Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NV-Sen: The Truth Behind Berkley's New Ads (& Heller's Complaints About Them)

So the pundits are not liking this.

Why? It completely obliterates their previously prepared narrative of, "ZOMG!!! Democrats are running away from Shelley Berkley and her SCANDALS!!!!" They're having such a hard time realizing that somehow her campaign has been able to scoot past Dean Heller's manufactured "controversy" and turn the "scandalous" spotlight back onto Dean Heller and his actual record.

In particular, a handful of pundits are screaming out Berkley calling out Heller for his support of Paul Ryan's Medicare busting plan. While they're arguing over semantics, they're ignoring the fact that "Ryan-care" would indeed end the traditional Medicare system and dramatically raise health care costs for seniors if enacted.

Even a REPUBLICAN member of Congress recently admitted the truth behind Paul Ryan's spin. He even sent a flier to his constituents late last month highlighting his opposition to "Ryan-care"!

House Republicans approved a budget in April that would drive up Medicare costs for seniors, and Mitt Romney has embraced the plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). But not all in the party are in agreement. Ten Republicans voted against Ryan’s budget in April, and now, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) is campaigning on his opposition to it. [...]

The GOP plan that McKinley opposes would give seniors the option of enrolling in traditional Medicare or taking a stipend to buy their own health care policy on the private market. Republicans have argued it would slow the federal government’s rising costs for Medicare, but the Congressional Budget Office says the plan would increase seniors’ out-of-pocket costs by privatizing Medicare.

In the flier, McKinley says Congress “must balance the budget,” but not on the backs of seniors. McKinley spokesman Jim Forbes told the Los Angeles Times that the congressman “is standing for what he believes in,” but in an election cycle dominated by health care and budget issues, McKinley’s stance is out of step with the rest of his party.

And this is exactly what Shelley Berkley has been saying. Unlike the manufactured "Kidney-gate SCANDAL!!!" about nothing, Heller actually voted for "Ryan-care". And if it's really not as frightening as Berkley's ad suggests, why won't Heller run on it? Why won't he just come out and defend his BFF Paul Ryan? What could he possibly be afraid of?

So keep this in mind as you hear media pundits console Dean Heller's campaign as they whine and complain about Shelley Berkley's new ads.

When Will We Ever Learn?

Here we go again. CCSD has forced local high school principals to make more cuts. Now, even more extracurricular activities are being eliminated, including the entire choir program at Arbor View High School. And work training programs are going bye bye at several schools. Oh, and Chaparral High School is even losing its school librarian!

It's bad. It's really bad. And what makes this even worse is that CCSD Administration are going out of their way to make this worse. Even though CCSD Administrators cry poor to the media, they actually have the money to pay their teachers and keep our schools functioning. But instead of doing what's both right and obvious, they'd rather make petty ideological "statements" that just happen to hurt our kids.

And in case that isn't bad enough, there's something even worse. Come on, you must know what's coming.

Honestly, it's pathetic seeing this epic CCSD food fight over mere crumbs. And it's disgusting to know that this kind of nonsense is bound to continue if Brian Sandoval gets his way and squashes all talk of progressive tax reform.

This is something that we discussed back in March.

But as long as our schools suck and as long as the rest of our public infrastructure continues to lag, Southern Nevada will continue to suffer our addiction to the extreme highs and extreme lows of "the bubble based economy". I'm sure I sound like a broken record sometimes, but I nonetheless feel the need to continue talking about this until we finally see some real action and real solutions. We really do have the potential to bring more high tech jobs into this state, especially in sectors like gaming and renewable energy where we have natural strength, but we'll never realize that potential if we don't invest in our "human capital".

And it still rings true today. How much more of this nonsense can we endure? And how much more suffering must our kids endure before we take action to correct this?

Between the continuing CCSD War on Teachers and the ongoing Nevada school funding crisis, there's plenty of unnecessary hardship that is being forced on Southern Nevada. Students shouldn't be denied a chance to fulfill their dreams, and they especially shouldn't have to see their dreams denied because of failed "tea party" ideology. It's time for Nevada to grow up and properly invest & nurture our future.

Monday, July 30, 2012

All About Reno

Every so often, Nevada Democrats may be lucky enough to get celebrities to come to Las Vegas to help with voter registration, but look at where the candidates are most often dueling it out. And look at where the consultants and media keep focusing their eyes.

President Barack Obama left town, Mitt Romney was due the next day, and just up the road from a billboard advising Nevadans to abandon their underwater homes, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity inflated a giant Uncle Sam. [...]

It is only midsummer, but in the swing county in a swing state, the presidential campaign is fully under way. The election here is a closely watched test of Obama's ability to repeat his victories four years ago in areas of the country still reeling from the recession.

Like elsewhere, the economy is the focus of the campaigns. On a wall in the Obama office hangs a chart suggesting the jobs outlook was even worse before Obama was elected, and Apple Inc. announced last month it will build a $1 billion data center here. [...]

In his convincing victory in Nevada in 2008, Obama became the first Democratic candidate for president to carry Washoe County since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

This year the county of about 425,000 people on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada is once again in play.

Make no mistake, Northern Nevada is back in the spotlight. Even though Clark County has over 70% of the state's population, Washoe County and the rurals have outsized turnout and can still make a big splash in statewide elections. And on top of that, Washoe just happens to have perhaps the hottest and most high-stakes Legislature race in the entire state. So really, there are several reasons why Reno is taking such a prominent role on the campaign trail this year.

So what's the state of play like? Honestly, it looks like both sides are very heavily engaged on the ground. When I visited Reno in March, Washoe Democrats were definitely revving up their engines and preparing to race. And since then, I've been hearing from the ground that they're staying awfully busy.

But then again, so are Washoe Republicans. In fact, that's the biggest reason why they've filed for divorce from the Nevada GOP. Long story short: They're functional, the state party is not, and they no longer want the state party's "Dysfunction Junction" (arriving directly from the Clark County Official Ron Paul Fan Club GOP) weighing them down.

And with so much happening on the ground, the campaigns are even more compelled to stay on top of it all. That's why Nevada Democrats don't mind seeing Barack Obama & Shelley Berkley get to know voters in Washoe County. And that's why Nevada Republicans are begging Mitt Romney to do the same.

Romney will return Friday for a major fundraiser put on by Reno entrepreneur/business owner Patty Wade. Donations to attend one of a handful of fundraising opportunities arranged by Wade range from $2,500 to $25,000.

In her email to prospective donors, Wade warns that this could be Romney’s last visit to Northern Nevada before the election.

“The national campaign has told us that this will likely be Gov. Romney’s only campaign appearance in Northern Nevada prior to the election in November,” Wade wrote.

Really, this is Romney’s last visit to Washoe County? It’s closed to the public, an exclusive gathering dominated by rich folk.

Sounds like a good way to lose Nevada, considering Washoe County is the battleground county in a battleground state.

However, there may be a strong reason why Mitt Romney may not return to Reno after this weekend. It's actually the reason Nevada Republicans fear the most. Frankly, Northern Nevada may not be all that fruitful for Mitt Romney any more.

