Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Behind the Babble, Beyond the Batsh*t

He had it. He apparently had enough of the insane scandaliciousness and insanely naughty behavior as of late. So MSNBC's Thomas Roberts finally blurted out his frustration.

Since we're in the midst of summer and Congress is about to go to recess, the media have to talk about something (else). So of course, we're enduring another round of Scandal-mania. And this time, it's all about sex, sex, SEX!!!

As you all know, I do my best to keep away from salacious tabloid worthy stories... Except when they also involve more serious issues. This may finally be that occasion.

We've been enduring debates over who's responsible, who's to blame, who needs help, and who should "feel guilty" for such "bad behavior". And in some of these cases, truly egregious acts were committed. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) apparently has a long history of sexually harrassing women, while Former Governor and current Rep. Mark Sanford (R) shirked his duties as Governor to pursue an affair in Argentina... And tried to lie about it.

And of course, there is the ongoing obsession over one very wild and incredibly stupid weiner. Yet while we're focusing on the banality that Carlos Danger embodies quite well, are we missing the more important aspect of these sex stories?

While we go on and on blathering over men who get off on women in sickening ways, we sometimes forget about the ongoing attacks on women's health care. Why is it OK to sexting, but not reproductive rights? Women can be sex objects, but they can't object to losing the right to make their own health care decisions?

And then, there's the matter of the women themselves. Are they victims? Are they villains? Are they human? Keep in mind the latter, especially as we rush to glamorize the scandalous men and castigate the women involved (until they're simply forgotten).

Frankly, we've seen a whole lot of batshit crazy on TV and online lately. But really, what's beyond the babble? What are we missing here?

Here's some food for thought. We have all these men engaged in all this inappropriate conduct. How have they been able to attain higher office? And why are some of them still running for office?

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Think about it.

First, Do No Harm.

Yesterday, we looked at the complicated politics of trying to get Congress to agree to economically beneficial policies. In theory, it should make sense. No one wants the economy to suffer, and Republicans want lower corporate tax rates, so why not take President Obama's offer to lower rates, close loopholes, and invest in infrastructure (and job creation)?

Not so fast. Already, G-O-TEA opposition is building. The G-O-TEA looks to be as radically crazy as ever.

There Obama stands; still president, still trying, and still finding no serious partner with whom to bargain. But whereas the original grand bargain was truly sweeping in its ambitions, trading (too few) tax hikes for (too many) cuts to social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security, this latest iteration of what some have called the president’s white whale is far more modest. And yet Republican resistance is, if anything, even firmer.

This time around, Obama is essentially asking to trade a cut to corporate tax rates in exchange for greater investment in jobs programs and public infrastructure. It’s a perfectly sensible deal, too, one in which each side gets something they’ve long wanted, and each side gives the other something they’d, in a perfect world, probably rather not. Needless to say, Republicans hate it. [...]

It’s therefore a big deal when the GOP shirks all responsibility for governing, mostly because they reject that November 2012 (or 2008, for that matter) ever happened. It’s a big deal when the litmus test for Republicanism becomes opposition to anything and everything one man attempts, with what’s best for the people coming a distant second. It’s a big deal when a party that runs 30 of 50 state governments behaves such that even sympathetically inclined commentators, like The New York Times’ Ross Douthat, call it more a faction than a real political party.

Here's the problem. The President is simply trying to govern. The House G-O-TEA faction, on the other hand, is still fighting past elections and engaging in dangerous ideological grandstanding. That's just no way to govern.

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House G-O-TEA "leaders" are now so blinded by Obama Derangement Syndrome that they're even rejecting the legacy of their supposed "Dear Leader". Yes, it's truly that bad. They're even resorting to mocking their own 2008 Presidential Nominee!

And of course, they're demanding yet another manufactured crisis. Even though it would be completely pointless, they're pursuing one nonetheless. It's infuriating that the G-O-TEA constantly gets in the way of Congress agreeing to anything that may help the economy. Can't they at least refrain from causing any more economic harm?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Economics of Growth... & Politics of Compromise

Last week, President Obama traveled to Galesburg, Illinois, to talk about the nation's economic future. Today, he's in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to give Congressional Republicans an offer they shouldn't refuse. The President is willing to lower the overall corporate tax rate... So long as they're willing to close loopholes and invest in job creation.

“I’m willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs,” he said in prepared remarks. “That’s the deal.”

As an alternative to seeking quick passage of thedeficit-reduction formula that has eluded lawmakers for two years -- a mix of increased tax revenue and entitlement curbs -- Obama proposed spending more to help manufacturing, worker training and infrastructure improvements that create jobs.

“If Washington will just end the gridlock and set aside the kind of slash-and-burn partisanship we’ve seen these past few years -– our economy will be stronger a year from now,” he said.

Under the proposal, Obama would seek a business tax change that produces a one-time revenue gain, and that would be earmarked for the repair of roads and bridges or other public works, innovation centers for manufacturing and community college training to close skill gaps.

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Yet so far, House Republican "leaders" are so far refusing this "grand bargain" anyway. The White House likely stopped caring about what they say a long time ago. At this point, they're eyeing the Senate "Compromise Caucus" in hopes of striking a deal.

Just about everything the White House and Congressional Democratic leaders propose at this point is intended to bolster the fledgling consensus caucus in the Senate — or at least is crafted with the goal of winning over those Republicans in mind.

That’s why we’re talking about a small bore jobs plan that directs dollars to popular government initiatives and a pretty generic, revenue neutral tax reform plan that concedes lower rates in advance.

It’s also why the White House and Senate Democrats aren’t trying to turn off sequestration in the appropriations process.

And it’s part of the reason Democrats welcome these Quixotic conservative attempts to make defunding Obamacare the ransom for keeping the government open or increasing the debt limit. Setting aside the damage that kind of radicalism does to the GOP nationally, this behavior is at long last splintering the GOP rather than uniting it behind a path-of-most-resistance conservative consensus. It’s invigorating the dozen-or-so Senate Republicans who are done with the 2011 way of doing things.

So it’s no surprise that Boehner and McConnell rejected this latest White House idea out of hand. The real question is what do Susan Collins and John McCain and Bob Corker and the rest of them think of it. Obviously their support wouldn’t mean the plan would pass cleanly in the Senate this week or this fall, let alone become law. But it would be an indication that the same group that’s been instrumental in confirming Obama nominees and fighting the right over defunding Obamacare is coalescing around the kinds of ideas that could be included in a future legislative package that would also probably include an increase in the debt ceiling.

As we've discussed before, G-O-TEA approved austerity has led to real economic pain and unnecessary hampering of economic recovery. If we want more economic growth, we need less austerity. It's really as simple as that.

