Monday, March 31, 2014


Hey, someone had to it. Fortunately for us, Jon Ralston did it. Last Wednesday, he attended the glitzy & glamorous Four Seasons premiere party for "Las Vegas Perspective". And what is "Las Vegas Perspective"? Why, it's the ultimate Southern Nevada insiders' cheat sheet to all the inner workings of Southern Nevada's economy and society.

And jeez, was there high society at Four Seasons last Wednesday! First Lady Kathleen Sandoval gave a keynote speech on the state of Nevada's public education system. Numbers guru Jeremy Aguero gave more details on Nevada's economic recovery. And all the movers & shakers in this soirée oohed & awed at all the facts & figures inside the actual publication.

So what's in the actual publication? It turns out that it's a collection of what we already know. The gaming industry is as erratic as ever. Our unemployment rate is down, but it's still above the national average. The housing market is improving, but many local homeowners are still struggling to stay above water. Our economy is improving, but the fundamentals of our economy still point to epic dysfunction and continued missed opportunities.

This is what was so ironic about last Wednesday's posh premiere party for "Las Vegas Perspective". Even as the uber-insiders of the "Gaming-mining-lobbying Industrial Complex" slapped each others' backs and sang the praises of Nevada's hallowed status quo, even their own sacred cheat sheet couldn't completely deny that the status quo keeps us stuck in a "bubble based economy" that hasn't even fully recovered from the bursting of the last bubble.

Funny enough, one of the sponsors of "Las Vegas Perspective" happens to be none other than the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA)? Remember them? They've gone from "Kiss Your Assets Goodbye" to "Say Hello to Our Esmeralda Straw Man". And they're still running scared from the solution to our core economic problem.

The uber-insiders who attended last Wednesday's Four Seasons shindig did not want to discuss The Education Initiative (TEI)... Just as they didn't want to acknowledge our continuing economic difficulties. After all, if they were to acknowledge the unhealthy truth of our "bubble based economy", they'd also have to acknowledge the need for a realistic solution to this problem. And that would completely undercut their rather "sunny" case against TEI.

Last Wednesday's Four Seasons event was supposed to be about "perspective". Perhaps it was... In that attendees celebrated their perspective of Nevada. But what about ours? Fortunately for us, they're not the only ones who will make the final decision on TEI this fall.

Our perspective also matters. Our struggles also matter. And our future also matters. And we should keep this in perspective.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Apparently, once wasn't enough. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is back in Las Vegas today. This time, he's doing a fancy Strip fundraiser. And once again, he's refusing to do any media.

Hmmm... We wonder why. Could it be the troubling optics of doing a glitzy Wynn fundraiser while our Republican Senator, Dean Heller, & four other Senate Republicans demand he allow a floor vote in his chamber on the unemployment insurance (UI) extension bill that's about to pass the Senate? Perhaps that wouldn't be the best image to present to the media?

And oh, yes. That's right. It's finally about to pass the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) just filed for cloture. And he should now have at least 60 Senate votes for it.

So far, House Republican "leaders" have said they're "not worried" about UI extension. Are they that unaware of the over 2 million Americans (including over 26,000 Nevadans) who are suffering due to their intransigence? Are they that unwilling to end the unnecessary hardship of these people, many of whom live in their districts?

Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) should know better. He represents a wide swath of one of states hit hardest by the Great Recession. He must realize the economic impact of leaving over 26,000 Nevadans unable to pay their bills, buy groceries, and keep roofs over their heads. And he must realize how even more Nevadans will feel about the 113th Congress he's serving in should Congress go to recess without a House #RenewUI vote.

Lately, we've seen Republican "leaders" feign concern over their public image. We've seen them deliver flowery speeches on "fighting poverty". Yet when we compare their language to their votes, we find a huge disconnect. While they claim they want to alleviate poverty, they're promoting policies that worsen it. And their resistance to #RenewUI only further cuts down that "rebranded" image they're trying to present to us.

We really don't want to sound like a broken GIF. And we're sure you're doing this now. But really, this is the reaction we have when Republican "leaders" talk about cosmetic political imagery while failing to do something to alleviate the unnecessary hardship of way too many Americans.

And really, we couldn't stay silent on this when Speaker Boehner came into town to headline another swanky fundraiser while even our Republican US Senator is begging him (& Rep. Heck) to schedule a #RenewUI vote already. No really, that's some f**ked up imagery right there.

Don't "Rebrand". Do Discharge.

The Senate already passed it with a strong bipartisan vote of approval. The President is ready to sign it into law as soon as it reaches his desk. An overwhelming majority of voters support it. But because of partisan intransigence in the House, it's stuck there without a floor vote.

Yes, this will describe the state of the federal unemployment insurance (UI) extension in Congress once the Senate approves its bill. It already describes the current state of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in Congress, as the Senate passed its bill last June. And it describes the current state of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) in Congress.

Even though ENDA passed the Senate 64-32 vote, with Republicans like Dean Heller supporting it, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to allow ENDA a floor vote. Even as ENDA has attracted Republican support in the House, Boehner has refused to allow ENDA a floor vote. And even though ENDA enjoys strong public support, Boehner refuses to allow a floor vote for ENDA.

Why? Why can't ENDA have a floor vote? Because Cresent Hardy still doesn't understand the meaning of "segregation laws"? Because Rush Limbaugh doesn't want "queer cooties"? Because Pat Robertson has curious theories about the manifestation of Satan?

We know what's going on in that lower House of Congress. We know the 21st Century Know Nothings don't want to recognize LGBTQ civil rights. And we know House Republican "leaders" are still pandering to them, even as they continue their charade of "Republican rebranding".

Yesterday, House Democratic leaders unveiled their long awaited discharge petition for CIR. Today, at least some LGBTQ civil rights activists are wondering if they should start planning a discharge petition for ENDA. We keep hearing that there's likely majority support in the House for ENDA, just like it's assumed CIR and UI extension have majority support in the House. Yet despite these whip counts surfacing in the media, Speaker Boehner won't allow a vote on any of these bills. How much longer can this last?