Nonetheless, Nevada isn’t quite on the knife’s edge. Among the polling averages of the 11 states considered toss-ups under the most generous definition in 2012–Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Missouri–Nevada has the second largest gap, at +5.2 percentage points for Obama. That’s reflected in campaign resource allocation as well. Despite consistent spending in the Silver State, the President’s campaign has directed more to states like Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia. American Crossroads, the Republican third-party group spending on Romney’s behalf while he awaits his party’s nomination, has spent more in almost every swing state than in Nevada.

None of which is to say Nevada’s six electoral college votes don’t matter, the state won’t be very closely contested or that Obama and Romney won’t be back in Washoe county before November. They probably will. Just don’t expect them to dawdle too long.

Actually, this is what no one in Washoe County likes to hear. Even if Washoe Republicans have their act together and Mitt Romney is at least holding his own in Reno, that may not even matter in the end as long as Nevada Democrats power up their field machine in Clark County. And as long as that's happening, gold medals may remain out of reach for Mitt Romney and Dean Heller... And perhaps Michael Roberson as well.

But at least for the time being, Reno is the epicenter of the electoral earthquake hitting Nevada now. We just have to wait and see who ultimately gets hurt by it.

The Curious Case of Nevada's Voter Registration

Well, now we know why Republicans are panicking. Take a look at the new voter registration statistics.

New numbers released this week show Democrats have increased their advantage over Republicans to 47,500 voters.

Since April, Democratic voter registration has increased by 20,500. Republican registration in that time has increased by 9,700.

While the statewide numbers haven't officially been released yet, we can look at the new Clark County numbers to see what's happening in all the hot Southern Nevada races. Here's what's making my eyes pop this morning:

- The Republican registration advantage in NV-03 is almost all gone, as their formerly 0.41% edge shrunk even further. Now, it's all the way down to a mere 0.24%, or 682 raw votes. At the pace this is going, Democrats may regain an advantage here as soon as next month!

- The Democratic advantage in the Clark County portion of the new NV-04 seat grew from an already robust 13.86% to an even wider 14.09%, or 31,928 raw votes. Again, we won't know the full NV-04 numbers until the Secretary of State's office releases new statewide statistics late this week. But so far, Steven Horsford and Nevada Democrats must be happy at this sight.

- And in the key Clark County State Senate races that will determine the balance of power in the Legislature next year, Democrats gained across the board. In SD 5 in the Green Valley neighborhoods of Henderson, Democrats' advantage rose from 3.19% to 3.36%. In SD 6 in the Summerlin neighborhoods of Las Vegas, Democrats' advantage rose from 3.81% to 3.93%. In SD 9 in the Southwest Las Vegas Valley, the Democratic edge grew from 4.78% to 5.06% (!!!). And finally in SD 18 in the Northwest Las Vegas Valley, the Republican edge shrank from 2.80% to 2.60%. All in all, Democrats did quite well in registering new voters in these key swing districts. In particular, SD 9 really seems to be slipping away from Republicans entirely while SD 18 is looking increasingly vulnerable for them.

And overall, Nevada Democrats have plenty of reasons to smile. In addition to the great #NVLeg news, NV-03 is almost completely even in registration. Joe Heck and his Republican consultants now have plenty of reasons to be extra nervous. And again, as long as NV-04 gains more Clark County Democrats, Steven Horsford's position continues to solidify. He may not completely be out of the woods yet, but at least there's plenty of light at the end of that path.

So what does this all mean? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Field matters. Because Nevada Democrats are busy registering new voters and persuading more current voters, they're in better shape than most pundits actually realize. And because Nevada Republicans can't match their boastful swagger with any real action, they're in more trouble than they really want to admit.

Here's what The Sun's David McGrath Schwartz had to admit yesterday.

Put shortly, Democrats are well organized and have been building an infrastructure for eight years with the help of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Republicans, meanwhile, have gone through a series of titular heads, and top elected Republicans have spent their political capital elsewhere. [...]

But elections are about numbers. Voters who register with a party are a tangible indication of just that.

The disparity on voter registration is likely more a reflection of the strength of the organizations.

Politics is often one big numbers game. And right now, Nevada Republicans are falling behind. Nevada Democrats just have to keep on chugging (and registering and persuading) to finish on top in November.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What a Fool Believes: Nevada GOP to Do Voter Registration?

I guess the latest voter registration statistics are really starting to sink in. The "Real" Nevada GOP will be receiving $166,000 to contract out voter registration. Wow.

"Real" Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald says this is a sign of recovery from "The May-lee" that pretty much sealed the deal in ripping the party apart. Yet just as McDonald proudly announces this and enhanced "cooperation" with the Washoe County GOP, the Washoe GOP is continuing its legal divorce from the state party. And while McDonald claims he has a great relationship with the RNC, that hasn't stopped the RNC from funneling more money to the "Team Nevada" "Shadow GOP".

So what's the real story here? That's what I'm trying to figure out. And remember, we're talking about Michael McDonald here. This is the guy backed by the "tea party" loons who supposedly hate bailouts, yet he continues to milk the City of Las Vegas for more bailouts. And this is the same guy who let Ron Paul's campaign hijack the state GOP convention, yet he's now to be trusted with RNC money meant to help Mitt Romney?

Perhaps there's some kind of reasoning behind this. After all, that "Shadow GOP" isn't looking all that great now. Just look at what's happened to AFP since it started that bus tour. Maybe the "Real" Nevada Republican Party isn't looking all that bad by comparison?

Whatever the case, the Nevada GOP is back in the news. And whenever that happens, Republican consultants start crying into their coffee. Oh, what a fool believes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Whoops. Apparently, Mitt Romney's attempt to show he's the guy who can "restore the Anglo-Saxon relationship" is totally backfiring on him. He's the one throwing ridiculous accusations at President Obama, yet he's the one insulting Britain and suggesting London can't handle The Olympics!

Yet while that affair "across the pond" is fun to watch , there's another one back here in "The States" that may be even more troubling for Mitt Romney.

Earlier this month, more evidence was unearthed on how Mitt Romney and Bain Capital were involved in outsourcing American jobs overseas. Now, Mother Jones' David Corn is back... And he's exposing another inconvenient truth about Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital.

When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts he kept his distance from gambling. He turned down donations from the gaming industry for his privately underwritten inaugural gala. And though he initially supported allowing the establishment of slot parlors in order to close a $3 billion state deficit, he later announced he would not consider an expansion of gambling and decried the "social costs associated with gaming." On the presidential campaign trail this year, Romney similarly declared that he opposed online poker because "of the social costs and people's addictive gambling habits." He explained,"I don't want to increase access to gaming. I feel that we have plenty of access to gaming right now through the various casinos and establishments that exist."

As a onetime bishop of the Mormon church—which opposes gambling,including state-sponsored lotteries—Romney's lack of enthusiasm about legalized gambling is hardly surprising. Yet such reservations did not hinder him when he was a mega-financier. While Romney ran Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, he owned a Bain-affiliated investment fund that bet heavy on betting.

In March 1999, shortly after Romney departed Bain to run the 2002 Winter Olympics, Brookside Capital Investors Inc., a Bain-related entity wholly owned by Romney, filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing the investments held the past quarter in its $559 million portfolio. On this roster were 1.2 million shares of GTECH Holdings Corp., then valued at $29 million. The company billed itself in its 1999 annual report as "a leading global supplier of systems and services to the lottery and gaming/entertaining industries." This description put it mildly; GTECH was the world's largest supplier of computer equipment for lotteries. It operated about 30 of 37 state lotteries in the United States, along with lotteries in England, Israel, Turkey, Australia, and other countries. It also was teaming up with big gaming firms to buy or revamp casinos and race tracks, adding and upgrading gambling equipment at these venues.

