Thursday, October 31, 2013

Keeping Hope (& ENDA) Alive

Someone's on a roll this month! Senator Harry Reid (D-Fierce) may have played a major role in reopen the government, but he isn't resting on those laurels. Rather, he's turning up the heat and bringing the beat.

Just moments ago, Senator Reid just let slip his plans to file cloture on something long awaited (and long overdue).

Reid is likely to file a cloture petition on the bill this evening, a Democratic leadership aide told BuzzFeed Thursday, which would set a vote on the motion to proceed on debate of ENDA for Monday evening.

If the motion to proceed, which requires 60 votes, is agreed to, the Senate would debate and eventually vote on the bill. The vote would be the first Senate vote on the legislation since 1996 and the first vote ever on the legislation with both sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

Advocates say that they have clear support from 59 senators, including all 55 Democrats in the Senate and four Republicans, with a handful of other Republican senators as potential yes votes.

"We're one step closer to making America far more equal. ENDA is about common-sense workplace protections for LGBT Americans that 80 percent of Americans believe already exist. There's only upside to this issue," Human Rights Campaign vice president of communications Fred Sainz told BuzzFeed.

Oh, yes. That's right. ENDA is finally reaching the Senate floor.

At this point, Senator Reid is confident he has the votes for ENDA in the Senate. After all, all of his Senate Democrats support the bill. And on top of that, several Senate Republicans have either announced their support for ENDA or are open to voting for the final bill. Even Senator Dean Heller (R-????) is sounding like his vote is in play.

Even Cindy McCain has asked her husband to support ENDA. Sadly, he's still living on a very altered reality opposed. And the 21st Century Know Nothings have rather desperately stooped to new lows to try to kill ENDA in the Senate.

Why? Remember, we covered that on Tuesday. And that probably guarantees a sizable number of Senate Republican "Nay" votes... And tougher times ahead when it reaches the (G-O-TEA Mad) House.

But for now, major progress is being made in the Senate. And Senator Reid has taken ENDA further than it's ever gone before on Capitol Hill. That at least keeps hope alive that wrongful workplace discrimination will one day be a thing of the past.

Consequences for Their Inaction

And now, he's (still) speaking. After a hectic, wild month full of manufactured crisis and unnecessary drama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sat down with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow for an interview. And let's just say he didn't hold back when he was asked about the current state of "the other side of the aisle".

Long story short: It's a hot mess. But we already know that. The G-O-TEA has embraced its image as "The Party of Bats**t Crazy".

Yet what have G-O-TEA politicians accomplished with their month full of crazy? They pushed the nation to the brink of economic ruin. They set up a "monkey court" to do nothing but derail health care reform. And they have finally succeeded in making the entire federal government massively unpopular.

Are these really things they should be proud of? Why are they boasting about Congress' record low approval? Why have they been so giddy over creating America's government shutdown and near-default experience?

Congressional Republicans have an opportunity to fix this manufactured crises and restore Americans' faith in our system of governance. They can finally agree to finish the job on comprehensive immigration reform. They can finally do something to end wrongful workplace discrimination by passing ENDA. And they can finally match their "#4jobs" rhetoric with real action by ending the austerity regime that's been harming our economy.

So why won't they do any of this? I sense this is why Senator Reid is so frustrated. And this is why so many Americans are furious.

Sooner or later, there will be consequences for their inaction. Are they that unaware of this basic reality?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Accomplish Something

Yesterday, we examined the root of the Jim Wheeler slavery brouhaha. Believe it or not, behind the "libertarian populist" grandstanding of today's G-O-TEA is some (actually, a whole lot of) good ol' fashioned "Culture War" angst.

Don't believe me? Believe Fred Steeper. He's a prominent Republican pollster who advised Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. And when asked by The New York Times' Johm Harwood on the Republican Party's current conundrum, he cut right to the chase.

“Racism may be a part of it,” especially among working-class whites, Mr. Steeper said of the immigration stance. “The Republican Party needs to stop pandering to that.”

And he has some actual data to back him up. In the same article, prominent Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg explained his recent findings.

Stanley Greenberg, a pollster for Mr. Clinton and other Democrats, said that recent focus groups among core Republican voters highlighted anxiety that “big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes.”

“While few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities,” Mr. Greenberg wrote. “The base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country.”

As we've discussed many times before, the 21st Century Know Nothings have amassed a dangerous amount of control over today's Republican Party. And their control of that party is what's holding back the completion of comprehensive immigration reform CIR, along with other important policy goals (like ENDA, and even the most basic governance). Sadly, it's that simple...

Or maybe not? While the same G-O-TEA darlings who forced another manufactured crisis upon the nation are out to kill CIR, another Republican is stepping forward to cosponsor HR 15.

“It’s important to keep the conversation going in trying to fix the broken immigration system,” [Rep. Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen [R-Florida] said in a statement. “I favor any approach that will help us move the negotiations forward. Other Members may soon produce a bipartisan product that may also deserve support and I’m cautiously optimistic that we can pass meaningful immigration reform.”

The House Democrat’s immigration bill is modeled after the bipartisan Senate immigration bill and a House Republican-approved border security measure.

Ros-Lehtinen has long supported immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Yet in June, she said that the Senate immigration bill was “not going to move in the House.” At a massive immigration reform rally held on the National Mall that resulted in the arrest of eight House Democrats in early October, she told thousands of immigrant activists, “We’ve heard a lot of lip service and a lot of promises. Both political parties have had a chance to solve it. Neither have. It’s about time we get it done this year.”

And keep in mind that Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's announcement comes on the heels of Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) becoming the first Republican to cosponsor HR 15. And if more House Republicans, like Rep. Joe Heck (R-????), jump on board, CIR can actually pass some time in the foreseeable future.

But can they do it? Can they quit the manufactured crises and unnecessary drama long enough to actually accomplish something? Or are they too afraid of their own party's base to actually do that?

"It's Pretty Basic."

On Monday, we looked at the prospect of Congress doing something productive for a change. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) vowed a Senate floor vote on ENDA (the Employment Nondiscrimination Act) next month. And today, he's a few steps closer to that goal.

ENDA already had 53 cosponsors going into this week. But now, that number is up to 54 as Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) signed onto the bill. And on top of that, ENDA will gain another cosponsor as soon as Senator-elect Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) is sworn in.

In addition, more Senators have announced support for ENDA or at least openness to considering it. The two remaining Democratic holdouts, Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), recently announced their support. And Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) just said he's "inclined to support" ENDA. And that's not all.