Perhaps it's time to draw up another discharge petition. The "rebranding" song & dance routine is becoming awfully old & tired. We don't need any more "rebranding". We need a floor vote.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Prove It

They can't say they weren't warned. We already talked about it yesterday. And it finally emerged today.

Of course, we're talking (again) about the discharge petition for HR 15. It finally dropped today. And even as DC pundits speculate on what will result of this, they are starting to realize that comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) remains far from "dead".

Of course, that's what House Republican "leaders" were banking on earlier this year. That's why they thought they could get away with killing their own "principles for immigration reform". And that's why they thought they could get away with hemming & hawing whenever asked about when they'll ever move on CIR.

But really, did they think they could indefinitely move the goal posts on CIR? Did they really think they could forever avoid the hot seat? This is what Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) reminded his colleagues of earlier today.

Reps. Steven Horsford and Dina Titus (D-Paradise) have already signed the discharge petition. They've made it clear they want a House floor vote on CIR. And they've proven they truly want a chance to pass CIR this year.

It remains to be seen if House Republicans will back up any of their pro-reform rhetoric with real action. Ever since they released their "principles for immigration reform", they've only managed to pass 2 anti-immigrant bills. And even as Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and a few other House Republicans have claimed to "support reform", they've yet to prove it with their votes.

Now, they have a chance to do so. Now, they have a chance to prove their commitment to passing CIR. All they have to do is sign the discharge petition. All they have to do is give all their colleagues a chance to vote on the floor.

It's been 9 months since the Senate passed bipartisan CIR legislation. There's no reason why we've had to wait this long for the House to take action. But at least now, a vehicle exists for the House to finally pass CIR this year. If House Republicans truly want us to believe they want CIR as much as the rest of us, they can now prove it by signing the discharge petition and allowing a floor vote.

Lessons Learned?

Apparently, this is becoming the hot topic of this election cycle. We've already been discussing the reality behind the Koch Brothers' extreme ideological agenda, as well as the great lengths they're going to amass power on Capitol Hill.

However, they're not alone. They're not the only "TEA Party, Inc." aligned billionaires who spend tons of money buying candidates influencing elections. And now, a character who's rather familiar to us here in Nevada is preparing to reemerge.

Remember Sheldon Adelson? He's back! And this time, he's looking for a new candidate to buy back.

This week, Adelson has summoned 4 likely 2016 Republican Presidential candidates to kiss his ring meet him at the Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting here in Vegas. And so far, it looks like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), and Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) will be accepting Adelson's invitation. But why, why is Adelson courting these 4 Republicans?

According to Adelson BFF (& 2011 Las Vegas Mayoral candidate) Victor Chaltiel, "He doesn’t want a crazy extremist to be the nominee." Instead, he wants a less "crazy/extreme looking" G-O-TEA lackey to carry his water and do so competently. Apparently, Adelson learned his lesson after bankrolling Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in 2012.

And now, Adelson wants to teach his party a lesson. Not only is he afraid of Hillary Clinton, but he's also afraid of his own party's base. And more specifically, he's afraid of Ron Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) rallying the G-O-TEA base to take the Republican Party in a more "libertarian populist" (aka batsh*t crazy "TEA" flavored) direction.

Apparently, Sheldon Adelson hasn't really learned his lessons from 2012. He's still shopping for damaged goods. And he's still picking nasty fights with the Paulistas. And both of these big mistakes will likely return to bite him, just as they did in 2012.

But in the mean time, let's think about the ramifications of Adelson starting another political spending spree. Last we checked, Las Vegas Sands is still facing legal trouble over its shady business operations in China. Meanwhile here in the states, Adelson's newest front group is catching scrutiny over its curious campaign to kill legal online gaming. And now, he wants to buy another Presidential candidate? When did this become "normal politics"?

And when will we develop the courage necessary to change this new, dangerous reality? Perhaps there are still lessons we must learn about money in politics?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Make a Difference

It's quite well known by now. And whoever doesn't know this yet is about to get schooled. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) is fierce. When he's not charming us with cupcakes or inspiring our kids at school, he's serving us bad@ss legislator realness. And we are officially living for it!

Today, he reminded us again why it's a shame that he can't do more in the House of Representatives. Even as a minority party freshman in that chamber, Rep. Horsford has managed to make a difference in advancing a number of important policies on Capitol Hill. One of those policies happens to be in the bill number we should all know by heart now: HR 15.

Last week, Rep. Horsford reminded us of the necessity of HR 15 when he did his part to help Bryan Rivera get his mother out of jail. Even though his father was the one who abused his mother and failed to pay child support, he turned her in to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Bryan then shared his family's story at Horsford's immigration reform town hall. And while Bryan Rivera's mother was ultimately able to reunite with her son, Rep. Horsford used this as a teaching moment to show us exactly why comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) is so badly needed.

Today, Rep. Horsford took this message back to where it belongs: Capitol Hill. He was joined by Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-California), Judy Chu (D-California), and Joe Crowley (D-New York) to discuss House Democrats' next steps on HR 15 and CIR in general.

Remember when we discussed the Congressional procedure known as the discharge petition? That's what House Democrats will now be using for HR 15. If Senators Dean Heller (R) & Harry Reid (D) could join 13 other Republican Senators and 53 other Democratic Senators to pass S 744, why can't the House at least hold a floor vote on HR 15?

After all, House Republican "leaders" claim to
care about "family values". HR 15 would help keep American families together if passed. They also claim to care about "fiscal responsibility". HR 15 would lower the federal budget deficit by $900 billion in the next 20 years if passed. And again, HR 15 is firmly rooted in the bipartisan CIR plan that's already passed the Senate, attracted the support of numerous prominent Democrats & Republicans, and enjoys widespread public support. Why can't a bill like this have a floor vote?

House Republicans are still struggling to answer that question. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has tried blaming President Obama. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) has tried blaming local CIR activists. And House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has tried blaming everyone (but himself, of course). Yet while they've tried and tried and tried again to deflect blame onto someone, anyone else, they've failed to make any real effort to put together their own CIR plan that can pass Congress.

