Friday, August 31, 2012

RNC... W. T. F??!!

Honestly, I was going to say something about Mitt Romney's speech last night... But come on, Clint Eastwood totally upstaged him. Look, there's an empty chair!

“It has been an inspiration to not only hear from our leaders, but to meet like-minded Republicans who are fired up and ready to make a difference in this country,” Dave Buell, a delegate and Washoe County Republican Party chairman, said Thursday on the last night of the convention.

“(The convention speakers) have inspired us to go out and make sure we win this election. I know how important Washoe is to Nevada and how important Nevada is to winning this election,” Buell said.

Yes, he really said that (to The RGJ). And yes, this is coming from "The Renegade County Party" that's seeking a divorce from "The Renegade State Party". And oh my Gaga, is that an empty chair??!!

In so many ways, truth is stranger than fiction. Yesterday, some progressives in Las Vegas decided to celebrate Mitt Romney's G-O-TEA coronation with an extra special "wedding". You just have to see it to believe it.

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And here's some video from KSNV.

So what was that about? Oh, it's just a reminder of Mitt Romney's "private sector" experience, Mitt Romney's economic priorities, and Mitt Romney's love for "billionaire bailouts". Fortunately for them, Sheldon Adelson's posse wasn't around to "rough them up". They did it at The Venetian, after all.

Now coming around full circle, I can finally start to understand why Clint Eastwood was allowed to argue with an empty chair. Since Mitt Romney doesn't really have a convincing message of his own, the only way he can win is by convincing us that we must get rid of this "evil, COMMUNIST, un-American!!!!" Barack Obama. Basically, Romney is running as "Generic Republican" against the teabaggers' caricature of President Obama. While Eastwood's deranged rant still reeks of nonsense, at least his episode becomes somewhat understandable when viewed from this lens.

It seems like the Romney campaign truly believes he can win just by being "Not Obama"... That is, not that scary caricature of Obama that teabaggers love to yell & scream about. But what happens when we dwell some more on who Mitt Romney is and what he does? That's what the Romney campaign fears. And that's why we saw that "wedding" at The Venetian yesterday. If working families can't trust Mitt Romney when he promises to "fix the economy", what does he have left to campaign on?

An empty chair?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So This Is What He Thinks "Freedom" Means

Wow. I guess Sheldon Adelson and his family have learned quite a bit since setting up shop in Macau. Keep it "klassy", Nevada G-O-TEA money man!

MIKE BURKE: Well, we were up on the fifth floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. This is the site of the Republican National Convention. And Hany Massoud, our cameraperson, and I—we spent most of the day walking along the hallways where the corporate suites are, you know, trying to find politicians and campaign donors and various other people to speak with. Near the end of the evening, we were walking down the hall, where we see Sheldon Adelson, who of course has played a critical role in this year’s election. He’s already donated tens of millions of dollars, first to Newt Gingrich’s campaign, then to Mitt Romney’s campaign. And so, we attempted to ask him a question, and we got two questions in.

And then what happened, it just—it really shocked me. A woman that was standing right behind Sheldon Adelson, who we later learned that apparently was his daughter, she stopped and then forcibly pushed herself back into me, where I lost my footing. And then, from there, she went over to Hany Massoud, our cameraperson, and actually grabbed the camera. And we were—she was only about two or three feet away from the suite where they were going to be watching the convention speeches. And she attempted to go into the suite, into the door, with the camera. Hany said something along the lines of, you know, "What you doing? This is our camera." And then, at that point, she drops the camera on the ground, and you heard that sound. She goes into the suite, and there’s some commotion outside. We actually have some audiotape—I mean, it’s videotape, but it’s from Hany’s camera. And at that point, we weren’t sure if Hany’s camera was broken or not. And we actually still aren’t sure. I mean, it was—it forcibly fell on the ground. But we have some tape. I think it’s important to hear. It’s a little bit unclear at times who is speaking, but there’s two times in this tape where Sheldon Adelson’s daughter comes out from the suite and actually apologizes to us. And this, of course, is after several—

AMY GOODMAN: This is after she body-slams you, steps back into you?

MIKE BURKE: "Body slam" might be a bit—that might be a bit too much, but she definitely, you know, stopped and then went back with force.

AMY GOODMAN: Into your body?

MIKE BURKE: Right, in an attempt so that I could not ask a question of Sheldon Adelson, who, of course—I mean, regular viewers of Democracy Now! might know, he—very infrequently does he speak to the press. So, for us, it was a very rare chance to speak to such an influential figure.

That was "Democracy Now!" reporter Mike Burke speaking with independent journalist and Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman about what happened to him when he just tried to ask Sheldon Adelson a few questions. Wow. Is this something, or what?

What's so disgustingly funny about this is that it highlights the radically changed playing field in this election. How did this reclusive multi-billionaire who makes his money off Las Vegas conventioneers, "reality TV professional partiers", and high rollers, as well as "The Macau Mafia" and the good graces of the "Communist" Chinese government, become such a central figure in so many campaigns throughout America? And especially since he's on a mission to deliver both The White House and Congress to Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan, don't "we the people" deserve to get some questions answered by his operation?

And the Republicans in Tampa actually have the nerve to whine about "lost liberty". So what exactly do they want to call this blatant attempt to silence the press and violate someone else's free speech rights? Remember this next time a G-O-TEA politician waxes poetic on "freedom" and "liberty".

A Study in Contrasts

Yesterday, The R-J's John L. Smith talked to Former Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury about what's happening at the RNC Convention... And specifically, what's going on with the Nevada delegation. He tried his best to show a brave face, but ultimately Woodbury admitted that there's virtually no chance of the "Ron Paul Revolutionaries" working alongside the rest of the party to secure a Mitt Romney victory.

Yet while Woodbury was sharing his woes with Smith, The Sun's Karoun Dermijian got an earful from another prominent Nevada Republican.

[Sharron] Angle “absolutely” sees the Ron Paul movement and the Tea Party movement that buoyed her 2010 Senate candidacy against Sen. Harry Reid as a natural political marriage — such a good match, in fact, that she thinks the Ron Paul movement’s recent successes validate her political legacy.

“In 2010, when I was running, everybody said ‘No, you’re too extreme,’” Angle said. “But now look, it’s where everybody is going.”

She mentioned specifically the push to audit the Fed, a rallying cry for the pro-Paul camp that they managed to get on the Republican platform last week. Angle had called for it in her 2010 campaign.

“She was ahead of her time,” Jeri Taylor-Swade said emphatically.

Oh yes — Taylor-Swade and Laurel Fee, publishers of Tea Party and Republicans Uniting Nevada Conservatives, or TRUNC, who double as Angle’s jubilant musketeers, were also present at this ladies’ room meeting. (I’m supposed to be catching up with them later so they can give me a copy of their latest issue of TRUNC.)

She's back! Oh yes, that's right. Sharron Angle caught Dermijian in the ladies' room, and she wanted The Sun reporter to remember that she can be just as extreme as Ron Paul! Surprisingly, she even spoke up in SUPPORT of what happened on Tuesday. Perhaps she sees the Paulistas as an essential component of her future political comeback?

Obviously, not all Nevada Republicans in Tampa agree with her.

“It’s very embarrassing,” rural county chairman Wes Rice told the Sun. “We just lied. We all promised to do what we were supposed to do and didn’t do it.”

Nevada wasn’t the only state whose delegates were itching to undo the new rules on representation the Republican National Convention’s rules committee adopted last week. And it wasn’t the only state whose delegates sought to ballot Ron Paul.

But it was the only state in which delegates broke their own rules, eschewing their obligation to vote 20-strong for Romney on the first ballot, instead throwing almost all the delegation’s weight to Paul.

“The spokesman last night really betrayed our state and our party,” said Bob List, former Nevada governor and current Republican national committeeman.

