamental respects with the interests ofeligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure,and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

Wonderful. So the big corporate interests can stop pretending and just buy politicians outright? I guess this just means all the rest of the country will soon be looking like Nevada?

Yep, we're fucked. After all, who would want sensible clean money reforms when we can become a corporate aristocracy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NV-Sen: Krook-licki Back In? Johnny Mac Wants Him Back In?

Oh, noezzz! Harry Reid must be crying in a corner over this... Perhaps crying because he's laughing so hard?

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is now strongly considering a run for the U.S. Senate this year against Sen. Harry Reid, he told the Sun today.

"There are serious people making compelling arguments to me both in the state and out of the state to reconsider the Harry Reid race, and based on that pressure and those conversations I am indeed looking at it," Krolicki said.

Republicans in Washington are displeased with the current crop of candidates taking on Reid, which includes former state Sen. Sue Lowden, former UNLV basketball star Danny Tarkanian and former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle. [...]

Krolicki said Sen. John McCain, whose Nevada presidential campaign he chaired, had reached out to him in the past week.

"It's hard not to consider this when you have people like John McCain asking you to," Krolicki said. [...]

If he is the preferred candidate of Republicans in Washington, he could see a quick cash infusion and pressure on other candidates to bow out.

Obviously, Republicans still don't get it. First off, the only way "Senator Centerfold" was able to snatch the MA-Sen election win was because he distanced himself from "the establishment". And come on, what could possibly be more "establishment" than John McCain and McCain Campaign Chair Brian Krook-licki?

And secondly, just because a judge of questionable repute dismisses the corruption case (while leaving the door wide open for a retrial with a stronger indictment) doesn't mean there's no corruption to be found. Oh yes, I'm sure Team Reid is (re)starting the oppo research should Krook-licki decide to jump back in this race... Which he still may not if wiser heads (the few left in the Nevada GOP) prevail.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know the "conventional wisdom" is that Krook-licki has so much mojo and we're supposed to be running scared. YEAH. RIGHT! If this is the best the GOoPers have, then I'm not feeling too scared right now. As I said this morning, as long as Reid delivers the goods he'll be reelected.

And if GOoPers screw up by forsaking their "grassroots", ignoring their wishes, kicking other candidates out of what's supposed to be a fairly contested primary, and forcing Krook-licki upon them, it may backfire on them in ways they won't like in November. After all, Suzy Lowdown already knows an awful lot about that.

F-bleau: Well Ain't This Interesting, Carl Icahn Takes It After All

OK, back to the important news of the day. Carl Icahn is back, and he wants another Strip casino.

Carl Icahn is expected to take over ownership of the bankrupt Fontainebleau Las Vegas resort after two potential competitors vying to buy the property failed to submit qualifying bids as of a 5 p.m. deadline Friday.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami, where Fontainebleau filed for bankruptcy protection last year, is expected to conduct a hearing Jan. 27 to approve the sale of the Las Vegas Strip property to Icahn, who bid $156.2 million for it last year. [...]

Icahn could not be reached for comment. In a court filing, attorneys for Examiner Jeff Truitt said Truitt received two "submissions" for Fontainebleau on the bid deadline. The filing didn't identify the parties that made the submissions.

"However, for various reasons, including that neither of the submissions were accompanied by either the requisite deposit or satisfactory evidence of the financial ability to close a sale transaction, the examiner has determined that the submissions are not qualified bids," the court filing said. "Accordingly, the only qualified bid received by the examiner is the Icahn Nevada Gaming Acquisition LLC bid. Based on the foregoing and in accordance with the bidding procedures, there will be no auction for the assets."

San Francisco real estate investor Luke Brugnara is also trying to bid on F-bleau, but it doesn't look like the court wants him anywhere near this property. Lesson learned, kids... Don't come to a cash game begging for credit.

And what exactly will become of F-bleau once Icahn does take control as now expected? No one knows for sure, except everyone seems to agree this means the finished project most likely won't completely resemble what original developer Jeffrey Soffer had planned for it.

And not that long ago, Liz Benston read the tea leaves and offered a strong possibility for Fontainebleau's future.