The Washington Post suggests several other Republicans who have previously supported LGBT rights, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Though Flake previously supported ENDA in 2007, he now believes the latest version “will increase the potential for litigation and compliance costs.” This belief contradicts ample evidence showing that businesses of all sizesbenefit from nondiscrimination protections. Flake told the Washington Blade that he also opposes the inclusion of transgender protections, which had been stripped from the 2007 House bill he voted for.

One Senator who it seems will not be voting for ENDA is John McCain (R-AZ). Despite lobbying from his own wife, McCain seems to still be concernedabout “whether it imposes quota, whether it has reverse discrimination, whether it has the kinds of provisions that really preserve equal rights for all citizens.” He went on to draw an odd comparison between ENDA and thedesegregation busing that attempted to break down racial lines after schools were integrated.

Despite McCain’s claims, the bill expressly prohibits preferential treatment, quotas, or any kind of retaliation against people who oppose its provisions. It’s quite unclear who would be bused where if LGBT people were simply protected in the jobs they already have.

Sadly, it's not all good news. Many Republicans remain strongly opposed to workplace equality. Never mind the evidence showing workplace discrimination to be an economic loser, the usual G-O-TEA suspects just can't let go of their H8.

Why is this? As we discussed yesterday, far too many Republicans are following the lead of the 21st Century Know Nothings. And in a column for The Hill, Marge Baker explained just how far they're going to try to kill ENDA.

Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber said earlier this month that ENDA would be used to protect child predators. Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt warned last month that if ENDA passes, Christians could face bankruptcy or even starvation. American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer has shared his outrageous – not to mention bizarre – belief that “ENDA would represent the return of Jim Crow laws.” And Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver may have taken the cake with his prediction that ENDA could result in the “death of some individuals.”

That’s quite a frenzy over a law that would simply protect LGBT Americans from workplace discrimination. And as more and more conservative Americans embrace workplace protections for all, these far-right voices get even fringier.

But some in the GOP are resisting these far-right voices and standing up for decency. This summer three Republican senatorsjoined their Democratic counterparts in a bipartisan vote that moved ENDA out of committee. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski put it simply: “No discrimination against anyone at any time — it's pretty basic.”

It is pretty basic. And since the Senate is expected to vote on ENDA before Thanksgiving, it’s time for senators to ask themselves whether they are going to stand on the side of fringe extremists spouting wild predictions and warning that the sky is falling or on the side of basic fairness and common sense.

We can only wonder if Senator Heller is asking himself this. Perhaps he is, considering that he's not slamming the door on ENDA (just yet?).

It is pretty basic. This is about ensuring equal treatment under the law for all American workers. No really, that's all.

While it's frustrating that it's taken this long for ENDA to near 60 Senate votes for passage, at least we're finally approaching it now. The only question is if more in Congress (including those Republicans on the House side) can recognize something so basic.

Las Vegas 2016?

What a week this is. Yesterday, we saw a row develop over a Republican US Senator using "salty language" to insult Nevada's Senior Senator. But today, some Republicans are declaring their "love for Nevada" with a campaign for Las Vegas to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Could the party of "family values" hold its next national convention in Sin City? 

Replete with a website and Twitter account, the state of Nevada launched a bid Tuesday for Las Vegas to serve as host of the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Jack St. Martin, executive director of the Nevada Host Committee, cited the area's diversity in making his case for Vegas.

“Las Vegas makes perfect sense for the GOP Convention,” St. Martin said in a statement, according to Politico. “Las Vegas knows how to host something of this magnitude and Nevada’s diverse demographics make total sense for the GOP to come here.”

Really? Really? The RNC in Las Vegas?

Will they repeat their message to Nevada homeowners from the 2012 cycle? Will they continue preaching their gospel of austerity? Will they highlight their health care solutions? And will they keep touting their climate & energy plan?

Sure, Las Vegas has plenty to offer national Republicans. But what do national Republicans have to offer Las Vegas and Nevada?

Think about it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A (Rather Deep) Hole

It looks like the rude comments continue to flow from G-O-TEA land. At least this means Jim Wheeler doesn't have to be alone.

So what has the pundits aghast now? Oh, it's just another Republican who's ungrateful over Senator Harry Reid (D) offering their party a political life preserver at their time of need. Of course, this was also when Republicans were threatening to drown America to death, so Senator Reid was also able to stop an unnecessary catastrophe just in the nick of time.

So what did Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) say? Get a load of this.

For his part, Coburn had some choice words for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. [...]

"There's no comity with Harry Reid. I think he's an absolute a--hole," he said.

How pleasant. And it's so fitting considering Senator Coburn is a "strong defender of moral values."

Of course, Senator Coburn tried to cover his @ss equivocate by saying he has "great relationships with other Democrats"... Just not the Senate Democratic Leader who recently reached out to the Senate Republican Leader to end the latest and greatest manufactured crisis that Republicans like Tom Coburn were cheering for. Wow, that makes plenty of sense. (/not)

So Senator Coburn should not have been surprised by Senator Reid's office's response.

"Nothing says 'comity' like childish playground name-calling, especially from a senator who has not sponsored a single piece of successful bipartisan legislation during his entire Senate career," Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson told the Hill. [...]

Coburn would reportedly like to meet with Reid, but Reid's office has not yet received an invitation, according to the Hill.

"Since this is the second time in the last year or so Senator Coburn has had to apologize to Senator Reid, he knows where to find him," Jentleson told the Hill.

Coburn also called Reid "incompetent" in July 2012.

So what is Senate Coburn's definition of "comity"? Is it this? Might it be this? Or does have no grasp of the actual meaning of the word?

This month, Congressional Republicans dug themselves and their entire party into a rather deep hole by forcing an unnecessary manufactured crisis. Here's some helpful advice for Senator Coburn and the rest of the G-O-TEA: Stop digging!

The Root of the Wheeler

Earlier today, we discussed the issue at the core of Assembly Member Jim Wheeler's eye-popping comments on slavery and "representing his constituents". Since then, The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart has chimed in with a quick lesson on what Assembly Member Wheeler was willing to do to "represent his constituents". And he's not even the only national media figure noticing the Wheeler Incident.

But now, I'd like for us to look at the big picture. As we discussed earlier, this wasn't an isolated incident. Rather, there's a growing pattern of "TEA" fueled Republican politicians making incendiary comments.

