Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why We Need That Raise

This past February, NV-03 constituents asked Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) about legislation to raise the minimum wage. They shared their personal experiences, and they presented the facts. Raising the minimum wage can raise nearly 5 million Americans out of poverty while boosting economic growth.

Rep. Heck didn't take kindly to either their stories or their facts.


And neither have Senate Republicans (Dean Heller included), as they just filibustered the Senate minimum wage bill.

"Min wage vote fails 54-42. Corker lone R voting aye, Reid votes nay for procedural reasons. AR & MS sens absent"

FYI, Senator Reid had to switch his vote from "Aye" to "Nay" so he can bring it back for another vote. In fact, he tweeted this following the cloture vote.

"Republicans just turned their backs on millions of hardworking Americans who deserve a fair shot. This debate is not over."

A majority of US Senators wanted to #RaiseTheWage. So do most Americans. And even some prominent conservatives have advocated #RaiseTheWage, as it would lessen the need for the public sector to subsidize the private sector's low wages.

So why did Senate Republicans block a #RaiseTheWage vote? Why wouldn't they simply allow a final vote on the bill, especially when a number of their party's "leaders" have claimed interest in "solving our poverty crisis". How can we "solve the poverty crisis" when we expect so many Americans to work for so little?

G-O-TEA media spinners are already claiming this was just a "political stunt" meant to "pamper teenagers". What they refuse to acknowledge is that most minimum wage jobs are not filled by "pampered teenagers". In fact, they're mostly filled by grown women. And 26% of the people who would benefit from a higher minimum wage have children.

Keep this in mind when you hear Senator Heller, Rep. Heck, and other G-O-TEA politicians try to spin away their opposition to #RaiseTheWage. They're denying millions of American men, women, and children the opportunity to work their way out of poverty. They're denying our economy the kind of consumer buying power that's necessary for sturdier & more robust economic growth. And they're denying our nation the opportunity to start solving the inequality crisis that's defined our time.

America is in dire need of a raise. Why can't we just have it already?

Can't Rebrand "Culture War"

Every so often, we hear about it. Party "leaders" boast about it. Candidates hint at it. And a number of "mainstream" media pundits hype it to death.

Ever since the polls closed in November 2012, we've been hearing about "Republican rebranding". It was supposed to bring the Republican Party into the 21st century. And it was supposed to retool & revitalize the Republican Party in time for the 2014 & 2016 elections.

We can't help but wonder if this is what Republican National Committee (RNC) operatives had in mind when they announced "Republican rebranding". G-O-TEA politicians in Nevada & nationwide rallied in support of Cliven Bundy. G-O-TEA politicians are now rallying behind Donald Sterling. Maryland Republicans are now trying to strip transgender people of basic civil rights. Mississippi Republicans are now jumping on board the "License to Discriminate movement". And regardless of what they say is in their party platform, Nevada Republicans are mostly still lining up against marriage equality.

We can't help but wonder what RNC operatives wanted in terms of "Republican rebranding". They drove Sue Wagner away in favor of embracing "Uncle Sugar". They've let Cresent Hardy trumpet his "philosophy" on "segregation laws". And they follow Rush Limbaugh's lead in slut shaming, race baiting, and homophobic/transphobic fear-mongering.

Shortly after the 2012 Election, the RNC ordered an autopsy. That autopsy report ultimately called for an end to the G-O-TEA Culture War. But instead of doing that, the party has been doubling down on that Culture War to the point of celebrating "outlaw cowboys", "cantaloupe calves", speculation of voting for slavery, and even "freedom to discriminate". Oh, what a "rebranding" Republicans have accomplished!

And they're wondering why the 2016 polls are not looking good for them (and even the 2014 polls are not looking as great for them as they claim)? They've been doubling down on "Culture War" for so long that they've succeeded in locking in the 21st Century Know Nothings... While alienating nearly everyone else. And no amount of cosmetic "rebranding" can change this reality.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Empty Words

Just when we finally figured he was acknowledging reality, he backtracked. Again. And we're pretty much back where we originally thought we were.

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) openly mocked his own House Republican Caucus for refusing to pass comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). For a moment, it looked like Speaker Boehner was finally admitting in public what everyone on Capitol Hill discusses in private. And maybe, just maybe, there was finally an opening for CIR to pass the House.

But alas, it's not to be. Even after publicly mocking his own members, Speaker Boehner is once again declaring CIR dead in his lower House of Congress. Once again, his words have been proven to be empty. And once again, he's trying to blame President Obama for something Boehner himself admitted his party has done.

So we're back where we thought we always were. House Republican "leaders" occasionally make a big splash over their alleged "principles for immigration reform"... Only to kill their own zombie-fied "principles" over and over and over again because "argle bargle- OBAMA SCANDAL!!!- argle bargle".

So CIR is officially... Still available. No really, HR 15 still awaits action in the House. All it needs is for supposed "pro-reform Republicans" like Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) to sign its discharge petition.

American families like Isaac Lugo's, Maria Esmeralda Conejo's, and Bryan Rivera's have been waiting far too long for craven (& often hypocritical) politicians to go beyond mere lip service. They've been waiting for real, concrete reform. And even though it's been 10 months since S 744 passed the Senate, the House still hasn't followed through on that long ago promised companion bill.

These American families don't need any more empty words. Neither do our communities. Neither does our economy. We need real reform. And if Speaker Boehner insists on providing nothing but more empty words, then those supposedly "pro-reform Republicans" need to stop uttering empty words and start offering real action.

We're Fracked?!

We've been talking quite a lot about land policies in one corner of Southern Nevada. Yet while we were focused on that part of the state, some huge news dropped in another part of the state. In one corner of Northern Nevada, fracking has already begun.