With lower and middle classes flocking to Las Vegas during boom years, Stratosphere [Icahn's last big Vegas purchase] was in the right place at the right time.

Perhaps Icahn wants to create a mid-market resort out of Fontainebleau — a strategy that might appeal to bargain-hunting tourists soured on fancy hotels. The property might complement the nine casinos Icahn is acquiring as part of Tropicana Entertainment, which includes the MontBleu resort in Stateline, Tropicana Express in Laughlin and Tropicana resort in Atlantic City. (The Tropicana in Las Vegas, acquired by another buyer out of bankruptcy, wasn’t part of the deal.)

Or perhaps Icahn is bluffing.

In one sense, he has shown his hand. Icahn has gone where other investors have feared to tread — making a fortune on the business missteps of others. [...]

While $156 million sounds like a steal, it might still be too much for others — without Icahn’s knack for timing — to stomach.

This may make sense, as it seems The North Strip (or at least everything north of Wynncore) is destined (or doomed, depending on one's point of view) to remain a lower-end "Vegas experience". There's still a possibility Icahn may not do anything but let it rot a la Echelon for a couple year, but judging by Icahn's past Vegas moves it seems more likely he'll finish F-bleau, but not in the uber-high-end manner that Soffer and his Miami buddies had intended. Instead, he may spend less than the $1.5 billion that Penn National Gaming suggested was needed to finish the project (as Soffer had intended) and open F-bleau (Or is it "New Tropicana"? Or "Stardust Reborn"?) as a more mid-range or bargain casino.

Who knows? Maybe we're all wrong? Or maybe Carl Icahn has a few more tricks up his sleeve that he doesn't yet want to show us?

So What Really Happened Yesterday? And What Does This Mean for Nevada?

Let the "crystal ball visions" roll! Of course, Jon Ralston has to chime in:

So the president’s [approval] numbers here, by some measures, are significantly weaker than they are in Massachusetts, which means even bigger trouble for the Democrats. Add in what I have called the reverse symbiosis of the two Reids on the ticket and the potential vortex that creates for the entire Democratic slate, and it’s no wonder they feel like they are looking into a wave building as if they were on the deck of the Poseidon.

Yikes. So we're doomed. 2010 will make 1994 look like a gentle nudge? Not so fast, says this Daily Kos blogger who slipped a little "inside information" (his mom is a Boston "machine" operative) last night that puts Ralston's theory of "Obama = Political Poison" into doubt.

As the race went on, she (mom) asked around as to why she hadn't been called out to phone bank, check lists of registered voters, etc, for the campaign as usual. She was told "we're not backing anyone" by "someone on the committee" (she is not telling me what committee because this blogging thing is making her uneasy).

[Boston Mayor Tom] Menino never backed her publicly ("Don't name names!" says mom. "Everyone knows he's the mayor!" I say). He never backed her secretly either, the machine was not turned out for Coakley.

"Nobody likes her" says mom. What she means is, Coakley had no friends in politics. The Democrats in Massachusetts let this happen because - "I don't know" says mom.

Maybe they weren't about to let Western Mass manipulate them. Maybe it all comes down to nothing more than who is friends with whom.

All Scott Brown did was see an opportunity and turn it to his advantage.

There is no deeper national implication. This is not a death knell for the Democratic party or Obama. This is a story of a domestic spat between "parochial divisions" in Massachsetts.

The proverbial house divided among itself, fell.

Now this would be like... Like... Oh jeez, I guess this means I have to mention Titus v. Gibson 2006. No really, I can't think of a better comparison here.

So is it this simple? Was Massachusetts just plagued with a divided party? BTD at Talk Left says "not so fast", Obama can't be let off the hook.

I've said this forever - election[s] are first and foremost, a referendum on the governing party. A lot of people have spent they year whistling past the graveyard of poor polling by Dems, because the GOP polled even worse. I hope that form of denial is now dead and buried for good.

This referendum manifests itself in 3 ways - the motivation of Republican voters, the motivation of Democratic voters and the motivation of casual voters. In Presidential election years, the casual voters play a very important role in the referendum. In off year elections, much less so. the enthusiasm levels of Republican and Democratic voters is paramount.

