Carlos Slim Meets Resistance in Las Vegas. - Carlos Slim is the richest man in the world according to Forbes. He is worth some $73 Billion dollars (that we know of). So what’s wrong with being wealthy...
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For three decades, firm opposition to any sort of nuclear development for Yucca Mountain has been a rite of passage for any candidate seeking national political office representing Nevada.
But the past few congressional races, Republicans have been bending that rule.
Mark Amodei, candidate for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District seat, told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Sun on Monday that he would be happy to keep funding the development of the Yucca Mountain project through the Energy Department, with the hope of turning it into a bastion of nuclear research and reprocessing.
“I don’t celebrate every time somebody says it’s funded at zero,” Amodei said. “I support Joe Heck’s efforts. I think there are opportunities to do things out there.”
Sen. Harry Reid kicked off the fourth annual clean energy conference today by announcing the inauguration of the first-ever hybrid geothermal and solar plant, combining two of Nevada’s homegrown forms of renewable energy in a single power-generating project.
The plant, which will be situated at the existing Stillwater Geothermal Plant about 75 miles outside of Reno, will generate an additional 24 megawatts of power and create about 150 installation jobs, according to Enel Green Power North America President Francesco Venturini.
Enel Green Power, which is partnering with Nevada-based Bombard Renewable Energy to build the project, already runs the Stillwater geothermal facility.
“Enel Green Power has wisely and successfully married two clean renewable energy resources that Nevada has in vast abundance,” Reid said. “I hope we will see more of these integrated projects.”
The Tea Party Express continued its cross-country tour Sunday with a midday rally in the heart of Nevada that featured about a dozen speakers and musicians focused on "reclaiming America" in the 2012 election.
Headlining the event was Sharron Angle, who lost to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2010. Angle is traveling with the bus tour and is expected to speak at most of the events along the way.
The Elko Daily Free Press reported that Angle told the crowd of about 75 people -- organizers pegged the crowd at closer to 100 people -- that the Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate after the 2012 elections if people get involved in races around the country.
Tea Party Express communications director Levi Russell said the event was a success, especially considering that it was held on a Sunday.
"It was a small crowd, but enthusiastic," he said.
"We're happy that they came out to hear our message."
Other speakers included Amy Kremer, Tea Party Express co-chair, and Tabitha Hale of the Washington, D.C.-based conservative group FreedomWorks.
It seems that the Tea Party's governing style, most clearly on display during the debt ceiling fight in Congress, has taken a toll on Americans' view of the movement. Polls have been showing a drop in its approval, and a new AP/GfK poll shows that its unfavorable rating has seen a sharp rise. 46 percent of those surveyed said they have a negative view of the Tea Party movement, versus 28 who say they view it favorability.
The last time the AP conducted a national poll on Americans' favorability of Tea Partiers was in their pre-governing period: throughout 2010 the conservative movement was viewed slightly unfavorably but the splits were close. In June of 2010 it even earned a positive rating, with 33 percent of over 1,000 adults surveyed finding the movement favorable against 30 percent. In the last AP rating, taken Nov. 3-8, 2010, directly after the 2010 election, the split stood at a slim negative rating of 32 percent favorable against 36 unfavorable.
When the leaders of the Nevada state Republican Party picked their recent state party chairman as the GOP candidate to represent NV-02 in the U.S. House, they thought they had saved the seat for Republicans. But the latest polling suggests that the party’s nominee could be in real trouble.
After Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., accepted an appointment to the U.S. Senate to replace resigning Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the Nevada Secretary of State declared an open ballot election (meaning there would be no primary) to replace Heller, but the state GOP changed the process via lawsuit. Mark Amodei, who resigned as state GOP chair to run for Congress, received the nomination after he won a huge majority of votes in a closed process held by the party's state GOP central committee. The committee not only had the power to vote for the candidates, but to choose who qualified as a contender. Shifting the nominating power from the electorate to the party leadership precipitated former U.S. Senate nominee Sharron Angle's withdrawal from the race.
When Amodei won the party nomination, he promised the state central committee, "I will do my level best to make your decision here today look like a smart one." Now three weeks out from Election Day, Amodei looks vulnerable.
