Friday, August 29, 2014

Hands Up. Don't Shoot.

It's been said repeatedly this month. Protesters have chanted it all across the nation. It seems like such a simple message to understand. So why do so many police officers and G-O-TEA media pundits act as if it's incomprehensible?

"Hands up. Don't shoot!"

That message came here to Southern Nevada last night as protesters gathered on Martin Luther King Blvd. in North Las Vegas for the 51st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, "I Have a Dream" speech... And to remember the life and legacy of Michael Brown.

"Hands up. Don't shoot!"

Las Vegas Metro Police still seem to have a tough time understanding this. And they're not alone. In St. Paul, Minnesota, Christopher Lollie was tased and arrested for simply sitting in a park as he was waiting for his kids to be released from preschool. In Beverly Hills, California, film producer Charles Belk was arrested and detained because he "matched the profile of a suspected bank robber". And in Hartford, Connecticut, outrage over the stunning and arrest of Luis Anglero, Jr., has grown so strong that Hartford Police Chief James Rovella actually joined protesters demonstrating against his arrest.

"Hands up. Don't shoot!"

In North Las Vegas, police weren't just at peace with demonstrators. They were hugging, engagung in conversation, and posing for photos last night. For a moment, it looked like a real breakthrough.

And frankly, this is what we need more of. As we've said before, this problem isn't just limited to Ferguson and other areas of Missouri. It's happened here, and it's happened elsewhere in America. It's part of the legacy of institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all other forms of xenophobia America has struggled with since the first European settlers arrived on this continent. While we've seen much progress in building bridges in the last 51 years, there's still so much more to be done.

"Hands up. Don't shoot." Hopefully one day, we won't have to say that any more. Hopefully one day, we can all join hands and put the guns away.

Why Was He There?

There's a famous quote we're thinking of this morning. It goes like this: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

It's often wrongly attributed to President Abraham Lincoln, but it certainly applies to the political career of State Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson). In 2011, he was "Mr. TEA Party". He eagerly pushed to slash state funding in public education. Even though the final 2011 budget deal included millions in brutal budget cuts, Senator Roberson voted against it because he wanted more budget cuts.

Senator Michael Roberson was the premiere anti-worker, pro-austerity G-O-TEA "rising star" in 2011. So why is he boasting of receiving a "NEA award" in 2014? (NEA refers to the National Education Association, the national teachers' union.)

Once more, @SenMRoberson is NOT endorsed by @cceainfo or @NSE... on Twitpic

How concise. @SenMRoberson #NVLeg #SD20 #nved #TEINevada #Veg... on Twitpic

First off, let's clarify where this award came from. It was from the NEA Pacific Region Republican Educators' Caucus. At Clark County Education Association (CCEA) Headquarters yesterday, CCEA President Vikki Courtney made it clear that even though Senator Roberson and the Republican teachers were doing a press event at CCEA HQ, Roberson was not being awarded or endorsed by CCEA or NSEA (the Nevada State Education Association, the state teachers' union).

So why was Senator Roberson at the CCEA office yesterday? He has a rather long history of attacking their members and slashing school funding in Carson City. Who are these Republican educators behind this award he received?

The Senator had no interest in answering these questions as he dashed inside the building, even as CCEA leaders and a couple of the Republican teachers came outside to speak with teachers and community activists protesting outside.

It wasn't until 2012 when "Mr. TEA Party" suddenly morphed into "Moderate Mike". Out of personal conflicts and political expediency, he flip-flopped. And even then, he only pledged to stand with Governor Brian Sandoval (R) in maintaining the status quo.

So why was he at CCEA HQ yesterday to receive an award from the "NEA Pacific Region Republican Educators' Caucus"? During last year's legislative session, Senator Roberson fought hard against The Education Initiative (TEI). Senator Michael Roberson even introduced a competing initiative two months after the deadline for the Legislature to consider TEI. Remember this. He waited until the final weeks of the 2013 session to introduce his "Education Priorities Initiative", did so without receiving the support of Governor Sandoval and most other Republicans, and did so even though the deadline had already passed for the Legislature to propose an alternative to TEI.

.@LisaRedddd, Another @cceainfo teacher welcoming @SenMRobers... on Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

So why was Senator Roberson at CCEA HQ yesterday? Everyone outside was wondering. And there may have been teachers inside the building who were asking the same question.

He fought against teachers. He fought against restoring budget cuts for Nevada schools. He fought against TEI. So why was Senator Roberson at the CCEA office yesterday, especially when CCEA wasn't endorsing him?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shutdown Sequel?

Since today is #ThrowbackThursday, we figured now is a good time to jump back into the Nevada Progressive archives. Today, we're traveling back to October 2013. Remember what was happening then? Or perhaps more appropriately, remember what wasn't functioning back then?

We do. And we remember how and why the great Shutdown Shitfest of 2013 finally came to an end.

Fortunately, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Agent Orange) finally stood down last night after his "Plan Z" went nowhere fast. And Ironically enough, that was largely thanks to mounting 21st Century Know Nothing opposition. But in pushing themselves to complete irrelevancy and Speaker John Boehner to total embarrassment, they only succeeded in giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) the opening they needed to resume talks and seal the deal. [...]

After all, Fitch is now threatening to lower America's credit rating. And world leaders have warned of the economic repercussions of Armageddon. So we finally got to see "Game Over".

Yesterday, Rep. Joe Heck's (R-Why?) staff refused to answer questions regarding the Armageddon deadline. But now, it doesn't matter. House Republican "leaders" are declaring defeat, and a floor vote will soon be scheduled.

For the past three weeks, Congressional Republicans from Nevada and elsewhere have pushed the nation to the brink of disaster. And yes, it's led to some awful consequences. But now, it's all coming to an end. Republicans are being forced to drop their crazy demands... Because it's just plain game over.

After that month from Hell, Congressional Republican "leaders" vowed never to go there again...

Yet now, there's a chance they will actually go there again. But why? Oh, that darned President Obama is planning to clean up the mess they exacerbated by refusing to do any kind of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).