So why does this keep happening? Simple. All these Republican politicians have been pandering to the 21st Century Know Nothings. And they've been doing so because they've figured it's easier to try winning more culturally conservative white voters than adapt to the changing demographics of 21st Century America.

This is why the 21st Century Know Nothings have amassed so much control over today's Republican Party. This is why likely 2016 G-O-TEA Presidential Candidates have sought their official blessing. And this is why Republican "leaders" have been deferring to them on everything from immigration reform to women's health care to sex crimes to even basic governance.

After their stinging defeat in 2012, some Republicans briefly engaged in soul searching. And in doing so, they realized the only realistic path forward for their party was modernization. But because they've become accustomed to relying upon their "TEA" fueled base in recent election cycles, Republicans faced a difficult choice: change and risk upsetting the "TEA" fueled base, or keep chugging that "TEA" and risk future electoral irrelevance.

It's not too hard to figure out which direction Republicans have picked (at least for now). By harassing transgender kids, flirting with neo-Confederate sympathizers, demonizing wide swaths of people, and taking "slut shaming" to a whole new level, the bulk of Republican politicians continue to pledge allegiance to the 21st Century Know Nothings. And they're doing so because the 21st Century Know Nothings fear America's future, just like their 19th century counterparts.

Yet in doubling down on their 21st Century Know Nothing strategy, Republicans are only risking their own political death by thousand demographic cuts. After all, the American electorate is changing. And the 21st Century Know Nothing base that Republicans relied on (especially in 2008, 2010, and 2012) is shrinking. So as long as these trends continue, the Republican Party can only expect rougher times ahead in 2014 and 2016.

So as Republicans in Nevada and nationally try to figure out ways to make their "Jim Wheeler problem" disappear, they actually need to examine the root of this problem. Here's a helpful hint: It lies far deeper than some "inartful comments" on a shameful period of America's history.

In Context

Last week, we dug all the way down to the root of Nevada Republicans' woes. Today, we have another reminder of this. And it comes courtesy of Assembly Member Jim Wheeler (R-Minden).

"If that's what they wanted, I'd have to hold my nose ... they'd probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah," Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told members of the Storey County Republican Party at a meeting in August.

His comments were swiftly denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike.

"Assemblyman Wheeler's comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society," Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. "He should retract his remarks and apologize." [...]

At the August GOP meeting, Wheeler referenced a blog post from conservative activist Chuck Muth, who in June 2010 wrote about Wheeler's candidacy and said, "what if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that's what the citizens want, right Jim?"

Wheeler told his audience he responded to Muth and said, "yeah, I would."

Wait, so who is this guy? And how on earth was he elected? Jim Wheeler ran a "TEA" powered primary challenge against incumbent Kelly Kite in 2012... And won.

So why did this happen? Simple. Jim Wheeler was again pledging his allegiance to the G-O-TEA base who launched his political career. And if that meant telling Chuck Muth he'd do whatever it takes to "represent his constituents", he was clearly willing to do so.

And it's not limited to Wheeler. Just last month, Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey (R-Reno) boasted of Nevada Republicans' supposedly rising fortunes... And how they rise as minority voters' turnout drops. That was another dirty little G-O-TEA secret that wasn't supposed to be aired aloud.

And then, of course, we recently saw the Nevada Republicans in Congress take part in the G-O-TEA Shutdown S**tfest that pushed America to the brink of Armageddon over petty political temper tantrums. That certainly showcased the current (troubled) state of the Republican Party here and nationally.

So let's be fair to Assembly Member Wheeler today. And let's view his recent comments in context. He likely said what he said in order to placate his party's extreme base. And other Nevada Republicans did what they did in order to placate their party's extreme base. In the midst of all the heat generated by these kinds of incendiary comments, it's always important to shed more light on the context.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Golden Opportunity Presented

Last week, we lamented the failure of this G-O-TEA plagued 113th Congress to accomplish anything other than the usual and unnecessary manufactured crises. But now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) is making another effort to break past the gridlock and accomplish something. And here's where it gets really interesting.

Remember ENDA (or the Employment Nondiscrimination Act)? Senator Reid does. This past May, he made a personal revelation when he spoke of the need to finally pass federal legislation to curb workplace discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. And now, Senator Reid is matching his words with action.

Gays and lesbians should not be fired from their jobs just for being themselves. Senate will soon work to #PassENDA.

Earlier today, Senator Reid announced that ENDA will finally get a Senate vote late next month. Congress took on this bill before (in 2007 and 2010), but this time it looks like a solid bipartisan majority has emerged in the Senate. After all, 2 of the current 54 Senate cosponsors are Republicans (Susan Collins [R-Maine] and Mark Kirk [R-Illinois]). And conservative pro-equality groups are promising an aggressive lobbying effort to win over more Republicans, such as Senator Dean Heller (R).

This really shouldn't be a difficult choice. After all, happy and fear free workers make better workers. This is why 16 states (including Nevada) have already passed comprehensive ENDAs, and why nearly all the Top 50 Fortune 500 companies have already banned anti-LGBTQ discrimination in their respective workplaces.

So equal rights at work is the right thing to do as well as good for the bottom line. So why is it so difficult for this to become federal law? Sadly, the G-O-TEA Crazy Caucus cares more about impractical ideology than lucrative & innovative policies. And as we've seen all too often in the (112th &) 113th Congress, Republican "leaders" tend to coddle the crazy rather than curb it.

But now, they have another chance to prove they can drop the "Culture War" nonsense and move into the 21st Century. Will Republicans take this golden opportunity Senator Reid is giving them? Or will they just screw up on both this and comprehensive immigration reform (CIR)?

It's up to Congressional Republicans now. Will they seize golden opportunities like ENDA & CIR? Or are they willing to throw their own party into the demographic dustbin of history just to hurt people for a few more years?

Finish the Job

Last Thursday, President Obama (once again) asked Congress to finish the job on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). And he wasn't alone. There's (still) widespread support in Nevada and across the nation for CIR.

So why can't we count on Congress to finish the job? Once again, the usual G-O-TEA suspects just don't want to budge... On this, or on anything else, really. And now, they're receiving an assist from the very Republican who was supposed to deliver his party (and their votes) for CIR!

The senator's change of heart is an ominous sign for reform because there is no bipartisan consensus on immigration reform without a path to citizenship for the 11 million people living in the country illegally. The House Republican majority opposes such a provision. Proponents had hoped the House would approve smaller, piecemeal bills and move to initiate a conference committee to reconcile the chambers' differences -- the normal legislative process. Conservatives quickly saw the strategy as a ploy to enact "amnesty" and moved to close the door on conference.