Well, at least it should be. Yet even though the economics here are simple, the politics can be quite complicated. That's why the President is in Tennessee today. And that's why all eyes are now on this budding "Compromise Caucus" in the Senate.

Again, the economics of this are plain and simple. We need pro-growth policies, not pro-poverty austerity. It's now just a matter of whether the politics of Capitol Hill can finally catch up to economic reality.

Insani-TEA Strikes Again.

It's the end of the month. It's the final week before Congress goes to August recess. And the House still hasn't passed comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).

This is a problem. Even some top Republicans now recognize this. And they're trying to pressure the House into passing CIR.

The effort was organized by Carlos Gutierrez, who was secretary of commerce under President George W. Bush and was a founder of a “super PAC,” Republicans for Immigration Reform. The letter is the beginning of a campaign to lobby Republican lawmakers in favor of a broad immigration bill as they return to their districts for the August break.

“What tends to happen during the month of August is that members go home and they go to town hall meetings and they check up on their offices in terms of phone calls and letters, and that’s where they get bombarded,” Mr. Gutierrez said in a phone interview. “So Republicans who are for immigration reform — and I believe there are many — we need to make our voice known in August.”

A cross-section of Republican donors and fund-raisers signed the letter. They include Karl Rove, a deputy chief of staff in Mr. Bush’s White House; former Vice President Dan Quayle; Tom Stemberg, a founder of Staples; and Frank VanderSloot, the founder of Melaleuca Inc.

They're clearly feeling compelled to do something. Especially now that Rep. Steve King (R-Crazytown) is whipping the 21st Century Know Nothings into a frenzy while Groundswell tries to quell any remaining momentum for reform on Capitol Hill, they will have to do something to stop the House from destroying S 744 (and whatever tiny chance Congress has left to pass CIR this year) once and for all. It certainly doesn't help them that a slew of local and national Republicans have been lining up behind King.

And it doesn't stop there. Early last month, almost all House Republicans lined up to support King's amendment to deport DREAMers. Both Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) voted for King’s amendment. Both had expressed willingness to support CIR early this year, but Heck now seems content with letting his fellow House Republicans kill CIR this year.

So the Senate passed S 744 on a strong bipartisan vote, and people who were once considered "Republican leaders" are now demanding that the House do the same. And yet, the House is about to go to recess without passing any kind of CIR. After all, "pure" insani-TEA matters more (to them) than economic stimulus, smart politics, and/or even basic common sense.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tipping Point

The last session of the Nevada Legislature was historic for many reasons. One was the passage of SJR 13. For the first time ever, the Legislature cast a vote in favor of marriage equality. And not only that, but the final vote for this session happened just weeks before the US Supreme Court issued its Prop 8 and DOMA rulings.

In a relatively short amount of time, we've seen a major sea change in public opinion both in Nevada and nationally. We're seeing yet another confirmation of this, courtesy of Gallup.

If given the opportunity to vote on a law legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, the slight majority of Americans, 52%, say they would cast their vote in favor, while 43% would vote against it. [...]

In the same poll, Gallup asked a separate half-sample of Americans whether they think marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The 54% saying they should be recognized conforms with the 53% expressing the same view in May, and prior to that in November 2012.

This is the first update of this Gallup trend since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in July, making same-sex couples eligible for federal benefits in states where gay marriage has been legalized. The court also reportedly paved the way for gay marriage in California, by denying supporters of Proposition 8 in California standing to appeal a federal court's decision declaring the anti-gay-marriage amendment unconstitutional. It thus appears that these much-anticipated, and widely covered, decisions did not cause any realignment of public opinion, at least in the short term.

Gallup used two separate approaches to measure public support for gay marriage this month, and they produced similar results: 52% would vote for a federal law legalizing same-sex marriages in all 50 states, and 54% think gay marriages should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as marriages between men and women. This adds to the body of evidence in Gallup trends that public opinion on gay marriage has reached a tipping point, whereby the majority now clearly supports it.

Again, this is a major change from the not-so-distant past, when many Democratic and Republican politicians did not want to be associated with "gay marriage". Now, Nevada Democrats nearly universally support marriage equality while Republicans are divided. We truly seem to be under going a major tipping point.

Of course, nothing can be taken for granted just yet. After all, SJR 13 still must pass the Nevada Legislature in 2015. And if that happens, SJR 13 then goes to a vote of the people in 2016 for final approval.

But now, LGBTQ equality advocates feel more confident. The tipping point seems to be here. Progress is being made, and even more is now within reach.

New Way Forward

Over the years, we've become quite familiar with talk of massive renewable energy projects. We have all this space in the desert. And we want to build up our renewable sector. So full steam ahead?

Over the years, some environmentalists have urged caution, even as other major environmental groups have pushed for more large scale renewable energy projects. Clearly, the "green on green warfare" was quite odd. And it was ultimately counterproductive to both goals of renewable development and open space preservation. So California figured out a new way forward.

These differing views created an uncomfortable "green vs. green" debate, [the Natural Resources Defense Council's Carl] Zichella says. "I think it has been tough. It's been personally painful. We are very good at stopping things, [and] we aren't very good at building things," he says.

In the end, environmental groups negotiated with the Ivanpah project and others one by one to set aside nature preserves in the desert. Learning from this, the state is trying to head off future conflicts with a new plan. The idea is to divvy up the desert into renewable energy zones and zones that are off-limits.

Karen Douglas of the California Energy Commission says it's unusual to see all sides working together.

"There is never any perfect consensus," Douglas says. "But we've got an opportunity with this partnership to put in place what we really think of as the 'greenprint' that will help us conserve our desert resources."

Nevada has begun applying this standard as well, along with other Western states. There has to be a balance of preserving open space and building a renewable future. Especially with climate change already underway, there's not much time left to act.

Unless we invest more in renewable energy development soon, use of coal power will skyrocket. And that’s pretty much the death knell for our climate.

If we can figure out how to balance conservation and development, we can figure out how to make it work overall. Again, we don't have much time left. What are we waiting for? There's a new way forward. We should try it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Crazy Groundswell

Back in May, we asked what's turned out to be a very critical question. We asked if the worsening Republican Party civil war would ultimately blow up the emerging consensus for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in Congress. Now, the answer becomes clearer every time Rep. Steve King (R-insani-TEA) opens his mouth in front of a microphone.

And it's not just Steve King. Yesterday, Mother Jones uncovered a new G-O-TEA campaign to attack President Obama... And other Republicans.

There was much more on the agenda for the March 27 meeting than a single talking point. The group routinely addresses an ambitious to-do list for its campaign against the left. At that session, Groundswellers discussed several immigration-related "action items." These included attempting to link the pending reform bill to Obamacare and collecting health care reform horror stories to provide to Cruz, a leading opponent of the Senate immigration reform bill. (Cruz has repeatedly compared the legislation to the health care reform law.)