Republican voters are extremely motivated. There is little Dems can do to stop this. That is why moving right for 2010 is a fool's errand. But Dems can motivate Dem voters - by fighting for Dem values. Will that be enough to stave off defeat in 2010? I do not know, but I know it is the only viable option that Dems have now.

So I guess BTD is concurring with what I said last night. While it may be true that "machine politicking" doomed Martha Coakley from the day she won the primary, there's no way we can just look at the MA-Sen race in a vacuum and avoid mentioning President Obama and national Democrats giving the base little reason to feel enthusiastic. But as I also said last night, there's still time to change course and give Democrats good reason to get out and vote.

Oh yes, and did I mention the Republicans aren't exactly looking perfect either?

Despite pledging to run positive campaigns, the two leading Republicans fighting for the chance to take on Sen. Harry Reid in November have turned their guns on each other, taking shots in a back-and-forth that portends an ugly primary season.

Danny Tarkanian, a lawyer and former UNLV basketball star, has launched a series of attacks on Sue Lowden, a former state senator and one-time chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, in what’s shaping up as a fight for the title of true conservative.

She has responded in kind.

Political observers say the sniping could hurt the eventual Republican nominee because it represents the type of deep partisanship and political maneuvering that turns off independents, a critical bloc of voters that could determine the outcome of the general election.

Moreover, the fighting has a clear political beneficiary: Reid. While the Senate majority leader faces low approval ratings and trails in public opinion polls, a damaged and vulnerable Republican nominee could temper the political atmosphere.

As David Damore, a UNLV political scientist, put it: “This has to be sweet music to Harry Reid’s ears.”

Indeed, it is. And so is Ralston's final word.

I can think of no atmospherics here that help the Democrats — except one. The best thing the Democrats have going here is the Republican Party.

The GOP has no money, quirky (charitable description alert) leadership and internecine warfare. To wit:

The state Democratic Party raised $1.1 million last year — 10 times what the state GOP amassed. While Reid the Elder has a tight grip on the Democratic Party, GOP boss Chris Comfort appears as much enamored with his reflection in the mirror as with the prospect of victories in November. And the purity tests being imposed in many GOP primaries, including the one against Reid, also may have the Republicans sipping weak tea by November.

Some of this can be ameliorated by outside assistance — money, sane people. But if the Democrats hang on here in November, it may have less to do with what they were able to accomplish than what the Republicans here botched.

Mostly agreed... Except for that last part on lack of accomplishments. Again, there's still time for Democrats to fire up the base before it's too late. That was the mistake made in Massachusetts, and this is the mistake that we can avoid in Nevada.

So what happened? It was a combination of things. Massachusetts Democrats spent too much time infighting and not enough time organizing. Martha Coakley ran a lousy campaign. President Obama's "triangulating" and capitulating to the corporate right have demoralized the base. And if Nevada Democrats can learn these lessons, organize early & well, and work in Washington & Carson City to give us good reasons to get out and vote, we won't have to be afraid of November.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Earth to Harry Reid: Change. Course. NOW!

Yeah... Massachusetts just turned a little redder tonight. Ted Kennedy is rolling in his grave. Democrats blew it... AGAIN! All of a sudden, "hope" and "change" are getting lost in tea bags.

I'm sure Rahm Emmanuel and all the other lying, cheating, corporatist hacks that have turned President Obama's mandate into trash will try to make this teaching moment into a "let's strengthen the Blue Dog hand to make ourselves look more like Republicans!" moment, but that's absolutely WRONG.

Former Nevada Netroots Maven (and still one of my fave progressive bloggers) Taylor Marsh explained this perfectly over the weekend:

Obama and the Democrats are trying to cram through a health care bill that many feel will come back to haunt us all. Like JoeBeets, many other Democrats are against this action, but we’re being asked to hold our nose and support what’s going on, as if health care is the only problem with the current leadership. It isn’t.

There will always be a group of Democrats who will chide people who have had enough of Democratic promises on the altar of selling out, saying that more time is required, Republicans are worse. What these people ignore is that if you never say enough is enough it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get real change, because politicians only take you seriously when you make them hurt.