While he isn't publicly endorsing it, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) isn't ruling out a Shutdown Shitfest Sequel, either. And we all remember how he and other Republican "leaders" played coy in the run-up to the first Shutdown Shitfest last fall.

Just like last fall, the G-O-TEA base wants one. But unlike last time, they don't have Obamacare to claim as a bogeyman any more. So now, their fearmongering stand-in will be the President's planned executive action on immigration.

In fact, their fearmongering has already begun. They've gone after #BorderChildren. They've gone after DREAMers. And now, they're going after abused women.

Oh, and of course, they're screaming about "TER'RISS!!!" and "JOBS!!!" while they threaten to hold the federal government and national economy hostage over something they promised to do before refusing to do it. Sure, that makes plenty of sense. #Not

And now, we're left to wonder if G-O-TEA opposition to any kind of positive executive action on immigration will lead them to force us into a sequel we had hoped would never come to fruition

Smart Funding Solution

On Monday, we made a field trip to Gibson Elementary School in Henderson's Green Valley to witness the wonder that is #BackToSchool. We noticed parents dropping children off and teachers taking them in. We noticed Nevada children starting a new year full of new adventures.

We couldn't help but notice the classroom trailers, outdated textbooks, and overcrowded environment. And we weren't alone. That's why a group of concerned citizens, parents, teachers, and local business owners, stopped by Gibson Elementary on Monday to urge Nevadans to pass The Education Initiative (TEI) this fall.

Did someone at LVGEA catch our report? The "Esmeralda Straw Man Group" actually released an op-ed for the "newspaper" claiming they just want TEI supporters to "join with" them to find "smart funding solutions for our K-12 education system".

Oh, really? So now, LVGEA and the rest of the "bid'ness community" want "smart funding solutions"?

Like what? An overdue and illegal campaign stunt? Or defunding Esmeralda County schools? Or perhaps another regressive "service tax"?

Or are LVGEA and its fellow TEI haters just proposing the same "smart funding solution" they always end up supporting? Come on, you know what that is: Nothing.

So don't blame us for doubting the sincerity of LVGEA's latest commitment to "smart funding solutions". Hell, that op-ed promising "smart funding solutions" didn't name any specific "solutions". Gee, we wonder why. Could it be due to Nevada's recent history on "solutions"? And might it be due to the fact that the lack of real solutions is what created the demand for TEI in the first place?

LVGEA and other "bid'ness community" mouthpieces can spin as much as they want, but they can't spin the facts away. The only true smart funding solution is the one on our fall ballots: TEI. After all, the only "smart funding solutions" we know of are ones that actually exist.

Bucket List

Just over a month ago, this was official NRA policy: "Everyone gets a gun." We warned of the dangerous folly of this policy. But of course, the NRA and its "TEA" powered allies refused to listen.

Charles Vacca was a firearms instructor at Last Stop, a gun range in White Hills, Arizona. Bullets And Burgers is Last Stop's tourist promotion that brings tourists from Las Vegas and up Highway 93 to the gun range with promises of "exotic" automatic weapons, "Desert Storm atmosphere", and lunch included. Earlier this week, Charles Vacca gave a nine year old girl an Uzi military grade submachine gun to fire. This was the result of that fateful decision.

Charles Vacca was brought to Las Vegas for medical attention, but it was too late. He died. He had been shot by the Uzi he had given to the nine year old girl to use at the range.

And now, we must all endure the painful aftermath. We must all confront the haunting questions left behind at Bullets And Burgers.

Of course, the usual suspects don't want to confront anything seen as challenging their "conventional wisdom". Under its "@NRAWomen account, the NRA actually tweeted "7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range". And yes, the NRA actually tweeted this out yesterday.

When interviewed by Chris Hayes on MSNBC yesterday, Last Stop operator Sam Scarmardo said he plans to seek guidance from the NRA and other gun groups going forward. Perhaps he should rethink seeking any kind of guidance from the NRA.

On average, seven American children are shot dead every day. This nine year old girl could have killed herself along with Charles Vacca. Why on earth are children shooting Uzis at ranges like Last Stop?

On MSNBC last night, Sam Scarmardo defended Last Stop's decision to allow that nine year old child to shoot that Uzi by claiming "this was a big -- something that was high on her bucket list to do and her parents took her out to do what she was gonna do." Bucket list? Really? Is the "Children's Death Wish Bucket List" supposed to be the new "killer Las Vegas tourist attraction"?

"High on her bucket list"? Really, NRA? And really, LVCVA? If this is truly our new pitch to tourists, then perhaps we should become accustomed to seeing more numbers like these.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Go Ahead & #GoBigObama

What a way to make an impression with one's constituents. For some reason, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) thought it would be a great idea to insult a group of undocumented immigrants confronting him over his inhumane anti-immigrant policies, including a rule that bars DREAMers from attending public colleges in Georgia.

Here's what Nathan Deal got wrong: He clearly wasn't expecting this good of a comeback. Oh, and the students he claimed were undocumented immigrants were actually US citizens. Whoops.

And this isn't the only recent example of G-O-TEA politicians encountering hot water when trying to spin away anything & everything immigration related. Earlier this month, Senator (& likely 2016 Presidential Candidate) Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) ran away when confronted by DREAMers. And earlier this week, Rep. (& fellow likely 2016 Presidential Candidate) Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) refused to answer questions from DREAMers on why he voted to deport them along with Central American refugee children.

And then, there's Senator (& another possible 2016 Presidential Candidate) Marco Rubio (R-Florida). Once upon a time, Rubio was a lead sponsor of S 744, the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill that handily passed the Senate last year. But as of late, Rubio has been trying to catch up with Rand Paul in the anti-immigrant department. And now, Senator Rubio is condemning the very CIR legislation he once sponsored.

The devolution is now complete. Republican politicians who once supported CIR are now running away from it as fast as they can. And once respected "conservative think tanks" are now advocating public funding for anti-immigrant/anti-government militia groups.