Groundswell members saw immigration as a life-or-death issue. "If we lose on immigration," the post-meeting memo noted, "we lose on every other issue. The key to defeating this bill is Sen. Rubio. He can gracefully remove himself from the 'gang of 8' and still save face…The messaging on this issue has to be 'we can't trust Obama' to enforce immigration laws after the amnesty." [...]

On one occasion, [Danielle] Cutrona promoted a column from the conservative site Headlined "Who is Going to Put an End to the McCain/Graham Circus?" this RedState.compost excoriated Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham as "Benedict Arnolds" for retreating on their opposition to Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary and for "their treachery on the issue of illegal immigration." Cutrona, [the chief counsel to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)] who occasionally used her official Senate email to communicate with Groundswell members, was encouraging this band of conservatives to spread the word that two party colleagues of her boss were ideological traitors. A spokesman for Sessions says that this blog post did not reflect Cutrona's views and "was simply one of scores of diverse news and opinion pieces she emailed on immigration."

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As we've said before, this is bigger than just Steve King. This is the G-O-TEA id unleashed, and the Republican egos and super-egos have yet to figure out how to fully check the G-O-TEA id. And now, the id is out to consume the entire rest of the party alive.

So this is what's happening to CIR legislation in Congress. We're down to talking about cantaloupes, mules, and Groundswell. And thanks to G-O-TEA insistance upon pandering to its base at all costs, nothing is getting done.

How much more of this can we take? It's more than just one crazy politician. It's about the crazy taking over an entire party. And we're all suffering as a result.

Consequences (Are Here.)

It's back! In case you were wondering whatever happened to the patient dumping scandal, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital is back in the news. Why? Oh, the scandal plagued hospital finally earned its long awaited federal demerit.

 State officials say they won't appeal an accrediting agency's low marks of a Las Vegas psychiatric hospital, saying they'd rather wait for the organization to take a fresh look at the much-scrutinized hospital.

Nevada health and human services chief Mike Willden says he's disappointed by the Joint Commission's decision last week to give Rawson-Neal a "preliminary denial of accreditation." The mark can be appealed, but indicates problems that would lead to loss of accreditation.

The designation was based on a May inspection that found the hospital out of compliance with standards including ones dealing with patient discharge procedures.

At least for now, the hospital will remain open and continue receiving federal Medicaid dollars. However, the hospital's future relationship with the feds will be in doubt without accreditation. And this may only be the beginning.

"It's a very big deal," said Troy Lair, CEO and president of The Compliance Doctor, a Los Angeles-based firm that consults with health organizations across the country on accreditation.

Private insurance companies generally will not pay for patient care in a hospital that is not accredited, Lair said. "They will not be able to see any type of private insurance patient," he said.

In a best case scenario, Lair said, it generally takes a hospital up to a year to regain accreditation. Many hospitals that lose accreditation end up closing. [...]

The hospital remains the subject of several outside probes. The city attorneys in Los Angeles and San Francisco are investigating whether Rawson-Neal has been systematically dumping patients across state lines for years. Last month, Sacramento civil rights lawyer Mark Merin filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status against Nevada and Rawson-Neal, contending the busing policy violated patients' constitutional rights.

Ouch. This is a big f**king deal. So why aren't we seeing more state "leaders" treat it as such?

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-Denial) had to be shamed into even acknowledging the woes of Rawson-Neal. And he, along with quite a few others in Carson City, continues to ignore the consequences of failure to keep in place Nevada's social safety net.

We're now just beginning to pay the price. I just wonder what it will take for this state to fully change course. Can we truly afford more of the same?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Not Just Who, But Why

Oh, joy. Senator Harry Reid (D-Searchlight) is catching plenty of attention over what he told PBS' Judy Woodruff yesterday about Hillary Clinton running for President in 2016. Of course, the media are focusing on this.

However, there's far more in Senator Reid's interview. Funny enough, he addressed what we've been discussing all week here. Go ahead and look below.

Although Senator Reid mentioned last week's filibuster breakthrough, he also acknowledged the record low approval of Congress. And he pointed out why Congress is now so unpopular. When so much time is wasted on abortion bans, health care deform, austerity fetishes, and ideological insani-TEA, this is what follows.

Right now, most Americans are looking for solutions. They're looking for job creation. And they're looking for a better future for our next generation. What is Congress doing to further this? Can Congress accomplish anything when all the G-O-TEA wants is more obstruction?

There's a reason why Congress is so unpopular now. And there's a reason why Hillary Clinton is doing well in the (extremely) early 2016 polls. Senator Reid clearly notices these. Are Republican Congresscritters?

The Real Tragedy

So Congress is preparing for August recess. That's why the House G-O-TEA all-stars are busy demanding even more economically harmful austerity and death to comprehensive immigration reform. But in case this isn't crazy enough for you, get a load of this.

"If someone else would like to do it instead of me, I'm more than happy to consider it. But I'd like to be the lead sponsor," the Florida Republican said. "I feel very strongly about this issue. And I'd like to be the lead sponsor on it if we can find language that we can unify people behind." [...]

There's no shortage of relevant angles here. For example, [Senator Marco] Rubio [R-Florida], a long-time culture warrior and proponent of social conservatism, desperately wants to make the right like him again after his work on comprehensive immigration reform. Because the right places a high priority of abortion restrictions like these, it's likely the senator sees this as a way to get back into their good graces as he moves closer towards a national campaign.

There's also the larger effect on the Republican Party's "rebranding" initiative. In recent years, as the GOP has become more extreme on issues like these, the party has exacerbated the existing gender gap thanks to the "war on women." Instead of learning the right lessons, the U.S. House approved a 20-week ban championed by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) last month, and even though it has no realistic chance of success, and now Rubio hopes to follow suit in the U.S. Senate.

Oh, yes. That's right. The War on Women is back in full force! And it's happening because Marco Rubio fears his falling 2016 poll numbers and diminishing standing among the 21st Century Know Nothings.

This is what Rep. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) was decrying last month. And now, Marco Rubio wants the Senate to partake in the House's insani-TEA. Apparently for Senator Rubio and other DC G-O-TEA politicians, women aren't harrassed enough over their health care decisions.