In 1998, GTECH had pulled in nearly $1 billion in revenue from its various gaming ventures. At the time Romney was investing in the firm, it was seeking to become a pioneer in Internet gambling.

The SEC filing reporting the GTECH investment doesn't state when Romney's Brookside Capital fund first purchased shares in the firm, but in the mid- and late-1990s the gaming company had a controversial reputation. In 1998, Guy Snowden resigned as head of the company a day after losing a bitter libel battle against billionaire Richard Branson, who had accused Snowden of trying to bribe him into withdrawing from a competition to run England's national lottery. Reporting on Snowden's departure, Fortune noted that "Snowden's often sleazy, win-at-all-costs tactics…have helped make GTECH the dominant force in the computerized lottery business." Snowden's exit followed a run of GTECH scandals. In 1996, a top executive of the Providence, Rhode Island-based firm was convicted in New Jersey of fraud, bribery, money laundering, and conspiracy. (The exec had hired lobbyists to push for expanding the New Jersey lottery and had received kickbacks.) In Texas, where GTECH paid a well-connected lobbyist $3.2 million, there were also allegations of kickbacks and shady wheeling-and-dealing.

Yet again, Mitt Romney says one thing while doing the exact opposite. He claims he despises the practice of outsourcing American jobs overseas, yet his company is a "pioneer of outsourcing". And while Romney claims to piously observe the teachings of his church and court the religious right by decrying the gaming industry, his company was investing in not just any gaming company, but a very controversial one at that!

But then again, we really shouldn't be surprised. This is really Mitt Romney's MO. After all, he's fully embraced Sheldon Adelson and all his Macau mafia (supplied) mega millions that he's pumping into pro-Romney Super PACs. Even though Romney won't publicly embrace Adelson and his "Chinese enterprise", he certainly won't turn down any campaign cash from Las Vegas Sands' head gondoliere.

Really, does Mittens have any core at all? Is there anything he will stand for (other than not releasing his tax returns)? I wonder what he will do next. Will Romney admit his like for the gaming industry in an attempt to warm up to us here in Nevada? Or will he keep denying his gaming industry ties in order to prevent further alienation of the radical religious right (who hate gambling)?


If you haven't done so yet, watch this video. (Sorry, I can't catch the embed code now.) And when you're done with that (or if you can't watch video right now), read this.

The metaphor we tend to use for congressional dysfunction is “gridlock.” When you have gridlock, nothing moves. But that’s not quite what we’ve seen. When Congress grinds to a halt, other governmental actors step into the breach. This isn’t a particularly good alternative: For one thing, these other actors don’t have the powers of Congress, and so they need to use roundabout, inefficient ways of achieving their goals. For another, these actors are less accountable than Congress.

But it’s important to realize that this wouldn’t happen if Congress didn’t want it to: Just as Congress could act to write a climate bill, it could also act to stop the EPA from regulating carbon. But when gridlock is driven by minority obstruction, you often have a majority that would like to see some effort made to address these problems, and if they can’t do it themselves, they’re willing to stand back and let other parts of the government do it. This is just one more reason why the increasing level of congressional dysfunction should worry those on both the left and the right: It’s leading government to work in ways the Founders never intended, and that frankly doesn’t make very much sense.

This is what Dina Titus was trying to explain to The R-J yesterday. While it is disturbing that the executive branch has had to claim more authority and take more unilateral action, what are they supposed to do when Congress won't do anything? As Ezra Klein has explained, this Congress has actually threatened economic recovery with its epic obstruction and gridlock!

And yes, there's a clear source for this trouble. Even Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, two of the nation's preeminent experts on Congress and federal policy making, broke their silence earlier this year and flatly stated why Congress is increasingly looking like a failed institution.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate —think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel —are virtually extinct.

This is the problem. Because the GOP has devolved into the G-O-TEA, it's become incredibly difficult for anything to be accomplished. Remember, this is why we came perilously close to defaulting on our debt! And this is why Congress keeps wasting time on stupid shit like repealing the Affordable Care Act. And this is why Congress can not even agree on common sense measures like renewing the Violence Against Women Act!

This is NOT how our government is supposed to work. Even when we've seen divided government in the not too distant past, it was never this dysfunctional. Because the likes of Nevada's own Joe Heck and Mark Amodei would rather cave into "tea party" extremists than work with Harry Reid and others to do such basic things as pass a budget on time and take care of the debt ceiling, our federal government is approaching a dangerous level of gridlock... And it's prompted President Obama to exert more executive authority just to keep the federal government functioning.

This is not how it's supposed to work... And it increasingly looks like there's a "TEA" fueled faction on Capitol Hill that likes it this way.

Will Joe Heck Finally Put Nevada's Women Above "Tea Party" Xenophobia?

Back in May, we noted Joe Heck's joining with his House G-O-TEA colleagues to stonewall the Violence Against Women Act. It was really something to behold (and not in a good way).

So what's happening now? Well, it's taken a turn for the "even worse".

With Congress just days away from its August break, House Republicans have to decide which is more important: protecting victims of domestic violence or advancing the harsh antigay and anti-immigrant sentiments of some on their party's far right. At the moment, harshness is winning.

At issue is reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, the landmark 1994 law central to the nation's efforts against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

In May, 15 Senate Republicans joined with the chamber's Democratic majority to approve a strong reauthorization bill. Instead of embracing the Senate's good work, House Republicans passed their own regressive version, ignoring President Obama's veto threat. The bill did not include new protections for gay, immigrant, American Indian and student victims contained in the Senate measure. It also rolled back protections for immigrant women, including for undocumented immigrants who report abuse and cooperate with law enforcement.

So House Republicans are still holding up the Violence Against Women Act because the "tea party" doesn't approve of brown and queer people. How precious.

Congress' August recess is fast approaching, and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has still not been reauthorized. Even though the Senate already overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan, all-inclusive bill back in May, the House is playing petty political games with real people's lives. Even Dean Heller voted for the Senate VAWA, along with 14 other Senate Republicans! It's time for the House G-O-TEA to cut the crap.

Yesterday, one of the US Senators from next door (Barbara Boxer, D-CA) went on MSNBC to explain why America's women can't wait any longer for Congress to reauthorize VAWA.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

While Joe Heck and his House G-O-TEA colleagues continue wasting time in Congress, women's lives are at stake. Before Congress goes to recess, will he at least convince enough of his colleagues to pass the bipartisan, comprehensive Debate version of VAWA so that Nevada's women can have a little peace of mind? Or is the "tea party's" War on Women that much more important?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So Dean Heller Voted to Raise Taxes (on the Poor & Middle Class)

When will they ever learn? Rule #1: Don't mess with Harry Reid. Senate Republicans tried today, but this is what ended up happening.

The legislation prevailed 51-48 — a vote that signals Democrats would ultimately be willing to allow tax cuts for high-income earners to expire at the end of the year.