So why are they doing this? Why are they flip-flopping so wildly? And why are they now embracing the extreme anti-immigrant militia movement?

Simple answer: Short term politics. Longer answer: They're so frightened of their 21st Century Know Nothing base that they're willing to sacrifice sound policy (and smart political strategy) to grovel to G-O-TEA Culture Warriors' darkest desires.

This is why CIR now lies dead in some House committee room. And this is why President Obama must take executive action to address what the lower House of Congress refuses to fix. While DACA does provide some relief for DREAMers, their family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors are still being deported en masse. Even though they committed no crimes and have made many positive contributions to our communities, they're still being deported. In fact, President Obama has presided over more deportations than any other US President.

Since the lower House of Congress refuses to act, President Obama must. Since House Republicans (cough- Joe Heck -cough) insist on playing petty politics with real people's lives, President Obama must look past the petty politics and focus on good policy. Since the lower House of Congress declined to "go big", the President must.

Meet Its Match

Remember this gem from last month? NRA lobbyist Brian Judy was very upset over Nick Hanauer donating to the pro-I-594 campaign in Washington State. So he went Godwin and slid down the rabbit hole into "libertarian populist" gibberish.

We can't help but wonder what Brian Judy is saying now. Nick Hanauer just delivered on a $1,000,000 pledge he made in June for I-594. And none other than Bill & Melinda Gates. The philanthropists and tech industry legends also donated $1,000,000 to the Yes on I-594 campaign.

Go ahead and queue the "libertarian populist OUTRAGE!!!!11111!!!111" now.

Also go ahead & ask this: If the NRA is so "OUTRAGED!!!" at the likes of Bill Gates, Nick Hanauer, and Michael Bloomberg spending on pro gun safety campaigns, why did the NRA spend over $25 million during the 2012 election cycle? Why have the NRA and its gun industry backers spent so heavily on lobbying and campaigning during the past couple of years?

We've seen the results of the NRA's political shopping spree here in Nevada and nationally. A basic background checks bill was filibustered in Congress last year. Similar state level background checks legislation was vetoed by Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NRA) shortly after. And the NRA has bought itself "open carry orgies" across the nation, from Georgia to Idaho to Florida and elsewhere.

But now, the NRA wants us to believe it's concerned about the overflow of money in politics? That's funny. We don't remember the NRA endorsing any kind of state or federal campaign finance reform legislation. (That's because the NRA never has.)

So why are NRA mouthpieces now screaming at Bill Gates? They're just worried about the NRA finally meeting its match. And now that Nevada is now considering The Background Check Initiative, the NRA is running scared.

In an ideal world, none of this would be necessary. In an ideal world, we'd have a clean money system in place so that no well heeled special interest could buy oneself whatever policies one wants. Hell, in an ideal world, we wouldn't have to resort to ballot initiatives to make major policy changes!

But alas, we don't live in the ideal world. We live in the real world. Yet in this real world, the NRA has finally met its match. And that's why it's suddenly worrying about the big money rolling in for gun safety reform.

(No More) Dead Horse

Not again. Must we talk about this again? Why are we witnessing the beating of this dead horse again?

Oh, wait. A certain State Senator's favorite media pundit insists on beating this dead horse again. Why? A group of Republican teachers want to give this Republican State Senator an award

Before we proceed any further, let's review the dead horse the Senator and the pundit continue to beat.

Clearly, Ralston is excited by this. However, there are two major problems. And Ralston himself knows what they are.

One is the law. At best, the Nevada Constitution is unclear as to how legislators can propose an alternative to a citizen's initiative, especially when the Governor would rather not. At worst, Governor Brian Sandoval (R), Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), and Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) are all correct in finding [State Senator Michael] Roberson's [R-Henderson] proposal unconstitutional.

The other problem is the politics. As we've discussed before, Roberson's proposal has led to yet another major division among Nevada Republicans. While Roberson assembled a Senate GOP "Mod Squad" of six to support it, Governor Sandoval, the other Republican Senators, the bulk of Republican Assembly Members, and the "tea party" activist base of the party have all aligthened against it. Roberson desperately needs Democrats for this to have any chance of passage, but Democrats so far look to be keeping their distance from any proposal to ratfuck harm The Education Initiative that's already legally qualified for next year's general election ballot.

The law was not on his side. His own party was not on his side. And really, no one other than his inner circle and the above mentioned media pundit were on his side. It just wasn't happening, regardless of Democratic leaders' decision to keep away from the magical, mythical, meddlesome mining tax initiative.

(And by the way, State Senate Democrats actually did release a tax proposal. So did Assembly Democratic leadership. Just because [we and] the media pundit didn't like these tax plans doesn't mean they weren't on the table last year.)

Oh, and let's not forget this: the magical, mythical, meddlesome mining tax initiative never truly existed (until it was too late). Oh, yes. That's right. There was never a bill number (until May 13). If there's no bill number, it doesn't exist.

So why was there no bill number? Think about this: When did the horse die? And who killed this horse in the first place?

Perhaps this is why Senator Roberson prefers to deflect blame onto Democrats. It's easier for him to blame Democrats than to admit that the law and the bulk of his party don't seem to agree with him.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all Democrats have been angels when it comes to preparing a proper state budget. Far from it, I have not hesitated to criticize Democrats when they were wrong. But come on, one can't blame Democratic leaders for keeping their distance from a tax initiative that's legally questionable at best and creating even more chaos within Republican ranks.

So just keep this in mind next time some media pundit or Republican Senator tries to deflect blame for the failure of the tax initiative that was never to be.

There was no bill number. There was no coalition ready to pass it. There seemed to be no plan in place to actually pass it. We're left to wonder if there was even any actual desire on anyone's part to pass it.

So why are we examining this dead horse yet again? It's all this Republican State Senator has to run on. And for some reason, it's all the above mentioned media pundit loves to fantasize about.