[... In] the 40 years since, [Dr. John J.] Sciarra has been surprised to see the state of reproductive rights moving backward instead of forward. “We did not anticipate the backlash that has turned abortion into an ideological battleground,” the retired doctor writes in a op-edpublished in the Chicago Tribune on Friday. “So I have again joined 99 of my fellow professors of obstetrics and gynecology in another statement on the issue, published earlier this year, in the very same American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

In the new statement, Sciarra and 99 of his colleagues point out that even though abortion has been legalized and medical practice has evolved to accommodate a new range of reproductive care, the politicization of the issue still threatens to derail women’s reproductive rights. When Sciarra first advocated for abortion rights back in the 1970s, he and his fellow OB-GYNs imagined that the “increasingly liberal course of events” in the U.S. would create a rising demand for abortion care. They thought the biggest problem facing the country would be a shortage of doctors available to perform abortions. It turns out they were wrong — the biggest problem is actually the web of state-level abortion restrictions that come between women and their doctors.

“We have had 40 years of medical progress but have witnessed political regression that the 100 professors did not anticipate,” their official statement noted. “Forty years later, the change is not liberal. Its effects will threaten, not improve, women’s health and already obstruct physicians’ evidence-based and patient-centered practices.”

Already, state abortion restrictions are causing problems for women across the country. And now, Senator Rubio wants to back those up with anti-scientic, anti-productive, anti-Constitution, and anti-sane anti-choice federal legislation. Because of course, his political career matters more than real women's lives.

This is the real tragedy here. Women's lives are truly at stake here. And these G-O-TEA politicians don't seem to care about the consequences of their actions. Believe it or not, there are more important things than the political future of Marco Rubio, Dean Heller, and Joe Heck.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

King of Crazy

Here we go again. Never mind the personal stories, the office visits, the big rallies, or even the cold, hard political reality. House Republicans are still determined to kill comprehensive immigration reform (CIR)... And try to mask it with political stunts.

Yesterday, we saw the birth of yet another G-O-TEA political stunt. Yet now, even this is on its way to being derailed. Even as they released their stunt with plenty of pomp and circumstance, it was being castigated... By many of their own.

And that's not all. Oh, yes. That's right. Queue Rep. Steve King (R-Crazytown).

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Last month, we looked at G-O-TEA efforts to win future elections by simply winning over more white voters. So far, it seems like they're deciding this is their path of least resistance. And they still fail to see how this is already coming back to bite them in the ass.

It's already happening now. The 21st Century Know Nothings are even objecting to Republican induced immigration stunts! And again, they're already succeeding in forcing House Republican "leaders" to keep away from CIR. Even though they claim to reject Steve King's xenophobic stink bombs, they're ultimately letting him call the shots on immigration policy.

To be sure, House GOP leaders eventually got around to criticizing King's comments last night, just as they did in March when another House Republican lawmaker used the "wetbacks" slur.

But soon after, King doubled down on his remarks, appearing on an Iowa radio show to say, "It's not something that I'm making up. This is real."

And while King keeps talking, and party leaders keep wringing their hands, it's worth appreciating the political circumstances that have brought us to this point. Note, for example, that the right-wing Iowan may come across as a racist buffoon that the American mainstream finds repulsive, but at this point, he's winning -- King has been fighting to kill comprehensive immigration reform, and by all appearances, House Republican leaders intend to hand him and his allies the outcome they prefer.

In other words, as ridiculous as Steve King appears, he and his kooky friends are shaping the House Republican caucus' position on immigration policy, largely because Boehner and his friends are too inept to lead.

They're not interested in sound policy. And at this point, they're not even interested in smart politics. At this point, the inmates are taking over the asylum.

But then again, House Republicans have even been objecting to basic governance. Is it any surprise they don't mind seeing bipartisan immigration reform legislation die on their vine? As long as they keep surviving G-O-TEA primaries and feeling good about ginning up more xenophobia to scare more older straight white Christian voters (aka "Sarah Palin's Real America") onto their side, that's all that matters.

They still don't realize they're in for a(nother) rude awakening. I guess this is what happens when one party panders relentlessly to crazy people.

The Choice: Pro-active or No Action?

Yesterday, we discussed the folly of the latest and greatest G-O-TEA demands for (even more) austerity. Today, it's President Obama's turn to make the case for a new path forward for economic growth. Just moments ago in Galesburg, Illinois, he discussed his vision for the future... As well as why there are so many challenges in the present.

We’ve seen a sizable group of Republican lawmakers suggest they wouldn’t vote to pay the very bills that Congress rang up – a fiasco that harmed a fragile recovery in 2011, and one we can’t afford to repeat.  Then, rather than reduce our deficits with a scalpel – by cutting programs we don’t need, fixing ones we do, and making government more efficient – this same group has insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that has cost jobs, harmed growth, hurt our military, and gutted investments in American education and scientific and medical research that we need to make this country a magnet for good jobs.

Over the last six months, this gridlock has gotten worse.  A growing number of Republican Senators are trying to get things done, like an immigration bill that economists say will boost our economy by more than a trillion dollars.  But a faction of Republicans in the House won’t even give that bill a vote, and gutted a farm bill that America’s farmers and most vulnerable children depend on. 

If you ask some of these Republicans about their economic agenda, or how they’d strengthen the middle class, they’ll shift the topic to “out-of-control” government spending – despite the fact that we have cut the deficit by nearly half as a share of the economy since I took office.  Or they’ll talk about government assistance for the poor, despite the fact that they’ve already cut early education for vulnerable kids and insurance for people who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  Or they’ll bring up Obamacare, despite the fact that our businesses have created nearly twice as many jobs in this recovery as they had at the same point in the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare. 

With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.  And I am here to say this needs to stop.  Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires.  Our focus must be on the basic economic issues that the matter most to you – the people we represent.  And as Washington prepares to enter another budget debate, the stakes for our middle class could not be higher.  The countries that are passive in the face of a global economy will lose the competition for good jobs and high living standards.  That’s why America has to make the investments necessary to promote long-term growth and shared prosperity.  Rebuilding our manufacturing base.  Educating our workforce.  Upgrading our transportation and information networks.  That’s what we need to be talking about.  That’s what Washington needs to be focused on. 

Yet instead of this, we're hearing even more talk of even more manufactured crises and haute faux scandals. Congressional G-O-TEA "leaders" are more interested in playing petty politics than enacting good policy. And this isn't even a (federal) election year yet! At this point, they're just hoping to stink up all of Washington and hope some of that stench sticks to Democrats.

This is no way to govern. As we've discussed before, austerity is the antithesis of prosperity. Yet over and over and over again, Congressional Republicans manufacture another Beltway crisis in order to demand more austerity. And as a result, we the people suffer.

Something must change. That's what President Obama was demanding today. And at some point, that's what we the people must decide ourselves.

Can we afford any more austerity? Can we afford any more obstruction? Can we afford to waste time on more manufactured crises that could be used to build a better economy?

Think about it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The DREAM & The Id

Every so often, I'm asked why I'm so hard on the 21st Century Know Nothings. Why am I always "calling names" and "being mean"? If you really want to know why, it's not difficult to figure out.