And this, again, is why Mitt Romney is worried about Nevada. With such a large portion of his own party still resisting his candidacy, how again is Romney supposed to "rally the conservative base" to win? It just goes to show how the Nevada GOP is still in seriously dire straits.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From the "No Shit, Sherlock" Department...

Seriously, is any one surprised by this? Any one?

In her morning announcements, Nevada RNC committeewoman Heidi Smith announced she had free tickets to HomoCon, the convention party thrown for Republican gays and lesbians, and asked who in the crowded breakfast ballroom wanted them.

You could have heard a pin drop.

“Any one?” Smith asked, looking around the room, as she gave more details about the affair –Tuesday night, until 2 a.m., free, fun?

Still crickets.

Finally someone spoke up.

“I’ll take ‘em,” called out Carl Bunce from the back of the room, getting up and making a broad stride up to the podium to grab a ticket. “Those guys know how to party.”

Vice-chair James Smack then also got up to ask for and claim a ticket.

But though the ice was broken, and though Smith had more tickets to offer, the requests stopped there.

Must we be reminded of this?

And of this?

And of this?

Though this year’s Democratic Platform is the most pro-LGBT in history, complete with full support for marriage equality,the Republican Platform is set to be as anti-LGBT as ever, according to drafts approved by subcommittees Monday. Despite Log Cabin Republicans’ hopes that the language would include at least an allusion to “dignity and respect” for gay people, R. Clarke Cooper conceded that the end result is “bad with a capital ‘B.’” Tony Perkins, of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council, took personal credit for drafting the anti-equality language, boasting that platform drafting leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) were “friends of FRC.”

This gets back to something I was alluding to yesterday. Even though Republican leaders want to make it seem like they're now a "diverse and inclusive party", reality just doesn't sync with them. Even Mitt Romney himself has basically conceded that his base is overwhelmingly old, white, and straight (and majority male on top of all that), and that his only plausible path to victory lies in fueling racial tension.

So we shouldn't be surprised that the G-O-TEA also wants to slap around LGBTQ families at least one more time in hopes of riding "the bigotry train" to victory this fall. However, they have a problem now. The country is changing, and especially younger voters are not being "turned on" by all this idiocy. It remains to be seen if the Romney-Heller-Heck "All Exclusive Strategy" will really work here in Nevada or in other swing states this fall.

And no, accepting free "HomoCon" tickets won't make up for celebrating discrimination against our families. Sorry, Nevada G-O-TEA. But seriously, why can't you hear the 21st century knocking at your door?

No Se Puede, Sandoval

Even though teabaggers forced Mitt Romney to snub Brian Sandoval by leaving him off his "VP Short List", Sandoval still desperately wants to be accepted and become "a player" on the national G-O-TEA stage. That has to be why he's willing to flip-flop so obviously and ridiculously.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval were among five governors who sought flexibility for the states on alternative ways to achieve the law’s goal of moving recipients from welfare to work. In July, the Obama administration offered states the opportunity to receive a waiver from the 1996 law’s work participation requirements under the condition that more recipients find jobs. If not, they said, the waivers will be denied or rescinded. [...]

“Nevada hasn’t requested a waiver and has no intention of requesting one,” his spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner told the Las Vegas Sun. “The letter was not a request for a waiver; it was a request to explore the possibilities.”

In August 2011, Sandoval’s Health and Human Services director approached the Obama administration: “Nevada is very interested in working with your staff to explore program waivers that have the potential to encourage more cooperative relationships among the state agencies engaged in economic stimulus through job creation, employment skill attainment and gainful employment activities,” wrote Michael Willden. “Nevada is also interested in exploring performance measures that endure program accountability and also increase the probability of families becoming self-sufficient by providing meaningful data as to the services or combination of services with best outcomes.”

In response to an inquiry by TPM, a Sandoval aide said in an email, “We have not researched Romney’s push to repeal the HHS action, so we’re not able to provide you more.”

Well, this kind of behavior isn't new for Brian Sandoval. Still, it shows why his speech at the GOP Convention last night was so awkward.

However, this flip-flop is different from the others. In fact, it's downright disgusting. Here's why.

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Sandoval actually agreed to be part of an effort to showcase Mitt Romney's "new campaign strategy" of peddling lies and amping up the race baiting. Instead of putting Nevada's best interest in mind, he abandoned his earlier efforts to make welfare reform work for Nevada just so he can stay in Romney's good graces... And so Romney can continue to peddle lies about President Obama.

In many ways, what Sandoval agreed to do yesterday is far more disgusting than the silly Ron Paul circus put on by Nevada's delegation during the roll call vote. Truly, neither is beneficial to "small d democracy". But while the latest Paulista temper tantrum episode is rooted in a fight over arcane rules (that they might not have really broken, even if they weren't representing the will of most GOP caucus goers), what Brian Sandoval agreed to do represents the bottom of the barrel of contemporary American politics. It just goes to show that the racially toned dog whistles of the past haven't really gone away completely, and that certain ambitious politicians are even willing to ditch sound policy in order to push such rotten politics.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nevada GOP Flips Off Romney... AGAIN!

It's official now. Here's what The R-J's Laura Myers just tweeted.

NV delegation defies #gop2012 cvn casts 17 votes to nominate @ronpaul, 5 for @mittromney, 5 abstentions. (was supposed to be 20 for Romney)

Consider this Ron Paul's revenge. Romney was getting close to officially securing the nomination... And Nevada screwed it up! It wasn't a pretty sight on CSPAN. But then again, neither was that last minute attempt to game the nomination system.

Ah, what a great way to close this sordid affair... Or is it case closed?

August Voter Registration Trends in Washoe County

Yesterday, we examined recent voter registration trends in Clark County. Today, we're heading north. Now that Washoe County also has new voter registration statistics available, we'll be able to see what's happened in Reno earlier than originally expected.

So what's been happening in Reno? Here are the big stories:

- Countywide, Democrats improved slightly on their July numbers. Washoe Dems went from a 1.63% deficit last month to a 1.59% deficit now. They're still slightly behind Republicans, but they're slowly catching up.

- In the big marquee Legislature race that is the SD 15 State Senate election, Republicans actually went from a 1.89% advantage last month to a 1.92% advantage now. While Republicans have been falling behind Democrats in nearly all the swing districts in Clark County, this newly swingy Washoe seat has been a bright spot for them, as it's mostly been stable there. And in fact, Republicans even got a tiny boost in their ranks here this month.

- And briefly jumping back to the statewide numbers, the "Team Nevada" "Shadow GOP" spokesperson actually admitted to The R-J yesterday that Nevada Democrats' voter registration advantage is probably north of 54,000 voters now. Even with little change in Washoe, some surprising gains in the rural areas, along with the exceptionally strong Clark County numbers, continue to give Democrats a big boost statewide.

But getting back to Washoe County, should Democrats be worried? Not really, even though they do have more work cut out for them. Let me explain.

There's a reason why Washoe Republicans want a divorce from the state party. You see, they tend to cooperate with "the establishment"... Or perhaps, you can say they're better controlled by "the establishment" than the "Ron Paul Revolutionaries" that catapulted their way from the Clark County GOP to take over the state GOP. So the Washoe GOP has often been able to go toe to toe against Democrats there, even while the Clark GOP keeps tumbling down here.

However, the electorate of Washoe County is also remarkably different from Clark's in that Nonpartisans tend to lean more Democratic while Republicans have a larger than normal pool of moderates who can be peeled off when "the right kind of Republican" is on the ballot. And when that's combined with an enthusiastic Democratic base there, wild things can happen.

So all in all, Washoe County still looks mostly stable. Republicans are holding onto a registration edge for now, but we'll have to see how far that ultimately takes them once early voting starts.

Tempest in Tampa?

Nevada's own "Governor Sunny", Brian Sandoval, is set to take part in tonight's lineup of speakers at the first full day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Yet even though Sandoval seems to be going out of his way to deliver a speech that will get the teabaggers hooting and hollering, he may ultimately be overshadowed by another group of Nevadans. Oh, yes. That's right. They're still there.