Daily Kos/Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democrat-leaning firm, released a survey showing Republican nominee and former state party chairman Mark Amodei clinging to a bare one point lead over his opponent, State Treasurer Kate Marshall, D-Nev., in the race to represent Nevada's 2nd district in the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, a Republican-leaning firm, Magellan, showed Amodei with a 48-35 lead. But PPP has polled very accurately this year around the country, especially in the recent Wisconsin Recalls. PPP’s tighter poll results correspond with July fund-raising reports that showed Amodei losing the money war by almost 2-1.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has closed the funding gap by spending heavily on Amodei's behalf. The NRCC's decision to intervene in this race suggests that national GOP leadership thinks Amodei could lose without significant help.
Some of the readers of the Reno Gazette-Journal have contacted me to say that reports of last week’s poll on the special election for the open seat in the 2nd Congressional District are bogus.
It showed that Republican Mark Amodei has a 13-point lead over Democrat Kate Marshall with three weeks to go until the Sept 13 election. It would be almost an insurmountable lead, with so little time remaining.
Yet three readers sent e-mails last Friday after the story appeared, saying Marshall was referred to by another name during the robo polling sponsored by Americans For Prosperity, considered a conservative group with Republican leanings.
"I was contacted by the poll to which you refer in your article today," Kathleen Fogarty wrote last week. "Kate Marshall’s name was not even offered as a candidate. Instead, they listed Kate Jackson as a candidate. I would have voted for Marshall, but when her name was not offered I just hung up. I did listen to the message twice though before I hung up to make sure I heard it correctly."
• “I need to cozy up to Paul Ryan and give him whatever support he needs.” – Mark Amodei, on Paul Ryan (Las Vegas Sun, Jul. 14, 2011)
• “I like a lot of what he [Rep. Paul Ryan] has to say in terms of Medicare, I think that’s excellent.” (Republican Congressional District 2 debate, Jun. 15, 2011)
• The Las Vegas Sun reported, “Amodei has embraced Ryan’s plan” (Las Vegas Sun, Jul. 14, 2011)
• Amodei praised the Ryan blueprint. “I like a lot of what he has to say in terms of Medicare. I think that’s excellent.” (Politico, Jun. 20, 2011)
Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU (8/18-21, likely voters, no trendlines):
Kate Marshall (D): 42
Mark Amodei (R): 43
Timothy Fasano (AI): 3
Helmuth Lehmann (I): 3
Kate Marshall is well known in Nevada, and well liked. She’s won two statewide elections here. She has a solid chance to win this election, particularly given the extreme positions of her opponent. Even though it’s a conservative district, CD2 doesn’t necessarily like fringe ideologues like Mark Amodei.
Kate Marshall is a prudent thinker. She has always maximized the use of our tax dollars as Nevada’s State Treasurer. She led the way to save the Millennium Scholarship. She has reinvested Nevada’s state budget giving us larger returns. [...]
Kate Marshall wouldn’t put our economy, our credit rating, the value of the dollar and the entire global economy at risk by voting against raising the debt ceiling. Mark Amodei has made it clear he would. Apparently he doesn’t care if our economy plummets and we all lose our jobs. He’s an ideologue.
Kate Marshall will shake things up in Washington, putting Congress back to work for us. She’ll be a budget hawk, but she won’t destroy the very things that have made America great. She’ll guard Medicare and Social Security, which Mark Amodei wants to slash and burn. She’ll fight for you and your children’s education opportunities.
Mark Amodei is getting some powerful Republican assistance on the campaign trail today: House Speaker John Boehner, the nation’s top-ranking member of the GOP, is coming to Reno.
It’s primarily a fundraising trip. Boehner is speaking at a $5,000 and $10,000 per-head breakfast for Amodei. Boehner won’t attend any public events as he did for Jane Corwin in New York’s 26th in May — the last closely contested special election, which Republicans lost in an upset.
“I'll fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare because we need a balanced budget,” said Marshall, Nevada's current state treasurer. “We can't do that on the backs of our seniors.” [...]
Marshall, meanwhile, has focused on Amodei's support for a Republican budget that calls for privatizing Medicare.