No wonder why Rep. Steven Horsford and House Democratic leaders have had enough of the G-O-TEA's tiresome temper tantrums & pointless pity parties. If they truly want CIR, then they know exactly how to achieve it. It will just involve less hot air and more real action.

Rep. Horsford doesn't have to charge so hard on CIR, or on any other major issue for that matter. After all, he's a minority party freshman in what's become the lower House of Congress. He could have easily chosen to fade into the background and enjoy the easy backbencher life. However, he didn't choose that path. He chose this one. And he's clearly out to make a difference.

And if certain alleged "pro-reform" Republicans want to join him in making a difference, they know exactly how to do so. They can start by signing the discharge petition.

Ours to Make

Let's just get this out of the way now: Outgoing Assembly Member & current Lt. Governor candidate Lucy Flores (D) kicked @ss on "Ralston Reports" last night. She drove the narrative. She generally answered Ralston's questions in the best way possible. And she came off far more polished than the two other candidates running in the other major party's primary for this race.

Yet with all this being said, there was one moment that gave many progressives at least a little heartburn. Of course, that was when Lucy Flores proposed an alternative to The Education Initiative (TEI). She said she has problems with TEI...

And she's not alone. Many state legislators do. Yet when it was in the Legislature last year, none of them proposed an alternative... Until it was too late. And even then, that supposed alternative was still very half-baked.

So now, the choice is this: TEI or nothing. And the choice is not Lucy Flores' to make for us. In fact, the choice is no longer in any one legislator's hands. It's now in our hands. The choice is now ours to make.

For years, this issue has been studied. Eventually, it became studied to death. We know our schools are "grossly underfunded". We know our business climate does suffer due to our gross underfunding of public education. We know our 19th century tax system is in dire need of 21st century reforms. And we know our Legislature has dragged its feet on tax reform for far too long, as it's only succeeded in delivering broken promises of reform.

This is why TEI happened. And this is why TEI will be on our ballot this fall. After seeing the same cycle of FAIL spin around for far too long, many thousands of Nevada citizens decided enough was enough. These citizens decided to break the cycle of #NVLeg #nved #FAIL by turning the decision of tax reform to "We the People" to make.

We're sick & tired of too late & half-baked alleged "alternatives". We're sick & tired of absurd straw men standing in the way of reform. And we're sick & tired of the long string of broken promises from Carson City. We're sick & tired of waiting for reform. TEI is now here, and it's the only tangible option for real reform now.

While we understand why Lucy Flores, Jon Ralston, and various other politicians & pundits have problems with TEI, we also recognize that the decision of long awaited & badly needed tax reform is no longer solely theirs to make. It's now ours to make. It's either TEI or nothing, and that decision will be made by all of us later this year.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cutting Sophistry

Even though they've failed before, they're about to try, try again. But can they actually succeed this time? Or will over 2 million Americans (including over 26,000 Nevadans) continue to be left in the cold?

It's been nearly 3 months since the federal unemployment insurance (UI) extension lapsed. Since then, thousands of Nevada families have been enduring unnecessary hardship. And they, along with many more Americans throughout the nation, have been struggling to survive while the usual suspects on Capitol Hill fiddle around.

Earlier this month, the Senate reached a deal to #RenewUI. Yet as soon as the bipartisan backed Senate UI extension deal was announced, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Cointreau) quickly dismissed it. And last week, he pretty much declared any #RenewUI deal dead in his lower House of Congress.

But this week, Senators are moving forward with it anyway. And this time, even Senator Dean Heller (R) has urged Speaker Boehner to drop the excuses and cooperate with the Senate.

Will this bipartisan Senate pressure campaign work? First, we must wait & see how many votes the Senate deal will attain. Then, we must wait & see while the House works on...

Another G-O-TEA fantasy budget that not even House Republicans can agree on?! Really? Does he truly value Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Hunger Games) austerity fetish over the plight of 2,000,000+ Americans? (And will Rep. Joe Heck [R-Backbencher] really go along with this?) Perhaps so.

After all, House Republican "leaders" are still engaging in their most cutting sophistry while they're cutting so many Americans out of the chance to rebuild their lives... Or even survive. It's certainly the most cutting sophistry we've ever encountered. And for far too many Americans, it's cutting them into so much unnecessary pain.

Not the Kind of "Thunder" We Want

It wasn't the kind of "Thunder" anyone was asking for. Staff had assumed he was a new cast member. The audience had assumed the show would go on as planned (and ultimately, it did). And we all assumed something like this wouldn't happen at a fun Strip show.

Yet it happened anyway. This time, shots were fired at Excalibur. And it happened in the "Thunder Down Under" locker room backstage.

Fortunately, the performers backstage thwarted Joey Kadmiri's attempted robbery. And fortunately, no one other than Kadmiri was seriously injured that night. Still, it's frightening to think something so violent could occur backstage from what's supposed to be "the ultimate girls'/grrlz' night out".

And once again, we're left to wonder how this could happen. After all, this isn't the first time when the Las Vegas Strip suddenly transformed into an armed battlefield. And this likely won't be the last time we see a Strip shooting.

But why? Why does this keep occurring on the Las Vegas Strip? The Strip is supposed to be all about fun & games. It's supposed to be the world's premiere "adult playground". It's supposed to provide an escape from everyday life. It's not supposed to be an armed battlefield where innocent people lose their lives.

Think about it. Like it or not, The Strip is the economic lifeblood of Nevada. What would happen if tourists no longer felt safe on The Strip? What would happen if tourists started canceling their Vegas Vacations because they don't want to become the next Strip shooting news story? What would happen if visitors stopped playing in our big "adult playground" because it's starting to look too damned bloody?

Have they ever thought about this? Have their staff ever briefed them on the dangerous ground we stand on? Or do Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NRA), Senator Dean Heller (R-NRA), and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NRA) still exude pride because they were "what stood in the way" in Carson City & DC between us and saner gun laws that can curb the kinds of frightening incidents that are becoming more frequent on The Strip.