Rep. Ron Paul’s delegates are trying to mount a floor fight over new GOP rules designed to limit the ability of insurgent presidential candidates to amass delegates to future Republican conventions.

They are getting help from other delegates, though it is unclear whether they can rally enough support to challenge the rules on the floor of the convention Tuesday. [...]

“It’s so heavily scripted. This is not the forum in which they want to air the proverbial dirty laundry,” said Juliette Jordal, a Paul delegate from Minnesota. [...]

“A lot of people who get elected as delegates and alternates to the convention are people who have been paying their dues for years and years,” said Stavros Mendros, a Paul delegate from Maine. “I think it’s a big mistake for the RNC to make.”

Last week, there were signs of strong discontent among Ron Paul's Island of Misfit Toys band of delegates. And now that Mitt Romney's campaign wants to change RNC rules to permanently transfer delegate selection powers from state parties (which allow for some kind of election) to Presidential Campaigns (which will be more interested in hand-picking certain allies). It looks like Paul's troops are picking up allies in this fight, but it's still unclear as to how far they can ultimately go before Romney's choreographers aides knock the "Paulista Revolutionaries" off the program.

However, Paul's troops refuse to go away quietly. And actually, they've already been causing trouble for the entire Nevada delegation. For one, the Nevada delegation has been placed in "the nosebleed section" of the convention center. And to make things worse, the big name G-O-TEA politicians are staying away from them. And since conventions are often defined by access and "schmoozing", it really hurts for the Romney alternates who wanted to enjoy the "pomp and circumstance" of the convention.

“Yes, I was elected an alternate (delegate), much to the dismay of some of the Ron Paul delegates,” former state Sen. Sue Lowden said before remarking that she and others who supported Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum in the primary have managed to move on.

While Paul’s supporters control the Nevada delegation, the alternates are almost all Romney supporters, meaning the two sides are roughly equal in force when it comes to activities off the actual convention floor.

It makes for some awkward encounters.

At a breakfast Monday, the delegates were polite to each other, but the tension was evident. One Romney supporter insinuated someone had “walked off” with a batch of guest passes to the convention hall. A Paul supporter accused a Romney supporter of trying to “take over the delegation.”

Typically, such breakfasts are headlined by a guest speaker, a party superstar or at least an elected official. But most of Nevada’s top elected Republicans have steered clear of the convention.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck remained in Nevada.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is in Tampa, but only because he will deliver a primetime speech before the convention. He apparently hasn’t scheduled any time with the Nevada delegation.

“You won’t see him before this group,” Lowden said. “They’ve booed him. Why would he come here?

Yes, that was indeed "Chicken Lady" Sue Lowden throwing a temper tantrum over the Paulistas ruining her party. I'll try to contain my laughter over Lowden trying to remain politically relevant for a moment to make this point, so here goes. While conventions have become more about the "pomp and circumstance" and schmoozing and hot parties in recent election cycles, they are technically supposed to be about defining who makes a political party and what the party believes in. This is what continues to motivate Ron Paul's followers to make their "last stand" in Tampa this week.

And that's what should really scare the RNC. Even though Paul's troops may only make up a small faction inside the convention center, they represent a much larger and more serious problem that looms outside the convention hall. As the G-O-TEA becomes increasingly overwhelmingly old, white, straight, and male, Republican insiders are starting to worry about the future beyond this election. While they're letting Mitt Romney try "one more time" a strategy of winning by way of exclusively appealing to older white (and mostly straight & male) voters, they know this strategy provides immense risk when it comes to paving the path to future relevancy for Republicans in an increasingly diverse country.

Even though Ron Paul himself also has limited appeal, it can't be ignored that his band of supporters looks awfully younger and at least a tad bit more diverse than Mitt Romney's... And for that matter, Rick Santorum's and Newt Gingrich's respective supporters. So perhaps Sue Lowden shouldn't try too hard to make Ron Paul's Nevada delegates feel so unwelcome. If she and Romney's operatives succeed too much, then Romney himself may ultimately live to regret it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Look at August Voter Registration Trends

Late last month, it looked like Nevada Republicans weren't having good luck with their "voter registration project". And judging by the latest Clark County numbers, it looks like certain G-O-TEA consultants are about to cry into their coffee some more.

Here's what we now know:

- It's now official. Democrats have regained the lead in the NV-03 voter rolls. Specifically, NV-03 has flipped from a 0.24% Republican registration lead last month to a 0.14% Democratic registration advantage today.

- In the Clark County portion of NV-04, Democrats' registration advantage widened again, this time from 14.09% to 14.67%. We'll have to wait for the full statewide numbers to be released before analyzing the trend for the entire district. But so far, this looks good for Steven Horsford.

- And in the critical State Senate races that will determine the balance of power in Carson City next year, Democrats received even more good news. In the Henderson-Green Valley based SD 5, Democrats' registration edge rose from 3.36% to 3.70%. In the Las Vegas-Summerlin based SD 6, Democrats' edge grew from 3.93% to 4.49%. In the Southwest Valley based SD 9, Democrats' advantage grew from 5.06% to 5.61%. And in the Northwest Las Vegas centered SD 18, Republicans' edge shrunk from 2.60% to 2.38%. Again, we'll have to wait a few more days to see what kind of movement happened in SD 15 in Washoe County. But so far in looking at the Clark County numbers, Democrats have strengthened their hand when it comes to the race to control the (State) Senate next year.

And countywide, Democrats grew their advantage from 11.88% last month to 12.39% now. Again, this just goes to show how much working the field really matters. In Southern Nevada, Democrats continue to gain in voter registration. By next week, we should know what the full picture looks like statewide.

How the West Will Be Won: All About NV-03

Last week, we discussed the the stark contrast in focus between the parties here in Nevada. Long story short: While Republican operatives have been focusing more on spinning the media, Democrats have had a laser like focus on field organizing. Today, I wanted us to go in depth some more and explore the heart of Nevada Democrats' field efforts. And as we start our series on "How The West Will Be Won" this fall, I figured there's no better way to start than by examining the field campaign in what may be the most critical Congressional race in the country.

Last Saturday, the Nevada State Democratic Party packed its NV-03 field office with volunteers for a weekend phone bank. In addition to the crew of volunteers, NV-03 Democratic nominee John Oceguera came by to greet them and thank them for all their work in winning the election... And not just for him.

This was scene @nvdems #NV03 office before @JohnOceguera arri... on Twitpic

@JohnOceguera giving pep talk to @nvdems #NV03 volunteers #nv... on Twitpic

@JohnOceguera thanking volunteers @nvdems #NV03 field office ... on Twitpic

Believe it or not, my home Congressional District will play a huge role in determining the fate of President Obama's second term. For one, this is a district that Obama himself must win in order to win Nevada and our 6 Electoral Votes this fall. And since NV-03 is typically such a bellwether of a swing district, this is also an area where Shelley Berkley must win in order to win the US Senate election here. And since President Obama urgently needs more Democratic allies in Congress next year in order to actually have a Congress that's willing to work for the nation's best interest, he urgently needs for Shelley Berkley and John Oceguera to win alongside him here in Nevada.

So why is NV-03 so important? Basically, we're a unique mix of older (for Nevada, at least) suburbs that have been aging gracefully and newer suburbs that came into existence during the height of the 2000's "Real Estate Bubble". The older suburbs, like Green Valley and the original neighborhoods of Summerlin, were once considered Republican strongholds. But over time, they've become more politically balanced while the newer Southwest Valley suburbs were incredibly diverse from the get-go. Really, NV-03 is the vanguard when it comes to demographic changes here in Nevada. That's why it's become such a critical bellwether.