Now, they have Rubio's support.

"[E]arlier this year, Senator [Marco] Rubio [R-Florida] put aside his personal preference for a piecemeal approach and reached across the aisle to craft a bipartisan solution in the Senate. And unlike many of the proponents of reform in the Democratic party, he did so despite strong opposition within his own party and at a significant and well documented political price," [spokesman Alex] Conant said. "But sufficient support for that approach simply does not exist at this time. And in fact it has only eroded further as evidenced by the fact that virtually every House Republican working on a bipartisan comprehensive bill has since abandoned that effort."

The ambitious Florida senator saw his standing diminish among conservative voters after he supported the Senate bill. Opposing conference on the Senate bill leaves little, if any, room to pass reform through a divided Congress as the broad coalitions that hold together the Senate legislation would splinter if any major components are excluded. House Republicans have resisted President Barack Obama's repeated calls for reviving the stalled effort, and lack an internal consensus on how to proceed on an incremental basis.

So now, the devolution is complete. Marco Rubio has been reduced to opposing his own bill. And he's doing so in a last ditch effort to win back the love and adoration of the 21st Century Know Nothings who call the shots in today's G-O-TEA.

But wait, Senator Rubio said something can still happen. Congress just has to do it "step by step". Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) said the same thing at a Summerlin area town hall in August. Yet so far, we've seen nothing emerge from the G-O-TEA run House.

And that's for a reason. Despite Heck's and Rubio's assurance that the House Republican Caucus is open to piecemeal immigration bills, House Republican "leaders" have basically conceded that they can't accomplish anything because they can't get their own caucus to quit its manufactured crisis habit.

So is it all over now? Not so fast. None other than Joe Heck is now condemning House Republican "leaders" for dropping CIR like some unwanted hot potato. And in a major surprise, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-California) announced over the weekend that he's the first Republican cosponsor for the House Democratic CIR bill (modeled after the bipartisan Senate bill)... And he expects more Republicans to come on board.

So immigration reform isn't dead yet... But its survival and ultimate success now depends on House Republicans joining with Democrats to pass what alrwady passed the Senate in June. Rep. Heck is now talking a good game in chastising his own party for being so willing to give up. But in order to finish the job, Joe Heck needs to follow Jeff Denham's lead and match those words with real action.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Action v. Obstruction

It happened again today. President Obama called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) and do so soon. After all, they've been talking about it for how many years?

This past summer, the Senate took action. But instead of following suit, the G-O-TEA led House instead manufactured a crisis in order to please their crazy, "TEA" powered base. And Congress had to waste an entire month on finding a solution to the unnecessary manufactured crisis.

But now, conservative and business groups are applying pressure to the House in a last ditch effort to get CIR moving there this year. A critical mass has already developed across the political spectrum for CIR's passage. So why isn't the House moving?

We got the answer back in August, when town hall attendees asked Rep. Joe Heck (R-??!!) on CIR. He hemmed and hawed and mentioned piecemeal bills that have gone nowhere fast. But when he was asked about fictional "OBAMA SCANDALZZZ!!!", he lit up and went into detail on the "accountability" he's been demanding.

It turns out Rep. Heck was just following the G-O-TEA lead. Take a look at what was happening in the House this morning while President Obama was asking them to finish the job on immigration reform.

Oh, yes. That's right. They're still trying to turn a glitchy web site into the "ZOMG!!! OBAMACARE SCANDAL!!!"

Yet while they're still trying to undo health care reform that's now taking effect, we've yet to see if any of their talk on (passing) immigration reform will translate into action. Again, all we've seen from Congressional Republicans so far is even more obstruction. It's up to them to prove to everyone they actually know how to share in the responsibility of governing.

Get to the Root.

It's that time of the year again. Speculation is building for 2014... And 2016. And some Nevada Republicans are already licking their chops for 2016, when Senator Harry Reid (D) will be up for reelection.

But now, word has spread all the way to Washington of Nevada Republicans' many woes. How can they seriously think of putting up another fight against Senator Reid when they can't stop fighting each other?

Nevada Republicans’ greatest impediment to toppling Reid is not their deep bench. It’s the state party’s infrastructure.

The Nevada GOP is one of the most dysfunctional state parties in the country. Supporters of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul have infiltrated much of the party’s infrastructure. Operations got so bad last year that the national GOP was forced to set up a shadow operation to compete in the state.

Democratic insiders said their state party looks to Reid as a bellwether who gives direction and rigidity to the party. But Nevada Republicans don’t have a similarly centralizing figure in the official party structure.

“Harry Reid has built a machine, ... a foundation for technical performance,” a Democratic operative said. “There isn’t an elected [Republican] official who pays much attention to party politics.”

We've talked before about the many problems that plague the Nevada Republican Party as an organization. And we could sense the heart of these problems back in May 2012.

[... W]inning elections doesn't happen by just demanding "purity" and throwing a temper tantrum when that doesn't happen. Believe it or not, temper tantrums don't win elections.

This is something we often have to grapple with on the left, but now we're seeing this unfold on the right at a level that I've never seen before. 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[ing] 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.

At times, we on the left have not seen eye to eye with Nevada State Democratic Party leaders. And yes, we sometimes get irritated when they seem to favor moderate candidates over "BOLD PROGRESSIVES!!!" However, most of us also realize that getting 70-90% of what we want is far better than getting nothing, so we leave Fantasy-land behind and return to the real world & return to working the field 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.

We should add that ideological purity tests and outlandish temper tantrums don't just make bad politics. They also make bad policy. And this is precisely the crazy trouble that Republicans here and nationally fell into this month.

When it comes to campaigning and governing, elected leaders have to exhibit some sort of flexibility in order to accomplish things. The problem Republicans now face is that they're trying so hard to please hardened extremists that they're alienating everyone else. When even Wall Street is backing away from the G-O-TEA, we know Republicans have a serious existential crisis on their hands.

Of course, we've known that the Nevada Republican Party has had serious organizational problems for some time. However, the root of this existential crisis runs much deeper than that. And it's no longer just "a Nevada GOP problem".

If Republicans here in Nevada and nationally want more competitive races in 2014 and 2016, they need to get to the root of their woes. Are they willing to do so?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We Need More Than Just Words.

This week so far has been a sad one here in Nevada. We saw multiple incidents of gun violence on both ends of the state claim lives and make waves in the media. And today, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) paid tribute to Michael Landsberry, the 8th grade math teacher who died in his effort to protect his students at Sparks Middle School.