The “they have nowhere else to go” theory of Democratic Party allegiance is wrong on multiple levels. Starting with the reality that if people can’t tell Democratic politicians and their policies from what’s coming from the right, as Democrats sell out women’s civil rights, while ignoring equality for gays and lesbians, including when these people are willing to die for their country, then it makes little difference who’s in office anymore. Especially when Democrats are as cozy with Wall Street as Republicans.

To be taken seriously you have to play rough. [...] But I wouldn’t count on ["nose holding"] working beyond 2010.

And she's making some more good points now. And hey, doesn't Taylor make more sense than these idiots?

Oh yes, and props to what Digby says.

Ok. Eight or nine months ago the villagers were all saying that the Republicans were eating at each other and that it wasn't very smart. And the Republicans told them to go to hell, Fox News started the tea party movement and the right wing media in general launched what seemed like a lunatic campaign to demonize Barack Obama as a socialist. All that seems to be working pretty well for them at the moment, so [Politico hack Mike] Allen's admonishment doesn't make a lot of sense.

In fact, the only lesson to be learned is to not listen to anything the village media says. Ever. The Republicans learned that a long time ago. The Democrats need to learn it too.

If I could have a word with Harry Reid right now, I'd say this. Tomorrow is another day. There's no reason to worry about the early and faulty political obituaries now... If Democrats shape up NOW, stop giving into DLC/Blue Dog/corporatist bullshit, stop coddling Wall Street fat cats, and start working for we the people ASAP!

Get the damned health care bill done, then stop talking about any more corporate bailouts and start spending that TARP money on job creation. Stop bribing ConservaDems to vote for craptastic HMO/PhRMA bailouts and coal/oil/nuke/fossil fuel giveaways, and start reasserting majority rule to get real progress made on issues like health care and climate change that people still care about. And finally, just shut out whatever White House fools that have ruined President Obama's "political capital" and pay attention to Peter Daou.

The case by progressives that Democrats are undermining themselves with faux-bipartisanship and tepid policies gets much closer to the heart of the problem. I've written a number of posts arguing that it's all a matter of values and ethics. In essence: when you fail to govern based on a morally sound, well-articulated, solidly-grounded set of ideals, you look weak. All the legislative wins in the world won't change that. People gravitate to people who exude moral authority. The vast majority of voters lack the detailed policy knowledge that would enable them to make an accurate assessment of policy differences, but they do have a visceral sense of when a candidate or an elected official believes in something and fights for it. It's why campaigns are laden with moral arguments; politicians ask to be elected because they'll "do the right thing." The right thing in the current administration's case was to be the anti-Bush, nothing more, nothing less. The ethical antidote to a radical administration. It was both politically smart and morally right. And it worked wonders for Democrats as the entire subtext of the 2008 campaign. [...]

Progressive bloggers have been jumping up and down, yelling at their Democratic leaders that the path of compromise and pragmatism only goes so far. The limit is when you start compromising away your core values.

I sincerely hope that's the lesson learned today.

Will someone please forward this to Harry Reid and cc this to Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and whoever replaces that dumbass Tim Kaine at the DNC (please, fire him!)?

Today's Very Special Witnesses in the Prop H8 Trial

While the rest of us are following a special election way out east and ongoing political turbulence here in Nevada, something very interesting is going on in California. On Day 6 of the federal Prop H8 trial, witnesses being called to the stand will include UMass Economics Professor M.V. Lee Badgett and "de-gay-ification" survivor Ryan Kendall. Oh yeah, and this guy will also be testifying.

Yes, Jerry Sanders is the Mayor of San Diego. Yes, he's been elected as a Republican. And yes, he now supports marriage equality.

Karen Ocamb explains some more:

I confess, I had never really heard of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders until his name came up in conjunction with a city council resolution to have the city attorney file an amicus brief in support of the marriage equality case. I confess, too, that once I heard he was a major law enforcement Republican in that very conservative city, I didn’t hold out much hope for him agreeing to the brief – especially since he was up for re-election.

Slap my wrist and shame on me for stereotyping before investigating.

Jerry Sanders gave a news conference that surprised the hell out of the LGBT community – tearfully telling how he had to support marriage equality because he didn’t want anything less for his lesbian daughter and her girlfriend. We panted for that video which we re-played and re-played – some of us wondering with tears streaming down our faces – if our fathers would put their careers on the line to stand up for us.