Republicans aided Democrats in the effort, by agreeing to drop their filibuster and allow the legislation to pass or fail on a simple majority basis. But Wednesday’s tight roll call nevertheless required Vice President Joe Biden to chair the Senate’s proceedings if, in a rare exercise of his constitutional duties as president of the Senate, his vote was needed to break a tie. [...]

For the purposes of the current campaign, Senate Democrats’ actions Wednesday reinforce some of Obama’s key arguments to voters: that wealthier Americans should contribute more than they do to financing the country’s infrastructure, safety net and other programs; and that Republicans would rather block tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the middle class than see tax cuts benefiting only the country’s highest income earners expire.

Senate Republicans offered a competing bill to extend all of the Bush tax cuts for one year, but the measure was defeated 45-54. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) crossed the aisle to voted with most Republicans in support of that legislation. Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted with Democrats.

Wednesday’s development places the onus of avoiding the full expiration of the Bush tax cuts on House Republicans. They are expected to pass legislation next week to extend all of the Bush tax cuts — but the Senate has already rejected that proposition. That leaves the Senate Democrats’ bill as the only viable vehicle for preventing everyone’s taxes from increasing next year.

Whoops. I don't think this is what Senate Republicans were hoping for.

Oh, and by the way, Dean Heller voted against this bill. So in essence, Dean Heller wants to raise our taxes if the super-rich have to pay more. If you ask me, that just seems downright scandalous.

We all know Dean Heller has been hiding something behind his "supreme confidence". Now, we have a better sense of what he's been hiding. So he actually doesn't mind raising taxes... So long as it hits the middle class and working poor.

Why is that? Take a look at this, then come back and tell me. It's all about Heller "dancing with those who brung him".

So keep this in mind next time Dean Heller talks about "cutting taxes". And keep this in mind next time Dean Heller talks about "fixing the economy". He really doesn't seem to know much about either.

Desperate, Despressing, Disgusting Mittens

Earlier today, Ralston released his column on what happened earlier this week at the VFW Convention in Reno. In case you were wondering, here's a brief summary via Anjeanette Damon.

While Obama borrowed a few times from his stump speech, lobbed a few oblique attacks Romney’s way and complained about Republicans in Congress, he focused more on his work on veterans programs.

Romney did not take a similar tack.

Romney turned really nasty really fast. And in case that wasn't enough, he's turned even worse when Romney landed in Britain.

Vice President Joe Biden chastised Mitt Romney Wednesday over comments published in a British newspaper and attributed to an anonymous Romney foreign policy adviser — comments the Romney campaign has rejected as “not true.”

“The comments reported this morning are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate Governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage,” Biden said in a statement. “Not surprisingly, this is just another feeble attempt by the Romney campaign to score political points at the expense of this critical partnership. This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.”

The Obama campaign confirmed to TPM that Biden was referring to a story published in the Daily Telegraph Tuesday night. The story quoted an anonymous member of the Romney “foreign policy team” promising Romney would return the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office and restore what the source called a more traditional status to the relationship between Britain and the United States.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the unnamed adviser told the paper. “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

The Telegraph claimed the comments could “prompt accusations of racial insensitivity” on the part of Team Romney. ThinkProgress and other outlets took up that charge.

Yikes. Mitt Romney has already been "going there" for some time. But my goodness, he's really taking the shady "identity politics" to a whole new level!

I guess Mittens feels he has to stoop this level. The new NBC/WSJ poll doesn't look good for him. He's now so desperate that he's resorting to this kind of mud. I guess he doesn't realize how it can backfire on him.

Our Choice: Green Jobs, or Gruesome Catastrophe

So much for the desperate attempts to smear clean, green energy. It looks like we will be seeing even more renewable energy projects emerge soon.

The Obama administration moved Tuesday to streamline the development of large-scale solar projects on public lands by approving 17 vast tracts across the West it says has the highest power-generating potential and the fewest environmental impacts.

As developers scramble to secure utility-scale solar sites, the plan will move the Department of the Interior away from having to consider individual projects on a case-by-case basis and instead direct development to land already identified as having fewer wildlife and natural resource obstacles. [...]

The zones cover a total of 285,000 acres, with five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico. Originally 677,000 acres of the 253 million acres managed by the BLM had been considered. Proximity to transmission lines also was considered.

"This is a really big milestone in terms of environmentally sensitive and responsible solar development," said Helen O'Shea of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Having a roadmap for development and conservation and striking the right balance between the two is going to be critical for protecting our western landscapes as we build our clean energy economy."

As we've discussed before, Nevada stands to gain so much from clean energy investment. One only has to look at all the facts on the ground to notice the big picture. It's brighter than many think.

However, there's another picture that isn't looking all that bright now. In fact, this one is downright frightening.

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast a temperature increase of 4ºC for the Southwest over the present century. Given a faster than expected build-up of greenhouse gases (and no effective mitigation), that number looks optimistic today. Estimates vary, but let’s say our progress into the sweltering future is an increase of slightly less than 1ºC so far. That means we still have an awful long way to go. If the fires we’re seeing now are a taste of what the century will bring, imagine what the heat stress of a 4ºC increase will produce. And these numbers reflect mean temperatures. The ones to worry about are the extremes,the record highs of future heat waves. In the amped-up climate of the future, it is fair to think that the extremes will increase faster than the means.

At some point, every pine, fir, and spruce will be imperiled. If, in 2007, Swetnam was out on a limb, these days it’s likely that the limb has burned off and it’s getting ever easier to imagine the destruction of forests on a region-wide scale, however disturbing that may be.

More than scenery is at stake, more even than the stability of soils, ecosystems,and watersheds: the forests of the western United States account for 20% to 40% of total U.S. carbon sequestration. At some point, as western forests succumb to the ills of climate change, they will become a net releaser of atmospheric carbon, rather than one of the planet’s principle means of storing it.

Contrary to the claims of climate deniers, the prevailing models scientists use to predict change are conservative. They fail to capture many of the feedback loops that are likely to intensify the dynamics of change. The release of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost, an especially gloomy prospect, is one of those feedbacks. The release of carbon from burning or decaying forests is another. You used to hear scientists say, “If those things happen, the consequences will be severe.” Now they more often skip that “if” and say “when” instead, but we don’t yet have good estimates of what those consequences will be.

Climate change is now happening at an accelerated pace. It's even worse than forecast just in 2007! Already, we're seeing huge swaths of Western forests succumb to epic wildfires, drought, and insect infestations like never seen before. And if we lose our trees, which capture our carbon emissions, we're in store for the kind of catastrophe that was once thought as only possible in a Biblical story.

Yes, it's really that bad. Climate change has officially become the climate crisis. And if we ignore it for any longer and pretend it doesn't exist, then we're only sealing the fate of our own extinction.

Do we really want to seal the fate of our own extinction? Or do we want to keep hope alive for survival? Wouldn't we rather start adapting to our new reality and give our economy a boost while we're at it?

The weather outside is truly frightful, but it's not too late to take action. But really, we need to do something now, before this catastrophe worsens into something we can no longer survive.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pride Comes Before the Fall

Earlier today, I was reminded of Proverbs 16:18 in The Old Testament of The Bible. Yes, I just said that. It rings quite true.

And why am I saying this now? Did you read this love letter to Dean Heller in Politico (DC's version of the typical trashy celebrity gossip rag)?