Here, I'll let 21st Century Know Nothing folk hero Steve King (R-Iowa) explain.

“There are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing they were breaking the law. And they will say to me and others who defend the rule of law, ‘We have to do something about the 11 million. Some of them are valedictorians.’ Well, my answer to that is…it’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

King also said during the interview that there were people in his state who were advocating for immigration reform because they depended upon cheap, illegal labor. “What they really, of course, mean is amnesty,” he said, “and then they will tell me, ‘I need someone to gather my eggs,’ or ‘I need someone to harvest the hogs, I need somebody to milk my cows.’”

He continued, “These are arguments that get weighed in with all of this, but there are many businesses in the state and in the country that were developed and evolved into the business they are today because of the anticipation of having cheap, illegal labor standing there ready to take those jobs.”

This is not the first time King has shown public disdain for undocumented immigrants. Last month, he tweeted about “brazen self professed illegal aliens” at his Washington, D.C., office and, earlier this year, advocated for an electrified fence along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

And of course, Rep. King also has a penchant for comparing immigrants to dogs. So there's that.

Occasionally, Congressional G-O-TEA "leaders" try to spin this away and find silly excuses for this extreme rhetoric. They fail to actually make it go away because they match this extreme rhetoric with extreme legislation (like the recent amendment to deport DREAMers that passed the house on a mostly party line vote).

But now, all of a sudden, we're supposed to believe them and their "KIDS Act". Earlier today, PLAN called BS on this nightmare for DREAMers and their families.

“We have a serious crisis with our broken immigration system, and instead of addressing it in a comprehensive manner, Congressman Joe Heck and his colleagues are offering a crumb to some DREAMers and deportation for the rest,” said Astrid Silva, immigration organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and co-founder of DREAM Big Vegas, an organization of and for undocumented youth known as DREAMers.

Congressman Joe Heck and members of Congress proposing the so-called “KIDS” Act are some of the same politicians who killed the DREAM Act in 2010, opposed deferred action for DREAMers to prevent them from deportation in 2012, and then voted to defund that initiative. [...]

On Monday, United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, came out against this thinly-veiled attempt by House leaders to give their party political cover on the issue of immigration without presenting any serious solutions. PLAN agrees with United We Dream and rejects any proposal that puts millions of Latinos, Asians, and immigrants into a permanent underclass or excludes them from a pathway to citizenship.

Silva said, “House Republicans like Congressman Heck have a choice before them: deliver a real solution on immigration and start to rebuild their political brand with the fastest growing demographic in the country, or step further and further away from mainstream America and the Latino and immigrant community with extreme proposals that fall short of a real, long-term solution. Voters want immigration reform with a path to citizenship. It would be a positive step forward for the economy and our country."

As usual, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Superficial) wants to look "moderate" while voting "tea party". So of course, he's jumping onto this bill to try to have it both ways.

And of course, he hasn't said a peep on Rep. Steve King's outlandish new comments. Because of course, what Rep. King says speaks to the 21st Century Know Nothing id. And he & other G-O-TEA politicians long ago decided to pander to that 21st Century Know Nothing id instead of challenging it.

Of course, House Republicans don't like to hear this. Why must immigrant rights activists "call names" and "be mean"? Never mind that they're not the ones calling immigrants "dogs" and refusing to pass legislation that already passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote last month. And they've yet to repudiate Steve King and his latest round of bigoted insani-TEA.

Could this be due to their fear of admitting they don't have the ego or super-ego to reign in their "TEA" tinged id?

No Sense, No ($) Cents

Last week, we examined the growing success of Obamacare (aka the ACA, or Affordable Care Act) in lowering health care costs and covering more Americans. Yet despite this news, Congressional Republicans are still hell-bent on denying Americans the health care they need. And now, they're (yet again) threatening government shutdown if they don't get their way.

Now, other than simply sabotaging the federal health care system, it's not entirely clear what's driving the GOP's obsession with "stopping the individual mandate from going into effect." The individual mandate is, after all, a Republican idea. For that matter, if it doesn't go into effect, the result would be 13.7 million Americans without any health care coverage at all, and by Republicans' own admission, higher premiums and gaps for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

But even if we put the substance aside, note the nature of the political threat: if Democrats refuse to take health care benefits away from 13.7 million Americans, Republicans say they'll shut down the government. Indeed, according to Lee, this idea has the backing of "13 or 14" Senate Republicans and dozens of House Republicans. [...]

To reiterate what we talked about on Friday, there's simply no realistic way Democrats are going to say, "To prevent a government shutdown, we give up -- it took us 100 years of work to get heath care reform done, and it's making a huge difference in the lives of countless American families, but we've decided to trash the whole thing to make the GOP happy." This just isn't going to happen. Even the most unhinged congressional loon must realize, at some level, this is too nutty to take seriously.

Yet they continue manufacturing more crises. Deja vu? Yes, indeed.

Clearly, they still refuse to recognize reality. Most Americans want Congress to give Obamacare a chance to work. And recent federal & state reports detail how Obamacare is succeeding in lowering health insurance rates. Once again, the G-O-TEA is in full denial mode.

And because of this, the usual G-O-TEA suspects in Congress are now demanding more manufactured crises. And ultimately, they're demanding even more austerity. Oh, yes. That's right. They're going there once again.

For all Republicans' trash-talking of Europe, they always demand that we repeat the Eurozone's horrific economic failure. Because of the Eurozone's strong embrace of austerity, those nations have endured extended recession and incredibly high unemployment. And on top of all that, they still have high debt loads! This is why the Eurozone is finally beginning to quit its failed austerity regime.

So if even Europe is beginning to sour on austerity, why do Congressional Republicans keep insisting on bringing even more of it to America? And why are G-O-TEA Congresscritters like Mark Amodei and Joe Heck constantly voting for more of this unnecessary drama?

Obamacare so far has been improving health care across the country. Why would we want to trade it in for less effective health care, more expensive health insurance, and more fiscal austerity? It makes no sense, and it makes no (dollars and) cents.

Lipstick on a FAIL

Last month, the Senate actually passed it. Yet despite the personal hardship (faced by many) and political trouble (Republicans will face if they shoot it down), House Republicans are still hell-bent on killing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation. Why?

That's what many in Spanish-language media have been asking for the past month.

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As we noted yesterday, House G-O-TEA "leaders" (and their media people) are spinning as hard as they can to spin away their latest and greatest EPIC FAIL. They're even encouraging Reps. Joe Heck (R-"TEA" Curious) and Mark Amodei (R-Likes "TEA"), along with other rank-and-file House Republicans, to "run against Washington"... Despite being in Washington!