While he has praised the budget pushed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and approved by the Republican-led House, Amodei has also questioned the Medicare component, and vowed to protect senior citizens. Amodei, however, has said he would consider increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67.
Marshall has said she would not support any plan to raise the Medicare eligibility age.
Elko County Commissioner Warren Russell said groundwater pumping will “create real desert areas,” and he called the proposed pipeline “a big sucking monster moving north.”
He also testified he is concerned about the attitude that the water authority could start the drawdown and “see what’s happening” in terms of impacts.
Yvonne Prescott, who grew up in Lincoln County, said the proposed pipeline would have a drastic impact on White Pine and Lincoln counties, and the water drawdown will create a dust bowl.
She also said the counties wouldn’t reap economic benefits because most construction workers would come from Clark County, and neither Lincoln or White Pine has housing for workers.
“I see all negatives for the people, animals and the land,” Prescott said.
Former Assemblyman John Carpenter of Elko testified he has had a lot of time to study the proposal over the years, “and the more you look at it, the less desirable it is.” He also questioned whether the water would at some point come from Elko County.
Among the 30 participants in the public hearing was Randy Parker, CEO, Utah Farm Bureau.
Rupert Steele, a member of the Goshute Tribe, told BLM officials that the draft EIS does not address the recharge rates of the aquifers if 177,000 acre-feet is pumped out of them per year as proposed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
"Taking water resources away from its source should not be allowed," Steele said. "This will leave a sad legacy of environmental destruction."
Pumping water out of aquifers that feed Utah’s west desert will lead to increased air pollution along the Wasatch Front, said Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon.
"Groundwater drawdown can generate dust and pollution," he said. "We already live in a non-attainment area in Salt Lake County. The federal government has already told us our air is not clean enough."
The BLM’s draft EIS estimates the pumping project would add 24,122 tons of windblown dust a year into the air during the project’s first 75 years.
The draft EIS also estimates that groundwater discharges to surface evaporation and transpiration by plants would be reduced by 28 percent in Snake Valley during the first 75 years of the project.
But [Steve Erickson, of the Great Basin Water Network] said he believes the draft EIS underestimates the impacts of the 306-mile pipeline project that Southern Nevada Water Authority says will cost some $3.5 billion.
Meanwhile, opponents are quietly content over a draft environmental impact statement finally released by the bureau in June, after six years of input from the Water Authority, residents, tribes and a litany of federal agencies.
The prose is turgid and reserved, but the environmental conclusions are often stark:
• “... likely result in windblown dust emissions due to drying of hydric soils and loss or reduction of basin shrubland vegetation.” People in Utah, downwind, are particularly alarmed by this prospect.
• “... risk of subsidence of the ground surface as a result of the withdrawal of the groundwater.” This means the pumping could cause the ground to sink several feet over hundreds of square miles, causing buildings, transmission lines and roads to be structurally unstable.
• “... risk of invasion by invasive ... species.”
• The pumping could affect surface water, such as ponds, lakes and streams, which would obviously adversely affect the species that rely on that water for drinking, foraging, breeding.
• “Drawdown poses long-term risks to the agricultural sector in the rural areas...”
The pact to reduce pollution to the lake comes as the effort between California and Nevada to control development at the lake is threatened by a new law in Nevada that requires an easing of the threshold to approve new projects. [...]
Before signing the agreement, [Jerry] Brown and [...] Brian Sandoval [...] held meetings for two days at Lake Tahoe and said Tuesday they would visit each other's state capitol to talk with lawmakers about how California and Nevada will work together.
The cooperative relationship is threatened by a bill signed into law by Sandoval this year that would withdraw Nevada from the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which has overseen development at the lake since 1969, unless the compact governing the agency is amended to make it easier for members of one state to approve new development projects. Such a change would have to be approved by both the California Legislature and Congress.
Few have done more to try to protect Lake Tahoe than [Senator Dianne] Feinstein [D-CA], a co-author of the 2000 law that has brought more than $450 million in federal money to Lake Tahoe for environmental restoration over the past decade. She introduced a similar bill earlier this year – seeking $415 million over the next decade – but is not hopeful it will succeed.