Heller’s no-nonsense but supremely confident team — led by veteran Nevada consultant Mike Slanker and Mac Abrams, a North Carolina native with a Southern drawl — note that Berkley’s favorable rating remains upside down, even after she’s spent more than a million dollars on advertising.

Ah, yes. They seem awfully "supremely confident".

Pride comes before the fall.

It looks like Dean Heller's "supremely confident" campaign consultants don't mind Nevada Democrats' rebounding voter registration advantage, Nevada Democrats' superior ground game, the all around clusterfuck that the Nevada Republican Party has become, and/or the "tea party" bus wreck that is now at risk of self-destruction just as Heller counts on them to turn out his voters. Wow. Dean Heller's campaign consultants are awfully "supremely confident" despite the reality on the ground.

And funny enough, I was on the ground at the same time as the Politico reporter. I was obviously at the AFP bus wreck last Thursday, but I was also at the Nevada State Democratic Party's Henderson field office last Wednesday. And frankly, I find it funny how a conversation with Dean Heller's professional spin team matters more than all the actual facts on the ground.

Pride comes before the fall.

For all the "supreme confidence" bursting at Dean Heller's campaign headquarters, their own actions tell a different story. Why are they stooping to new lows to smear Shelley Berkley? Why did AFP's own internal poll show Heller only barely ahead of Berkley? Why won't Heller run on his record? For all the "supreme confidence" emanating from Dean Heller's campaign, their actions so far this summer suggest something else.

Or perhaps, pride comes before the fall.

Mark Amodei... Is Still the Mining Companies' Best Friend

Well, I wouldn't expect less from the former Nevada Mining Association President who just happened to serve in the state legislature as well. Mark Amodei wants us to know that it's hard out there for the multinational mining corporations. That's why he insists we must deregulate mining some more.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, to streamline the permitting process for mining operations.

Earlier this month, H.R. 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012, passed the House by a vote of 256 to 160.

The bill was the second introduced by Amodei that has passed the House since he was elected in 2011.

In his floor remarks on the bill during testimony on July 11, Amodei said the bill sets a 30-month time limit for the permitting process, unless the applicant agrees to an extension.

“This does nothing to tax law, this does nothing to safety law, this does nothing to supplant NEPA and this does nothing to supplant any state things,” Amodei said.

Oh, really? I wonder why he hasn't said that to communities across this country who will have a more difficult time protecting their natural resources if Amodei's bill becomes law. HR 4402 aims to eliminate strong environmental review of proposed mining projects and prioritize mineral extraction over conservation AND recreation for most federal lands. It's all about speeding up the permit process so mining companies can pump up their profits, even if they make people suffer in the process.

As PLAN warned earlier this year, HR 4402 takes us in the wrong direction on mining policy. It's bad enough that our state allows the mining industry to walk all over us. We'll only make matters worse if we allow for mining to weaken federal regulations necessary to protect communities from unnecessary damage.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Obama Talked Military & World Affairs in Reno Today

So the day finally arrived today. Reno took center stage. Oh, and President Obama discussed foreign affairs and military policy.

Striking chords that have buoyed his foreign policy approval rating, Obama touted his plan to bring the war in Afghanistan to a close, reminded the audience that “today no American is fighting in Iraq” and plugged his decision to order the killing of Osama bin Laden despite the fact he was holed up in Pakistan. [...]

“So, VFW, these are the promises I made. These are the promises I’ve kept. Where we still have work to do, we will not rest,” Obama said to a mostly cheering crowd.

As expected, President Obama spoke of the success he worked for in the last four years. Definitely when it comes to foreign policy, military policy, and veterans' care, the President has worked awfully hard to right a number of wrongs. And apparently, that isn't going unnoticed.

“It’s the lesser of two evils, in my book,” Mike Poland of Kansas City, Mo., said before Obama’s speech. “I’m going with Romney. I don’t like some of Obama’s planned spending cuts.”

After the speech, however, a surprised Poland tracked down the reporter to say he may have been won over by Obama’s speech.

“I was impressed by what he said. And I didn’t think I would be,” Poland said. “If he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk, I could be good with that.”

In case you missed it earlier today, here's the video from the VFW Convention in Reno.

And as we've discussed before, this was a chance for President Obama to blunt Mitt Romney's attacks on these issues that are bound to happen this week. So far in looking at what happened today, Obama probably got what he wanted. While Romney keeps talking about America "in decline", Obama used his speech in Reno today to project a more positive version of a strong America.

Is "Tea Party, Inc." About to Be Exposed Here in Nevada?

Last Thursday, the radical right in Nevada was humiliated as Americans for Prosperity (AFP) had to abandon their own "tea party" in Las Vegas. However, something else happened Thursday that may end up causing even more heartburn for "Tea Party, Inc."... And finally give us an opportunity to learn who's actually funding them.

And strangely enough, AFP finally landed into trouble by wading into a DEMOCRATIC State Senate primary.

In a complaint filed Thursday, the Nevada Democratic Party asked Secretary of State Ross Miller to investigate whether the nonprofit organization must report the contributions it received to fund mailers attacking state Senate candidate Kelvin Atkinson, a Democratic assemblyman from North Las Vegas. [...]

If there can be “no other reasonable interpretation” than that the ad seeks the election or defeat of a candidate, then the producer must disclose the funding source for the ad.

“If you get in state races, you expose yourself,” said one Democrat familiar with the complaint.

In this case, AFP sent mailers into Atkinson’s district just before the June 6 primary election, with his picture and accusations that he worked for special interests and sought a $1 billion electricity rate increase.

Under federal law, AFP can do as much of this as it wants while disclosing as little as possible by simply leaving out terms like "vote for" and "defeat". However under Nevada state law, any organization using campaign advertising (including mailers) designed to influence an election is subject to disclosure requirements, regardless of what kind of language that organization uses in its advertising. Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) has been very aggressive in targeting these shadowy front groups, and he's making no exception for AFP.

So why did AFP do this? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure it out. Why did AFP wade into a Democratic primary in a super safe Democratic State Senate District?

When The Sun's Anjeanette Damon tried to figure out AFP Nevada's primary campaigns. In addition to repaying a favor to Pioneer Laughlin Casino owner and infamous "Chicken Lady" Sue Lowden by helping the pro Laughlin cityhood campaign that surprisingly failed in June, AFP also took sides against mainstream Democrat Kelvin Atkinson (and for perennial fringe candidate Katie Duncan) in a Democratic primary in a heavily Democratic and African-American district in West Las Vegas and parts of North Las Vegas. Because nothing about the latter campaign seems to make any sense, everyone has wondered why a "tea party" group would do such a thing.

But whatever the reason(s), wading into that SD 4 Democratic primary may ultimately cost Americans for Prosperity far more than an embarrassing loss on their scoreboard. Ultimately, this may cost them that ever elusive and mysterious donor list. And what makes this even worse for them is this may have national repercussions.

But AFP doesn’t appear to have organized a separate Nevada entity, which could mean donors to the national organization might have to be disclosed.

The potential has piqued the interest of advocates for campaign finance transparency.

“It all depends what state law requires,” said Paul Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. “I’ll be interested in watching this one.”

Ryan said AFP’s tax-exempt status as a nonprofit could also be threatened if the Nevada group is proven to be engaging primarily in political activity.