Yes, it's amusing that House Republicans will spend August following the advice of Washington consultants to talk about how much they loathe and detest Washington, but the thing that's really funny (at least to me) is that House Republicans don't seem to realize that they are what people hate most about Washington. [...]

Given how much the public hates Congress, I guess I can understand why House Republicans would want to spend their vacations talking about how much they hate being in Washington. The only problem is that Republicans have dominated Congress since 2010, controlling a majority in the House and, at least until last week, using the filibuster in the Senate to veto legislation they don't like.

We're now in the fifth year of the Obama presidency, and for a majority of his time in office, Republicans have had the upper hand in Congress. For them to run against it now might be their only option, but it's also a tacit admission of failure.

Exactly. For over 30 months, Republicans have controlled one house of Congress while using their power to derail legislation and nominations in the other. And now, they're "running against Congress"? Who are they kidding?

They have a bill in front of them that easily passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote a month ago. How often does that happen these days? And on top of that, the bill lowers the federal budget deficit, strengthens Social Security & Medicare, and benefits the economy. Aren't these Republicans supposed to care about this stuff?

Yet instead of doing something productive, they'd rather continue pursuing their narrow ideological agenda while pushing for more economic hardship. How on earth does this make sense? No matter how much lupstick they put on their FAIL, it's still a FAIL.

Monday, July 22, 2013

La Estupidez, Se Duele.

This is not a new story, far from it. Rather, this is the endless monster that we must encounter again and again and again. Because G-O-TEA "culture warriors demand unprecedented ideological purity and endless political warfare, the 112th and 113th Congresses are shaping up to be the most fruitless and least effective sessions of Congress we've ever seen.

Instead of doing anything worthwhile, the 21st Century Know Nothings demand actions that harm American families and hinder economic recovery. And they're demanding all this destruction all to hurt President Obama politically.

Why? Why are they so hell-bent on endless crisis and dangerous destructive behavior? New York's Jonathan Chait recently attempted to explain what we once considered unexplainable and unimaginable.

The rational way to view these events is that Republicans have marginalized themselves. But the hard-liners see it differently. In their minds, every bill that passes is a betrayal by their leaders. They know that letting Democrats carry bills through the House has been the leadership’s desperate recourse to avoid total chaos, and since chaos is their leverage, they are now working feverishly to seal off that escape route. This year, an increasing proportion of conservative media is given over to conservative activists’ extracting pledges from Republican leaders not to negotiate with Democrats. In the wake of the tax-cut deal, Republican leaders in both houses had to pledge that they would not engage in any—to quote the ubiquitous buzzword—“backroom deals.” Since all deals get made in back rooms (there is no such thing as a front room, and leaders in Western cultures like the United States habitually transact their business in rooms), this means no negotiation at all.

A recent joint op-ed by National Review editor Rich Lowry and his Weekly Standard counterpart Bill Kristol denounced the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate as “a stew of deals, payoffs, waivers, and special-interest breaks.” This echoed the conservative critique of all major Obama-era legislation—Liz Cheney, launching her Wyoming Senate race last week, called on Republicans to stop “cutting deals”—but it applies just as well to any major bill in American history, including the ones passed by the sainted Ronald Reagan. Crafting a major piece of legislation means cutting some side deals. That’s how lawmaking works. But conservatives have increasingly come to see the entire process as a morally unacceptable compromise of their ideals. “The idea of Boehner’s negotiating with Pelosi over how to proceed is implausible,” a recent story by Jonathan Strong, a National Review reporter, noted as an aside. “It would telegraph weakness.” [...]

In the actual world, the economy is recovering and the deficit, currently projected at half the level Obama inherited, is falling like a rock. Yet messianic Republican suicide threats in the face of an imagined debt crisis have not subsided at all. The swelling grievance within the party base may actually be giving the threats more fervor. The reign of the Republican House has not yet inflicted any deep or permanent disaster on the country, but it looks like it is just a matter of time.

As we've discussed many times before here, it's a
minor miracle that our economy has recovered at all considering all the austerity we've had to endure. If it weren't for all the austerity the G-O-TEA "culture warriors" have been demanding, we'd likely be seeing stronger and more stable economic recovery.

But that's not all. Apparently, austerity programs alone aren't destructive enough for the 21st Century Know Nothings. They also want comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) dead. And they're willing to great lengths to kill the bill.

We've noted before how CIR will benefit the economy. Even several prominent conservatives have made this point. But at this point, the 21st Century Know Nothings care more about their precious ideological purity than any real economic stimulus.

And now, House G-O-TEA "leaders" are not just making excuses for their intransigence. They now expect us to celebrate it!

And of course, Nevada's G-O-TEA Congresscritters (Joe Heck & Mark Amodei) are following their lead. Sure, every so often they claim they "support reform". But when push comes to shove, they just do what the 21st Century Know Nothings tell them to do. And as a result, CIR is stalled in the House.

This is no way to run a Congress. This is no way to run a country. This is just plain stupid. What will it take for them to learn?

Fatal Denial

Last week, we discussed two terrible tragedies. In Sandord, Florida, and across the nation, people are still trying to make sense of the George Zimmerman verdict. And closer to home, many in Reno are asking why one of their police officers sold a gun to Jill Schaller's severely mentally ill son.

In recent days, we've seen renewed discussion of gun violence and what we can do to curb it. Even President Obama felt compelled to say something about Trayvon Martin. As we see more and more horrific incidents of extreme gun violence, it's become next to impossible to avoid the subject.

Yet as of now, the G-O-TEA crew in Congress are still trying to avoid the subject. They act as if this isn't a problem. And once again, and they are trying to deny reality.

Yesterday, a few OFA Nevada activists met at "Super Activist" Teresa's house to urge more Nevadans to call our members of Congress.

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Senator Dean Heller and Reps. Joe Heck & Mark Amodei can try all they want to deny reality, but reality will soon bite them where it hurts. As we’ve discussed here many times before, the overwhelming majority of Nevadans support expanding background checks for gun gun purchases. This is really the least Congress can do.

Yesterday, the activists at Teresa's house were also asking themselves and each other who may be future "Stand Your Ground" victims. Since the NRA & ALEC successfully made "Stand Your Ground" Florida law, they and their "Tea Party, Inc." allies have been spreading this to other states. Even Nevada now has a limited version of the statute.

Again, the gun lobby and their favorite "TEA" fueled politicians have been trying to deny the frightening reality of rising vigilantism and innocent people being shot dead due to prejudice wrong assumptions "suspicious behavior". How much more of this can we take? Are the extra gun sales truly worth all this unnecessary bloodshed? Has anyone (other than gun manufacturers) actually benefited from the gun lobby calling the shots on state and federal gun laws?

Can Congress afford to deny reality any longer? Can state lawmakers? Can we?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Same Old Story (No More?)