Joey Kadmiri failed to show in court last December to respond to domestic violence charges filed against him. He used an unregistered gun to shoot at "Thunder Down Under" last week. And Kadmiri himself has said he's been struggling with mental health problems. How on earth was he able to obtain a firearm?

This is when a background check would have come in handy. Yet because the gun industry was too concerned about profit and G-O-TEA politicians were too concerned about their NRA ratings, legislation to expand background checks failed on the state & federal levels. When Joey Kadmiri first entered into the "Thunder Down Under" locker room, no one expected trouble. Perhaps the person(s) who provided Kadmiri with that handgun made the same assumption?

We can't assume "gut instinct" will do the trick. We can't assume everyone can thwart a shooting like the "Thunder Down Under" crew did. And we can't assume a "good guy with a gun" can always take care of a "bad guy with a gun". (Once again, that wasn't the case here.) You know what's said about the word "assume"?

There's too much at stake here for us to simply make assumptions. Our economy depends on tourists coming to The Strip and feeling safe enough to let loose. And our lives depend on the wrong weapons staying out of the wrong hands. Seriously, this is not the kind of "Thunder" we want.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Plenty to Say

This was no ordinary town hall meeting. Three members of Congress came to North Las Vegas City Hall on Monday to listen to Nevadans who had plenty to say on the state of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) on Capitol Hill. They also discussed the real hardship their families and communities face due to sweeping ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) raids and deportations.

Bryan Rivera shared his story on Monday. He spoke about his mother, who was being physically abused by his father. When she sought a way out, her abusive spouse reported her to ICE. She was then held at Henderson Detention Center for nearly a month, even though she was the domestic abuse victim.

It took Bryan Rivera's testimony at this hearing, then pressure on ICE from Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas), to free Bryan Rivera's mother from Henderson Detention Center. She can now prepare her legal appeal to stay in the US, and Bryan can finally resume his studies at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. But as Jon Ralston pointed out yesterday, they're fortunate in that they happened to meet the right people at the right time. Sadly, most families dealing with our current immigration system are not this fortunate.

And those American families will face even more hardship if House Republicans get their way. They voted last week for two anti-immigrant bills meant to challenge President Obama's ability to use discretion when enforcing current immigration law. Basically, they want to undo DACA. And they want to deport more immigrants like Bryan Rivera's mother.

Just before the House voted on its latest & greatest anti-immigrant bills, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) had something to say about the House G-O-TEA's latest counterproductive stunt.

And by the way, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Flip-flop) voted for both of the anti-CIR bills. So what part of "can't have it both ways" doesn't he understand?

While Rep. Heck and his fellow G-O-TEA Culture Warriors always have excuses for killing their own damned "principles for immigration reform", they never seem to offer any real reform. And they wonder why no one believes them any more? Must they wonder why a discharge petition for CIR is underway?

If Rep. Heck and the handful of other House Republicans who claim to want CIR actually want to move CIR forward, they know what to do. Too many American families are facing too much unnecessary hardship due to the lower house's inaction. They've had plenty to say on immigration reform. But now, it's time to act (and not in a counterproductive way).

Unnecessary Hardship

Last week, several US Senators announced a bipartisan compromise that would finally renew the extension of federal unemployment insurance (UI) if enacted. Senator Dean Heller (R) was the lead Republican negotiating a deal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) quickly signaled his approval once the deal was announced. And the bill looked ready to pass the Senate.

Then yesterday, it died. Even before it could pass the Senate, the deal looked dead. And even though over 2 million Americans will be the ones suffering over this latest Capitol Hill SNAFU, the deal looks deader than ever.

And why's that? As usual, we can thank House Speaker John Boehner (R-FUBAR) for this. Yesterday, he pissed all over blithely dismissed the Senate's bipartisan UI extension deal by feigning concern over the very measures that Senate Republicans wanted in the bill. And of course, he offered the usual nonsensical excuses for why he won't let his lower house of Congress even vote on the upper house's UI extension bill.

So now, over 2 million Americans and all 50 states will be left to suffer. And it's all due to the lower house's G-O-TEA "leaders" refusing to let go of their agenda of nothing.

So far, over 26,000 Nevadans have suffered due to the lapse of the federal UI extension. Monty Kosta is one of those Nevadans. And he recently shared his story with Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas).

This is why Reps. Steven Horsford & Dina Titus (D-Paradise) have signed a discharge petition demanding a House floor vote on UI extension. And this is why both of Nevada's US Senators, Dean Heller and Harry Reid, have urged House Republican "leaders" to show some real leadership in allowing a #RenewUI vote in their chamber. While some G-O-TEA politicians enjoy playing political games with people's lives, these people are experiencing unnecessary hardship due to these unnecessary political games.

While most of the rest of Nevada's Congressional Delegation have spoken out on UI extension, Rep. Joe Heck (R-??!!) has remained eerily silent. Why is that? He says he cares about job creation. So why not sign a discharge petition for bipartisan legislation that can end the unnecessary hardship crippling over 26,000 Nevadans while also giving our economy a much needed boost?

We (along with over 2,000,000 unemployed Americans) await his answer.

Long Road

The past nine months have certainly not been dull. They haven't been easy, either. After a surprising wait, SB 374 became law. Yet even as it became law, medical marijuana still wasn't legally available yet because several municipal governments throughout Nevada were refusing to allow dispensaries within their boundaries.

Finally this month, a breakthrough occurred when Clark County announced its plan to approve zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. That pretty much guaranteed that dispensaries will finally open soon in Nevada's most populous county. And it set an encouraging precedent for other municipal governments to follow.

And now, the Clark County Commission has finally cleared the way for dispensary applications to begin circulating by approving regulations. And just hours before the Clark County Commission approved its new medical marijuana dispensary regulations, the Las Vegas City Council finally directed city staff to begin drafting its own dispensary regulations. The City of Las Vegas had been the biggest municipal government to resist any allowance of medical marijuana, but yesterday the City Council finally came around to approving dispensaries.