Wait, what?! Yes, fracking has already begun in Elko County. Noble Energy is now fracking on mostly private land just outside Wells, but it now has approval to frack on some BLM land nearby as well. And thanks to SB 390, the fracking regulations bill passed by the Nevada Legislature last year, it's legal.

It's already been making waves in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas, and elsewhere. And now, fracking is happening in our state.

We've already become familiar with the more upfront dangers of fracking. However, there's an even greater danger that we simply can't ignore.

Noble Energy is fracking for oil. Noble Energy is risking contaminating the entire water supply for that area to extract fossil fuels from the ground. Noble Energy is extracting fossil fuels that worsen climate change.

Remember climate change? It just happens to be the greatest global security threat of our time. And Rural Nevada is already feeling it.

Nevada is already experiencing a rather serious drought. We can't afford to waste water. And we especially can't afford to waste water on extracting fossil fuels that are endangering our future.

Bloody Wakeup Call

Weren't we just talking about this recently? Haven't we been examining the toxic environment the NRA has created? Haven't we been warning about creating a conducive environment for "Second Amendment Remedies"?

Today, we witnessed another bloody wakeup call. This time, it was in Kennesaw, Georgia. Six people were shot and injured. And the suspect shot himself dead.

Before today, Kennesaw was known as the city with the ordinance requiring all residents to own a gun. And only six days ago, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) signed the "Guns Everywhere Bill" into law. This will allow people to carry guns into bars, clubs, libraries, and even houses of worship. The new law also expands Georgia's "Stand Your Ground" doctrine.

Georgia's Governor & legislators were warned of the dangers of passing such legislation. They went ahead and did the gun lobby's bidding.

And of course, Members of Congress were warned of the dangers of failing to fix the scattered & tattered patchwork of background checks systems. Even now, HR 1565 sits in the House and awaits action. But instead, G-O-TEA politicians boast about being "what stood in the way" between our communities and good #GunSense.

Today, we received yet another bloody wakeup call. We just can't ignore & wish gun violence away. And we can't let our elected "leaders" get away with choosing NRA campaign contributions and gun industry profits over people's lives.

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's About Time.

It's "unacceptable". He "doesn't comply with the law". The "case has been reviewed by a federal judge".

This sounds like something Senator Harry Reid (D) would say, or perhaps a BLM dossier. But no, the above statements were actually from a #BundyRanch dossier prepared for Senator Dean Heller (R) by his own staff. So why didn't Senator Heller use it? Why did he instead endorse the brazen lawlessness of Cliven Bundy and his gang of "sovereign citizen" extremists?

Well, why are he and so many other G-O-TEA politicians still sticking with the NRA? The gun industry's #1 cheerleader held its convention last weekend. And during that convention, it unveiled this "inspiring new ad".

Notice something? Perhaps the same something we all noticed in Cliven Bundy's now infamous comments on race relations? Oh, yes. That's right. The NRA engaged in race baiting, too.

But then again, this shouldn't be a surprise. The NRA has aiming for the bottom of the barrel for quite some time. It's just not used to defending its own record, like Everytown is now making it do.

Republican politicians & party operatives are now desperately trying to spin away their support for Cliven Bundy's "rebel with an outrageous cause" act, yet they won't say anything about the organization they've been sucking up to for decades... To the point of standing in the way to block modest legislation that over 80% of Americans support. They've sucked up to the point of protecting gun industry profits from modest legislation that can save lives. And they haven't uttered a peep about the NRA's extremist rhetoric & agenda.

Make no mistake. Cliven Bundy is no "lone wolf". And #BundyRanch is no "isolated incident". The NRA has been encouraging this kind of behavior for some time. And it's about time that someone calls the NRA out on it.

It's the Field, Stupid

There's a strip mall on Eastern Avenue, near Sunset Park and a short drive away from the back end of Las Vegas' McCarran Airport. It doesn't look all that special at first glance. There's a grocery store. There are a few restaurants. And there are furniture stores.

But take a closer look. There's a new office that just opened there. And that office may very well make an impact on this fall's election results.

Those who have been reading this blog for a while have become quite familiar with the story of how Nevada Democrats win elections. And for those who haven't, here's a helpful hint: It's the field, stupid!

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The Nevada State Democratic Party (NSDP) has become such a potent force in this state's politics because it's spent several election cycles building a reputation on field. And it has no plans to let it slide this cycle. So last Friday, over 300 grassroots Democrats came over to the new NSDP field office on Eastern... And caught a first glance of what lies ahead this year.

And they weren't the only ones taking in the scenery. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) took some time out of his busy weekend schedule to stop by the new field office and greet a bunch of soon-to-be campaign volunteers.

So did Assembly Member & Lt. Governor candidate Lucy Flores (D). She came by to fire up the crowd and remind them of what's at stake this fall.

Shortly after, it was NV-03 candidate Erin Bilbray's turn at the podium. She talked about her history HERstory with Eastern Avenue, then made a contrast between her Nevada values and what her opponent, incumbent Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson), seems to value.

Her father, Former Rep. James Bilbray (D-Las Vegas), joined her, along with her mother, her husband, her children, other family members... And over 300 local grassroots Democratic activists. It was one large family affair.

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And this probably won't be the last large family affair in this office in the strip mall on Eastern Avenue. In fact, this is only just the beginning. With so much at stake up & down the ballot this fall, Nevada Democrats don't want to leave anything to mere luck. Luck alone doesn't win elections.

So what does? Look above. Look back. And keep an eye going forward. It's the field, stupid.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Out of Excuses

So we're not the only ones who recognize the incredibly f**ked up state of the Republican Party today. None other than House Speaker John Boehner (R-Where's He Been?) is chiding his own party for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). No really, he went there.