So the stakes are incredibly high here in The Silver State as we approach autumn. And that's why Nevada Democrats are kicking their "field machine" into high gear. At Saturday's phone bank, at least 1,000 dials were made by the time John Oceguera arrived. And while the volunteers were making dials, the canvass department was recruiting more people to work the field and knock doors.

Every once in a while, there's discussion on the accuracy of most public polling of Nevada. Let me explain why this dilemma has emerged in the last 3 election cycles (2008, 2010, and now 2012). Since 2005, Nevada Democrats have been investing in growing a strong field operation. While activities like voter registration outside the neighborhood DMV and spending a lovely Saturday afternoon making political phone calls don't always seem "sexy", they're incredibly effective when it comes to winning elections. And as Democrats register new voters, re-register voters who have moved since 2008, call them to remind them of the upcoming election, then knock on their doors to make sure they vote, Nevada Democrats are "expanding the electorate" beyond the confines of what most national pollsters and media pundits expect. This is exactly how Harry Reid defied the (national media's pre-set) odds and won reelection in 2010, and this is what Shelley Berkley and John Oceguera are counting on now.

Yet while all of this is happening, Nevada Republicans continue to surround themselves with chaos. On one end, Mitt Romney continues to explain his "bromance" with Paul Ryan... And cause headaches for Republican Congressional campaigns here in Nevada and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the actual Nevada Republican Party continues its slow-motion implosion as it continues to debate the burning issue of... Ron Paul. And with even "The Shadow GOP" caught in an ugly "Bus Wreck", even some Republican insiders have wondered if they can put together a field operation in time to salvage Dean Heller and Joe Heck this fall.

Again, this election will most likely be won or lost in the field. And again, NV-03 may very well be THE key swing district for both the state and the country. So field really does matter here. And in the end, Nevada Democrats' field operation may be that one "X Factor" that manages to make the difference in determining the balance of power in Washington (DC) next year.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Ron Paul's "Movement" Still Matters

Remember when we discussed this back in May?

As much as some grassroots folks on the left and the right love to see epic ideological battles unfold at party conventions and purge all "unsavory moderates" out of their respective parties, the fact of the matter is that doing that gets us no closer to winning elections. (If anything, that HURTS efforts to win elections.) While it's always important to promote the values we believe in and hold fast to them, we can't punish political parties for focus on party building while perhaps shirking "ideology enforcement" duties. After all, the first responsibility of a political party is to build the infrastructure necessary to win elections. [...]

And this is why Orrin Johnson is panicking. Ron Paul's supporters care deeply for their libertarian beliefs, and they're set to accept nothing less than full fealty to those beliefs. But in pursuing complete ideological purity, they're also set to lose a whole lot of elections because they simply don't care about that stuff. This is why Nevada Republicans are in such dire straits. And it should serve as an important lesson to all the rest of us trying to balance ideological wishes with political reality.

So far, this truly has come to full fruition. And it's happened in a way that's truly scared Nevada Republican "elites". And now, we're set to finally experience the climax of this epic saga.

Putting a candidate’s name up for nomination is not the same as voting for the ultimate nominee. Paul’s supporters would have to persuade 1,144 delegates to switch their vote to take the nomination away from Romney.

Given the fact that Romney has won an overwhelming majority of the delegates, and given the party’s requirement that results in early states are binding, that’s unlikely.

In Nevada, for example, 20 of the 28 delegates are required to vote for Romney as the ultimate nominee, even if the individual delegate personally supports Paul.

Still, Paul supporters will not acknowledge defeat.

“We’ve been communicating with some other Ron Paul delegates. ... Anything’s possible,” said Carl Bunce, Paul’s former Nevada campaign chairman. “That’s the way conventions work. Right now, the Romney campaign is making sure his (Paul’s) name doesn’t get on the ballot. But if his name gets on there and Rand speaks, and Ron speaks, people wake up. I’ve seen it happen.”

Oh yes, that's right. Ron Paul's intensely devoted fan club still can't give up their fantasy of Ron Paul becoming this year's Republican Presidential Nominee. Never mind that RNC leaders have already set up next week's GOP Convention in Tampa to be one giant coronation ceremony for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Yet even though Ron Paul has no realistic chance of wresting the G-O-TEA nomination away from Mitt Romney, Romney's campaign keeps running scared. Romney and RNC staffers have had to negotiate with Ron Paul loyalists, giving them a prime time speaking role for US Senator (and son of Ron) Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), "The Most Conservative [National Party] Platform in Modern History", and even more concessions, just to convince them not to "ruin Willard's big moment". Yet despite all this, Ron Paul's Nevada troops refuse to concede this fight. And depending on how far they intend to take their quixotic quest in Tampa next week, it may cause yet another political headache for an ailing Romney campaign.

After all, a good chunk of the G-O-TEA base never really warmed up to Romney. They're only backing him now in hopes that "Favorite Son" Paul Ryan will end up serving as "The De Facto President" if Romney wins... Or becomes the favorite for the 2016 GOP Nomination if Romney doesn't. Even though Ron Paul's devotees represent "the fringe of the ('tea party') fringe", they may nonetheless remind America of just how brutal the G-O-TEA primary season was... To Mitt Romney's political fantasies and ambition.

And this is how Ron Paul and his "movement" have managed to remain relevant all this year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Obama Wanted to Talk Public Education Today

We've discussed before the inextricable link between smart investment in public education and sound economic growth & stability. Today, President Obama discussed this in North Las Vegas earlier today.

Before the president took the stage, songs such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder and Wilco’s “I Got You,” along with a series of speakers including State Sen. Steven Horsford, helped energize the crowd. An estimated 2,100 people filled the gym, and more than 600 others watched from an overflow room, according to North Las Vegas Police figures released by the Obama campaign.

“President Obama understands that a good education cannot be a luxury,” said Horsford, who is battling Republican Danny Tarkanian for the 1st District congressional seat. The president, Horsford reminded the crowd, has worked to expand federal grants for college and other education initiatives, including allowing states like Nevada to obtain waivers to the “top-down mandates” of No Child Left Behind.

“We worked with Democrats and Republicans to fix No Child Left Behind,” Obama said. “Here in Nevada a waiver has been granted, because we want high standards but we don’t want teachers teaching to the test.”

One of the teachers Obama met with before his speech, Claritssa Sanchez, introduced the president.

“When I first started teaching five years ago my class sizes were about 33 students per class,” said Sanchez, who teaches 10th-grade world history and government at Canyon Spring. “Today I walk into a classroom with about 45 students … I wish (Gov. Romney) could spend one day in my classroom and see what its really like. When he says class sizes don’t even matter, I want to know why he thinks he knows what’s better for students than us teachers.”

And believe it or not, there is a clear contrast between The President and Mitt Romney on this issue. You see, President Obama actually wants to invest in public education. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, does not.

No really, it comes down to this: Do we believe in quality education and equal economic opportunities for all? So far, it looks like Mitt Romney does not. And if you want proof of that, all you need to do is read his education plan. It really doesn't paint a pretty picture for anyone who has a stake in saving our public schools.

Back in June, Ed Kilgore warned us.

Were Romney’s proposal to be implemented, it would place the power and the resources of the federal government against every state and local effort to improve public schools other than by their virtual abolition. Before long you’d doubtless see tax revolts against spending any tax dollars on education at any level; after all, why should any jurisdiction bother to tax itself simply to subsidize the private decisions of individual families to secure a service that is no longer viewed as public in nature?

Romney’s proposal is, of course, catnip to the Christian Right, which tends to view public schools as secularist reeducation camps designed to brainwash good God-fearing kids into accepting gay people and non-Christian religions and all sorts of nefarious modernism. Why not divert those tax dollars to the local Church of the Final Thunder Academy, free of those scary people of color, or better yet, to parents themselves for home-schooling? Next time you hear someone say Romney is a non-ideological technocrat who should be given a chance to see if he can somehow tune up the economy via those skills he deployed at Bain Capital, direct them to Romney’s education plan and ask how “moderate” it looks.