It happened again last month. The same old story unfolded in the Nevada Legislature as another clusterf*ck of a Franken-budget was passed. As usual, the social safety net was left tattered as the big corporate power players were allowed to get away with tax evasion paying hardly anything.

And you know what? It's not helping our economy. In 2010, Nevada scored near the bottom of CNBC's business friendly state ratings. Oh, yes. That's right. Those "wild eyed socialists" at CNBCwere appalled by Nevada's lack of public infrastructure.

Recently, CNBC released new business friendly state ratings. And Nevada still ranks near rock bottom. CSN history professor and Vegas Seven contributor Michael Green has something to say about this.

Our economy ranks last. The low-tax climate [Governor Brian] Sandoval [R-Denial] and others praise doesn’t exist in Massachusetts or New York, but their unemployment rate is lower and their ranking here is higher.

Further, Nevada is rock-bottom in education. Set aside us liberal-arts types—the ones who teach students to read, write and think so they can prepare for any job. Numerous business leaders have expressed displeasure with the Nevada System of Higher Education, including the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. If we are as innovative and entrepreneurial as we claim—Sandoval isn’t the only guilty party here, and it’s his job to hawk Nevada—why haven’t we come up with ways to fix that area other than inviting in overpriced “educational reformers”—hello, former state superintendent James Guthrie and ex-Clark County School District superintendent Dwight Jones—to try to impose their will? While Sandoval praises Tony Hsieh and other innovators, how many of their high-tech corporations originated here, built by people who were educated here?

Also, Nevada ranks near the bottom in “quality of life.” That’s a broad term. But while the innovative and entrepreneurial want a good business climate, they also tend to like good schools, especially ones at the forefront of training others to be innovative and entrepreneurial. They might even want to go to parks, theaters and museums, and have access to the best possible medical care.

These areas bore the brunt of our budget cuts and tax phobia. It’s all of a piece. And the usual Nevada solution is for the Legislature to make believe it will study the problem, for the governor’s office to keep cutting and for state government to hire high-priced, out-of-state consultants to tell us what to do—the same kinds of out-of-state people we attack as carpetbaggers who tell us we’re bad. Just like CNBC did.

It’s the same old story. Our public infrastructure is constantly underfunded. Our people are constantly shortchanged. And this keeps happening because real tax reform is constantly avoided.

Why must we keep reliving it? Actually, we don't have to. The solution is fast approaching. We the People just need to be willing to do what the powers that be in Carson City have so far failed to do.

Are we ready to finally close the book on this sad, same old story?

High Times... Finally?!

This was a long time coming. We saw an Arizona field trip, an ACLU law suit, a last minute roll call SNAFU in Carson City, and one final round of bizarre drama from the Governor's office. But finally last month, SB 374 was signed into law and medical marijuana dispensaries finally became legal in Nevada.

So what's next? KSNV/News 3 Vegas looked into that yesterday.

Plenty of work remains. The Board of Health must set guidelines on regulating the dispensaries.

At the local level, agencies have to figure out what they will require for someone to get a business license and where to put these dispensaries.

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be making sure state and local agencies are in sync as people try to get approved. But state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who has become the face of this law, remains positive. 

“It is going to happen,” he said. “It's been 10 years since the voters approved it, but it's finally coming to fruition, so we're very excited.”

The final draft of regulations set by state board of health for public comment is set for Oct. 30. A legislative commission must approve those guidelines by Dec. 13.

There's still more work to do ahead. But finally,something's happening. After 13 years (the original medical marijuana initiative passed in 1998 and 2000), the will of the people is finally being implemented. And really, it couldn't come at a better time.

The news comes as several new studies are released suggesting that marijuana may aid in post-traumatic stress disorder,Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and as a possible weight control remedy. All of these studies, however, were either performed in other countries or based on surveys or self-reporting from marijuana users, because federal agencies have blocked access to a legal supply of marijuana even for academic studies.

Of course, federal law still presents a problem. In fact, the federal drug war is stifling critical medical research. And on top of that, specific federal actions to thwart medical marijuana run counter to 76% of US doctors who are comfortable prescribing it to patients in need.

So one can only hope the feds won't try to undermine SB 374 and/or Congress brings federal drug laws into the 21st Century soon. But in the mean time, we're at least seeing some progress in this state.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Obamacare... Is Working?!

The way Congressional Republicans keep demanding its repeal (and scheduling endless, fruitless votes to do so), one would be tempted to think the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is some horrific nightmare comw true. Whatever happened to the America we love? How did this tyranny fall upon us? Alas, we're being subjected to...

More affordable health care?! Oh, yes. That's right. Obamacare is working.

Despite many G-O-TEA attempts to sabotage Obamacare, it's so far succeeding in delivering better care to more people at lower costs. And despite all the G-O-TEA doomsday talk, much of the country (including Nevada!) is on track to implement the insurance exchanges that are the core of the health care reform law this fall. So what's there to be afraid of?

President Obama himself spoke up earlier today.

And now, he has a new federal Health & Human Services report to back him up.

The new report shows that so far, proposed premiums in the health insurance exchanges are coming in lower than expected in HHS's and CBO's projections. So far, data is available for 11 states, and in those state the lowest cost "silver" plan, essentially the median plan, is 18 percent cheaper than HHS predicted. That cost is averaged at $321 for that plan, compared with a current cost of $450 a month for comparable plans. For many, $321 is still going to be a stretch, but that's the cost before the federal tax subsidy is applied. Individuals making about $15,000 to $45,000 and families up to about $94,000 for a family of four, will have that cost offset by the tax subsidy.

The bottom line: It appears that the "rate shock" critics of Obamacare have been counting on to give them ammunition isn't going to materialize for people who are purchasing their insurance through the exchanges.

Well, to be fair, we are seeing "rate shock". It's just that some are shocked to see such low rates materialize! Apparently, this is what happens when laws are made for the public good. The public benefits.

Sure, there are still many more challenges ahead for the Affordable Care Act. But so far, it looks to be working. So why are Congressional Republicans (including Nevada's) so hellbent on wasting even more of the public’s time and money on futile efforts to repeal health care reform?

When Personal Becomes Political

We have the personal. And we have the political. And now, we have a House (of Representatives) bumbling around with comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in the balance.

So far, most House Republicans don't seem to be responding to the personal. So what about the political? We'll see this tested here in Nevada, as Ralston just caught this new House Majority PAC ad targeting Rep. Joe Heck (R-??!!).

Here's the English translation [...]:

UNIVISION CLIP: Republicans in the Capitol and in private conversations forecast a 'slow death' for immigration reform.