Apparently, he doesn't remember that he's Speaker of the House. He's supposed to set the floor agenda. And he can bring HR 15 to the House floor whenever he wants.

So why hasn't he? Speaker Boehner clearly sounds upset over his Congressional G-O-TEA colleagues constantly scuttling reform. So why not just bypass them? If all the "pro-reform Republicans" actually vote for reform, then HR 15 will pass and CIR will be ready for President Obama to sign into law.

What's so complicated about this? Oh, wait. That's right. The 21st Century Know Nothings. House Republican "leaders" just won't stop pandering to them.

But they don't have to. Again, Speaker Boehner is supposed to be in charge. If he truly wants to pass CIR, he can bring HR 15 to the House floor so the House can finally accomplish what the Senate already did 10 months ago.

Over the past year, we've heard Rep. Joe Heck (R-Where's He Been?) pay lip service to "supporting reform". Why can't Speaker Boehner give them the chance to actually do it? Or if Speaker Boehner really doesn't want to "get his hands dirty over this", why can't he at least let them sign the discharge petition for HR 15?

Might Speaker Boehner finally be realizing that he & his G-O-TEA House Caucus are out of excuses? They've tried everything to deflect blame. They've blamed President Obama. They've blamed the Senate. They've blamed CIR activists. And now, they're at the point of blaming their own unhinged base.

Instead of playing this never ending blame game, why don't they just pass HR 15 already? Instead of dumping tons of money into misleading ad campaigns, why don't they try passing useful legislation for a change? It's painfully obvious that House Republicans are out of excuses. So why won't they simply allow a floor vote for the CIR they claim to want?

Crackpot Chronicles: The #BundyRanch Postscript

It's over now. It's all over but the final round of court orders. Cliven Bundy quickly became a G-O-TEA celebrity when he declared a "TEA" powered "Range War" over Gold Butte.

But as quickly as he rose to fame on G-O-TEA media outlets, he's now falling out of their grace. Why's that? Oh, he just managed to open his racist mouth and reveal the truth about this latest G-O-TEA Culture War battle.

Yesterday, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) traveled to the Virgin Valley to talk with his constituents there about the #BundyRanch train wreck. He then talked with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about what the locals think of all this.

This isn't the first time that "sovereign citizens" have tried to attack the rule of law here in Southern Nevada. This one just happened to be the one that quickly became the national G-O-TEA cause celebre. This one just happened to provide their "perfect opportunity" to attack Senator Harry Reid (D) and President Obama with reckless abandon.

What they failed to admit was that Senator Reid has been correct about this situation all along. Bundy invited some incredibly unsavory characters to fight the "Range War" alongside him. It's been painfully obvious the whole damned time that they were all violating state & federal law. And surprise, surprise, the #BundyRanch crew have some very unsavory "ideas" on race relations.

Not too long ago, Cliven Bundy was just the local outlaw crackpot who annoyed the law abiding citizens of Bunkerville & Mesquite with his batshit crazy "sovereign citizen philosophy". Now, Cliven Bundy is giving Rupert Murdoch & Roger Ailes nightmares. And he's forcing the entire Republican Party to confront the race baiting that fuels its "Culture War".

It didn't have to be this way. Senator Dean Heller (R) & Governor Brian Sandoval (R) didn't have to sing Bundy's praises. Assembly Members Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) & Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas) didn't have to turn him into "The TEA Party Folk Hero". And Fox "News" didn't have to turn this local embarrassment into a national "SCANDAL!!!" that caused a number of Republican politicians from across the nation to grandstand on Bundy's behalf. But instead of using logic, they took the side of the crackpot. And they're all paying the price now.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Real War Behind #BundyRanch

So now, America has a better sense of who Cliven Bundy truly is. Not only has he broken the law, but he has some rather repulsive racist "ideas". And all the Republican politicians & pundits who have rushed to Bundy's defense must now defend their own shortsighted comments in support of Bundy.

And yes, they now have no choice but to face the cold, hard truth. Media Matters now has the video. And Cliven Bundy himself has doubled down on his outrageously racist remarks.

The Washington Post's Paul Waldman sees this as a wakeup call to America that racism still hasn't died just yet. Salon's Joan Walsh sees this as the result of "TEA" powered media outlets fanning the flames of "Culture War". And both Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore & Maddow Blog's Steve Benen just see this as Republicans having to own their own beloved "Range War Folk Hero".

And really, they're all correct. Race still matters. "The Culture War" doesn't. And Republicans here in Nevada & elsewhere must now deal with the consequences of endorsing Cliven Bundy's "Range War".

However, there's another factor at play here. It's one that Digby pointed out at Salon earlier today. And it's one that we've explored here from time to time.

There's a reason why so many Republican politicians have become merry Culture Warriors. They're pandering to the 21st Century Know Nothings. They've been using these "Culture War" issues to pander to culturally conservative white voters since the 1960s, and they've been hoping they can continue using this trick to win elections.

After all, this trick had been helping them distract voters from the issue they'd rather not talk about: their ineffective & unpopular economic policies. Not only has austerity handicapped economic growth, but it's also proving to be a rather big loser among voters. With federal unemployment insurance (UI) left in tatters for nearly four months and overall federal investment only slightly above the severe austerity levels it's been forced into since 2011, the American people are finally fed up with "The Hunger Games: Real Life Edition".

And Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) gets it.

This is the reality behind #BundyRanch and all the other G-O-TEA attempts to prolong their "Culture War". It's not actually about "range warfare", at least not to the G-O-TEA political operatives who made this into a national story. It's just another "Culture War" campaign to direct anger away from the class warfare we've endured for over 30 years, and in particular from the G-O-TEA austerity regime we've had in place since 2011.