Wow. Spending a little bit of "stupid money" on a Democratic Nevada Legislature primary may lead to the downfall of one of the Koch brothers' key astroturf front groups. Who would have ever guessed?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

May We Finally Talk About Gun Violence?

Yesterday, I was trying to make sense of what happened. Today, there's still so much that we don't know... No matter how much we're seeing on TV. (Though if you want the latest news along with local perspectives, The Denver Post is a good place to go.)

This will likely be a somber weekend. And really, why shouldn't it be? 12 people are dead, and another 58 have been injured. The entire State of Colorado is in shock now. Well, actually the entire nation is now in shock.

Yet just because we're mourning these losses, should we ignore the serious public policy failings that probably led to this? And can we really be all that surprised that this happened? Bill Moyers and Michael Winship argue at Salon that we shouldn't. And I see where they're coming from.

It's become so easy in most parts of this country (Nevada included) to purchase not just guns, but the very assault weapons that are DESIGNED to kill masses of people. As we've discussed before, it's been easier to buy guns than to access affordable mental health care in most states. There's something seriously wrong with that.

Yesterday, Adam Gopnik wrote a New Yorker blog that just blurted the painfully obvious.

The truth is made worse by the reality that no one—really no one—anywhere on the political spectrum has the courage to speak out about the madness of unleashed guns and what they do to American life. That includes the President, whose consoling message managed to avoid the issue of why these killings take place. Of course, we don’t know, and perhaps never will, what exactly “made him” do what he did; but we know how he did it. Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened last night—as they will when it happens again. And it will happen again. [...]

But nothing changes: the blood lobby still blares out its certainties, including the pretense that the Second Amendment—despite the clear grammar of its first sentence—is designed not to protect citizen militias but to make sure that no lunatic goes unarmed. Make sure that guns designed for no reason save to kill people are freely available to anyone who wants one—and that is, and remains, the essential American condition—and then be shocked when children are killed. For all the good work the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence tries to do, nothing changes. On the last episode of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” Jeff Daniels’s character, in a scene set shortly before the Gabrielle Giffords gun massacre, was thought to display political courage by showing, accurately enough, that it’s a lie to say that Barack Obama is in any way in favor of gun control. This was said in Obama’s defense.

Only in America. Every country has, along with its core civilities and traditions, some kind of inner madness, a belief so irrational that even death and destruction cannot alter it. In Europe not long ago it was the belief that “honor” of the nation was so important that any insult to it had to be avenged by millions of lives. In America, it has been, for so long now, the belief that guns designed to kill people indifferently and in great numbers can be widely available and not have it end with people being killed, indifferently and in great numbers. The argument has gotten dully repetitive: How does one argue with someone convinced that the routine massacre of our children is the price we must pay for our freedom to have guns, or rather to have guns that make us feel free? You can only shake your head and maybe cry a little. “Gun Crazy” is the title of one the best films about the American romance with violence. And gun-crazy we remain.

But really, does it have to be this way? Melissa Harris Perry asked this on MSNBC last night. Isn't this the right time to finally discuss our problem of gun violence and what we can do to lessen it?

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Frankly, I don't think we can afford to keep avoiding this subject. And I don't think it's fair to dismiss all gun safety advocates as "nanny state socialists who want to ban hunting". That's actually not what we're talking about.

Rather, we're asking how logical it is that instruments intended for mass murder are so readily available. And does it make sense that nearly anyone and everyone can access these instruments intended for mass murder? So when will we finally be allowed to have a rational discussion on improving gun safety?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Aurora? Why Colorado? Why Again?

I'm trying to figure out what to say now, but right now all I can think of is this: When will we ever learn? Early last year, a mentally disturbed young man opened fire and caused the Tuscon massacre that nearly killed Gabrielle Giffords. Earlier this year, another mentally disturbed young man opened fire on another young man for simply holding refreshments he had just bought at the neighborhood convenience store. And in addition to these famous cases, there are many more tragic cases of gun violence that we just don't hear about.

Today, we are hearing about this.

These people were going to a midnight screening of the new "Batman" movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. 59 of them are now wounded, and 12 others have already died. The suspect, a 24 year old man by the name of James Eagan Holmes, has been arrested and is now in custody.

Obviously, no one was prepared for this. Not on a lovely Friday. Not on this hot summer day. Not at a "Batman" movie premiere. Not this, again. So I certainly understand the local Congressman's instant reaction.

“I got an alert about an hour ago from the White House that this had occurred,” [Rep. Ed] Perlmutter [D-CO] said. “We finished voting late last night, and then to have a psychotic son of a bitch do something like this — sorry for the cussing — you know, it’s boggling to my mind.”

“This is the kind of thing that you prepare for, you dread,” he continued, describing the text he received from the White House at around five in the morning.

“There are some sick and violent and psychotic people, but Colorado is not a violent place,” Perlumtter continued. “Columbine, and now this guy, whoever this person is, I just don’t know why we have a couple crazy people like that and how they have such easy access to guns.”

“Colorado is not a violent place but I’m afraid we’ve got some crazy, violent people that have sometimes shown up in our midst,” he added, his voice cracking a bit.

“This thing is a shocking incident that is going to cause everybody to stop and take a look at violence in our society,” he concluded.

I totally understand. And while I don't want to inappropriately inject politics into such a horrible tragedy, I also can't avoid a real public policy problem we're encountering. Can we really keep avoiding this? How many more of these tragedies must occur before we ask ourselves if it's really a good idea to make so many weapons so easily accessible? And should weapons be more easily accessible than mental health resources?

I should probably take another moment of silence. The victims certainly deserve it. And frankly, we all need more time to digest what happened. I just can't understand why we keep letting this happen over and over again.

Desperate Dean Heller

Surprisingly for Nevada Republicans and DC based pundits, this week hasn't been all that great for Dean Heller. For all the talk about Shelley Berkley's "SCANDAL!!!" (of saving UMC's kidney transplant program), it's really gone nowhere. Instead, Dean Heller's Koch funded BFFs abandoned their own "tea party" while Nevada Democrats continued to organize a powerful field campaign and Heller himself couldn't agree with his own campaign. For someone who's now supposed to be "the frontrunner" going into the fall, Dean Heller certainly isn't acting like one.

And in case everything mentioned above isn't bad enough, Dean Heller even floated as the Amonix Nevada solar plant shut down. Heller tried to pin the blame on Shelley Berkley for supporting efforts to bring more green jobs to Nevada, even though George W. Bush's Administration originally granted Amonix with federal funds and Nevada Republicans like Governor Brian Sandoval and North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck all collaborated in bringing the Amonix plant to North Las Vegas. As Desert Beacon noted yesterday, failures occasionally happen as new technology is being introduced and new ideas are coming into our economy. And despite the occasional failure, investment in renewable energy has overall produced plenty of success and the very federal grant program that Dean Heller attacked actually supported 75,000 jobs & generated $25 billion of economic activity when we most needed them (during the height of The Great Recession). So what does Dean Heller have against bipartisan efforts to bring more jobs to Nevada?

And again, for goodness sake, what does Dean Heller have against his own campaign?! He's now contradicting himself on renewable energy. He's contradicting himself on his own campaign's UMC attacks on Shelley Berkley. And Dean Heller keeps saying he's "moderate" despite his real actions revealing his true allegiance to "tea party" extremists. Really, does Dean Heller even know who he is and what he is doing?