Yet it's still a dead horse. But you know what isn't? The Education Initiative (TEI). It's real, it's alive, and it will be on our ballots this fall. Unlike that Republican State Senator's nonexistent tax initiative, TEI offers real funding and real solutions for Nevada schools.

So why must be beat the dead horse again?

ADDENDUM: So there was a bill number: SB 513. The problem? It wasn't introduced until two months after the IP 1/TEI deadline. So our point stands. There was no actual bill introduced until it was too late.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole (Again)

How did we know this was coming? Are we prophets? Or are we just able to put 2 & 2 together to make 4?

Remember the fine folks at Heritage? After several Republicans accused them of cooking the books to derail Congressional momentum for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), Heritage stood by the work of Jason Richwine... Even as reporters uncovered "research" he wrote suggesting Latin@s have lower IQs than white people. Even though Heritage ultimately quietly released him, it still stood by the findings of that epically flawed "research" on CIR.

And now, Heritage is actually soliciting state government funds for anti-immigrant militia outfits. Oh, yes. That's right. Heritage is demanding wingnut welfare taxpayer dollars for these people.

Of course, this makes perfect sense to Heritage, as it's also advocating the murder of pro-CIR Republicans.

So now, Heritage is swimming in the same cesspool as Shawna Forde and JT Ready. Heritage is endorsing their brand of "securing the border" while calling for taxpayer dollars to be siphoned over to the likes of Jim Gilchrist and the Arizona Militia. So this is what Heritage and its G-O-TEA cheerleaders now call "immigration reform"?

Who are they kidding? The US Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that Cliven Bundy and his Patriot Movement BFFs have encouraged even more violent activity from anti-government extremists. And Heritage now says it's a great idea for state governments to fund these very anti-government militia outfits?

How did we know this was coming? Heritage jumped down the rabbit hole long ago. As of late, Heritage has been succeeding in taking most of the Republican Party down with it. And they all seem hell-bent on repeating the very same mistake they made when they rushed to endorse Cliven Bundy's "Range War" in April. When will they ever learn?

Turn the Page

Yesterday, a body of a slain young adult was laid to rest. A family mourned this painful loss. And a reeling community began to pick up the pieces and hoped for eventual healing.

Michael Brown's funeral wasn't just for his family. It wasn't even just for Ferguson. It was for the nation.

Yesterday, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) said this after the funeral: “This tragic event of Michael Brown — while as horrible as it is, and he should have never lost his life as an unarmed boy who had just graduated high school — it is providing the opportunity for us now to have a national discussion on what policies, laws and practice we need to change so we can improve going forward.” He's not alone in demanding change after this horrific tragedy.

This week, we've gained more insight into how and why St. Louis County, Missouri, has sparked this nationwide conversation on the state of American police. And none other than St. Louis County Police Officer Dan Page has helped explain everything.

Ah, where do we start? How about "warning the ladies" about "domestic violence stuff"? "Just shoot each other and get it done"? Did Las Vegas Metro Police actually take his advice earlier this month? Christy Mack's neighbors have been wondering why it took so damned long for Metro to respond to their 911 call. While they took their time, War Machine escaped to Simi Valley, California, while leaving Mack and Corey Thomas near death at her Las Vegas home.

Hold on, there's more. Dan Page also went into a tirade against "homosexual sodomites". According to Page, ICE should keep Marichuy Gamino in solitary confinement in a men's prison for daring to report her rape. According to him, Monica Jones deserved to be arrested for "walking while trans*". And perhaps he also doesn't mind Mia Henderson being taken from this earth way before her time.

He didn't even stop there. No, Dan Page also claimed President Obama wasn't born in America. He actually called himself "a killer". He repeated even more bizarre conspiracy theories.

Oh, and he gave this speech to the Oath Keepers earlier this year. Remember the Oath Keepers?

They're the Patriot Movement friendly militia who occupied Bunkerville and Mesquite during the height of Cliven Bundy's "Range War". They only left when sh-t became too real and they suddenly were under attack by fellow pro-Bundy militia groups.

Dan Page was one of the St. Louis County officers patrolling Ferguson during the height of the protests. He was the one who roughed up CNN reporter Don Lemon in front of a global audience. And even now, St. Louis County Police still won't fire him!

W. T. F?! And they're still wondering why so many in the St. Louis region have a hard time trusting the police? Perhaps they need to start looking in the mirror more often.

It's also important to keep in mind that this problem isn't limited to Missouri. We've seen shades of this here in Nevada as well. After all, Metro Police have often used excessive force on valley civilians (especially those living in inner city communities) while giving the Bundy Gang kid glove treatment and giving War Machine just enough time to escape the crime scene.

In so many ways, the Dan Page saga in St. Louis County illustrates why so many minority communities have trouble trusting the police. If police forces there, here in Southern Nevada, and elsewhere want to turn the page, they need to clean house. If they want to regain our trust, they must prove themselves trustworthy. We can't truly turn the page on this sorrowful chapter in American history until we see no more Michael Browns being shot, Monica Jones' being arrested, and Christy Macks left for dead.

This Is Our Future.

Yesterday was the first day of school for Clark County School District (CCSD). We actually stopped by Gibson Elementary School in Henderson to check out the scene. We also stopped by there to hear local residents who had something to say about The Education Initiative (TEI).

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

We've heard plenty in recent days from the usual suspects screaming "DOOM!" over TEI every chance they find. They've even suppressed data showing how TEI can help Nevada's economy grow.

They can go ahead and continue suppressing UNLV studies. They can't, however, suppress local business owners like Ron Nelsen. He's the owner of Pioneer Overhead Door, and he's anything but afraid of TEI.

Electra McGrath is actually looking forward to TEI. She's a parent of a CCSD student. And her neighbors send their children to CCSD schools. Unlike TEI's well heeled opponents, Electra and her neighbors actually live the reality of public education in Nevada. This is why Electra supports TEI.