Cliven Bundy was supposed to be a convenient pawn for ambitious G-O-TEA politicians. Instead, he's become an inconvenient scandal. And the "Range War" he was supposed to win has only become another reminder of the "war" the G-O-TEA is losing.

Standing on Ugly Ground

We tried to warn everyone. We took notice when Cliven Bundy invited Richard Mack and other shady (& rather dangerous) characters to #BundyRanch. And we couldn't mince words when we saw G-O-TEA politicians like Dean Heller, Michele Fiore, & Cresent Hardy rush to Bundy's side.

Even though it was painfully obvious that Cliven Bundy broke the law, G-O-TEA politicians & pundits from across the nation were rushing to #BundyRanch to proclaim "FREEDOM!!!" from the rule of law. It's been embarrassing for all of us here in Nevada to witness. And we're sure it's given the rest of the nation further reason to wonder what the hell is going on in The Silver State.

But now, the level of crazy at #BundyRanch has risen to a whole new level. Cliven Bundy recently did an interview with The New York Times' Adam Nagourney. And now, we're becoming more familiar with Bundy's views on American society in general.

Even prominent conservative curmudgeons like MSNBC's Joe Scarborough have asked Republican politicians to back away from #BundyRanch. And so far, Rand Paul has taken his advice. However, Rick Perry is now trying to have it both ways on Bundy. G-O-TEA media personalities like Dana Loesch continue to make excuses for Bundy. And National Review writer Kevin Williamson still wants to compare the Bundy Gang to Mahatma Gandhi and "the heroes of The Alamo".

Wait, haven't we seen this before? Haven't we seen G-O-TEA politicians & pundits rush to the defense of someone who wanted to "Stand Your Ground"?

Oh, yes. That's right. Around this time last year, G-O-TEA Culture Warriors were hailing George Zimmerman as a "hero" because he "stood his ground" against Trayvon Martin. After all, Martin posed such a dangerous threat with his hoodie, that bag of Skittles, and that bottle of Arizona iced tea.

Earlier this week, MSNBC's Chris Hayes & Michael Eric Dyson discussed how #BundyRanch would be different if there were African-Americans resisting police at an urban or suburban "ranch". Think about it.

Remember that Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis never actually resisted police. They didn't even break the law when they were shot dead. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They just happened to be confronted by white men with vigilante fantasies dancing in their heads. And only one of those white men actually faced any sort of penalty for taking an innocent life.

The NRA & the gun industry have fought hard over the years to expand "Stand Your Ground" to Nevada and numerous other states. We're seeing the consequences of this unfold before us now. While innocent people lose their lives because of how "threatening" they look, actual outlaws claim the law is on their side because they have the "right to stand their ground" against such things as federal law.

We tried to warn everyone. We suspected we were standing on some very ugly & unstable ground. We've been allowing the NRA to rewrite the rules on "acceptable use of force". And this is the result. "Welfare King" Cliven Bundy can gleefully "stand his ground" while Trayvon Martin & Jordan Davis lose their lives.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Scandal Staring Them in the Face

For nearly 3 weeks, we've heard plenty of talk about "SCANDAL!!!" surrounding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). As usual, the "SCANDAL!!!" gossip has been proven false. But as usual, the 21st Century Know Nothings peddling the false rumors refuse to give them up.

And Senator Reid refuses to give up, either. Yesterday, he tweeted this.

"There are now over 2.5 million unemployed Americans waiting on Speaker Boehner to act on #RenewUI."

Remember that the Senate has already passed bipartisan legislation to extend federal unemployment insurance (UI). Yet even with 2.5 million unemployed Americans now without this critical lifeline, House Republican "leaders" continue to fiddle while Rome burns (with the "Rome" in this instance being the 2.5 million Americans cut off UI).

Why? Why must all these American families endure such unnecessary hardship? What's to gain in forcing people into poverty? Our economy has actually lost $5 billion of economic activity thanks to the federal UI lapse.

Aren't Republicans supposed to be #4jobs? Aren't they now boasting of their "solutions to poverty"? Here's a helpful hint on both ends: #RenewUI. UI extension can pump money back into our economy while keeping unemployed Americans out of poverty while they're looking for new jobs.

So why can't the House just #RenewUI already? Oh, but Republicans are now too busy... Investigating the new "SCANDAL!!!" surrounding Senator Reid's Twitter account. Because, you know, it exists. And Senator Reid uses it to express his views on legislation and current events.

While G-O-TEA politicians feign "OUTRAGE!!!" over phony "SCANDAL(s)!!!", real people are suffering. And these real people are suffering because those who are allegedly in charge of the lower House of Congress refuse to bring up bipartisan legislation that's already passed the Senate. This is the real scandal that's staring them in the face.

Is #BundyRanch Just #TeaPartyWoodstock?

They had traveled from various corners of the nation. They brought plenty of colorful signs, along with big guns. They came in buses, cars, and even a few motorcycles. And the national media showered them with the attention they so craved.

Of course, we're reminiscing about the "Showdown in Searchlight" that happened just over 4 years ago. G-O-TEA Culture Warriors from across the nation wanted to send Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) a "message", so they descended upon Senator Reid's hometown. Michele Fiore made her bug debut. Sue Lowden tried so hard to buy the baggers' love. But ultimately, their hearts belonged to Sharron Angle. And most of the people there couldn't vote for any of them.

Sound familiar yet? We're seeing the same dynamics, and even some of the same characters, reemerge at #BundyRanch. Sharron Angle's "Second Amendment Remedies" have taken center stage. Assembly Member Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas) shocked the entire nation with her bizarre defense of Cliven Bundy's brazen lawlessness. And a number of other Republican politicians have jumped in to grandstand while the Koch funded astroturf outfits have tried to use this "SCANDAL!!!" to further their ideological agenda.