I wonder. After all, his campaign sent this bizarre "memo" to the media begging them to talk more about the very Shelley Berkley UMC non-troversy that Dean Heller himself won't talk about! Heller's campaign has been reduced to a bizarre spectacle this week that even Jon Ralston can't figure out. Again, is this truly the behavior of a "frontrunner" who's about to vanquish his "disgraced" opponent?

I don't think so. Dean Heller is in serious trouble. I don't know if Dean Heller's campaign actually realizes it, but I sense other Republicans do. How else can one explain all these desperate radical right attempts to change the subject and talk about everything but Dean Heller's own record?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

NV-Sen: Why "Tea Party" Abandoned Its Own Rally

Today was supposed to be the big "Coming Out Day" for Nevada's "tea party", as the Nevada offshoot of the Koch funded astroturf campaign launched its bus tour with a protest in front of Shelley Berkley's Congressional Office. They were preparing for great turnout as they cranked up the loud country music, handed out free donuts, and lined up speakers.

However, they ran into a little problem this morning. Unfortunately for them, Nevada's "tea party" got crashed. Shelley Berkley's campaign, the Nevada State Democratic Party, ProgressNow Nevada, and local unions all brought in well over 100 volunteers to swarm the AFP bus. Here's what it looked like.

And here's what happened when AFP Nevada director Adam Stryker tried to pump up the (very) few "tea party" faithful who showed up. He gave up after he realized he was being drowned out by the progressive protesters!

Then in what had to be the ultimate humiliation, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police asked AFP Nevada to leave the premises. (They probably failed to obtain a proper permit to do their event.) So under threat of citation and embarrassment from being out-organized by Nevada Democrats and progressive groups, AFP Nevada left the parking lot by Shelley Berkley's Congressional Office in total disgrace.

Again, today was supposed to be the teabaggers' big day! They lined up the media. AFP & Dean Heller's campaign tried to turn out their troops. And they were preparing to dominate the media with their attempt to deflect questions about Dean Heller's record.

Instead, AFP was far outnumbered by Shelley Berkley supporters and they ended up having to abandon their own event under order by local police! Did the teabaggers really fail to do their homework this badly? Remember what we discussed this morning. Nevada Democrats clearly prepared by reaching into the grassroots and turning out supporters early this morning. If the "tea party" can't even launch their own bus tour, how are they supposed to win Nevada for Mitt Romney and Dean Heller this fall?

NV-Sen/NV-03: Why Field Matters

You know what? We're quite fortunate to live in a swing state. We have a front row seat to the kind of campaigning that most Americans actually aren't seeing. It's quite exciting, really.

Well, maybe it's not that exciting for Nevada Republicans and "Tea Party, Inc." Their own poll shows bad news for them as the AFP "tea Party" bus is about to land in Las Vegas tomorrow. And even worse for them, Nevada Democrats are cranking up the field machine.

Here, take a look for yourself. While "tea partiers" were busy partying on their Koch funded tour bus, Nevada Democrats were busy working at their Henderson field office.

As we've discussed before, the Democratic field operation has been humming along nicely this year. Yet while Democrats have been registering new voters and persuading current voters, Nevada Republicans are busy getting a divorce. The big G-O-TEA poobahs know this, and that's why they're desperate to find another way to get an advantage.

That's why Dean Heller has to find ways to smear his opposition. That's why Joe Heck has really been in the hot seat lately. And that's why Mitt Romney is so worried about Nevada.

It's bad enough that they're such flawed candidates who have trouble even exciting their own G-O-TEA base. It's even worse that they don't have good records to run on. And now, what really frightens them is that they don't actually have the troops on the ground necessary to win.

Any good campaign consultant will stress the importance of field. That's why Nevada Democrats have invested so much in it. And that's why they're always busy recruiting more volunteers to go to the office. And that's why those volunteers get busy making calls as soon as they walk in. Field matters. And even with "Tea Party, Inc." spending so many millions of dollars on slimy TV ads, they still can't win if they're getting out-worked in the field. That's "the dirty little secret" of campaigning that's often forgotten, especially by many in the media.

We've already received quite a bit of attention from the national media lately. They're trying to figure out what "the state of the race" looks like here in Nevada. If they really want to figure it out, then all they need to do is look at the field.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wherein the Washoe GOP Files for Divorce from Nevada GOP

Did you see this yesterday? I'm still catching my breath.

Long story short: The Washoe County Republican Central Committee filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for its own federal committee. And this is relevant because typically county party committees refrain from filing for their own federal campaign committees, choosing instead to leave that to the state party. Pay close attention to this excerpt from the Washoe GOP's request to the FEC.

Under Commission regulations at 11 CFR 110.3(b)(3), the WCRP is not affiliated with the Nevada Republican State Central Committee (NRSCC). Specifically, the WCRP confirms to the Commission that it is not funded by the NRSCC; is not under the management or control of the NRSCC; and does not conduct its activity (including making contributions) in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of the NRSCC, or any other political committee established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the NRSCC.

Accordingly, the WCRP will conduct its activity as a federal local party committee that is unaffiliated with its state party committee

Come on, we all know what they're talking about! Back in May, we noted the strong tension brewing within the Nevada G-O-TEA. And just last month, we saw the chaos intensify. With the Nevada Republican Party already falling apart, we shouldn't be too surprised that the Washoe County Republican Party wants a divorce.

After all, a good portion of the state party still believes Ron Paul is the "REAL Republican nominee"...

NV-04: Los Delirios de Grandeza de Baby Tark

Wow. I almost forgot saying this nearly 3 years ago.

Excuse me while I step aside to ROTFLMAO. I know, I know, we shouldn't take this for granted. [...]

But come on, this is just too good to resist a good giggle at. If a guy who just happens to be Jerry Tarkanian's son is the best the GOP can do, then they're (still) in deep sh*t.

I said that in August 2009, when Lil' Tark Shark was briefly the G-O-TEA favorite to go against Harry Reid in 2010. Remember how that went? I guess he doesn't.

After all, he's back for more. And today, Danny Tarkanian tripled down on his delusions of grandeur at Hispanics in Politics in Las Vegas. Apparently, he's now taking advice on "Latino outreach" from Dean Heller.

Oh, and Tark must also be copying from Mitt Romney's playbook. Laura Myers' report from the Hispanics in Politics event, and he documented Tarkanian trying to have it both ways on immigration reform while blaming President Obama for all that's wrong in the world and trying to make empty catch phrases sound like "good policy".

Sound familiar? Well, it should. Just like his mentors, Dean Heller & Mitt Romney, Danny Tarkanian is now trying to flip-flop his way to the mainstream and make us all forget his real record. Too bad for him that Google doesn't allow for that. Oh, and too bad for him that none other than "Mr. Tea Party Super-blogger" Erick Erickson said this when endorsing Baby Tark for US Senate in 2010.

Danny Tarkanian has received the endorsement of the Minuteman Project for clear positioning on immigration. Meanwhile, Sue Lowden is wavering on the issue of benefits to illegal immigrants. Check out Danny Tarkanian’s latest ad on immigration and you’ll get the picture. Danny has a clear policy prescription and Sue is muddying the water over whether or not she supports benefits to illegal aliens.