So after nine months of regulatory delays and legal brawls, SB 3374 is finally on track for full implementation. And after thirteen years of legal wrangling, police raids, and plenty of confusion all around, the will of the people is finally starting to be recognized...

But this fight is still far from over. Patients still face immense hurdles as they try to access the medicine they need. Even as Clark County and Las Vegas City make progress in adopting new regulations, medical marijuana can not yet be legally obtained anywhere in Southern Nevada.

The road to legal medical marijuana in Nevada has been quite long. And it's been quite difficult at times. And we're still far from the end of it. But at least today, it looks like we're moving in the right direction. Perhaps this long road will finally take us somewhere.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


What's happening in Russia & Ukraine now is serious. And it's becoming dangerous for many there. It's the kind of foreign policy conundrum...

That the usual G-O-TEA suspects are politicizing. Once again, they're looking for a "SCANDAL!!!" to blame President Obama for. And once again...

They're celebrating the Russian government's brutality? Oh, yes. That's right. They're going there... Again.

This time, it's religious right icon Franklin Graham joining Focus on the Family and other extreme religious right groups in praising Russia's persecution of its own LGBTQ citizens. He thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin is "right on these issues" of quashing civil rights in his nation. And he agrees with other radical right crackpots media personalities on the "moral clarity" that great "lion of Christianity" Vladimir Putin offers the world.

And ironically, this is the same person running the same nation that many G-O-TEA media pundits falsely claim President Obama isn't doing enough to confront. And in another ironic twist, one of those leftover Bush era neocons will be coming to Las Vegas next week to raise money for Adam Laxalt, the G-O-TEA Attorney General candidate on a mission to destroy marriage equality regardless of what that pesky US Constitution has to say about equal protection under the law. We bet that Nevada G-O-TEA fundraiser will be interesting... Especially since Governor Brian Sandoval (R) was invited. And Adam Laxalt has made quite the point of running against Sandoval's decision to stop fighting against marriage equality in court.

Of course, Adam Laxalt is not the only Nevada Republican facing this kind of conundrum. NV-04 hopeful Cresent Hardy is still on the lookout for "segregation laws". And NV-03 incumbent Rep. Joe Heck (R) recently tried to spin his way out of his own confusing argument against marriage equality.

We've talked about this before. But since it's back in the news, let's dig a little deeper into the Republican Party's tortured stance in LGBTQ civil rights. Even as it embarks on a slick new ad campaign meant to spread awareness of "Republican rebranding", its 21st Century Know Nothing base continues to remind us of what's actually behind all that "rebranding".

Think about that. Even as G-O-TEA media spinners take to the cable channels to proclaim its "TSUNAMI!!!" of new energy, we look past their spin to see them (still) beating their dead horse. And we still notice their conundrum of giving a new spin to their same old agenda of fighting against equality. Even as they're airing the slick new ads and trying to showcase their "new energy" in a softer light, they're nonetheless complaining about the "hidden agenda" behind beer, graham crackers, and tornados.

What's happening in the Republican Party right now is very real. It faces a real conundrum. Its electoral future depends on accepting the reality of 21st century America, but its base continues to resist even the progress of the 20th century. And as long as this continues, it will be difficult to take any cosmetic "rebranding" seriously.

Real. Serious. Dangerous.

This is serious. This is dangerous. This is happening. And this is very real.

So why are we still debating its existence?

Think about it. And think about what Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr. Mario Molina has to say. Years ago, he was a young scientist who uncovered the dangers of CFC's (chloroflourocarbons). And now, he wants us to realize the dangers of the great environmental crisis we're experiencing today.

The new report walks through a series of potential consequences of planetary warming, without asserting that any is sure to happen. They are possibilities, not certainties, and the distinction is crucial for an intelligent public debate about what to do. The worst-case forecasts include severe food shortages as warming makes itharder to grow crops; an accelerating rise of the sea that would inundate coastlines too rapidly for humanity to adjust; extreme heat waves, droughts and floods; and a large-scale extinction of plants and animals.

“What’s extremely clear is that there’s a risk, a very significant risk,” Dr. Molina said by telephone from Mexico, where he spends part of his time. “You don’t need 100 percent certainty for society to act.”

Some of the scientists on Dr. Molina’s committee like to point out that people can be pretty intelligent about managing risk in their personal lives. It is unlikely that your house will burn down, yet you spend hundreds of dollars a year on insurance. When you drive to work in the morning, the odds are low that some careless driver will slam into you, but it is possible, so we have spent tens of billions of dollars putting seatbelts and air bags in our cars.

The issue of how much to spend on lowering greenhouse gases is, in essence, a question about how much insurance we want to buy against worst-case outcomes. Scientists cannot decide that for us — and the report recognizes that by avoiding any specific recommendations about what to do. But it makes clear that lowering emissions, by some means, is the only way to lower the risks. Because so many people are confused about the science, the nation has never really had a frank political discussion about the options.

G-O-TEA politicians like to deny its existence. And certain media outlets (cough- "60 Minutes"- cough- Fox- cough) don't bother to get their facts straight. Yet while some political fixtures & media personalities continue to exhibit a lackadaisical attitude towards climate change, they can't change the reality that we're already feeling the effects of climate change.

That's why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) joined several other US Senators earlier this month to stay #Up4Climate. We're already feeling the dry now (while other parts of the world experience epic flooding). And we don't have any more time to waste to embark on a cleaner & greener future.

Astrophysicist & "super cool science dude" Neil DeGrasse Tyson knows quite a lot about science. Perhaps that's why he has no patience for those who try to blithely dismiss the science of climate change.

This sh*t is real. It's serious. And yes, it will be dangerous if we don't step up & take the action that's necessary for our own survival.

So why aren't we acting like our future depends on our actions today? News flash: It does.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Just this morning, we had to point out the ugly reality of G-O-TEA politicians continuing to beat that poor dead horse. We just didn't expect them to celebrate it... And lie about it so brazenly.