"I don't think I can get the money," she said Monday at an inaugural fundraising dinner for the Tahoe Fund. The new nonprofit group formed last year to raise private money for collaborative restoration projects.
"That's the bad news," she said. "That's where the private sector has to come in."
Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum, are contributors themselves. On Monday, she announced they would give $50,000 – a sum quickly matched by two other donors from Nevada. In all, about $200,000 was raised.
Scientists believe more stable water conditions created by climate change have led to an aquatic explosion of tiny diatom-algae cells that scatter light, reducing clarity.
They also said the algae growth is likely to be temporary and that erosion-control efforts remain critical. UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center said in its report, "Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2011": "There is every reason to believe that if it were not for the decades of watershed management and water quality restoration projects, the lake's transparency would be worse than it is today."
As one Nevada operative put it, the Silver State has emerged as an “ugly stepchild” of sorts in the presidential primary so far, with the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina hogging all spotlight. Nevada is scheduled to hold the third primary contest next year after Iowa and New Hampshire.
Compared with Democrats’ caucuses four years ago, Republicans are far behind in fundraising, voter outreach, campaign visits, staffing and party organization — a signal that the GOP caucuses could be a bust.
Working against Nevada Republicans is the absence of a Harry Reid-like figure drawing national attention and donations to the state, a major factor in Democrats’ success four years ago. They also don’t have a built-in organizing force such as labor unions, which also drove caucus attendance for Democrats four years ago.
And although the party is looking to contract with a firm that has experience organizing the Iowa caucuses, it has yet to hire a caucus director or raise enough money to hire such a firm.
In [the NY-26 special election], Democrat Kathy Hochul went up early and hard against her Republican opponent, accusing her of seeking to kill Medicare because she supported Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. It took weeks for Republican Jane Corwin to respond.
When Hochul won the heavily GOP district, the Republicans-want-to-kill-Medicare message quickly became a national strategy, and Democrats posited that by using it they could take back the House.
Marshall has followed that playbook, focusing two of her three attack ads on Amodei’s evolving position on Ryan’s plan to revamp Medicare.
But neither national Republicans nor Amodei are letting the attacks go unchallenged. An Amodei TV ad features his mother and accuses Marshall of lying about his record.
In addition to pushing the national momentum on Medicare, Marshall’s campaign thinks Amodei is vulnerable on the issue. The district is home to many seniors.
Early in the campaign, Amodei called Ryan’s proposal a good starting point. When he was working to get the Republican central committee’s nomination, he said he would “cozy up” to Ryan to get his plan passed.
That’s not how Ryan’s plan works. For one thing, it eliminates traditional fee-for-service Medicare. For another, Its savings come from capping the growth of federal spending at inflation — which is much, much, much slower than the rate of health-care cost growth. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that, in 2022, Ryan’s plan would have a typical beneficiary shouldering 61 percent of the cost of a standard plan, and by 2030, because the government would limit its contributions, they’d be paying 68 percent. [... I]t’s absolutely central to how the Ryan budget saves money. It’s the core of his proposal.
At a town hall meeting yesterday, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) became the latest Republican member of Congress to face a backlash over the GOP’s intransigence against raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. As the Lincoln Journal Star reported, “many of the loudest voices and waving fingers urged Johanns to include tax increases — particularly applied to the wealthiest Americans — as part of the solution to debt reduction“:
“The wealthy just hoard the cash.”
“The old tax rates worked well for the economy under Clinton.”
“Quit listening to the scare tactics, all the crap in the media.”
Jennifer Wendelin, who waited to be recognized by Johanns before voicing her opinion, said additional revenue has to be part of the debt reduction solution along with spending cuts.
“Big corporations and the rich have to pay their fair share,” she said after the meeting had concluded. “If we have to bite the bullet, they do, too.
“We can’t be forced to shoulder the entire burden,” she said.
Republicans are facing a growing backlash over oil subsidies. Not only have top lawmakers faced angry constituents and questions from the press, but even Tea Party activists have called for the GOP to stop giving so much taxpayer money to multinational oil companies.