Oh, and let's not forget the TV "infotainment" channel that's been trying to turn Cliven Bundy's temper tantrum into a ratings bonanza.

To be fair, there is one key difference. In 2010, the G-O-TEA Culture Warriors left Searchlight after their day long "Teabag-a-palooza". But now, the G-O-TEA Culture Warriors are still running wild around Mesquite. And they're still packing heat.

In a way, this has been an opportunity for some to relive their "counterculture days" in a whole new way. This has been their long fantasized chance to "Stick it to the man!" and celebrate "FREEDOM!" Perhaps this is just #TeaPartyWoodstock? (Or at least #TeaPartyAltamont?)

Think about it. Envision the colorful signs. Listen to the blaring music. Picture the crowd of rebels with (?) a cause. And notice their zeal in challenging authority. Are the throngs of 'baggers who've been rushing to #BundyRanch just "hippies gone right wing"?

If only we were just talking about a rowdy rock concert. Instead, we're talking about people rallying behind people advocating armed rebellion against the United States. And we're left wondering this: Whatever happened to peace, love, and understanding... And paying one's bills?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lip Service

It wasn't supposed to be so damned difficult. Not too long ago, all the key players seemed to be on the same page. The Senate passed bipartisan legislation last June. The House was then set to go next, as a bipartisan working group had been designing companion legislation there.

But then, nothing happened... Other than the G-O-TEA run House occasionally passing anti-immigrant bills. And even as House Republican "leaders" have occasionally paid lip service to comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), they've constantly done everything possible to prevent HR 15 from reaching the House floor.

Every so often, House Republican "leaders" have attempted to deflect blame onto President Obama. Never mind that they were the ones who killed their own "principles for immigration reform". They still claim they can't trust the President because... Ummmmm, Benghazi!

Clearly, President Obama is upset over the House G-O-TEA Blame Game. So is Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas). While others in the House have been talking about CIR, he's actually been trying to pass it. He's a lead sponsor of HR 15. He's helped recruit 3 Republicans to cosponsor it. And he recently signed the discharge petition for it.

So far, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) has done none of the above. Instead, he's been voting for those anti-immigrant bills and fighting against efforts to bring HR 15 to the House floor. And we're supposed to believe he's "done everything possible for immigration reform"?

No, he hasn't. And neither have his "leaders". While they're telling their country club donors they're "hell-bent on getting this done this year", they're telling their 21st Century Know Nothing base there's no way in hell they'll ever let it happen. And they're just telling the media it's somehow someone else's fault for whatever reason. Wait, weren't Republicans supposed to be the party of "personal responsibility"?

They certainly haven't shown any. While they pay lip service to reform, they've yet to act. Will their "support" for CIR ever go beyond mere lip service?

Fringe Is the New Mainstream

Once upon a time, this was merely an oddball case out in a rural corner of Southern Nevada. Not all that long ago, hardly anyone outside the Virgin Valley knew who Cliven Bundy was. He was just the local outlaw rancher who was running his cattle onto federal property (and far beyond designated grazing territory) without paying his fees.

Once upon a time, this was merely a local embarrassment. But now, the Nevada Republican Party has taken up Cliven Bundy's (illegal) cause. And the Koch-topus has taken up this cause and broadcasted it on G-O-TEA media networks nationwide. And the entire world is looking at our state and wondering what the hell we're smoking.

Welcome to Nevada. In our state's Republican Party, fringe is the new mainstream. In this party, Sue Wagner is ostracized to the point of severing ties altogether while Cliven Bundy is celebrated to the point of being declared some sort of outlaw "folk hero".

However, it's no longer just the Nevada Republican Party. It's nationwide. #BundyRanch has been trending nationwide for nearly three weeks. And it's become the latest & greatest cause celebre for G-O-TEA politicians nationwide.

Just a decade ago, the Bush Administration would have used the "domestic terrorist" label to describe the Bundy Gang. But now that Senator Harry Reid (D) is employing the same definition of "domestic terrorism" that Former President George W. Bush used while he was in The White House, G-O-TEA media personalities are feigning "OUTRAGE!!!" while they spread more (already debunked) conspiracy theories about his alleged role in #BundyRanch.

Welcome to the Republican Party of 2014. There, fringe is the new mainstream. Since Sean Hannity has officially declared his undying love & admiration for Cliven Bundy and his merry gang of (fellow) outlaws, G-O-TEA politicians must follow his lead. And more importantly, since the Koch Empire is all in for #BundyRanch, G-O-TEA politicians from across the nation have been endorsing the Bundy Gang's calls for anarchy at gunpoint.

Once upon a time, the Republican Party was known as the "law & order party". Now, it's become the "outlaw & chaos party". Fringe is the new mainstream. And the crazier one sounds, the better chance one has of winning a G-O-TEA primary.

Monday, April 21, 2014

#BundyRanch Hypocrisy, Powered by Koch

All this month, we've heard many tall tales from Cliven Bundy and his merry gang of "fringe of the fringe" radical right extremists. Perhaps the tallest (in terms of most false) has been the tale of the nonexistent Chinese owned solar power plant. G-O-TEA media spinners have been peddling this story for the past two weeks, even though the Chinese company pulled out long ago, the proposed solar power plant was on county land (not federal), and the proposed power plant was sited for that county land in Laughlin, some 180 miles away from Mesquite/Bunkerville. But hey, "DIRTY Harry Reid's assaulting Cliven Bundy to help the China COMMIES!!!!!" sounds so much more salacious and outrageous than "Cliven Bundy broke the law".

Yet even though this outrageous conspiracy theory has already been proven false, the G-O-TEA Culture Warriors are still spreading it. And no matter how false this conspiracy theory is, the Koch-topus has no problem spreading it even further. And why's that? This conspiracy theory just so happens to fit perfectly into the Kochs' latest campaign against renewable energy.