Meanwhile, Senator Dean Heller (R) tweeted a photo of the US Capitol flag being lowered to half staff to mark the lives lost at Sparks Middle School on Monday.

We now know the assailant used a Ruger 9mm semiautomatic handgun that he brought from his home. He was a 7th grader at Sparks Middle School.

Of course, this isn't the only tragedy that this state is mourning. In Southern Nevada, friends and family are mourning the loss of Kenneth Brown. He was a club promoter and stand-up comedian who recently moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to be closer to his mother. He died Monday morning in an effort to prevent Benjamin Frazier from killing any more after Frazier shot a bouncer and a security guard at Bally's on the Las Vegas Strip.

Apparently, Benjamin Frazier opened fire over a cover charge dispute at Drai's After Hours. He used a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver that was not registered in Nevada. He also had a running rap sheet before this week, including a 1997 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon at another local nightclub.

Down here in Southern Nevada, the Bally's Shooting was just one in a recent string of gun violence incidents on the Las Vegas Strip. And up in Northern Nevada, the Sparks Middle School Shooting was just one in an ongoing string of attempted (and sometimes successful) mass shootings. Yet while politicians send out the usual tweets of condolence and deliver the usual somber floor speeches, we've yet to see meaningful action on gun violence.

Senator Dean Heller had an opportunity to do so, but he was too busy catering to his "TEA" fueled base. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) also had an opportunity to do so, but... Ditto. Rep. Mark Amodei hasn't even tried to hide his allegiance to the NRA. And Governor Brian Sandoval (R) just didn't want to be bothered with reality.

Here's the problem. We regularly see politicians send tweets of condolence and deliver somber floor speeches, yet we rarely see leaders reevaluate the status quo and make a real effort to save lives. Are background checks and guidelines for safe gun storage really "too much to ask"? Are gun industry profits truly that much more important than saving people's lives?

This week, we've heard plenty of words describing the pain several families throughout Nevada are experiencing this week. But now, we need more than just words. We need actions to match those words. When will that happen?

This Shouldn't Be a Tough Call.

Last week, we tried to warn them. If Republicans in Congress are truly determined to kill comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), they must be prepared to live with the consequences. And now, we have our first sign of the consequences ahead.

Jon Ralston caught wind yesterday of a new Magellan poll showing strong support among voters of Congressional District 3 for CIR... And voters of Congressional District 2. NV-03 voters support the bipartisan Senate CIR bill 68-30, while NV-02 voters support it by a margin of 64-33. And pluralities in both districts say they'll think more highly of their respective Representatives if they pass CIR.

So what do they think of their respective Representatives now? In NV-02, Mark Amodei sports an OK 42-33 favorability rating. But in NV-03, Joe Heck has fallen underwater in NV-03. Here, Heck's favorability rating is 41-45. Ouch.

This actually comes on the heels of a PPP poll released earlier this month that showed Rep. Heck barely ahead of a Democratic challenger as anger was building against the most recent G-O-TEA manufactured crisis. As we've discussed before, most Americans want a government that works. Yet this month, we've seen anything but that.

One would think the G-O-TEA's EPIC FAIL of a Shutdown Sh**fest would light a fire under enough @sses to accomplish something, anything, so Republicans can put this FAIL Whale of a month behind them. However, that's not happening. Instead, many Republicans seem all too happy to kill reform.

And they wonder why their poll numbers suck? This is why. Millions of American families, businesses, and workers demand solutions. Yet instead of providing solutions, the G-O-TEA hardliners just want to create more problems with their seemingly endless manufactured crises. And to make matters even worse, Republican "leaders" are all too willing much too often to indulge in G-O-TEA delusions of grandeur.

Reps. Heck and Amodei may be backbenchers, but they're not completely powerless. If they want CIR, they can step forward and demand it. Other Republicans did so this month in calling for an end to the manufactured crisis, and it worked last week when the federal government finally reopened.

And ultimately, their political future may very well depend on the fate of CIR. Does Rep. Heck want to serve another term? And does Rep. Amodei want to serve in the majority? This shouldn't be a tough call.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Last Laugh

Roughly 18 months ago, a whole lot of heads were exploding in Carson City and Las Vegas. Why? Sevcik v. Sandoval was filed in federal court. And with that, Nevada finally had its own marriage equality law suit.

Last November, the trial court judge dismissed the suit... But he did so in such a laughably bizarre way that he was basically daring an appeal. And now, his dare has been granted in San Francisco.

On Friday, Lambda Legal filed their opening brief inSevcik v. Sandoval, the challenge to Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban. The same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the case lost at the district court in late November last year. Their appeal to the Ninth Circuit was filed within months of the challenge to Hawaii’s same-sex marriage ban, and the cases were put on a parallel track (although Hawaii’s is now on hold pending a special session of the state legislature to take up a marriage equality bill.)

The brief, filed along with a request to allow for 26,500 words, is the first argument in favor of marriage equality to reach a federal appeals court following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And theWindsor case figures prominently in the new filing. Picking up an argument made in Garden State Equality v. Dow, a state court challenge to New Jersey’s same-sex marriage ban, the plaintiffs argue that Nevada’s marriage ban now has stateand federal repercussions:

"Same-sex couples’ exclusion from the institution of marriage brands them as less deserving of equal dignity and respect and demeans them and their children. The marriage ban also blocks same-sex couples from rights and responsibilities across the entire spectrum of federal law."

Here's where it gets quite interesting. Keep in mind that this is the first marriage law suit to reach a federal appellate court since the US Supreme Court took a major bite out of marriage discrimination in its US v. Windsor ruling this past June. In that case, "The Supremes" essentially established a precedent in applying strict scrutiny to cases involving anti-LGBTQ discrimination while also striking down Section 3 of DOMA (or the "Defense of Marriage Act").

Now add this to The Ninth's history on marriage equality suits, and we can understand why Steve Sebelius is feeling bullish about Sevcik's future. Both The Ninth and The Supremes have ruled against government denying LGBTQ families the same relationship recognition and legal protection afforded to other families. Lambda Legal and the attorneys working for the couples suing Nevada recognize this, and that's why they cite the Windsor decision quite a bit in their brief.

Last November, Judge Robert C. Jones laughed this case out of his trial court. But in the end, the last laugh may be on him. Both legal trends and public opinion have shifted dramatically in favor of equality in just the past four years. Judge Jones may have thought he was thwarting a challenge to Nevada's current marriage law, but he may ultimately play a role in setting up an even bigger legal battle with even bigger results for LGBTQ families in Nevada and throughout the nation.