For far too long, we've heard endless rhetoric from Carson City followed by the constant lack of results. This is why Nevada schools are "grossly underfunded". And this is why grassroots education activists drew the paperwork for TEI.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

At Gibson Elementary School, we caught a glimpse of Nevada's future. We noticed all the potential waiting at Leisure Circle. And we couldn't help but think of how much more potential could be realized if we were to just invest in schools like Gibson.

This is our future. These kids are our future. Why shouldn't we actually invest in our future? TEI's opponents can suppress economic studies, but they can't suppress this potential for a better future.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stop Failing Them.

Today is the first day of school for the Clark County School District (CCSD). When we stopped by Gibson Elementary School in Henderson this morning, we witnessed dozens of parents dropping their children off as teachers were preparing for class. Everyone seemed to be ready for the school year.

Yet as parents, students, and teachers were ready for the new school year, the state and CCSD didn't seem to be. CCSD now has a teacher shortage. And on top of this, not all students have the materials they need. Textbook shortages have been reported across the valley. Many of the textbooks that are available are outdated. And English Language Learner (ELL) programs remain limited.

You know what can alleviate all these problems? The Education Initiative (TEI).

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

At Gibson Elementary School, local business owners and educators shared the reasons why they're supporting TEI. GymCats owner Cassie Rice stated her business is among the 13% of Nevada businesses that will have to pay the corporate margin tax under TEI. And she's perfectly fine with that, as she knows the value of public education to our community and our economy.

Lisa Muntean and Tom Wellman are CCSD teachers. They experience firsthand the challenges of educating so many kids on a shoestring budget. They know our kids need the extra $800,000,000 per year TEI will provide Nevada public schools. And they know our economy will benefit greatly (to the tune of at least $630 million added to Nevada's GDP in 2016 alone) from the additional investment in public education.

TEI's opponents have thrown just about everything (including the kitchen sink) at it. They tried to spin it away at Four Seasons. They tried setting up the "Esmeralda Straw Man" against it. They even tried various parliamentary tricks to stop the Nevada State Democratic Party from endorsing it. Yet each time they try to spin TEI away, they reveal something about themselves.

Have they been to any CCSD schools lately? Do they know anyone in a local public school? Don't they realize just how "grossly underfunded" Nevada schools are?

It's easy for them to make their philosophical case against TEI from their guard gated and gold plated bubble. And it's easy for them to complain about TEI's "flaws" when they've repeatedly failed to provide a realistic alternative. What seems to be incredibly difficult for them to admit is that they have no real alternative to TEI. They offer Nevada nothing but the same hot air and empty rhetoric that have failed this state for far too long.

At Gibson Elementary School this morning, we saw children going to school. We saw them enter a place where they encounter new ideas, new knowledge, and new opportunities. For far too long, we've been failing these children by failing to maintain public education. It's long past time for us to stop failing them.

Who's Policing the Police?

A funeral is happening today. It's certain to attract a large crowd. In fact, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) is in Ferguson, Missouri, today.

Michael Brown's funeral is today. The Brown family has asked for calm in the St. Louis region today. And it remains to be seen how long the calm will last, especially since Ferguson Police still refuse to answer questions on Officer Darren Wilson's slaying of Michael Brown. There was never even an incident report filed.

And not only that, but Ferguson Police still refuse to admit they have a serious problem on their hands. Sure, they're finally dialing back the violence now. However, they're still refusing to take any accountability for their actions against local civilians.

Before Darren Wilson joined the Ferguson Police Department, he worked at the Jennings Police Department. He was let go in 2011... Along with the entire rest of the police force. Jennings Police had developed such a horrifying record of police brutality that the city council decided to dissolve the whole police department and start anew.

Apparently, this didn't faze Ferguson Police at all. Sure, it's never good to simply assume the worse and presume guilt before proving innocence. However, it's always a good idea to perform background checks on prospective enployees and investigate Wilson's role in the Jennings debacle.

Why didn't Ferguson Police seriously investigate Darren Wilson's record in Jennings? Why has Ferguson Police instead taken to Fox "News" to villify the victim? And why are the usual G-O-TEA suspects once again trying to stifle serious discussion on the serious issues surrounding Ferguson?

Once again, the actions of a mostly white police force against a minority-majority community has become a media circus full of heat yet lacking light. Once again, we're hearing outrageous accusations to go along with nonsensical conspiracy theories. What we have yet to hear are answers from Ferguson Police. So many in the media are rushing to put Michael Brown on trial, even as Michael Brown's funeral is underway. Yet who's policing the police?

The Real Issue

It was supposed to be the ultimate battle royale. It was supposed to be a war between Nevada royal families. It was supposed to be one of the "hot ticket races" of the 2014 election cycle.

Early this year, G-O-TEA operatives were salivating over the opportunity to knock out Ross Miller (D). The outgoing Secretary of State has built up quite the list of accomplishments during his tenure there. And even though he's running for Attorney General this fall, media pundits can't help but speculate about his political future. Obviously, Republican campaign consultants were shaking in their boots.

Then came Adam Laxalt (R). He seemed to be the answer to G-O-TEA prayers. He has a pretty face, a famous last name, and a seemingly impeccable resume. What more could Nevada Republicans ask for?

But when Adam Laxalt began revealing his "most flawed" "political issues", we could sense something was off. How could a well trained lawyer not understand the basics of Constitutional law? We understand he has his "political issues", but those should not become "legal issues" as well.

And speaking of "legal issues", Adam Laxalt has plenty. When his law firm did a performance review, Laxalt's self-assessment strayed quite far from the assessment of his seniors and peers. And now that this performance review is becoming public knowledge, his campaign has been in complete "damage control" mode.

Ever since Jon Ralston revealed the skeletons in Adam Laxalt's closet, his campaign has tried just about everything to change the subject. They've tried blaming whoever leaked the documents. They've tried questioning the authenticity of the documents. They've tried leaking some of Laxalt's military documents. And of course, they will probably try reviving "Gift-gate" yet again... Even as Laxalt jumps to accept all sorts of gifts from one Sheldon Adelson.