But why, oh why, are the supposedly "libertarian" and "pro-free-market" Kochs now attacking renewable energy? And why are they doing so just as the free market is increasingly favoring renewable energy?

The reason is actually quite simple: money. Much of the Kochs' multibillion dollar empire is built on fossil fuels. So really, they view renewable energy companies as competitors to undercut. And they're out to cut the growing green energy sector by drowning it in toxic politics.

Last year, we caught onto the Kochs' and Donors Trust's climate denial campaign. And we've been keeping tabs since then on their efforts to silence the truth about climate change and their campaign to kill clean energy. And we can't help but connect the dots as we notice just how the Koch funded astroturf outfits have been cozying up to the #BundyRanch outlaw gang.

Here's some food for thought: If the Kochs are so "libertarian" and "pro-free-market", then why are they trying to undermine the free market? Why have they been fighting tooth and nail against any effort to level the playing field for clean energy? Why are they fighting against closing tax loopholes that fossil fuel companies regularly exploit? And why are they now encouraging the merry gang of outlaws in Bunkerville who are demanding even more "big government" welfare at our expense?

There's a certain word we're now thinking of. Can you guess it? It has nine letters. It starts with the letter H. And it perfectly sums up the Kochs' meddling in #BundyRanch, as well as their campaign to kill their clean, green competition.

Reckless Abandon

Late last week, the usual G-O-TEA suspects feigned the usual "OUTRAGE!!!" at their usual political foe. And why was that? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) decided to speak the truth about the clear & present danger that Cliven Bundy has imported into the Virgin Valley.

It's important for us to place #BundyRanch in its proper historical context. This hasn't happened in a vacuum. And #BundyRanch has brought back to the national stage the same extremist elements who challenged the federal government's authority to the point of violence.

Yet even now, even with the #BundyRanch instigators' bats**t crazy exposed, a number of prominent Nevada Republicans continue to endorse their crazy conspiracy theories and dangerous views on "nullifying" federal authority.

Last Friday, Senator Dean Heller (R) proclaimed them as "patriots". Throughout this ordeal, outgoing Assembly Member & current NV-04 candidate Cresent Hardy has endorsed Cliven Bundy's brazen violation of the law. And last Friday, Assembly Member Michele Fiore (R-Las Vegas) took to national TV to applaud the Bundy Gang's lawlessness.

What these and other G-O-TEA politicians have been saying this month is embarrassing. They've been using incredibly reckless language to endorse reckless behavior with complete reckless abandon. And yet, they want us to express "OUTRAGE!!!" over Senator Reid speaking the truth about the Bundy Gang and their reckless & lawless behavior?

We are a nation of laws. We all elect a government to serve us. And we agree to a set of laws to ensure fairness and equal opportunity in the public sphere.

What would happen if we were to attack our nation of laws with reckless abandon? What would happen if we were to recklessly abandon our nation of laws? How could we survive such lawlessness?

This is what Cliven Bundy is advocating. This is what his "TEA" powered allies want to force upon us at gunpoint. And we're supposed to be " OUTRAGED!!!" over Senator Reid calling it what it is?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This Is @Everytown.

We've heard the talking heads argue over it. We've seen the polling on it. We've survived all the political spin of it. And that's because we know the real facts about it.

And of course, there's something else to keep in mind. While many politicians and media pundits treat gun violence like just another political football, it's very real to those who have personally experienced its very real carnage. For them, gun violence isn't theoretical. It isn't esoteric. It's quite real, and they're reminded of this painful reality every day.

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Erica Lafferty is one of these people. She lost her mother last December. Her mother was a principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. She lost her life that fateful day, but Erica won't let her mother's legacy be forgotten. And she doesn't want others to meet the same fate her mother did.

This is why she showed up at the Grant Sawyer State Building yesterday. Is isn't just about Newtown. This happens at Everytown.

Newtown wasn't the last school shooting, far from it. Right here in Nevada, shots were fired at Sparks Middle School. And 8th grade math teacher Michael Landsberry lost his life that day. The Sparks Middle School Shooting was a horrific reminder that Sparks is @Everytown.

Of course, Las Vegas is also Everytown. On the same day Michael Landsberry lost his life while trying to protect others at Sparks Middle School, Kenneth Brown lost his life while trying to protect others at Ballys Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Also on the same day, two people were shot dead at an apartment complex in East Las Vegas.

This is why Teresa Crawford became a Champion of Change. And this is why showed up at Grant Sawyer yesterday. Far too many people here in Nevada suffered due to gun violence. This doesn't just happen "somewhere else". This happens in Everytown.

This is Everytown. #WeAreEverytown. Throughout Nevada, we've seen people lose their lives to senseless gun violence. But whenever we've had a chance to change this sorrowful reality, all we hear are the same old tired excuses.

We've heard so many speeches from politicians and spin from "industry" promoters over the years that we lost count about a year ago. No matter what Rep. Joe Heck (R-NRA) has said about theoretical legislation and philosophy of process, there's a real bill waiting for his cosponsorship. No matter what Senator Dean Heller (R) says about "legislation he supported recently", he can't hide his filibuster of basic background checks legislation. And no matter what Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NRA) says about theoretical "threats to liberty", he can't spin away the fact that he was what stood in the way of Nevada taking even modest action on gun violence prevention when Congress wouldn't act on federal legislation.

No matter what they and other gun lobby backed politicians say about theories and concepts and philosophy, they can't change reality. Every town has had to grapple with gun violence. Every town knows someone who's lost loved ones to gun violence. And every town deserves a better future without worrying about becoming another headline grabbing armed battlefield.

This is @Everytown. And this is why we can't ignore the reality of gun violence.