VOICEOVER: Congressman Heck and his extreme Republican friends are part of the problem. Heck voted to deport DREAMers – brought here as children. And has said he opposes the comprehensive immigration reform passed by the Senate. Tell Congressman Heck to stop siding with extreme Republicans blocking real immigration reform. House Majority PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Constituents have been asking Rep. Joe Heck for reform all this year. But so far, all he's given back was a vote to deport DREAMers and psycho-babble on amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship (??!!). Rep. Heck is angling hard to stay in the good graces of the 21st Century Know Nothings, but he seems to be forgetting about all the rest of his constituents.

So now, some CIR advocates are starting to play political hardball. Will he respond to that? Another national poll (this time ABC/Washington Post) shows broad support for CIR, and we've seen similarly strong numbers right here in Nevada. How much longer can Heck afford to ignore this?

So far, he and other House Republicans fear the wrath of the 21st Century Know Nothings above all else. What happens if/when they focus so hard on drinking enough "TEA" to avoid a primary fight that they forget about all the rest of us voting in the general election? Think about that.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bloody FAIL

Yesterday, we uncovered the horrific discovery Jill Schaller made when she learned that a Reno police officer sold a gun to her severely mentally ill son. This was illegal. But because the officer failed to perform a background check on Schaller's son, we're only learning of this now.

This harrowing tale seems to be reviving talk of Governor Brian Sandoval's (R-NRA) veto of the SB 221 state background checks bill last month, and of US Senator Dean Heller's (R-NRA) decision to join the G-O-TEA veto of an even more modest federal background checks bill. This is forcing Nevadans to revisit the frightening reality of the easy path to gun violence here and nationally. The RGJ's Ray Hagar posted a story earlier today on the renewed talk of gun safety in light of the Reno police scandal.

“This incident shows exactly why Gov. Sandoval made a dangerous and life-threatening mistake to veto SB221,” said activist Teresa Crawford of ProgressNow Nevada. “This is exactly why we need legislation like this here in Nevada to keep guns out of the wrong hands. I hope now he understands why we need this legislation.” [...]

“The background check provision is really important,” [State Senator Justin] Jones [D-Enterprise] said. “In this case, it is clear that if the seller had engaged in a background check and the records had been properly transferred to the Washoe Court, then the transfer would have not gone forward.

Jones noted his bill would require that those records be transferred in five days.

“We have a great need to make sure our records are transmitted from our courts quicker to our Department of Public Safety,” Jones said.

But instead, Governor Sandoval vetoed SB 221. And Senator Heller filibustered the Manchin-Toomey bill. And Reps. Joe Heck (R-?!) and Mark Amodei (R-Where This Occurred) continue their pitch perfect silence on the whole matter.

OK, so Nevada Republicans want to pretend that gun violence is not a big deal. Try explaining that to the families of children murdered with guns.

“We’ve demonstrated that we’ve made a lot of progress in reducing youth violence, but the study also points out that this progress is slowing and homicide is still a leading cause of death,” Corinne David-Ferdon, a behavioral scientist in the CDC’s Violence Prevention and Injury Center, told Reuters. “It’s important we get these programs in place early in young people’s lives to help disrupt the development of violent attitudes and behavior in early childhood and middle childhood.”

In the past several months, particularly after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary killed 20 young students and seven adults, there has been a renewed push to protect children’s health by preventing gun violence. Thousands of Americanshave gone onto be killed by guns after the Sandy Hook tragedy, including many very young children accidentally shot by firearms kept in their homes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — the nation’s largest group of pediatricians, representing over 600,000 doctors across the country — has pressured Congress to enact stricter policies to combat gun violence, pointing out that guns are the leading cause of death among minors. But the NRA isn’t particularly interested in efforts to frame gun safety as a public health issue. The powerful lobbying group actively works to discredit the AAP’s work around gun control, and has blocked scientific research into the health effects of gun violence for years.

For all the rhetoric from the NRA and its favorite politicians of "protecting Constitutional rights", they seem to care nothing about the right of America's kids to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The families of Trayvon Martin, Janay Mcfarlane, Christina Green, and Newtown, Connecticut, know this all too well. So why do we continually allow the likes of the NRA and ALEC call the shots on gun safety laws?

Something must change. Our children continue to pay the price of inaction. This is just one EPIC FAIL that can't be ignored.

Hot Potato

On Monday, we were again reminded of the human side of immigration reform. Oh, and we were again reminded of the G-O-TEA spin campaign to excuse its own drive to kill comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). House Republicans have taken a bill that easily passed the Senate 68-32!!!)... And turned it into some frightening hot potato.

Why is this? Why can't House Republicans even allow a floor vote on CIR? What do they fear?

Actually, it's more a matter of who they fear. Notice something below?

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No really, this is what's behind the G-O-TEA obstruction on CIR. They want to create the illusion of "doing something", but they don’t want to pass something their "TEA" fueled base will object to.

This is why House Republicans (including Nevada's own Joe Heck & Mark Amodei) voted to deport DREAMers last month. Sure, House G-O-TEA "leaders" now say they kind-of-sort-of-somewhat-maybe are down with the DREAM Act. Where were they when their caucus (including Eric Cantor [R-Virginia] himself!) voted to deport DREAMers?

As we've discussed before, House Republicans want to have it both ways. They want to give the impression of "doing something" while only doing what the "tea party" demands, regardless of overall public opinion and/or actual sound public policy. We're seeing this locally from Joe Heck, and this is being repeated in Republican held Congressional Districts across the nation.

Univision's Jorge Ramos is one of the top journalists in Latin@ media today. And he has a warning for Congressional Republicans hoping to smother CIR to death in the House. (The English translation below is courtesy of Daily Kos.)

It's disturbing and disappointing that [House Speaker John] Boehner [R-Ohio], in a statement, called the Senate's immigration bill "a mistake" and "hurried". He seems to be disconnected from what the American majority wants, according to the polls, after almost three decades of delay. Does Boehner really want to be the new villain of the Hispanic community, replacing Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Does he really want to be part of the sad anti-immigrant contingent including Pete Wilson, Tom Tancredo, Jan Brewer and Ted Cruz? We'll see.

Republicans have an opportunity in 2016 to share credit with Democrats on immigration reform, leaving behind years of ill-will. Sixteen million Latino voters will decide that election.

But if after everything Republicans side with the most extremist anti-immigrants, they'll lose the White House in 2016 and will have to wait many years to earn the forgiveness of Latinos. Like the wise Mexican adage says, fair warning leaves no room for surprises.

More immediately, Rep. Joe Heck (R-??!!) will have to explain his many stances on CIR in the coming months. And beyond that, Nevada Republicans will have to explain why some of their own have been going all in to undermine reform. I wonder what Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) has to say about this.

Just keep in mind that Republicans made CIR into a political hot potato among their own. So they onoy have themselves to blame when they get burned.