This is why Romney has said that class sizes don't matter. For him, they don't. And that's because for him, preserving public education is not a goal. Rather, he's repeatedly pandered to both the for-profit school industry and the religious right by promising to redirect federal funds meant for public schools into private school voucher programs. In essence, Romney wants to gut our community's schools in order to bail out church and for-profit schools.

Remember this next time you hear someone say Mitt Romney would fix "our bailout culture" as President. And remember this next time you hear someone say Romney is just a "technocratic fix-it guy". Oh no, he's not.

As we've said before, good schools are the foundation of a good economy. But without wide access to good schools, most of our kids will be economically trapped. We've seen this firsthand here in Nevada. And now, Mitt Romney wants to take this to an even larger scale. And to make it even worse, he doesn't care if there are any public schools left if he gets his way.

And that's the reminder President Obama wanted to give us here in Nevada on this fine, stormy day.

The War They Can't Give Up

President Obama is back in Nevada this week. He talked about education in Reno yesterday, and he's set to talk about job creation in North Las Vegas today. Yet while Obama is trying to talk schools and pocketbooks, the G-O-TEA has yet again injected "TEH CUL'CHUR WARZZZ!!!" into the national political discussion.

And yes, despite what Mitt Romney and RNC leadership want you to believe, Missouri US Senate candidate Todd Akin very well represents "the new normal" of the now "TEA" fueled Republican Party.

When Missouri’s Republican candidate for the Senate said that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy,not only was Todd Akin echoing the extreme antiabortion positions held by many in his party, he was exemplifying the creeping extremism within the Republican Party on women’s issues and far more. In the new, extremist Republican Party, Akin is not an aberration. He is merely the latest canary in a coal mine of crazy.

Along with Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Akin was an original co-sponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” —which, originally, narrowed the federal definition of rape to restrict the ability of women and girls to use Medicaid dollars and tax-exempt health spending accounts to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape. Akin has since said he “misspoke” in his “legitimate rape” remarks, but the legislation he and Paul Ryan sponsored similarly relabeled rape as “forcible rape” —creepily suggesting there are other, more acceptable versions. What’s more creepy? These are not fringe opinions expressed by powerless lunatics at teeny right-wing organizations. These are the opinions of over 200 Republican members of Congress, one of whom is the party’s candidate for the United States Senate in Missouri and one of whom is the party’s candidate for vice president.

Yes, the Republican establishment is condemning Akin’s remarks and distancing itself from his candidacy. But let’s be clear: Akin is only guilty of saying out loud what many Republican leaders think and legislate on the basis of. Talking Points Memo has detailed other Republican leaders throughout the years who have questioned that rape can lead to pregnancy and prominent Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal oppose abortions under all circumstances, including rape. Both will be speaking at the Republican National Convention next week. Moreover, the many Republicans pushing back against Akin seem more concerned with preserving the dignity of the Republican Party than protecting the dignity and rights of women who have been raped.

OK, I will at least give Nevada's own Joe Heck some credit for explaining why Akin's beliefs on pregnancy from "legitimate rape" are wrong. That's at least a good first step.

However, both Joe Heck and Dean Heller have constantly fought alongside top religious right politicians like Todd Akin in the ongoing "Tea Party" War on Women. In fact, both Heck and Heller even voted for Akin's signature bill last year. No really, check this out.

But Republicans have a much bigger problem that goes beyond a race for a Senate seat in Missouri, their biggest problem is that every House Republican voted to redefine rape, including Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his Vice Presidential running mate. Ryan was also a cosponsor of H.R.3 in 2011 which redefined rape.

H.R.3 past by a vote of 251-175, in the Republican controlled House on May 4, 2011, with every House Republican voting in favor of it, including Nevada Representative Joe Heck, and former Nevada Representative Dean Heller, who was recently appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Perhaps Todd Akin made the G-O-TEA case for The War on Women quite inartfully, but the fact of the matter is that Akin's strident anti-choice and anti-women views have now become "the mainstream" of today's "tea party" controlled Republican Party. After all, Mitt Romney himself has gone out of his way to embrace the most extreme religious right positions against abortion and contraception. And in case that wasn't enough, he added Paul Ryan to his ticket. And remember, Paul Ryan co-sponsored that rape redefinition bill with Todd Akin. And G-O-TEA Congresscritters like Dean Heller and Joe Heck regularly take their political marching orders from Paul Ryan.

I'm sure Heck and Heller and Romney will soon complain about "those pesky Democrats" trying to "distract" with "silly issues" like women's health. But if they really don't want to fight The War on Women any more, why must they keep trying to restrict and/or fully destroy women's health care? Think about that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NV-04: Sorry, Baby Tark, But We're Just Not Delusional Like You.

He's back! And this time, he's giving us a real whopper.

Just in case you thought Danny Tarkanian couldn't possibly think of even more stupid shit to flow out of his mouth like verbal diarrhea, you're being proven wrong today. In fact, he's completely contradicting himself (yet again) and he doesn't even seem to notice. So what is Baby Tark saying now? Believe it or not, he signed a "pledge to protect Social Security & Medicare".

OK, so why is this so controversial? And why should you be outraged? Let me explain.

Well, actually I should let Baby Tark explain for himself.

Danny Tarkanian himself said he wanted to privatize Social Security. And in case that's not enough, he reiterated his interest in gutting Social Security just this month!

Tarkanian remarked that the eligibility age for drawing Social Security needs to be raised. He explained that when the Social Security program was first created the life expectancy of recipients was 19 years less than now. He wants a grace period for people nearing retirement but that it could be adjusted for younger workers.

And in case that isn't bad enough, Danny Tarkanian has also endorsed the "Balanced Budget Amendment". Remember that? If enacted, this unbalanced nonsense that "tea party" darlings Dean Heller & Joe Heck love so much would force upon us massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and so much more.

And to top it all off, Baby Tark actually has the gall to lie about Steven Horsford and President Obama. Despite the constant debunking of the G-O-TEA lies about the Affordable Care Act and what it actually does, Baby Tark is going there. I guess he hasn't learned from Joe Heck and his attempts to lie his way out of the political dilemma Paul Ryan (along with Mitt Romney now!) has put his entire party into.

Clearly, Danny Tarkanian is desperate. His "tea party" extremism isn't wearing well with NV-04 voters, so he's now trying to make us forget everything he ever promised to the teabaggers. Sorry, Baby Tark, but we're clearly not as delusional or forgetful as you.

NV-03/NV-Sen: While GOP Spin Media, They're Still Falling Behind

@RepJoeHeck constituents wondering when he will listen 2 #Nev... on Twitpic

This was the scene last November as Nevadans were finally tiring of the "tea party" appeasing antics of Dean Heller and Joe Heck. For the past 18 months, both have been busy nurturing their relationship with the "TEA" tinged ones while occasionally smearing Vaseline on the camera to obscure what this means for Nevada's working families. Many have wondered how they can be defeated.

Today, we (again) have the answer in plain sight. Just don't listen to certain national media pundits telling you to ignore it.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

This was the scene in the middle of last month at the Nevada State Democratic Party (NSDP) NV-03 field office in Henderson. Ever since the office opened in June, the party's coordinated campaign (helping Shelley Berkley in the US Senate race, John Oceguera in the US House race, President Obama, and Democratic Legislature candidates) has been working the field at a furious pace. Add to that all the field work Obama's own campaign has been doing since last fall, and we have a recipe for Democratic success in Nevada this fall.

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This was the scene the day after our "field day" at the NSDP office. Oh yes, that's right. We need to reexamine the infamous "Tea Party, Inc." Bus Wreck. Remember that the Koch funded AFP "charitable foundation" is supposed to be part of the "Shadow GOP" that's supposed to help Joe Heck, Dean Heller, and Mitt Romney win by sidestepping the "Real Nevada Republican Party" that's now run by Ron Paul acolytes. So really, there's no comparison between Nevada Democrats' "well oiled machine" and Nevada Republicans' greasy chaos.