Clear & Present Danger

We could definitely see this coming. Ever since they caught wind of Cliven Bundy's attempt to subvert federal law at Gold Butte, G-O-TEA media personalities have been sharing their wet dreams of "Second Amendment Remedies". And a number of G-O-TEA politicians have gone out of their way to celebrate the extreme right "Patriot Movement" Militia's "victory" over the rule of law.

Apparently, we're not the only ones who have been thinking about the frightening consequences of the lawlessness that's been infecting Bunkerville in recent days. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow took a closer look last night at what's really at stake at #BundyRanch. And she gave her audience a history lesson regarding the shady forces and extreme ideology fueling the #BundyRanch conflict in the Mesquite area.

Not only are Cliven Bundy and his "TEA" fueled allies completely wrong on the facts and wrong on the law, but they're also sending out a dangerously wrong message. That message is the same one we heard 19 years ago this week in Oklahoma City.

Before 9/11, this was the worst terrorist attack on US soil. And it was no hidden secret that Timothy McVeigh was motivated by the kind of extreme "Patriot" ideology that we've been catching glimpses of at #BundyRanch.

This is why we've been urging G-O-TEA politicians who have all too eagerly endorsed this lawless "uprising" to reconsider what they're advocating. Cresent Hardy & Michele Fiore may think it's cute to grandstand alongside the Bundy Gang and their new extreme right militia BFFs, but it's not. Rather, they're cozying up to what all the rest of us see as a clear & present danger.

What's happened at #BundyRanch this past week has gone far beyond "protest". It's not a mere "uprising". And it's anything but legal.

This is dangerous. There's really no way to candy-coat it. The extreme fringe of the far right who have once again gained national prominence thanks to Cliven Bundy's nationally televised temper tantrum are not interested in mere protest. And it's time for all the rest of us to recognize the clear & present danger of legitimizing this kind of behavior.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It's happened here. It's happened there. It's truly happened everywhere.

Pretty much every town we can think of has felt the cruel pain of gun violence. No one is truly immune any longer. And nowhere really feels removed from this incredibly brutal and increasingly common reality.

And just like every other town that's experienced the brutal reality of gun violence, several Nevada towns have had to live through this awful pain of losing innocent lives before their time. In Reno, Michael Landsberry died because he showed up for work at Sparks Middle School. On the Las Vegas Strip, Kenneth Brown died because he was trying to prevent a greater massacre. Also on The Strip, Michael Boldon died because he was simply on the job in his cab.

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Every town has been touched in some way by gun violence, including our towns here in Nevada. Family therapist and former educator Linda Cavazos talked about this at the Grant Sawyer State Building today. She's seen with her own eyes the tragic reality of gun violence here in Nevada, and she showed up at Grant Sawyer today to remind everyone that #WeAreEverytown.

@Everytown knows those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. State Senator Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) happens to be one of those who lost a loved one to gun violence. She's also someone who's had to counsel those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. She went to Grant Sawyer today to remind everyone, including her colleagues in the Nevada Legislature, that #WeAreEverytown.

Last year, the Nevada Legislature passed SB 221 to expand background checks to prevent dangerous criminals from accessing dangerous firearms. Governor Brian Sandoval (R) infamously vetoed that bill... About 2 months after US Senator Dean Heller (R) joined the G-O-TEA filibuster to kill federal background checks legislation.

But even after Senator Heller filibustered Manchin-Toomey and Governor Sandoval vetoed SB 221, gun safety advocates refused to give up. They were sick and tired of seeing so much needless bloodshed across the state and the nation. They didn't want to see more towns and more families hurt by senseless gun violence. So they charged on.

And they're continuing this effort now. Over 50 grassroots advocates showed up at Grant Sawyer today. And they're pledging to keep up their work on gun violence prevention in the days ahead. They refuse to forget that #WeAreEverytown.

In the days to come, we'll be hearing about who has the most juice where. Who's up? Who's down? Who's raising the big money? Who's spending the big money?

However, this isn't just about political juice and big money. This about every town and every family who has been affected by gun violence. And this is about every town calling for change. Ultimately, #WeAreEverytown... And it's time for everyone to be heard.

Why Can't They?

It's hard for us to think of any other House Freshman who's been out to accomplish so much during his first term in Congress. Rep. Steven Horsford has been working it like hardly anyone else has even tried. And not only is he working it, but he's now working on critical legislation that can make our economy work better while providing a critical lifeline for those Americans who are still looking for work.

Last week, Rep. Horsford joined several other House Democrats to urge their Republican colleagues to pass the federal unemployment insurance (UI) extension bill that the Senate has already passed.

Just yesterday, Reps. Horsford & Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania) took to The Huffington Post to make their case for bipartisan backed legislation that stands to create 300,000 jobs and increase national GDP by 0.3% while preventing 2.3 million Americans from succumbing to financial catastrophe. And they're not alone. None other than Senator Dean Heller (R) has asked his Republican colleagues on the House side to #RenewUI. And now, none other than Governor Brian Sandoval (R) is asking House Republicans to stop wasting time & #RenewUI already.

Over 34,000 Nevadans are needlessly suffering due to the federal UI lapse. It's now lasted nearly 4 months, and our economy has taken an unnecessary hit. What's the point of all this unnecessary hardship?

There's a reason why both Senator Heller & Governor Sandoval are speaking up now. They realize this is bad policy. And they know this is bad politics.

The ball is now in House Republicans' court. And if House Republican "leaders" refuse to allow a floor vote, then individual Republican members need to do step up to ensure a floor vote. And if that means a discharge petition, then they should prepare to sign (cough- Joe Heck- cough). If a handful of House Freshmen can bring this issue to the forefront, why can't more senior House members (particularly those in the Speaker's party) do everything they possibly can to pass legislation they say they want?