Oh yes, that's right. Erickson favored Tarkanian over the less extreme (??!!) Sue Lowden because he was endorsed by the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, and pro-xenophobia Minuteman Project! And in May 2010, none other than The R-J's Laura Myers documented how Baby Tark was campaigning on anti-immigrant xenophobia to play up his "populism" and win over the "tea party". I find it funny how he ran so far to the right when he found it politically convenient, but all of a sudden we're now supposed to believe he's better on comprehensive immigration reform than President Obama. Give me a break!

Believe it or not, the $10,000 donation from John Ensign's PAC and the ongoing personal financial scandals are not the worst stories for Danny Tarkanian's campaign. Actually, the worst story for his campaign is the ongoing saga of this incredibly vapid candidate who will stoop to the lowest levels and cravenly flip-flop as many times as possible to gain some kind of political advantage. Really, can Baby Tark run for anything without touting his famous last name?

Mitt Romney Just Went There. & He'll Regret It.

So far this week, Mitt Romney's campaign has been desperate to change the subject. Since it's so hard for him to come clean about his own record at Bain Capital, his campaign must shift focus onto something else. So of course, they're giving winks and nods to crazy birther conspiracies as they call President Obama "foreign" and "un-American".

In remarks that played on debunked assertions about President Obama's birthplace, Mitt Romney on Tuesday said that the current administration resembled foreign governments and one of his chief surrogates said the president needed to "learn how to be an American."

The remarks — former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu later apologized for the latter comment — came as Romney tried to change the subject from calls for his tax returns and questions about the length of his tenure at the venture firm Bain Capital. Both issues have fueled sustained attacks from Democrats and even some Romney allies.

Standing before hundreds of supporters in a sweltering oil and natural gas services company outside Pittsburgh, Romney compared Obama's administration to those in foreign lands where the well-connected receive government handouts while the middle-class suffers.

It's obvious what Romney is trying to do. He wants to distract from his own Bain-troversy by conjuring up that favorite teabagger image of President Obama as "The Evil MOSLEM SOE'SHUL-IST Boogie-man from Kenya!!!!" Romney wants to deflect from the firestorm surrounding the very business record he likes to brag about by repeating verbatim what Rush Limbaugh and the RedState bloggers tell him to say.

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Romney must really think this is a winning strategy. After all, he's trying so hard to simultaneously win over working-class white voters while trying to gin up enthusiasm among the G-O-TEA base. However, there's a problem with Romney's strategy. While he's using identity politics to try to drive a wedge between Obama and the white working class, Romney is driving a wedge between himself and the fast growing pool of minority voters who will tip the balance here in Nevada and elsewhere. Don't believe me? Believe the new Lake Research poll showing Obama leading Romney 54% to 29% among Nevada's Asian-American voters. And believe the brand new national Latino Decisions poll showing Obama with a whopping 70% to 22% (!!!) lead over Romney.

If Romney really thinks this kind of ugly race baiting will help him win this fall, then he's in for a very rude awakening. When Romney denigrates Obama as "foreign" and "un-American", he's spitting on all of America's communities of color by suggesting that "skinny black/brown/yellow kids with funny names" aren't worthy of The White House. And that's just plain disgusting.

Does Mitt Romney even get that? Meh. That's a clown question, bro.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yes, a Few Rich, Angry, Old White Men DO Want to Buy This Election.

And he's back! Harry Reid has really been showing off his badass side lately. He did it again yesterday when speaking about the Republican filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Monday afternoon that if Congress fails to limit campaign donations from the wealthy, a group of "angry, old white men" with billions of dollars to contribute will be able to determine political outcomes in the United States.

Reid's remarks on the Senate floor set up a vote later in the day on the Disclose Act, which would require companies and groups to report all campaign spending above $10,000. He said Republicans were expected to prevent consideration of the bill.

"Their newfound opposition to transparency makes one wonder who they're trying to protect," Reid said. He then offered the theory that Republicans do not want voters to learn about how they are sourced, and indicated that GOP money comes from a few wealthy contributors.

"Perhaps Republicans want to shield a handful of billionaires willing to contribute nine figures to sway a close presidential election," he said. "If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election, 17 angry, old white men will wake up and realize they just bought the country."

The Disclose Act is a reaction to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, which said the government cannot limit campaign spending by corporations, unions or other groups. Democrats have sought to temper that ruling by requiring these groups to publicly report their campaign spending.

As usual, certain pundits were throwing their hands into the air and screaming about what a horrible thing Harry Reid just said. Does he even know what he's talking about?!

Actually, yes. And I'll explain why. No wait, I already did!

Sheldon Adelson has already dumped tens of MILLIONS of dollars into pro-Romney and pro-Congressional Republican Super PACs. In addition to "Mr. Macau Megabucks", Romney has lined up even more corporate titans to bundle for his campaign. Yet while they're raising money for Romney, he refuses to tell us who they are and how much they're giving.

Here's the problem. As Desert Beacon warned us yesterday, we're seeing elections turn into auctions. This is not what our Founders had ever intended.

It's horrifying enough that we now live in an era when a few ultra-rich individuals and multinational corporations can spend as much as they want to buy elections. It's even scarier that we don't know the full picture of who's actually giving how much to what. In a rational environment, the DISCLOSE Act is just basic common sense. It's really the least that can be done to help us figure out who's behind the shadowy attack ads popping up on our TVs, tablets, and mailboxes.

But apparently, Capitol Hill is no longer a rational environment. And common sense is now being vilified for overly political reasons. I'll let Kevin Drum explain this.

The DISCLOSE Act was initially a response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which permitted unlimited contributions to independent expenditure groups but explicitly allowed Congress to require disclosure of those contributions. From the very start, though, the DISCLOSE Act was opposed more-or-less unanimously by Republicans. The thing is, disclosure had always been something of a fig leaf for them, a way of demonstrating that they had a reasonable policy alternative to contribution limits. But once they had the Supreme Court on their side, making contribution limits a dead letter, they suddenly didn't need the fig leaf anymore and support for disclosure evaporated. That happened the very first time the DISCLOSE Act was introduced in 2010, and it's been the solid Republican position ever since. It really doesn't have anything to do with the current campaign season.

But that's not the whole story. The current Republican position is not merely that Democrats want to "shame" rich donors, but that Barack Obama has compiled a Nixonian "enemies list" and is secretly using the full power of the United States government to harrass and intimidate anyone who dares to oppose him. Because of this, it only stands to reason that America's richest and most powerful citizens need to keep their campaign contributions in the shadows. Whether the Republican leadership has actually talked themselves into believing this fantasy, or merely trots it out to gull the Fox News set, is anyone's guess.

Ironically enough, "Senator by Appointment Only" Dean Heller was too busy "campaigning" to even bother voting on the DISCLOSE Act yesterday. How funny. So for Heller, campaign finance reform is only important when he distorts Shelley Berkley's record in his attack ads to make himself look better? OK, whatever.

I just wonder what Dean Heller and Mitt Romney will say to each other when Romney returns to Reno on August 3. It's supposedly his last trip to Northern Nevada before the election. And of course, it's for an uber-exclusive very-high-dollar fundraiser full of rich, angry, old white men (with a few of those women folk allowed in).