This was the big news yesterday. After three months of constantly chipping away at Republicans' already meager voter registration advantage, it finally came tumbling down this week as Democrats' regained the edge in the newly configured suburban Las Vegas/Henderson seat. For all the talk of how "strong" Joe Heck appeared and how "well" Mitt Romney seemed to be doing in the constantly swingy Clark County suburbs, Republicans just couldn't hold onto that tiny advantage they had (briefly "gained" thanks to so many Nevada voters being declared "inactive" by the Clark County Election Department early this year). And since NV-03 also happens to be the key region where statewide elections are won or lost, this is big news for President Obama and Shelley Berkley as well.

When thinking of how to win a campaign, I always think of these two words: Field matters. It can very well make the difference between winning and losing. And while it can't always make up for deficiencies in other areas, it can do what many millions of dollars worth of glitzy TV ads can't do in cultivating supporters and turning them out come election time.

So why do we keep hearing from the national media about how "confident" Nevada Republicans are? Basically, one thing that the G-O-TEA consultants are good at is spinning the media. That's why they're able to show their clients looking so "confident". But when we look beneath the surface, we see a completely different picture.

So remember this next time the political "armchair quarterbacks" on the cable networks and DC gossip rags talk about who's supposedly winning the fight for Congress and The White House. As we're seeing in Nevada, what matters more is what's happening on the field and away from the spin room.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Going Offline for a Few More Days

Sorry that I haven't been posting too much lately. Long story short: I've had a combination of "family matters" and "technical difficulties" to deal with, and those have been cutting into my blogging time. But since I'll be flying back home next week, my regular blogging schedule should return to normal by then.

In the mean time, feel free to keep up with what's happening on all the other fine Nevada blogs you see on the tool bar to the right. And rest assured, I'll be back in full force next week to resume our ongoing conversation on all things policy and politics in Nevada.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NV-04: Delusions of Grandeur Go National

Remember when we discussed this last Wednesday? It looks like Baby Tark has just tripled down on his race baiting!

[Danny] Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Review Journal last week that he could reach the black community in the district, touting his ties to local basketball programs. His father, Jerry Tarkanian, is a legendary former University of Nevada-Las Vegas basketball coach, and Tarkanian played for UNLV in the early 1980s.

“My dad’s worked in that community for a long time. And my mother has,” Tarkanian said. “My basketball academy, which is very close to the district, has a lot of players and families in that district that are in our academy now for 10 years.”

Nevada Democrats fired back, accusing Tarkanian of using “patronizing stereotypes” about the black community.

Tarkanian defended himself at a fundraiser, captured on a cell-phone camera and posted by a local CBS affiliate.

“They didn’t say what the racist comment was — I’m still trying to figure out what it was,” Tarkanian said. “Should we not work within the black community? … We could be like Steven Horsford, who’s not doing anything with that community — and you know, pretend we’re black and maybe try to get some votes if that’s where it is. It’s that extent that they’re going to.”

Yet again, Baby Tark doesn't know when to stop. He's lied about his own record on immigration to "appeal to Latino voters". He's claimed he "knows the black community" because he knows how to shoot hoops. And now, he's accusing Steven Horsford (who, by the way, is actually African-American) of "pretending to be black".

Wow. The Nevada Republican Party must be running a great workshop on minority voter outreach! (/snark)

I've asked this before, but I truly feel compelled to ask this question again. Could there possibly be a Congressional campaign more vapid, more meaningless, and more offensive than Danny Tarkanian's? The only one that comes to my mind is if Sharron Angle herself moves to NV-04 to run in Tarkanian's place. But at this point, that may not be necessary. After all, Danny Tarkanian himself is doing a great job following Sharron Angle's lead in pursuing "tea party" extremism and campaigning on racial tension.

But hey, at least Baby Tark made the national news! I just wonder if these are the headlines he really wanted to make.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Paul Ryan: Mitt Romney's Las Vegas Headliner

He's here! Paul Ryan will be headlining a Mitt Romney campaign rally at Palo Verde High School in Summerlin today... Followed by an uber-exclusive fundraiser with none other than Willard's #1 money man ( Sheldon Adelson) at The Venetian. Wow, what a man of the people. Paul Ryan will be rallying Nevada "TEA-publicans" at the high school serving some of the highest income neighborhoods in the entire state, then he will be raising money from the guy on The Strip who actually makes the bulk of his billions from wheeling & dealing with the Macau mafia. What a guy, that Paul Ryan!

And already, Nevada Republicans are set to give Paul Ryan a very warm welcome. Just look at what they're doing to prepare for his arrival.

The Ryan pick is also shaking up the races that will decide which party controls the Senate. Dean Heller of Nevada — appointed to the Senate last year — is already under fire for the unique distinction of being the only lawmaker who voted for the Ryan budget in both chambers. Montana Republican Senate candidate Denny Rehberg is running fast from the Ryan budget. And in Florida, a state where the senior citizen vote is crucial, vulnerable Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson could barely contain his glee at the opportunity to attack the Ryan budget.

The reality is that Ryan is now all Republicans' running mate whether they like it or not, forcing GOP candidates who would just as soon run from the debate over senior citizen entitlements to embrace the third rail of American politics like never before.

One GOP insider lamented that party leaders “have spent the last year” trying to take Medicare off the political front burner, but the Ryan pick “puts it all back out there now.” [...]

Following the selection, Heller praised Ryan’s “courage to make the tough decisions needed to restore our nation’s fiscal health.” But Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley saw a ripe opportunity to drive home what Democrats see as Heller’s biggest weakness: voting to reconfigure Medicare.

“No one is happier today than Sen. Dean Heller, one of Rep. Paul Ryan’s strongest supporters who said he was ‘proud’ to vote twice for the Ryan budget plan that essentially ends Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies.”

Both Joe Heck and Dean Heller are inextricably linked to Paul Ryan and his plan to destroy Medicare by replacing real health care coverage with vouchers. Yet since Mitt Romney has launched Paul Ryan and his quest to end Medicare & Social Security as we know it onto the center stage of the Presidential Campaign, Heller & Heck have to be more careful in tip-toe-ing around their own record of standing with Ryan. After all, about 20% of Nevada's electorate is retired. And even more Nevadans fear the kinds of cutting and gutting of Social Security & Medicare that Paul Ryan has long championed.

Already, Ryan has put Mitt Romney into even more of a precarious situation here in Nevada. But now, the entire ticket is threatened. And if/when Romney & Ryan drag down Heller & Heck with them, they can all thank the Romney-Ryan plan to slash the social safety net for the middle class (to pay for more "billionaire bailouts") for it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Trouble at Tahoe

The Lake Tahoe Summit is today. And already, tension is brewing. As we discussed early this month, everything from climate change to shady Carson City "deal making" has further threatened Tahoe and muddied the lake's future (literally!).

And in case that isn't bad enough, we're seeing political tension brewing up there as well. At the last minute, Shelley Berkley decided to attend the summit. She was planning not to attend after Dean Heller declined to offer her any speech time, but apparently she was later able to secure some "break out time" today with key local Tahoe region leaders.

Yet while many media pundits will be viewing this for the horserace related antics, this actually caught my eye.

The impacts of climate change, including generally warming waters and lessening of mixing of lake waters, appear conducive to high populations of algae, said Geoffrey Schladow, director of the University of California, Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

Changing ecological trends are not the only challenge ahead. Another is diminishing funding in the face of the country’s economic troubles.

At last year’s summit, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller — host of this year’s event — spoke of a “new reality” as government funding to pay for costly restoration projects at the lake dries up.

“Quite simply, we need to learn to do more with less,” the Republican lawmaker said at the time.