Herein lies the crux of Adam Laxalt's real issue. Forget the bombast over the "gifts". Forget the howls of protest over the "document leaks". And forget the whining over "political hits".

Here's the real issue: Adam Laxalt has yet to prove his qualifications to serve as Nevada's Attorney General. He and his biggest Republican boosters can throw temper tantrums on as many "newspaper" pages as they want, but this won't change the issue of Laxalt struggling to make his own case. They can cry as much as they want about Ross Miller being on top of his game, but it's not his fault that Nevada Republicans have so many issues with their handpicked opponent for him.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Why Does ProgressNow Want to Award This Blog? (Find Out 9/16!)

We weren't asking for this. We swear!

We certainly weren't demanding that ProgressNow Nevada Action risk ruining its reputation by giving us an award. But alas, they just had to do that.

Fortunately, ProgressNow will also be honoring some very worthy people at its Celebrate Progress awards reception on September 16. State Senator Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), organizer extraordinaire Rudy Zamora, and GymCats owner/activist superstar Cassie Rice will all honored for all their amazing work. We certainly couldn't be happier for them.

However, it will be more than a little awkward for us to share the stage with them. After all, we just run this dowdy little blog that's dedicated to ending political careers. While Senator Segerblom is working on seemingly endless worthy legislation and Rudy & Cassie are taking the good fight to a whole new level, we just point and laugh at the latest & greatest Sharron Angle endeavor. Oh, and we occasionally embarrass ourselves on Twitter.

If you want to see us embarrass ourselves live, come to Artifice on September 16 at 6:00 PM. And if you want to honor some great progressives and a great organization committed to fighting for progressive values, please come to Artifice on September 16. Tickets start at $50, proceeds will be put to great use, and you'll have the opportunity to meet the best of the best in person (along with lowly us).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ay Yay Yay, Perry

He may be indicted... But that's still not stopping him from running for President. Outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has been indicted on two felony abuse of power charges related to his veto of a bill funding the state office in charge of investigating corruption.

Yet despite this (not so) little setback, #Perry2016 rages on. Earlier today, he addressed the Heritage Foundation. During his speech, Perry attempted to give a serious speech on Iraq. And surprise, surprise, he agrees with neoconservatives on sending American troops back to essentially restart the Iraq War.

Oh, and that's not all. Rick Perry also had something to say about Isis coming to America. He actually claimed "it's a very real possibility" that Isis terrorists have crossed the US-Mexico Border.

We know Republican "leaders" have been desperate to spin away their horrific EPIC FAIL on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), but this is truly beyond the pale. Does Rick Perry truly expect us to believe that refugee children who have come here fleeing epic violence in Central America are actually Isis terrorists from the Middle East? Who does he think he's kidding?

If anything, the children being deported are in grave danger. Yes, G-O-TEA politicians like Rick Perry want to deport refugee children back into an active war zone. And they like to call themselves the "pro-life, pro-family party"?

So Rick Perry wants to talk terrorism? He really wants to talk terrorism? Perhaps before he speaks of any more visions of "Isis on the Rio Grande", he needs to have a heart-to-heart with his own base. Oh, and perhaps he should focus on his own pending criminal trial.

Legal Issues

They were hoping to catapult him into headline news yesterday. And hey, it's mission accomplished in that department. However, this probably wasn't the kind of headline news Nevada Republicans were hoping for.

Yesterday morning, they sent a "gift box to Ross Miller (D) in hopes of amplifying Adam Laxalt's (R) "gifted" attacks on Miller's tenure as Nevada Secretary of State. And surely enough, the Attorney General's race made headlines by the end of the day.

However, it was ultimately Jon Ralston's gift of knowledge to the public that had tongues wagging. While Adam Laxalt gave himself top honors at Lewis & Roca, the law firm where he's been employed since relocating to Nevada in 2011, most of his colleagues didn't agree. Rather, they were concerned about Laxalt's "misconstrued" language, "unacceptable" typing skills, "inadequately structured" writing, and "questionable" judgment.

And that's not all. Here's what may the the most damning peer review in the Laxalt dossier: "He doesn’t understand the legal issues or how they relate to the facts involved, so his written analysis does not make sense." Yikes! And Laxalt wanted to boast about his "Of Counsel" status at Lewis & Roca?

There's already been plenty of speculation about Nevada Republicans replacing Laxalt with someone else as their Attorney General nominee. But so far, Laxalt's campaign spokespeople insist he's staying in the race. They've also questioned the authenticity of the documents Ralston obtained.

Frankly, this comes as no surprise to us. And we certainly don't doubt the authenticity of the documents Ralston has. After all, Adam Laxalt has constantly struggled to comprehend the "legal issues" of LGBTQ civil rights. And who can forget his "most flawed" legal analysis on the Affordable Care Act? While he has every right to oppose policies like civil marriage equality and universal health care, he can't say they're illegal just because he opposes them.

We've always sensed Adam Laxalt has "issues". But now, his more serious issues have burst out of the closet. And unfortunately for him, they strike at the heart of his case for election as Nevada's Attorney General.

The Machine Behind the War

Justice may finally be near in this case. After an escape from police and out of state, War Machine (aka Jonathan Koppenhaver) will soon be on trial here in Clark County. On Tuesday, he appeared at court in Ventura, California, and agreed to extradition to Nevada.

Koppenhaver faces seven criminal charges related to the attack on Christy Mack (aka Christine Mackinday) and Corey Thomas.

As we've noted before, this isn't War Machine's first violent outbreak. Retired porn star Brooke Haven has recently come forward to describe War Machine's belligerent behavior at her birthday party. He was actually convicted of two misdemeanor assault charges in 2007 and 2008 here in Nevada. And he was convicted of two felony assault charges related to a 2010 San Diego (California) bar fight.

While he was incarcerated in San Diego County Jail, War Machine kept an online diary blog. He shared his experiences in jail... And he shared his "philosophy on the American male".