Yet it happened. No really, it happened last week at the "Campaign for Life Summit" as anti-choice activists and G-O-TEA strategists discussed proper "messaging". And yes, they actually advocated using "compassionate" sounding lies to mask the War on Women they so eagerly want to continue.

So they actually took Pat Hickey's advice. What on earth are they thinking? Apparently, it's the same thing Texas Republicans are thinking when they claim women are "too busy" to care about equal pay for equal work.

So they want us to believe that women are "too busy" to care about paycheck fairness? And they want us to think that this would not be a problem if women were to just "negotiate more like men"? And they still wonder why Sue Wagner left the Republican Party?

Here's why: "Republican rebranding" won't make it go away. "Softer" rhetoric won't make it go away. And no, lying about it definitely won't make it go away.

If Republican "leaders" truly don't want their party to be bogged down any more by their War on Women, then they need to stop fighting it! It's just that simple.

G-O-TEA politicians can't just lie about their own record and expect their political problems to disappear. They decided to start the War on Women. It just sucks for them that most Americans don't care for it.

And no, slick new ads won't do the trick. Neither will sleeker technology. And neither will "soft" lies. It's not that simple.

The solution to their problem, however, is quite simple. It's their choice not to take it.

Dead Horse

We're not trying to beat a dead horse. We swear. Take a closer look. We're not beating it. We're just calling attention to it.

So where's the horse? Look here.

And yes, don't bother there. Even as national media figures sing the praises of Governor Brian Sandoval (R), he continues to face trouble at home. And he can thank his party's own "TEA" powered base for that.

And that's not all. The "TEA" is also spilling into #NVLeg (again). Just as State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) was hoping to showcase his favored 2014 candidates, the G-O-TEA base struck back. And it did so in a brutal manner.

But then again, we were never actually surprised by any of this. In fact, we've been saying this for some time: Don't believe all the hype surrounding "Republican rebranding". Jeez, even the Republican National Committee has admitted its "rebranding" has been nothing but a big fat #FAIL.

But of course, it's also claiming this doesn't matter one bit. And why's that? Oh, 2014 is supposed to be a great red "TSUNAMI!!!" (Never mind that there's no real evidence suggesting this.)

Again, we saw this coming. Even as national party "leaders" have been begging for change, G-O-TEA politicians have instead allowed the 21st Century Know Nothings to take control of the party. And not only have they taken control of the party, but they've also forced the party to continue fighting a "Culture War" that everyone else realizes it lost long ago.

We saw this coming. And now, everyone can see this on full display. Even she sees it now. (And of course she does, because she loves being in charge!)

We're not trying to beat a dead horse. We're just pointing out the usual suspects who are beating that dead horse... And hoping you don't notice them doing so.

Monday, March 17, 2014

No Sympathy

Last month, we saw a local media pundit get awfully butthurt express strong "OUTRAGE!!!" But why? Why all the outrage? Oh, that wily Senator Harry Reid (D) didn't hold back when he called out the Koch Brothers' campaign of deceit.

But why did he lash out at Senator Reid? Why didn't he last out at the shady billionaire brothers behind the nefarious front groups using deceitful campaign ads to buy more seats in Congress?

Alas, it's no longer just a local media pundit chiding Senator Reid for daring to speak the truth. Now, the Beltway pundits are catching up with their own tears shed for the poor lil' rich Kochs.

But why? Why is it "wrong" to fire back after the Kochs' front groups have repeatedly lied about Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act, or ACA)? And why is it "wrong" to reveal the truth about the Kochs, their lying ads, and their extreme ideological agenda?

Think about it. Their ads are false. They have been spending a ton of money promoting their preferred candidates & ideology. And their ideology happens to be quite extreme in its rejection of pretty much everything that's made America strong.

So please excuse us for showing "The Koch-topus" no sympathy. Unlike certain local & national media pundits, we care more about the truth than Beltway cocktail party protocol. And since the Kochs show their political opponents no sympathy, we don't understand why anyone has to show them any.

They're Still Digging

They just don't know how to stop digging when they're already in such a deep hole. Even as "Republican rebranding" has become nothing but a sorry joke, G-O-TEA politicians just can't help themselves. They keep reminding us why their Republican Party has so much trouble with "minority outreach".

Throughout this month, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has resorted to race baiting and praising child starvation to promote his "anti-poverty agenda". This compelled a Nobel Prize winning economist to publicly rebuke Rep. Ryan. And of course, this sordid affair reminded everyone how Ryan's agenda promotes rather than negates poverty.

And it's not just Paul Ryan making insensitive comments. In South Dakota, a State Senator is standing by his bill to allow businesses open to the public to engage in racial discrimination. Meanwhile in New York & Boston, the 21st Century Know Nothings are expressing "OUTRAGE!!!" over the respective cities' Mayors and major beer brands pulling out of the St. Patrick's Day Parades over the two parades' ban on open LGBTQ participation.

Oh, yes. That's right. They're still digging.

Even after Cresent Hardy made his now infamous "segregation laws" comments. Even after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed SB 1062. Even after Paul Ryan faced massive backlash for his "poverty" comments. And even after "Uncle Sugar" went overboard again. They're still digging.

Even though many Republican political consultants realize their party's looming demographic crisis, so many of their party's politicians just can't give up that toxic "TEA". And their creative "quick fix" can only suppress the future for so long.

Eventually, they will have to wake up and smell the 21st century. And eventually, they will have to emerge from the hole of their own creation if they want a viable future for their party. But even now, they still refuse to do either. Instead, they're still digging.

History Repeating Itself

During this past weekend, Irish eyes were smiling. Plenty of folks picked out their best green to wear today. Shamrocks are suddenly en vogue again. And...

The Irish Prime Minister lobbied for US immigration reform in DC? No really, Enda Kenny, Ireland's Prime Minister, took to Capitol Hill to ask Congress to move on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). He and Irish-American activists especially focused on House Republicans. And they reminded everyone on Capitol Hill that Irish immigrants & workers are counting on CIR just as much as immigrants from elsewhere.