Yet again, Dean Heller is telling Nevadans to "learn to do more with less" while he keeps looking out for his political patrons. And what's really callous about this is that Northern Nevada's economy is very dependent on the health and well being of Lake Tahoe. If Tahoe isn't looking all that clear, then neither is the future of Northern Nevada's economy.

It's saddening, but it really shouldn't be surprising. This really is Dean Heller's MO. Now that we're in an election year, Heller is going through all the motions of "caring about the future of Lake Tahoe". But when push comes to shove, he doesn't really want to take action on climate change, ensure a smart path forward for sustainable development, or even extend common courtesy with other members of Nevada's Congressional Delegation. We'll have to see if anything beyond a politically convenient photo-op is accomplished today in Stateline.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney & Ryan, Jumping the Shark...

He did it. He really did it. So where's the shark?

Oh, he's right here!

For now, Romney is still mainly running on an “I’m not the other guy” message. But his party is getting frustrated, because he’s running behind Barack Obama, and there are hints that the gap may be worsening. This is unacceptable to Republicans, who believe Romney should be leading, given the lousy state of the economy. And as with Dole 16 years ago, they’re now turning up the heat on their presumptive nominee to make their specific policy agenda the centerpiece of his fall campaign.

This is the backdrop for the growing calls from the right for Romney to choose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running-mate. The Wisconsin Republican is the author of a budget plan that serves as the Holy Grail of Tea Party-era conservatism. Where Romney is tolerated by the right, Ryan is beloved. The case for going with Romney is essentially the same as the case for Dole embracing supply-side and teaming up with Kemp back in ’96 – reassure and motivate a party base that’s apprehensive and suspicious and wake up the rest of the country by running on a Big Idea with a “bold” running-mate. [...]

Of course, as with Dole and supply-side, this is a move Democrats are dying for Romney to make. Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program provided them with priceless material last year, and they’re already at work tying his budget blueprint – which would necessitate deep cuts in the social safety net and produce “the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history” – to every Republican on the ballot this fall. For Romney to voluntarily build his general election effort around that plan would be a dream come true for Democratic ad makers.

Here in Nevada, Dean Heller and Joe Heck are learning the hard way. Yet for some reason, Mitt Romney refuses to acknowledge this.

Instead, Romney looks to be doubling down on busting Medicare, shredding Pell Grants and other forms of college financial aid, blowing up Medicaid, and all around destroying the social safety net that has made America's middle class AND economic success possible. As we discussed earlier this week, Mitt Romney has already defined himself as "Mr. 1%". Now that Paul Ryan is officially his running mate, that definition is getting plenty of cement.

And without a doubt, we'll have a stark contrast at the top of the ballot this fall. I just can't believe this is the contrast that Mitt Romney actually wants to make public! But since he's now made that choice, President Obama can now open the political gift that's set to keep on giving (to Democrats).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Last Chance for Summer Fun

That's one reason why I'm leaving for Orange County today. The other is "family affairs".

So I may go quiet... For perhaps a couple days. But fear not, I will soon return. And even before I return home to "fall back" into life as we know it in Sin City, I'll keep an eye on all things Nevada once I've finished my weekend to-do list.

Thanks so much for continuing to read the blog and check in with my musings on what's happening in our fine state. It's things like this that make me WANT to sing, "Home Means Nevada".

And yes, it won't be too long before I make my way back home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Harry Reid's Other Bold, Badass Moment

Harry Reid has been speaking up quite a bit lately. While the media are still running in circles over what he's been saying about Mitt Romney's tax records, he made even more news when talking about an issue that affects the entire planet. And yesterday, he didn't hold back.

And here's the ultimate kicker.

The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.

These people aren't just on the other side of this debate. They're on the other side of reality.

It's time for us all – whether we're leaders in Washington, members of the mea, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives –to stop acting like those who ignore the crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don't.

Virtually every respected, independent scientist in the world agrees the problem is real, and the time to act is now. Not tomorrow. Not a week from now. Not next month or next year. We must act today.

As Americans, we have the power to choose the kind of world in which we live. Every decision we make – large and small – matters. Some choices are as simple as turning off the light when you leave the room. Others are more ambitious -- such as committing the Department of Defense, the largest energy consumer in the world, to transition to clean, renewable energy.

But every choice has benefits -- or consequences.

And we all know he's so right about this.

We have discussed the powerful potential of clean energy that we can unleash to renew our economy and create more & better jobs. We have also discussed the frightening reality of climate change. We can no longer afford to ignore either.

Even the "Tea Party, Inc." funded climate study concluded that climate change is real, and that it's happening at a more accelerated pace than scientists had earlier expected. The scientific consensus is now even more overwhelming than ever before. July was the hottest month on record. Yes, that's right. Just last month, our planet had the hottest month on record!

So if anyone takes issue with what Harry Reid said yesterday, one is certainly not basing it on science.

This is why it's so refreshing to see Harry Reid speak out like this. Once and for all, we need to cut the "climate denial" crap and acknowledge reality. And then, we need to start taking action!

As Senator Reid said yesterday, now is the time to end our addiction to dangerous fossil fuels. The Reid-Gardner coal plant has to go, along with other fossil fuel relics that are holding us back. If we want to succeed in transitioning to a clean, green, lean, & mean economy, we need to cut the crap and take action. And if we want to survive as a human race, we need to cut the crap and take action.

NV-04: Delusions of Grandeur? Or Just Plain Demented?

There he goes again. Danny Tarkanian is back. And this time, his delusions of grandeur are more ridiculous and offensive than ever before!

Last time we checked on Baby Tark's quixotic quest for NV-04, he was busy lying about his own record on immigration in a disgustingly craven attempt to "woo Hispanic voters". This time, he's working to "woo black voters".

At Hispanics in Politics last month he said Black people have been fooled into voting for Democrats, and he was here to help. You know, cause us colored folk are ignorant and child-like, lacking the sophistication to make important political decisions, thus we need the helpful hand of non-Blacks to keep us on the straight and narrow.

The Tarkanian campaign truly believes that because he played basketball and his dad led many a Black man to victory, that somehow that will lead Black folk in congressional district four to vote for him.

Do Black people love basketball so damn much, they're willing to totally forget that Mr Tarkanian is an aggressive supporter of the Tea Party (the same Tea Party the NAACP* said was racist) with policy positions that rival Sharron Angle’s?

Do Black people love basketball so much that they’re willing to overlook the fact that Mr Tarkanian thinks racial profiling is effective police work?

Do Black people love basketball so much that they won't care that Mr. Tarkanian's wife complained just yesterday about people tweeting about the Voting Rights Act?

Team Tarkanian thinks that answer is yes, because again: Team Tark thinks Black people are stupid.

So now, Danny Tarkanian thinks African-American Nevadans will just love him because he's the son of "Tark the Shark" and knows how to shoot hoops himself?! Now I know Baby Tark himself is vapid enough to believe that, but I'm even surprised to see that his campaign staff really believe that this is "effective black community outreach". After all, there's nothing that historically oppressed minority communities appreciate more than being treated as complete imbeciles. (/snark)

The voters of NV-04 truly deserve better than this. Why on earth would any candidate believe he's winning voters by insulting their intelligence? And why on earth should Southern Nevada's communities of color be subjected to someone like Danny Tarkanian who believes he knows what's best for them more than they do?

The way Baby Tark is going, I can't wait to see how he tries to appeal to Asian-American, disabled, and LGBTQ voters! (/snark)

A Tale of Two Public Projects

Here in Henderson, we have a very important election this fall. In addition to all the federal races receiving the bulk of the attention, there's something else we will vote on this fall which will determine the future of our community. Now that Henderson District Public Libraries face such a giant budget deficit that they will have to close two whole libraries if they don't find more revenue, and possibly close a third in the new Heritage Park Library as well (!!!), the district is now asking Henderson voters for a few extra cents (per person) in property taxes just to keep all the libraries open.