Something Good in Our Society

Yesterday, a school was attacked. A teacher died. A student killed him and wounded two other students before killing himself. And a community is still in mourning.

Yet today, we have a chance to reflect on the final heroic act of Sparks Middle School math teacher Michael Landsberry. He tried to take the gun from the shooter. And while he couldn't succeed at that, he succeed at preventing further deaths at Sparks Middle School.

Michael Landsberry died in an effort to protect his students. He committed the ultimate act of heroism. And he reminded us of all the heroic acts our public school teachers commit all the time.

So why are we still listening to those nebulous (billionaire) forces trying to convince us that teachers are "lazy, greedy, and inherently evil"? Why are teachers so often blamed for everything wrong in public education, then expected to work more for less? Why is it OK to constantly berate teachers for just doing their job?

It's saddening to think that it had to take a teacher dying to break through the glitzy campaign to attack teachers. But perhaps today, we can all reflect on the invaluable role that teachers serve in our society... And why so many of them are everyday heroes.

The NRA and the rest of the gun lobby want us to believe that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". That's clearly not true. There are far more effective ways to do so, such as preventing those "bad guys" from obtaining guns. And of course, we can invest in the kind of social safety net that prevents troubled kids from becoming "bad guys with guns".

So why have we allowed our schools to become armed battlefields? Why can't we instead restore our schools and let them become launch pads for a brighter future?

Yesterday, we once again saw something evil in our society. But now, we're also learning more about something good in our society. Public education is part of the foundation of a better society, and our teachers do amazing work to help students realize their full potential. Why can't we do more to strengthen that something good in our society?

Cuts Aren't Smart

No one can say we didn't try to warn everyone. As the latest and greatest G-O-TEA induced manufactured crisis was underway, we were warning of the consequences it would have on an already fragile economic recovery. And now, we have a better sense of just how fragile our economy was going into the manufactured crisis.

Since that very crisis delayed the release of the official US unemployment numbers, we had to wait until this morning to see them. But now, we know that the American labor market added 148,000 jobs (non-farm) last month as the unemployment rate slipped slightly to 7.2%. The good news here is that all those jobs were added. In addition, it looks like the unemployment rate did not drop as a result of dropping workforce participation (as it has occasionally before).

Yet with this being said, these numbers indicate continued slow recovery and meddling jobs improvement. And remember, this is before the latest and greatest manufactured crisis kicked in.

We've talked about this before. Austerity is holding us back. It's difficult for the economy to grow if the federal government keeps cutting investment in the nation. That means fewer sales and fewer jobs.

After all, investment begets growth. So why is the fiscal conversation in Washington revolving around cuts and contraction? Wonkblog's Neil Irwin has been asking the same question this morning.

The sequestration policy of automatic spending cuts that went into effect in March really are having an effect. It hasn't showed up much in the jobs reports in ways that can be easily measured (though federal government employment excluding the Postal Service is down 73,000 jobs over the last year, a 3.4 percent decline).

But the workhorse economic models used in places like the Congressional Budget Office and Federal Reserve and private sector forecasters all show that the spending cuts should ripple through the economy and translate into less economic activity, and the soft job growth of the last few months fits that story to a tee.

Perhaps the best evidence for federal spending cuts as the culprit behind weak growth is this: It's the only culprit left standing when you consider the other possibilities. Financial markets have been on a tear, and business and consumer confidence has been strong this year (at least until the October shutdown). Consumers have made major progress reducing their debt burdens. The housing market has stabilized, and is no longer a drag on the economy. [...]

In other words, there's every reason to think this should have been a good year for the American economy. Yet here we are back in the doldrums, experiencing the same ambling pace of recovery that has been all too common since the technical end of the Great Recession in the summer of 2009. Americans can probably look to Washington to assign blame -- and that's before the tumultuous last few weeks exact whatever toll they will exact on growth.

So why are G-O-TEA politicians demanding even more austerity? And why is anyone in Washington taking their seriously as "smart fiscal policy"? It's not. In fact, this is the stupidi-TEA that's holding us back.

Monday, October 21, 2013

So Much Bloodshed in Just One Day

What a day this has been. This morning, we awoke to the horrific news of yet another Las Vegas Strip shooting. This time, it occurred just outside Drai's Nightclub at Bally's. One victim was shot dead, and two more were wounded.

Unfortunately, that wasn't all. This morning, Las Vegas Metro Police were also investigating a shooting at an apartment complex in East Las Vegas. Two people died in that shooting.

And then, there was today's horrific Sparks Middle School Shooting. The assailant shot a teacher dead, wounded two students, and then shot himself dead.

And now, we know Michael Landsberry was the 8th grade math teacher who was shot dead today in Sparks. He was a Marine Corps veteran who also coached the school's soccer team. He attempted to take the gun from the shooter this morning... Yet while he failed to do that, he posthumously succeeded in preventing an even greater tragedy.

Sadly, this is becoming increasingly common throughout America. Mass shootings regularly pop up in news reports. And they keep claiming more innocent lives. And that's in addition to the other incidents of gun violence that don't attract as much media attention.

This is the sad reality we're living in. We've seen so much bloodshed in just one day. There's something wrong with this. What will we do about it?

(Still) Something Evil in Our Society

Last month, she had to say it. Really, someone had to. Dr. Janis Orlowski had witnessed the carnage of the Navy Yard Shooting, and she couldn't stay silent on what was obvious to her.

And here we are again. Yes, there's been another one. And this time, it's very close to home.

This morning, a student opened fire at Sparks Middle School. He shot dead a teacher who spotted him with the gun, then shot two other victims. He later shot himself dead.

Of course, everyone is sending thoughts and prayers to the community. And of course, that's always much appreciated.

But you know what will also be much appreciated? Action. And by action, I mean action on gun violence.

How many more of these must we endure? How many more people must die? How many more families must mourn?

Fortunately for everyone else at Sparks Middle School, a teacher was willing to lay down his own life to save other lives. But really, should it be acceptable that teachers now have to think of the dangers associated with their career? When did it become acceptable for our schools to resemble battlefields?

Today, we mourn another tragedy. But once again, we must remind ourselves and others that it doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to ignore that "something evil in our society".

Risky (Unfinished) Business

Ah, so he's at it again. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) offered more helpful advice for Republicans. And he didn't stop there. He also had a warning for them.