But will "The Luck of the Irish " do the trick this time? Perhaps... Not. Once again, the G-O-TEA run lower house of Congress passed two anti-immigrant bills meant to shame President Obama on DACA. Yet ironically, they pulled this stunt just as pro-CIR activists were again urging the President to curb the incredibly high amount of deportations occurring under his watch (even since DACA was first announced).

This is why Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) and other CIR advocates on The Hill cheered activists as they delivered another petition to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week. While Speaker Boehner and other House Republican "leaders" have touted their "principles for immigration reform", they've also abandoned their own "principles". And now that House Republican "leaders" have let the 21st Century Know Nothings dictate immigration policy there, they're claiming they'll perhaps consider reform... In 2015.

Really? Wasn't 2013 supposed to be the "prime opportunity for Republicans" to act on CIR? Wasn't the Senate's smooth passage of the bipartisan S 744 supposed to mean something in that other House of Congress? Was all the movement on CIR truly for naught? And since House Republicans have already broken their promise to act last year, why is anyone supposed to believe them now when they claim they'll act next year? And how are we supposed to know their action won't be like the action they took in 2005?

Perhaps this is all just history repeating itself. After all, this isn't the first time when immigrants coming to America faced legal challenges, economic hardship, and discrimination upon arriving here. Perhaps the visiting Irish Prime Minister had this history in mind when he visited Washington, DC, last week. It remains to be seen if G-O-TEA politicians there will decide to repeat history (again).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quality Time

Earlier this month, NV-04 G-O-TEA hopeful Niger Innis fell into some very hot water over comments he made about making "the ultimate sacrifice" when he decided to run for Congress. Hello, when did a glorified paid vacation become "the ultimate sacrifice"? And what made this comment sound even worse was the reminder of his party's "leadership" committing to an agenda of nothing. So far, the only sacrifices House Republican "leaders" are making involve burning sound policy at the stake.

Wouldn't it be nice if these politicians (especially the "TEA" drinking ones) could learn about real sacrifice? Perhaps they should try following the lead of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California). Last month, she spent a night in a homeless shelter. And instead of lecturing the other guests there on "moral values", she listened to the stories they had to tell. And she learned about the real sacrifices they had to make just to survive.

While Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) blames poor lazy black people for poverty and extols the virtues of child starvation, he continues to neglect the reality of poverty in America. News flash: Poor people work hard. And those who aren't working can't find work.

Perhaps it would help if Rep. Ryan and other privileged Members of Congress take up Rep. Speier's challenge and spend some quality time with the underprivileged Americans who are bearing the brunt of the American austerity regime. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) did. During the holidays, he spent a day with a homeless constituent and followed him as he looked for work and housing. This person was caught in a "Catch 22" situation where he couldn't find a job because he didn't have a home... And he couldn't find a home because he didn't have a job.

This Connecticut man lost his unemployment insurance (UI) when Congress failed to extend it. Even when Senator Dean Heller (R) and a few other Congressional Republicans urged their colleagues to pass UI extension, those G-O-TEA colleagues tried to filibuster it to death. And in doing so, they made life that much harder for the impoverished Americans Senator Murphy and Rep. Speier recently spent time with.

We can't help but wonder if more in Congress would be more responsive to the real needs of America if they were to follow the example set by Rep. Speier & Senator Murphy. It's almost inexplicable to think that it's taken this long for Senator Heller to reach a potential deal on UI extension. And it's completely inexcusable to think that Senator Harry Reid (D) had to shame his & Heller's Republican colleagues until just enough of them agreed to #RenewUI.

This is the least we can do for those who have the most to lose. And it's too bad & so sad that so many on Capitol Hill fail to realize this. While they're cozying up to the Koch-topus of dirty money, they fail to notice their own constituents, especially the ones who may not have enough money to pay the rent and buy groceries.

We can't help but wonder what would happen if more of those G-O-TEA politicians were to step away from Capitol Hill more often to see how all the rest of us are living. Would it have taken them this long to realize what all of us knew from the start?

The Horrors

Who knew he'd become such a spooky trendsetter? Nearly a month ago, Cresent Hardy set the national political scene on fire with his "segregation laws" comments. And now, we have G-O-TEA politicians across the nation echoing Hardy's eye-popping sentiments... And making us look for the nearest bed to hide under.

Don't believe us? Pay closer attention to what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Ayn Rand Fan Club) has been saying lately. When he hasn't been singing the praises of child starvation (& plagiarism), he's been quoting a white supremacist and insinuating that "inner city" African-American men cause poverty. Clearly, Paul Ryan is doing a great job at G-O-TEA minority outreach (& fact checking)! (#snark)

But wait, there's more fright night realness where that came from. In case Paul Ryan's magnificent minority outreach isn't scary enough for you, check out what's been said this week on G-O-TEA H8 talk radio. On "American Family Radio" yesterday, a guest host called for the assassination of college faculty he disagrees with! And who said talk radio isn't educational?

Well, at least House G-O-TEA "leaders" aren't calling for assassination. Rather, they're just working on another anti-immigrant bill to send to the House floor. So does this constitute the "principles for immigration reform" that House Republican "leaders" claimed they would fight for? Another anti-immigrant bill meant to scuttle reform? Once again, House G-O-TEA "leaders" are scared of the 21st Century Know Nothings' shadows.

And speaking of scuttling reform, the Oregon Republican Party just rebuked its Young Republicans for daring to endorse marriage equality. After all, G-O-TEA spiritual leader Rush Limbaugh doesn't like those "icky gayzzzz" getting married, raising children, playing sports, serving in the military, holding down jobs, and/or buying stuff. And once again, we're reminded of the G-O-TEA's fear of the 21st century.

And while we're talking about spiritual leaders, another G-O-TEA spiritual leader had this to say about horror movies & demonic possession.

Sadly, this is what the Republican Party has come to. When its leaders are not endorsing crackpots, they're scaring us with their crack pipes. And really, they're just proving to everyone that they're immensely afraid of the wrath of their own crazed baze.