“There is one guy in here for slapping his wife, one here for yelling at his wife, and one here for beating some guy’s *ss that disrespected his wife. WTF!? If your wife is being a b*tch you can’t slap her, if your wife is yelling at you, God forbid you yell back, and if some *sshole hurts your wife, you cannot protect her!” [...]

“The oppression of MEN is worse than oppression of Jews in Nazi Germany, worse than the slavery of blacks in early America … I’m not exaggerating either.”

Sounds crazy, right? Who else could say something like this? Believe it or not, he's not alone.

The Men's Rights Movement has been pushing this philosophy for some time. The Men's Rights Movement (MRM) was once relegated to "fringe of the fringe" status due to its harboring of individuals espousing shocking views on physical and sexual violence (see War Machine's comments above). But now, men's rights activists (MRAs) are increasingly pushing into what's supposed to be "mainstream".

Last year, Heritage Action actually used MRM language to make its case against renewing the Violence Against Women Act. And Heritage came shockingly close to killing the bipartisan and formerly uncontroversial bill in (the lower House of) Congress. All of a sudden, a critical mass of ("TEA" flavored) Members of Congress were repeating outrageous statements that had previously been confined to the deepest and darkest corners of the manosphere.

It's easy to look at War Machine and conclude he's some troubled individual with serious anger issues. And this may actually be close to the truth. However, this didn't occur in a vacuum. This isn't just one individual. It's time for us to take a closer look at the machine behind the war.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's He Afraid Of?

This? Again? Really?

The Clark County Republican Party figured it would be a great idea to send a "gift box" to outgoing Secretary of State and current Attorney General candidate Ross Miller (D). But why? Oh, they're just rehashing an issue that Miller himself has already been working on.

But shhhh, don't say that to Miller's Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt. He thinks this is somehow his "original idea". There's just no record of him supporting any campaign finance reform legislation in Carson City (like Miller has).

So now's probably a good time for Adam Laxalt to go on record and make his case. The problem? Laxalt is now ducking debates. While he has just agreed to a debate moderated by the always superb Steve Sebelius, he's refusing to participate in any other debates. Oh, and his "campaign adviser" tried to throw shade at Jon Ralston while rejecting a debate on his show. Yep, that's never a good idea.

So what's their issue? Oh yes, Mr. Laxalt always has "political issues"... Especially when those issues involve civil rights. So is Adam Laxalt simply afraid of Ross Miller confronting him on actual, serious issues, such as marriage equality?

Is he afraid of answering other tough questions on LGBTQ civil rights? Is he afraid of expanding on his "ideas" for fighting political corruption? Is he afraid of being asked about his assertion that Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) is "the most flawed piece of major legislation America has ever endured"?

What's he afraid of? Why is Adam Laxalt so afraid of coming out and speaking in public about his "political issues"? He'd have a much better chance of being taken seriously if he were to ditch the cheap "street theater" stunts and actually speak directly to the people he's seeking to serve in state government.

UPDATE: All T, all shade, baby. Ralston has the scoop on Laxalt's horrible job performance review at Lewis & Roca. This is the law firm that hired Adam Laxalt upon his move to Nevada. Take a look at the evaluation review. The document truly speaks for itself.

Ugliest of Double Standards

This really says it all. This pretty much explains everything. This is why Ferguson, Missouri, has come to resemble the type of war zone we thought could only emerge in some far away land like Syria or Ukraine.

ACLU has already called for the removal of "Officer Go Fuck Yourself". After all, it's anything but appropriate for a "peace officer" to point his rifle at unarmed civilians and yell, "I will fucking kill you".

Ironically, Kansas City, Missouri, police officer Marc Catron had taken to social media to castigate the late Michael Brown along with the mostly African-American demonstrators in Ferguson protesting his murder. The Kansas City Police Department has placed Marc Catron under review for his Facebook rants.

Here's the problem. We expect demonstrators to remain peaceful. We expect them to refrain from violence. Yet when police officers turn violent on unarmed civilians, we hear constant excuses and endless attempts at blaming the victims.

Already, Ferguson Police have been working overtime to demonize Mike Brown. They seem to think he's the one who should be standing trial instead of Darren Wilson. But last time we checked, Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown dead.

This is nothing new. In fact, Metro Police does it all the time here in Southern Nevada.

But this must end. Now. This is the ugliest and bloodiest of double standards. Darren Wilson had the privilege to shoot first and ask questions later. He now has all the rights of due process that (Missouri taxpayers') money (and white privilege) can buy. But what does the Brown family have? A dead son. And now, these scurrilous attempts at blaming the victim.

And what do the nonviolent protesters of Ferguson have? Nonstop attacks on their character. And nonstop threats from local "law enforcement". This is the ugliest of double standards.


It's doom! Doom, they tell you. We're all doomed! And that horrible, evil, no-good margin tax is to blame...

For nothing? Oh, yes. That's right. The Coalition to Defeat the Margin Tax Initiative (aka Nevada's corporate welfare kings) just released a report that was supposed to annihilate The Education Initiative (TEI) with visions of doom and gloom.

And the upshot? Nothing. No really, the best the anti-TEI coalition's commissioned UNLV tax study could produce was inconclusive garblety-goop.

Yet in the mean time, TEI proponents commissioned their own UNLV tax study. And the result of that? Surprise, better education funding means a better economy.

►TEI actually will increase economic activity and create jobs, including as many as 13,000 in 2016 and 10,400 jobs in 2017.

►The positive impacts from new government spending more than offset the negative impacts from the tax.

►Overall, the study concludes: Nevada’s GDP would be boosted by $630 million to $1,020 million in 2016 and $480 million to $790 million in 2017.

Now of course, this seems confusing. How can two studies from the same institution produce completely different results?

Actually, the results here aren't all that different. Even the anti-TEI study conceded that TEI will generate $800 million annually for Nevada public schools if passed. And it didn't offer any definitive findings on economic impact. So that doesn't really challenge the results offered by the pro-TEI study showing actual economic benefits to passing TEI.