“I don’t blame the American people for being upset. What we have here in America today is a crisis created for no reason, other than to satisfy the shrill right-wing Tea Party. … And I would hope that this crisis as some Republican members of Congress have said, you can look at Roy Blunt, a Republican of Missouri, Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. I’m paraphrasing, but they said this was a terrible waste of resources,” Reid said of the shutdown that could cost the economy $24 billion.  ”All it did is hurt Republicans. … I hope they’ve learned a lesson. The American people will not put up with that. And if this happens again, I don’t think it will, but if it does, I think the House of Representatives will go Democratic.”

“There was so much pushback against this silly, stupid thing they were trying to do,” Reid said, of the House GOP’s repeated attempts to repeal Obamacare even before the shutdown. [...]

“I believe the polls that show 18 [House] Republicans … if the vote were today they would lose. So they, I hope they’ve learned their lesson. If they haven’t, they really aren’t thinking too well,” the majority leader said. Democrats currently hold 200 seats in the House, and 218 is needed to assume the majority.

So what's Senator Reid talking about. Just look at the polls. Republicans' poll numbers have fallen fast as a result of their latest and greatest manufactured crisis. Who could have guessed this would end so badly for Republicans? (/snark)

But wait, there's more. CNN just released a new poll showing how far Republicans have fallen just this month.

The latest CNN/ORC International poll found that 54 percent of Americans think it's a bad thing that the GOP is the majority party in the House, while only 38 percent think it's a good thing. In December of last year, a CNN/ORC showed that 43 percent thought it was a bad thing that Republicans controlled the lower chamber.

[House Speaker John] Boehner fares even worse in Monday's survey. Sixty-three percent want the Ohio Republican replaced as speaker, compared with 30 percent who would like him to continue holding the post.

It's the latest in a recent run of bleak polls for Republicans, who appear to have been damaged deeply by the recent budget and debt fights. Polls across the board showed that Americans largely blamed the GOP for the government shutdown, giving Democrats newfound hope of taking back the House in next year's midterms.

Americans want to see a government that works. They want a government that's actually open. And they want a government that can actually fix problems and accomplish things.

But now, Congressional Republicans are renewing their threat to block the rest of President Obama's agenda. And here, we're talking about a longer term budget agreement, a farm bill, and comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). These were all supposed to be areas of broad, bipartisan consensus. So what happened?

Their TEA-fueled opposition to both President Obama and sensible tax reform has caused immense gridlock in Congress. Never mind that both CIR and progressive tax reform have broad public support. Because they're so dead-set against one, they plan to torpedo the other... Along with a longer term budget agreement and a farm bill!

And Republicans wonder why they've become so unpopular? They're now saying they don't want to do anything else if President Obama won't just give them Social Security cuts along with extra austerity on top of that. In addition, even the Republicans who were originally pushing for immigration reform are now claiming CIR is "dead on arrival" because President Obama hurt their feelings when he pushed then to do their job and reopen the federal government.

Again, how can any Republicans still be wondering why their party is polling so badly? This is why. If their party continues to guzzle down so much "TEA" and shut down the government over political temper tantrums, more Americans may just conclude that it's just too risky to let the G-O-TEA keep this ability to grind the nation's business to a halt.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Unaffordable Stupidi-TEA

Look who's talking now. Fresh off his big legislative victory, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) is now spilling some tea on what led to this week's series of surprising events. Who could have guessed that Congressional Republicans were so willing to throw their own staff under the bus?

"They kept trying to legislate from hour to hour," Reid recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post on Thursday. "It wasn't even day to day."

With Democratic senators united behind him, Reid dispatched the patchwork legislative offers being tossed his way, setting the stage for a complete GOP capitulation. But Wednesday night's resolution didn't come without exasperating moments. In particular, Reid said he was incensed that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) targeted health care subsidies given to congressional staffers who are required to buy insurance on the newly created Obamacare exchanges.

Weeks before the government shutdown, Boehner's office had privately worked with Reid's staff and the Obama administration to maintain the employer health care contribution. But as Boehner's negotiating position worsened, he publicly demanded that the contribution be ended.

"All of us who worked with him on this [were saying], 'John, what is the matter with you?'’' Reid said. “Okay. Go after members of Congress. But even doing that. Now, I can handle if I have to buy insurance without employer contribution. But some of my senators can’t. Forget about that. Forget about senators. They can do okay. But staff -- we have staff people of [Sen.] Susan Collins. She has people who work in Maine and make $25,000 a year. One of the reasons you can get somebody like that is that you give them health care. I don't mean to ramble on here, but I just can't imagine the thought process of John Boehner. ... How in good conscience could you do something like that?"

At the very end, some Republicans were threatening Armageddon just so their staff could suffer. How on earth did that make any sense?

Oh, wait. That's right. We're talking about the Crazy Caucus (and its enablers).

How else can we explain why they're still denying their awful poll numbers? And how else can we explain why they're still denying the evidence that Obamacare (aka the ACA, or the Affordable Care Act) is working?

Of course, Congressional Republicans are now zeroing in on the ACA's glitchy web site and the company that built it (while donating to Republican campaigns). And yes, this is a problem that has to be fixed (and that's already in the works). Yet while the web site has had problems, the actual law has already been saving lives.

This is why even Republicans like Clint Murphy, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R), and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) are asking their party to give Obamacare a chance to work. So why are the supposedly "moderate, post-partisan, No Labels" Republicans like Senator Dean Heller (R-What?) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Why?) still trying to destroy health care reform? Why are they instead following the lead of Sharron Angle and some "schoolyard bully"?

Congressional Republicans shut down the government and threatened default over the ACA. And what did they get as a result? Nothing but higher poll numbers for Obamacare and lower poll numbers for themselves.

So why would they ever try this insani-TEA again? That's a good question. It probably depends on whether they can finally stop pandering to the 21st Century Know Nothings.

In this last attempt to pander to them, Republicans threatened to screw their own staff. And before that, they wanted to take health care away from millions of Americans. And look at where they've landed as a result. Just how affordable is this stupidi-TEA?

The Ultimate No-brainer

So it's over. No really, it's finally over. Republicans had to give up their manufactured crisis, let the nation pay its bills, and reopen the people's government.

Yet because the last three weeks were wasted on "The Great Bucket of Batshit Crazy for 2013", it's hard to see how anything else can be accomplished this year. Yet despite the epic challenges ahead, President Obama is calling for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). What is he thinking?