A few Republican lawmakers, like Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), have called for an end to oil subsidies, as well as all other energy subsidies.
[Rachel] Maddow discussed how historic the past two years have been, “If the Senate ratifies the START treaty tomorrow it caps an astonishing period in American political history. For the last two years, Democrats have held the White House as well as big majorities in the House and Senate. The record of achievement in that time, even in the face of unified at times totally random republican opposition, Republican opposition even to things Republicans had proposed in the first place, unified Republican opposition to their own ideas? Their track record even in the face of that is historic. Whether you agree or disagree with what Democrats have done in the first two years of President Obama’s presidency, they have freaking done it.”
She listed all the accomplishments, “The fair pay act for women, expanding children’s health insurance, new hate crimes legislation they said could not be done, tobacco regulation, credit card reform, student loan reform, the stimulus — which in addition to helping pull this country back from the brink of a great depression, was also the largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the largest investment in education in our country ever. There was also a little thing you may have heard of called health reform. Also, Wall Street reform, the improvements to the new G.I. Bill, the most expansive food SAFETY BILL SINCE THE 1930s. And tomorrow, President Obama will officially sign a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Later Rachel Maddow delivered the kicker, “There are big things this administration said that it wanted to do that it hasn’t done yet. Energy reform, immigration reform, the bush tax cuts for the rich were extended, closing Guantanamo. Those are some of them. Today it looked like one of the important judicial nominees will not get a vote to become a judge this year. There is territory the White House has said it would like to cover that it has not yet covered. By my estimation it is halftime, right, in the first term and with this vote tomorrow they will have gone 85% of the distance they said they wanted to go in the first term of the president.”
If you would have told policy people and political scientists two years ago that halfway through his term in office, Barack Obama will have accomplished 85% of his agenda, they would have laughed at you and told you how impossible that would be given the amount of polarization in our legislative process. If you would go on to tell them that after one year Obama would lose his 60 vote majority in the Senate, and would still pass major legislation the experts would have told you to seek mental help, but this is exactly what President Obama has accomplished.
What Obama has managed to achieve has not been seen in this country since FDR and the New Deal, and on a smaller level LBJ after President Kennedy was assassinated. The past two years have been historic, yet a small vocal minority of Obama’s base is upset with this president and the nation as a whole tends to give him little credit for what he has done.
“I continue to believe that my background and experience well qualify me to serve in the Senate,” he said. “However, at this time, I have concluded that I can more effectively contribute to resolution of the serious economic issues facing our state and nation through my work in the private sector.”
[Byron] Georgiou, a Democrat, entered the U.S. Senate race early, shortly after concluding his service on a federal commission that investigated the collapse of the financial industry. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had appointed him to that panel.
But shortly after his announcement, Berkley decided to enter the race as well and Reid threw his full support behind her.
After Berkley’s entry in the race, Reid publicly criticized Georgiou, saying he regretted appointing him to the commission.
Georgiou, who had lent his campaign $1 million from his personal fortune, then encountered serious fundraising challenges, raising just $140,000 last quarter.
Still, Georgiou vowed to stay in the race, appearing uncowed by Reid’s roadblocks.
As recently as this month, Georgiou spoke of the possibility of running as a non-partisan candidate, which would have freed him from a primary against Berkley.
Nevada Resort Association lobbyist and Democratic power broker Billy Vassiliadis said “some semblance of a broad coalition” will come together in the next 60 days. Its goals will “depend on what the broadest number of people want to do. Poll after poll show the public doesn’t want to see more cuts in education,” he said. The coalition will have to figure out what people will support.
In the post-session disappointment of 2011, labor unions and many large-business leaders, particularly from gaming and mining, declared Nevada’s legislative system broken. Getting two-thirds of lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate, as required under the state’s constitution, to raise taxes was simply too high a hurdle given Nevada’s fractious politics. [...]
Leaders from the AFL-CIO, the state’s largest union; the Nevada State Education Association, which represents teachers; and gaming and other industries have been meeting to discuss what would work, according to sources. Discussions have focused on a “margins tax” on businesses — a tax on adjusted gross business revenue — similar to what was proposed in 2011 by Democrats to replace the tax based on payroll.