Here's what we already know: The status quo is failing us. For all the talk of Nevada's "pro-business climate", our economy hasn't benefitted from it at all. In fact, we're consistently ranked as having one of the worst business climates in the nation.

And why's that? As Elaine Wynn once described Nevada's public education system, "We are grossly underfunded." And as long as we continue underfunding our public schools, we're missing out on economic opportunities. As long as we're shortchanging our schools, we're sabotaging ourselves.

This is why TEI opponents have resorted to silly spin and even sillier straw men. After decades of empty promises, they've failed to provide any real solutions for public education and longer term economic development. But now that TEI (aka Question 3) is on the ballot, they're going all in to kill it... Because they simply don't want to pay their fair share like all the rest of us must.

It's doom, all right. It's doom... For nothing but the status quo. Keep this in mind whenever you hear the usual (corporate lobbyist) suspects scream "DOOM!" over that horrible, evil, no-good margin tax that can actually end the gross underfunding of K-12 public education in this state.

Another Foolish Project (Brought to Us by the Kochs)

We do our best to stay on top of everything. But jeez, how on earth did we miss this? Jon Ralston just took a trip to our archives!

So what did he find? Just this gem from October 2012 on the Koch backed AFP jumping into certain Nevada Legislature races.

Perhaps the SD 4 incident was just a "test run" meant to prepare AFP for what they're doing now. The doorhanger we found earlier this month attacked President Obama and Shelley Berkley on one side, then attacked John Oceguera and Joyce Woodhouse (the Democratic nominee for SD 5) on the other side. And now, AFP mailers are being caught attacking Justin Jones (the Democratic nominee in SD 9) and Sheila Leslie (the Democratic nominee in SD 15). It just looks too funny that, all of a sudden, AFP is playing in the very State Senate seats that Republicans must win in order to take control of the Nevada Senate. And we're still supposed to believe that AFP is some sort of "nonpartisan, educational, charitable foundation"? Yeah, right.

It's now looking quite clear as to what AFP Nevada is aiming to do. And no, it doesn't involve "charity" or "education". Rather, AFP is trying to tip several competitive federal and state level races into Republican hands. Yet in failing to file the appropriate paperwork as a political action committee (PAC) and disclose its donors, AFP may actually be violating state election law while trying to elect lawmakers! Surely, we can't be the only ones seeing the irony here?

In July 2012, AFP waded into a Democratic State Senate primary in North Las Vegas. For some reason, AFP attacked Kelvin Atkinson in a district where Republicans weren't even targeting. That really had us scratching our heads.

But when AFP sent a tour bus to Shelley Berkley's Congressional office, their actions started to make more sense (even if they still looked quite silly). It then tried to top that grandiose gesture with cheap gas. And for the grand finale of its 2012 campaign, it staged a "freedom concert" and dropped the wrong campaign literature in the wrong areas.

Oh, and did we mention AFP considers itself an "educational charity"? How on earth is any of this "educational" or "charitable"?

So why are we now talking about AFP? Take a look at how AFP operatives are boasting about themselves to Beltway media. They're essentially declaring their plan to defeat Senator Harry Reid (D) in 2016.

There's just a little problem with AFP's latest grandiose plan: It looks more like a delusion of grandeur. Ralston just aired out all of AFP Nevada's dirty laundry. And even though AFP just moved its Nevada headquarters to a new location, it took all its old dirty laundry with it. And to make matters even worse for the Koch-topus' loudest and longest reaching tentacle, AFP's chief just left the building.

Of course, AFP is still overflowing in Koch money. It just came off an outrageous Cliven Bundy love-fest. And it's preparing to make waves again in 2016.

But just because one makes waves doesn't mean those waves are beneficial. Just because one is loud and gregarious doesn't mean one is making friends and allies. Just because AFP has a ton of money to spend doesn't mean AFP is spending that money well. And just because AFP plans to carpet-bomb this state again to attack Senator Reid doesn't mean AFP won't undercut itself again in 2016 (like it did in 2010 and 2012).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where's the Scandal?

Must we do this again? Apparently, yes. While one local media pundit continues to beat this dead horse, national G-O-TEA media spinners have begun beating the "ZOMG!!! Hillary Clinton is a rich b---h!!!!" dead horse of a "scandal".

What Fox "News" talking heads call "rock star diva outrageous demands" are actually considered standard operating procedure for high profile politicians. If Hillary Clinton is a "rock star diva" making "outrageous demands", then so are George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich.

But of course, Hillary Clinton is different... Because she's "stealing money from UNLV students"! Except she's not.

No really, the UNLV Foundation relies on private donations to fund its efforts to raise private money for UNLV (since the public college doesn't receive enough public funding). Since Hillary Clinton's speech will be for the UNLV Foundation, her speaking fee came from private donations. Already, there have been more than enough private donations to cover the fee. She has already donated that fee to charity. And the October event will likely raise a hefty sum... For the benefit of UNLV and its students.

So where's the "scandal"? Where were all these media pundits when politicians like Rudy Giuliani cashed in on big speaking fees? And where were they when Governor Brian Sandoval (R) pushed for more UNLV budget cuts in 2011?

Ironically, one of the most vocal critics of Clinton's UNLV Foundation gig accepted a for-pay speech at UNLV herself. And she's not alone on the list of high profile individuals UNLV and/or the UNLV Foundation paid to give a speech. So why are we still wasting so many characters arguing over this Hillary Clinton speech?

Whenever a Clinton runs for President, strange things happen. Extramarital affairs become "impeachable offenses". A money losing land deal becomes some horrifically sophisticated money laundering scheme. A tragic attack on a US consulate becomes some bizarre mass murder conspiracy. And a speaking fee becomes some heinous crime against higher education.

Perhaps if Republican political operatives and their media enablers were to spend less time hyperventilating over fictitious "scandals" and more time preparing better policies for their preferred Presidential candidates to espouse (along with decent candidates for them to prefer), they'd actually have a viable 2016 alternative to Hillary Clinton.