27. That now looks to be the magic number. House Democratic leaders need 27 more signatures on their HR 15 discharge petition. Once they reach 218, they can secure a floor vote for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).

27. That's the number that can make a huge difference for families like Astrid Silva's and Bryan Rivera's.

27. If Rep. Joe Heck (R-????) and 26 other House Republicans simply sign the petition for something they've already claimed to support, CIR can finally pass the House. And since most House members have already said they support CIR in theory, it shouldn't be so hard to put it into practice.

So why has it been so hard? Well, why has it been so hard for the "Republican establishment" to muzzle the likes of Rand Paul? Why has it been so hard for the "establishment" to steer the 21st Century Know Nothings away from the siren songs of Laura Ingraham? Why has it been so hard for House Republican "leaders" to stand up for their own "principles for immigration reform"?

Short answer: They don't want to meet the same fate that's run right into Jeb Bush's 2016 campaign plans.

Longer answer: It's easier for G-O-TEA politicians to pander to the Culture Warrior Id than it is for them to publicly challenge this id. So they either keep quiet on CIR, or they flat out reject any real option for CIR. They'd rather placate their "TEA" powered base and hoodwink all the rest of us with "Republican rebranding" than make any real effort to become more compatible with 21st century America.

This is why CIR has been left to die in the House by Republican "leaders" in that chamber. They're too afraid of their own base.

Yet with that being said, this doesn't mean CIR must die. This doesn't mean that individual House Republicans have no choice but leave CIR to die on the "TEA" poisoned vine.

All HR 15 needs is 27 more House members to sign that discharge petition. And the 30 or so House Republicans who have been asked to sign the discharge petition should look at it this way: 27 may ultimately be the number that determines the future national viability of their Republican Party. Do they really want to be one of the 27 who stands in way of not only keeping American families together, but also keeping the Republican Party as an integral force in America's political system?

27. That's all HR 15 needs for a House floor vote. So why won't House Republicans just release 27 members from their caucus in order to save not just CIR, but also their own party?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nation of Laws

This is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the #BundyRanch saga. As Elaine Hurd has so eloquently explained, Cliven Bundy has been threatening our entire way of life with his continued attempts to subvert the rule of law. America is a nation of laws. We are a representative democracy, not a chaotic anarchy.

Since last week, national G-O-TEA astroturf outfits have been jumping into Bunkerville to defend Cliven Bundy's "right" to break the law. And G-O-TEA Culture Warriors from across the nation have rushed in to escalate an already precarious situation. One such G-O-TEA Culture Warrior is Richard Mack.

He was the one who suggested the wannabe #BundyRanch insurrectionists use women as human shields.

He's also known for his rather cozy relationship with white supremacists and extreme right militia groups. He sits on the board of the notorious Oath Keepers. And he's often led the anti-government "Patriot Movement" in its war against any & all efforts at gun violence prevention.

Have the #BundyRanch agitators really thought about what they're advocating? Do they understand the consequences of their endorsement of "Second Amendment Remedies"? If it's OK for them to take up arms to prevent the enforcement of the law, then was it OK for Anita Hill to shoot her son's boyfriend? Was it OK for Frazier Glenn Miller to open fire on that Jewish community center? Was it OK for the Tsarnaev brothers to blow up the Boston Marathon?

The reality of the #BundyRanch "logic" is that there is no logic there. They're essentially advocating the kind of armed combat that terrorists use. And their rallying cry truly looks to be nothing more than dreams of anarchy.

Again, we're supposed to be a nation of laws. We elect a government to make our society a civilized society. How can anyone claim to "love America" when one refuses to participate in our nation of laws?

Gold Butte Belongs to All of Us.

Across the nation, it was greeted with shock. Around the world, it was met with sneers & eye rolls. But in Ground Zero of this conflict, it's being referred to as "The Day the Law Died".

Yesterday, Let's Talk Nevada co-founder & editor Elaine Hurd went on "Ralston Reports" to talk with Jon Ralston about Cliven Bundy's Gold Butte showdown with the federal government. She's offered a unique perspective here, as she lives in Mesquite and had a front row seat to #BundyRanch long before national G-O-TEA groups turned this into a cause celebre and headline news around the world.

Even before #BundyRanch agitators celebrated their "Second Amendment Remedies" and considered using women as human shields, they were violating court orders and trespassing on federal property. All the "big government welfare" they've already received for over 100 years wasn't enough. They wanted even more.

Has avarice blinded the Bundy Gang to the simple fact that Gold Butte isn't their personal piggy bank to plunder? Gold Butte belongs to all of us. It's a national treasure that should be preserved for all of us to enjoy.

The Bundy Gang and national G-O-TEA astroturf outfits fail to recognize that Gold Butte is public land. That means Gold Butte belongs to all of us. When Cliven Bundy has been releasing his malnourished & neglected cattle into Gold Butte without abiding by the rules, he's ruining property that belongs to all of us. He's evading taxes he owes our duly elected government. He's violating court orders and endangering the desert tortoise and other wildlife that are critical to our local ecosystem. And he's threatening a national treasure that's meant for all of us to cherish.

In our nation of laws, no one is allowed to unilaterally change the rules. Cliven Bundy has broken the rules. The courts have already ruled against him. And sooner or later, law enforcement must be allowed to do its job, which is to enforce the law.

We realize that Cliven Bundy and his cattle are in a rough patch. Thanks to climate change, the Great Western Drought has become such a great threat. However, the solution to this problem is not for one person to break the law and desecrate property that belongs to all of us.

Gold Butte belongs to all of us. Therefore, we all deserve to have a say on how Gold Butte can e better preserved for future generations. And yes, this means Cliven Bundy and his renegade gang need to start obeying the laws that we've all agreed to live by.