He did put his career on the line and he did lose a great amount of support from his own political party, but he's gained the respect and admiration of so many equality activists who appreciate him coming around. It will be interesting at the very least to hear what he says on the stand.

Of course, it will also be interesting to hear Professor Badgett detail the legal and financial discrimination we LGBTQ folk still face without civil marriage equality, as well as Mr. Kendall to describe the emotional and physical torture he had to endure because of a few misguided people who thought they could "save" him by "changing" him. All in all, today looks to be a riveting day in the courtroom and I'll link to the coverage of the Prop H8 trial later today.

A Message from the President

I know I've disagreed with him at times, but he's right about today. The stakes are quite high, and health care is on the line. If you can take some time to call today, please do so.

Andrew --

Right now, the polls are open to elect a new senator to the seat that my friend Ted Kennedy held for 47 years.

The choice could not be more stark, and the result could not be of greater consequence -- for Massachusetts or the nation.

The Bay State can send progressive champion Martha Coakley to Washington to fight for everything we believe in -- health reform, getting all of our money back from Wall Street, and holding corporate interests accountable.

Or the Senate can get one more person already walking in lockstep with Washington Republicans.

The polls are still open, the choice has not been made, and you still have a crucial role to playby calling voters in Massachusetts. In a low-turnout special election like this one, every single voter counts.

Please call Massachusetts voters today.

Opponents of change and progress have been pouring money and resources into the Commonwealth -- they want to keep things just as they are.

The most important thing you can do to stand up to them is call voters and urge them to get out to vote for the leader we need representing Massachusetts.

In a race as close as this one, no matter how many voters you call, you could tip the balance.

So please make sure you do everything you can today. Click here to start calling voters in Massachusetts right away:

If you were fired up in the last election, I need you more fired up in this election.

Thanks for everything you've done, and for your efforts in this final push,

President Barack Obama

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr... Nearly 50 Years Later

Of course, we remember this...

But do we remember this?

Simon Balto explains this at LA Progressive.

King’s willingness to embrace changes and evolutions in his political and moral thought, the global lens through which he viewed the problems of the poor and oppressed, and the tenacity with which he inserted justice and morality into American political and social discourses serve as powerful, yet often overlooked, components of his legacy. Without question, the traditional rendering of King—the one that will be recalled this MLK Day in schools, churches, community forums and political rallies across the country—is important, poignant, and powerful.

Yet, at best, it’s only half the story, and it disingenuously smoothes the rough edges of both King’s politics and American social, political, and racial history. Today, when we commemorate King solely through lenses of national triumph and racial conciliation, and portray, for example, Barack Obama’s electoral success as the ultimate realization of the Reverend’s dream, we do so only by carefully selecting from both King’s personal and American national history.

In a modern context that devalues dissent and rubber-stamps it as unpatriotic and irrational, it’s important to remember that King wasn’t always considered the hero that we now commemorate, and much of that had to do with his contemporaries’ discomfort with his jarring criticisms of American society. In our reimaginings of 1960s America today, the collective forgetting of both the radical elements of King’s politics and society’s general animosity toward them is perhaps explained by the fact that many of those problems that he critiqued have only worsened since his murder; and if there’s one thing that most American political and social discourses don’t make much room for, it’s our national mistakes and flaws.

Though it’s easy to celebrate the accomplishments that King saw through to some sort of tangible completion, it is less comfortable to reckon with those that he couldn’t fix and that remain unrepaired. The wealth gap in the United States is more staggering than ever. The commitment of budgetary resources to military and defense spending dwarfs—and worse, robs from—spending on human welfare and social justice. The reactionary invasions leading to the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Iran? Pakistan? Yemen?) are proof of the persistence of militarist and imperialist American impulses. And despite claims of postracialism, we have plenty of daily reminders that racism still exists, even if, scientifically speaking, race does not.

Yep, yep, yep. It's easy to just embrace the contemporary caricature of MLK as a "civil rights icon", and just as easy to forget all of what this person and so many social justice activists of the movement were working for.

He spoke out against the war in Vietnam. He fought alongside union organizers. And of course, he paved the way for friends like Bayard Rustin to later build on earlier civil rights advances to push for LGBTQ equality.