After all, several top Republicans have already signaled that CIR is dead.

“For us to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake,” [Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)] said, according to the Huffington Post. Even if the House were to pass a piecemeal bill based on GOP demands, Labrador said “it would be crazy” to go to conference with the Senate’s passed version because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid negotiates in a take-no-prisoners style. [...]

“I think what he has done over the past two and a half weeks — he’s trying to destroy the Republican party. I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind, which is to destroy the Republican party and not to get good policies.”

Wait... What?! So because Senator Harry Reid (D) and President Obama were able to save Republicans from themselves, House Republican "leaders" don't want to work with the President and the Senate on CIR? What are they thinking?

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that a number of House Republicans are indeed so incensed by their (own) manufactured crisis meltdown that they're threatening to kill CIR once and for all. But even before this week, the Republican civil war threatened to tear apart immigration reform. Even though a number of Republicans and nearly the entire business lobby have lined up behind CIR, the 21st Century Know Nothings have been threatening fire and brimstone if Republican "leaders" allow CIR to pass.

So is it game over for reform? Not so fast. Even with all the chaos on the right, immigration reform advocates refuse to give up. In fact, some are even doubling down.

But can anything actually pass? Actually, yes. The votes are likely there. House Republican "leaders" just have to allow a floor vote on CIR like they did for this week's budget deal.

So will they? Right now, that's the trillion dollar question. Will they do what everyone from civil rights activists to business titans to their own political consultants say they must do? Or are they too afraid of the 21st Century Know Nothings to do what's otherwise "the ultimate no-brainer".

Thursday, October 17, 2013


She's back! What, you really thought she could stay away for long? Oh, no. Sharron Angle just couldn't help herself.

She's actually been praising the insani-TEA that nearly forced America into Armageddon. Never mind that Nevada's Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, begged Congress to stop the insani-TEA. And never mind that their financial sugar daddies on Wall Street begged them to stop as well. The G-O-TEA took it all the way to the brink... Until Senator Harry Reid (D) finally saved the day and prevented Armageddon.

This unnecessary drama cost Nevada and the nation dearly. Yet when they were provided the opportunity to end the unnecessary drama and reopen government, both Dean Heller and Mark Amodei voted against reopening the government and paying the nation's bills. Why?

Sure, they tried to sound reasonable to the media. However, no amount of media spin can actually spin away the reality of their crazy gambit. Might this be why Joe Heck suddenly flip-flopped changed his position at the last minute?

Yet until last night, none of the real world consequences of their insani-TEA mattered to any of Nevada's Republicans in DC. Why? They were only following Sharron Angle's lead.

We've said it before, but we must say it again today. Sharron Angle likely has more control over the Nevada Republican Party than anyone who's actually supposed to be a "leader" in Carson City or DC. As much as Brian Sandoval would like to deny it and John Boehner would like to hide it, that's the awful and crazy truth that we saw unfold over the course of this year.

Never mind that Sharron Angle currently holds no elected office and has no official position with the Nevada Republican Party. She and her "TEA Party, Inc." BFFs have provided the ideology that's now the heart and soul of today's Republican Party. And as a result, many Republicans are still defending their crazy actions.

Typically, we want logical, rational explanations for what happened. But today, we simply can't provide one. Rather, we can only point at the crazy of it all.

It doesn't matter that this whole Shutdown Shitfest made for absolutely awful economics. And it doesn't matter that it ultimately made for crappy politics. For today's G-O-TEA, all that matters is that crazy is in charge. And that's what caused this whole crazy fiasco in the first place.

So what will it take for (more of) us to realize just how crazy it is to allow so much crazy to amass so much power in our government? Who's crazy enough to want even more?

Harry Reid: The Force to Be Reckoned With

(Also at Daily Kos)

Back in July, local pundit extraordinaire Jon Ralston caused a stir when he asked who was really on the ropes. Ralston questioned BuzzFeed agreeing with a newspaper clip from an old boxing match that reported Harry Reid had his opponent on the ropes (and then defeated him). Ralston really should have known better. After all, he typically does.

Harry Reid (D-Searchlight Strong) is one mothaf**kin' bad@ss. It's never a good idea to cross him. And don't ask why. Really, "That's a clown question, bro."

(But don't worry, I'll still explain below how and why Senator Reid fought until the very end to reopen the federal government without rewarding the G-O-TEA hostage takers.)

Senator Harry Reid may not always be the loudest voice in the room, but he knows how to make his point. He's been counted out before, but that's always turned out to be a huge mistake. Senator Reid can be patient. But when one goes too far in testing his patience, watch out.

We know this here in Nevada. He faced a rough upbringing in the hardscrabble, rural southern tip of Nevada. He faced death threats from the mafia. He faced challenges from the old school political establishment in this state. And yes, he faced an unprecedented effort by "Tea Party, Inc.", to destroy him in 2010. But each and every time for the past 35+ years, he beat them back.

And this year, he's been prepared to do the same again. While he went to great lengths to limit the damage of past budget deals, he and his staff acknowledged they needed to fight hard to stop the insani-TEA once and for all.

Remember, Harry Reid discovered a car bomb threat from the mob. If he could deal with that and live to tell, he could very well defeat some mere "schoolyard bully".

While the "schoolyard bully" had succeeded in whipping the 21st Century Know Nothings into a frenzy, he had no realistic plan to deliver on what he had promised. All he had was hot air. And while that hot air threatened Armageddon, it served no purpose but to delay the inevitable.

While the 21st Century Know Nothings were being whipped into a delusional frenzy, Harry Reid worked with Nancy Pelosi and President Obama to whip nearly all the Democrats (including all the Senate Democrats!) into one consistent position: Stop the Insani-TEA. And by doing so, they pushed back all the G-O-TEA's crass political tactics that were meant to muddy the waters and force concessions out of President Obama.

That was the key difference here. While Congressional Republican "leaders" were preening for the cameras and trying desperately to "win the next media cycle", Obama, Reid, & Pelosi were thinking ahead and planning their strategy to turn back the G-O-TEA at every twist and turn. And as a result, they were able to wear out the Republicans and force the cooler heads on the other side of the aisle to admit defeat.

Sure, Harry Reid doesn't look all that scary at first glance. But beneath the surface, he's a proven and experienced master legislator who has the skills to beat down any kind of sweet, hot air.

 photo CIMG0176.jpg

That made the difference this month. And this is why Nevada's Senior Senator is still a force to be reckoned with.