Geraldine Brurs left the Paseo Verde Library into the midday heat Tuesday with two audio books in hand. The frequent visitor to Henderson libraries had no idea that two of the system’s six branches will close at the end of the year if a tax initiative on the November ballot does not pass.

Those like Brurs who already use and appreciate the libraries, and are supporters of the property tax increase, are the easy targets.

“Oh, I would definitely vote for the tax,” Brurs said after hearing the details. “The Henderson libraries have already cut back. They are closed on Sundays and their hours are shorter than before. This library is packed all the time.”

Proponents of the initiative see three groups of voters when it comes to the tax initiative, which would increase Henderson property tax by 2 ents per $100 in assessed property value, a $14 annual hike for property worth $200,000. There are the regular library users who are expected to provide strong support; those who will never approve of any new tax, especially during a down economy; and those in between who may support the tax if they are reminded of the value of a community meeting place and research hub. [...]

“Libraries serve the function of promoting reading and literacy, but they are also community places where people get and share information,” said Danielle Miller, a member of the PAC and principal at El Dorado High School. “People access the Internet at libraries. They search for jobs at libraries. There is no other resource in the community like it. I think a lot of people just don’t realize how close they are to closing branches.”

We've talked about this before. Public infrastructure isn't something to dismiss in importance. Libraries are critical meeting places for the community, and they are places that are critical for our community's growth and education. Especially now, as Southern Nevada is being forced to transition to a new economy that isn't so addicted to the whims and fancies of gaming and real estate bubbles, we need public infrastructure more than ever before.

However, it seems like not all infrastructure is created equal in the eyes of the powers that be in Carson City.
This is also something we've discussed before. And this is something that's coming back to the forefront as
a new project opens up north.

Nevada’s most expensive highway will open this month — an 8 1/2-mile stretch of pavement that most Southern Nevadans will never use, unless you’re a politician or lobbyist commuting between Reno and Carson City. [...]

And the cost? More than a half-billion-with-a-b dollars.

The new highway, Interstate 580, was paid for primarily with federal and state gas tax money. It has been planned for decades.

“This project is not just a home run, it’s a grand slam,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said at the ribbon cutting last week.

He said it would improve safety, promote commerce and ease commutes.

But to critics, the project was a boondoggle — our own “bridge to nowhere,” as Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani called it when she was in the Assembly. The route was heavily influenced by not-in-my-backyard politics back in 1983. The residents along the current road, U.S. 395, didn’t want an expansion. The project couldn’t be moved to the west because that would run into a tony development. So the Washoe County Commission decided to have the highway hug a hillside overlooking Pleasant Valley to the west.

Some Southern Nevadans say the highway was built so Northern Nevadans could strut.

“I think it’s widely acknowledged as primarily a flex pose in the mirror, designed to celebrate the political might of a couple of Washoe County legislators,” said Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers, who was also a legislator as this project was approved. (The late state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and late Gov. Kenny Guinn were both honored at the groundbreaking.)

Bill Raggio may no longer be with us, but he will certainly never be forgotten.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think we should neglect critical infrastructure needs in Northern Nevada. I just think it's foolish to ignore critical infrastructure needs in Southern Nevada. Really, the entire state needs better public infrastructure in order to develop a more sustainable economy. Yet when over 70% of the state's population continue to be shortchanged and forced to fight each other for mere crumbs of the state's fiscal loaf, we shouldn't be surprised when our economy faces severe structural problems.

It's just plain maddening to see our state approach public infrastructure as a matter of "juice" and "wheeling & dealing". And it's saddening to think that critical resources like public libraries are at risk of closing indefinitely just because they're not as politically well connected as contractors looking to build a highway from the state capital to the historical epicenter of political clout.

Again, I don't want to deny anything that Reno and Carson City need. It would just be nice if Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson didn't always have to fight tooth and nail just to prevent losing what we need. Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Frog, Meet Scorpion.

This morning, I was reminded of this fable.

The Scorpion and the Frog is a fable about a scorpion asking a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature. The fable is used to illustrate the position that the behaviour of some creatures is irrepressible, no matter how they are treated and no matter what the consequences.

Believe it or not, this fable is coming to life right here in Southern Nevada. But alas, how could this be. Well, this is why I'm writing about it today. Here are The Scorpion & The Frog.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute filed a complaint with the 8th Judicial District Court on Friday alleging the Clark County Debt Management Commission violated the Nevada Open Meeting Law.

The commission — composed of three Clark County commissioners and representatives from local city governments and the School Board — voted during its June 7 meeting to approve a ballot question that seeks voter approval on a new property tax to fund school construction and rehabilitation projects.

The cash-strapped School District is pursuing a new capital improvement plan to address $5.3 billion in school maintenance needs over the next decade. The School Board — supported by four former first ladies of Nevada — are pushing for a six-year capital levy that is expected to raise property taxes as much as $74 a year on a home with an assessed valuation of $100,000.

CCSD administrators really believed NPRI's spinmasters when they "offered to help" them "take care" of all those "pesky teachers". So CCSD admin went out of their way to please their new political soulmates. Even if it meant hurting CCSD students, they cut and cut and cut away while continuing to find new ways to deny teachers their fair pay.

So what are CCSD bosses getting in return? Oh, just a law suit from NPRI aiming to block that capital bond initiative they so direly need from ever reaching this fall's ballot. I know, what a way to show gratitude!

Frog, meet scorpion.

Many tried to warn CCSD administrators not to get too cozy with NPRI. After all, NPRI's goal is to starve public education to death! What on earth made Dwight Jones and Amanda Fulkerson believe that Victor Joecks and his merry band of "think tank" teabaggers cared one iota about improving public education? No matter how often they'd let NPRI stooges "slip" into CCSD's secure email network meant for official school business only, NPRI would eventually reach this point and sting them like this.

And now, our kids may end up suffering even more thanks to CCSD's idiocy and NPRI's pure evil.

Suspect is the timing of NPRI’s lawsuit, which comes just five days shy of the 60-day deadline to file a complaint on open-meeting law violations, Haldeman said. Today is the deadline for open-meeting law violations on the June 7 debt management commission meeting.

“If (NPRI) were really interested in the open-meeting law, why would they wait until now to file this lawsuit?” [Joyce Haldeman, the School District’s associate superintendent of community and government relations] said. “It sounds to me like a political maneuver.” [...]

Brager said the commission will hear the ballot initiative again in August to conduct a re-vote “in an abundance of caution.” Both Brager and Haldeman said they were confident the lawsuit would not impact the ballot measure in November.

“It’s important for the children of Clark County because we have AC units that are old and have no lifetime in them anymore,” said Brager, who has had four generations of her family attend Clark County schools. “Children in our community deserve to be able to sit in a classroom that can contain heat and cold.”

They really should have known better. NPRI doesn't give a shit about our kids suffering under excessive heat and cold in decrepit public schools. If that means its PR hacks can spin the "OUTRAGE!!!" into further dismantling CCSD altogether and privatizing even more of what should be public education, then NPRI is happy. Frog, meet scorpion.

NV-03: Oceguera Hits the Airwaves... & Uses a Familiar Message

It's official now. The race for Nevada's swingiest of swing districts is on. Joe Heck was apparently already planning to go on air, but today John Oceguera is launching his first ad.

As you can see above, Oceguera talks quite a bit about the fate of the middle class. And as we've talked about before, the fate of this election may ultimately rest on how strongly Americans want to save it. So it's interesting to see Democratic candidates like Oceguera tap that anger and channel it into a message of saving the middle class.

We've already seen what Joe Heck thinks of Nevada's middle class. Long story short, he just doesn't care. He's regularly ignored his own (middle class) constituents so he can focus on pleasing his dirty 1% BFFs.

Just as we figured, this election will be decided by working class Nevadans because they don't want to see the middle class disappear. John Oceguera may really be onto something here.