And of course as we start this new decade, we have to ask just how much progress we've really made in the last 50 years. Sure, Barack Obama is now President. That isn't something to lightly dismiss. Still, there's so much that's yet to be done.

Racial inequality persists even to this day. Economic injustice still plagues this country. Discrimination against women and LGBTQ people still hurts us.

Yes, we've seen plenty of progress. However, there is also still so much work to be done.

So We Want "Economic Diversity" Now? How About Building the Infrastructure to Actually Make It Happen?

Wow. Just wow. So now they get it?

In trying to hash out the lessons learned from the collapse of the economy, 70 of Southern Nevada’s business leaders, academics and politicians returned to a suggestion that has been around for years: Diversify the local economy.

It was nowhere near a revelation. But during good times, it was easy to let the status quo continue, so the region relied heavily on gaming, tourism and growth-fueled industries such as construction and real estate. Having all the local economy’s eggs in one basket is the main reason Southern Nevada is in a deeper hole than the rest of the nation — and is expected to take longer to climb out.

So when the Lied Institute of Real Estate Studies at UNLV gathered the opinions and observations of community leaders for its “What Happened? What’s Next? Can We Hit the Reset Button?” report, one consensus was a hope that maybe things got bad enough this time that everyone would finally recognize that economic diversification is crucial.

The problem is that it will take more spending to get there. For one thing, economic diversification will require a greater investment in K-12 and higher education, says John Restrepo, principal of Restrepo Consulting Group, who gave presentations on the economy during the series of round-table discussions that were the basis for the report.

Why education? Because Las Vegas must do more to improve the quality of the workforce to get more businesses — and a greater variety of businesses — to set up shop here, Restrepo said.

Well, duh! Of course, we need a better public education system. We absolutely need economic diversification... But do these people really get it?

Somer Hollingsworth, president of the Nevada Development Authority, a nonprofit group that helps lure businesses to the region, agrees that more needs to be done to diversify the economy.

He said there has been little money to compete against states that provide incentives to lure companies and pay for marketing campaigns, thus getting the word out about advantages of moving to the state. Nevada could take advantage of tax woes in states such as California and New Jersey and possibly hire someone based in California to help lure companies, he said.

“You have got to put that message out there and let people know about it,” Hollingsworth said. “We have never put an emphasis on diversification (as a state).”

Oh yes, like I really trust these knuckleheads with a plan for economic diversification. Yeah, how did that "flash mob dance" on Hollywood Blvd. go?

When will they learn that we won't achieve economic stability until we build the kind of infrastructure that supports more than just the typical low-wage casino jobs, 24-hour call centers, and oversized garbage dumps? Thanks to an egregiously regressive tax structure, we can't properly fund basic services, like education, health care, and transportation, necessary to build a stable state that will lure more businesses to come and stay in Nevada. This regressive system that "soaks the poor", coddles the super-rich, and fails to adequately fund our government may have fueled the artificial "boom" that precariously propped up before it collapsed like a house of cards.

I'm sure our wonderful "Luv-Guv" won't like this, but someone needs to step forward, speak the truth, and present a real plan for real economic stability. And yes, this means starting with a sensible tax plan that gives our state the ability to properly fund the education, health care, and other public infrastructure that will make businesses want to move to Nevada. Just don't expect NDA to organize a "flash mob dance" in Hollywood for it.

MA-Sen: Stop the GOP Obstructionism. Save Health Care Reform. Make Ted Kennedy Proud... And Make Harry Reid's Job Easier!

Will Massachusetts really elect this crazy teabagger to the US Senate? To the seat formerly occupied by Teddy Kennedy?

Oh gawd, I hope not! And hey, there's something we can do in the next 36 hours to prevent this from happening.

So what are you waiting for? Call voters NOW!

You know this is what the extreme right teabagger crazies want to do to our own Harry Reid and Dina Titus. We know we'll have to work our hardest to protect them this year... And we can get a good head start by making sure Massachusetts stays blue this year.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Las Vegas: Then & Now

I thought you'd like a trip down Memory Lane... Especially if this Memory Lane happens to be our beloved Las Vegas Strip! :-D