As we've said before, the frightening state of the Nevada Republican Party is anything but an isolated incident. And the horrors of "Republican rebranding" continue to haunt American politics everywhere.

And damn, we still have seven more months to go until it's Halloween!

"Soft" Rhetoric, Hard Reali-TEA

On Monday, we discussed the "helpful advice" Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey (R-Reno) was offering his Republican Party in "how to talk to women". He said his party needs to "show empathy" and "know why they feel the way they do". Apparently, it's also important to show some condescension along with that "empathy".

Yet as Hickey and a crew of national Republicans are trying hard to spin their "kinder, gentler, woman friendly Republican Party" into a "softer light", the usual G-O-TEA suspects refuse to give up their hard "TEA". Case in point: Greg Brannon. He's running for US Senate in North Carolina. And he recently said this.

Once again, G-O-TEA politicians are spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood. And once again, G-O-TEA politicians are resorting to slut shaming. And it's not just Greg Brannon stooping to the bottom of the barrel for more ammunition to use on the ongoing G-O-TEA War on Women.

In recent weeks, "Uncle Sugar" Mike Huckabee has become a top general in the G-O-TEA's War on Women. And he doesn't seem to want to relinquish this role any time soon. Even as he's called women "a special treasure", he's nonetheless endorsed looting that treasure (by stripping women of their civil rights) as "how we win elections".

And it doesn't even stop there. Even as some G-O-TEA leaders call for "softer" rhetoric, none of them are backing away from their extreme ideology. Rather, they keep doubling down on it!

Contrary to what Pat Hickey and national Republican "leaders" want us to think, there's no such thing as a "kinder, gentler" war. There's still violence. There's still bloodshed. And in this case, America's women realize their health care and civil rights are still under attack. No amount of "softer" rhetoric can change this hard reality.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where the Blame Lies

Every so often, we hear from certain media pundits on how certain politicians truly "support immigration reform". Yet when push comes to shove, we always hear excuses from them as they try to deflect blame onto someone else. What a definition of "support".

Yet unlike those politicians who try to have it both ways on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) (cough- Joe Heck -cough), Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Fierce) is truly all in for reform. He doesn't just talk the talk. He also makes sure to walk the walk.

He proved his commitment to CIR again yesterday when he stood outside The Capitol to speak to CIR advocates who were about to deliver a petition to House Speaker John Boehner (R-"Liquid Courage") demanding a floor vote for CIR.

While Republicans keep debating each other on immigration, CIR is languishing in the lower House of Congress. G-O-TEA "leaders" there promised "principles for immigration reform", but instead delivered more flip-flops full of tired excuses. And now, they have nothing to show for all their lofty rhetoric.

Yet as G-O-TEA politicians keep debating each other on the politics and the rhetoric of reform, millions of American families are suffering the consequences of (the lower House of) Congress' failure to act on CIR. Families are being torn apart. Communities are being drained. And local authorities are left to try to fill the void caused by Congress' failure to pass CIR.

So we can't blame Rep. Horsford for losing whatever respect he had left for his House's G-O-TEA "leadership". And we can't blame activists who have lost faith in that very "leadership's" ability to lead. We do, however, blame those shifty politicians who keep trying to have it both ways while ultimately producing nothing. That's where the blame properly lies.

"Profiles in Courage"

What do you think of when the words "Profile in Courage" come to mind? And who do you think of? Probably not Senator Dean Heller (R)?

There are many things we can say about Senator Dean Heller. "Profile in Courage" likely isn't one of them. And it's certainly not something a certain prominent media pundit would say about the Senator.

And speaking of Jon Ralston, he's had some beef with Senator Heller over his refusal to indicate whether he was comped into a NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He eventually told a reporter (from the "newspaper") that he paid for his own ticket, but that was only after Ralston revealed that Las Vegas Motor Speedway offers comps to lawmakers every year in return for ensuring it won't get taxed. And that was only after three State Senators were shamed into reimbursing the Speedway owners once news broke that they (along with even more elected officials) were comped into the NASCAR race.

In reality, we may never really know the full truth of what happened at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Why's that? Current Nevada law allows politicians to "accept gifts under $200" without reporting them as campaign contributions. Outgoing Secretary of State (& current Attorney General candidate) Ross Miller (D) attempted to close this and other campaign finance loopholes last year. And while he did ultimately succeed iin getting the Nevada Legislature to pass a modest campaign finance reform package, that was only after the "Gaming-mining-lobbying Industrial Complex" succeeded in watering it down so it wouldn't be too threatening to the choke hold it has on Carson City.

That's why Senator Heller and a bunch of state legislators figured it would be "no big deal" if they accepted Las Vegas Motor Speedway's generous invitation to a special NASCAR celebration in their honor. And as long as they they keep giving the "Gaming-mining-lobbying Industrial Complex" the "Black Card" treatment, they'll always get the red carpet treatment where they want it most.

Meanwhile, "We the People" keep getting the shaft. Why? As long as the game is continually rigged in favor of those can afford to "pay to play", we'll always be left out in the cold.

And that's why we always come back to this key point: If we don't like the "Black Card/Red Carpet/Pay-to-play" games being played in Carson City & DC, then we must change the game. And the only way we can effectively change the game to level the playing field for everyone is if we properly address the root of this problem.

Fortunately, solutions are available. And fortunately for Senator Heller, one of those solutions is within his reach. S 2023 would put us on the path to a fairer & cleaner election system by leveling the playing field so that big money interests can't simply buy their way to a complete political monopoly. It would allow "We the People" back into the game. And it would make elected officials more accountable to those who elected them into office in the first place.

What, you didn't think we'd take another opportunity to use another corruption scandal to direct your attention back to campaign finance reform? Come on! Of course, we had to do this. Unlike certain politicians who never seem to aspire to become actual "Profiles in Courage", we're not afraid to address the root of this problem. We're just wondering when enough of them will finally muster the courage to solve this problem once & for all.