Thursday, February 27, 2014

Harsh Language & Misplaced Outrage

It must be that time of the year again. The weather is not as cold outside. The days are starting to feel longer. And Jon Ralston goes off on bizarre tangents.

This time, Ralston is excoriating US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) for daring to speak the truth on the Senate floor.

Indeed, the Koch front groups' attack ads against Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) have been proven false. Their scare tactics are nothing more than air brushed lies. And the Kochs have spent millions of dollars airing these misleading ads in states where they hope to elect Republican US Senators.

So why is Ralston fuming over what Senator Reid said? Oh, that's right. Senator Reid dared to call "un-American" the use of shadowy front groups to pump millions of dollars worth of misleading ads into states where one hopes to buy (additional) seats in Congress.

Of course, we can see why the Kochs are dumping so much money into all these misleading ads. Most Americans still oppose the Koch approved agenda of manufacturing crises in order to find the "sweet spot" for their extreme ideological agenda. And since the Kochs' agenda of "license to discriminate", climate crisis, "Stand Your Ground" (to shoot to kill), privatization of public education, and voter suppression.

So why again are we supposed to be raging against Senator Reid for calling "un-American" the Kochs' underhanded plan to buy more power in government? How was Senator Reid wrong?

If anything, Jon Ralston's outrage seems awfully misplaced. Did Senator Reid use some harsh language in criticizing the latest Koch gambit? Perhaps... But then again, the Kochs ideological agenda is even harsher.

Who Else Is Behind the "License to Discriminate" Bills?

What a month this has been for LGBTQ civil rights... And the Republican Party's tortured views on them. Earlier this month, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Governor Brian Sandoval (R) decided to drop their legal fight against marriage equality. Yet even after Sandoval did this, his party didn't go along for the ride. Rather, Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt (R) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) twisted themselves into pretzels to try to spin away their opposition to civil marriage equality.

And then, outgoing Assembly Member and current NV-04 candidate Cresent Hardy (R) spoke of "segregation laws", and it all went downhill from there. Shortly after Hardy made those infamous comments, attention turned to Arizona's SB 1062, a "license to discriminate" bill masquerading as "religious freedom" legislation. It was actually based on the same model legislation that inspired the original SB 192 that Hardy cosponsored. And that model legislation has recently been popping up in even more state legislatures across the nation.

So who wrote this "license to discriminate" model legislation? Where did it all come from? Yesterday, we took a closer look at the origins of SB 192/SB 1062 and uncovered a trail that leads to the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a shadowy front group that masks all the Koch Industries/"TEA Party, Inc." money being poured into this "license to discriminate" campaign.

However, there's even more to this story. It turns out that the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been working hand-in-hand with another shadowy front group hiding another set of familiar players.

The Center for Arizona Policy has been decrying Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's (R) veto of SB 1062. After all, it prodded Arizona G-O-TEA legislators to introduce and pass the Ethics and Public Policy Center's "religious freedom" model legislation. And it's a state affiliate of CitizenLink, a nationwide religious right outfit.

But wait, who's CitizenLink? Where did that comes from? It turns out that CitizenLink is the 501(c)4 arm of Focus on the Family, a notorious anti-equality organization that's been devoted to fighting against LGBTQ civil rights for over a quarter century. And not only has Focus on the Family been fighting against LGBTQ civil rights in America, but it's recently become involved with Russia's state sanctioned homophobia & transphobia campaign. And it's never hesitated to stoop to shocking lows to promote its extreme agenda.

In the wake of all this "religious freedom" hogwash controversy, State Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Mark Hutchison (R) performed some linguistic gymnastics to try to distance himself (and running mate Brian Sandoval) from the bill he cosponsored in Carson City last year. Now, we have a better understanding of why he's done this (along with other Republican politicians who are running away from the now toxic legislation). And why's that? Simple: It's not easy conveying a "moderate" persona when one is carrying water (and legislation!) for the Kochs' "TEA" powered empire and the extreme religious right.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From "Rebranding" to Crash Landing...

Here we go again. Once more, G-O-TEA politicians must pay the consequences of paying too much attention to the bullshit "words of wisdom" that drop from Rush Limbaugh's mouth. Once again, "El Rushbo" threw a temper tantrum over Jason Collins' return to the NBA courts and Michael Sam's possible entry into the NFL. And once again, G-O-TEA "playaz" are trying to turn Limbaugh's temper tantrum into actual legislation (and losing lobbying clients while doing so).

Oh, and speaking of actual legislation, Rush Limbaugh also had something to say about Arizona's SB 1062, aka Arizona's version of the "License to Discriminate" Bill. Surprise, he loves it! Surprise, he hates the "drive-by media" reporting on the real danger this bill presents. And surprise, he makes absolutely no sense when he claims Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has been "bullied" over this bill.

We guess Rush Limbaugh would know, since he's the biggest bully of them all. And he's now stooping to new lows (even for him!) to promote the Koch-TEA Empire's greatest legislative masterpiece yet.

Unfortunately for him and other fans of "legalized" wrongful discrimination, the rest of America doesn't feel the same way. The NFL threatened to move the Super Bowl out of the state if SB 1062 had become law. And now, we know Governor Jan Brewer (R) just vetoed it. So there we have it...

Except that's not all. While Arizona faced a potentially horrendous anti-LGBTQ statute, Texas faced a potentially paradigm shifting courtroom decision while California faced one fewer ballot initiative this year. In California, proponents of a ballot initiative to overturn a new law guaranteeing civil rights for transgender students failed to gather enough valid signatures to place this initiative on the 2014 ballot. And in Texas, a federal judge just struck down Texas' marriage ban. Just as we've been saying here for some time, H8 is so outdated and marriage discrimination has no legal leg left to stand on... Not even in Texas.

Of course, the 21st Century Know Nothings are seething in rage tonight. That's why they're reveling in frivolous law suits, accidentally endorsing marriage equality on Twitter, and attacking each other for daring to "attack god". Oh, yes. That's right. They're really going there.

Meanwhile closer to home, the Nevada Republican Party continues to struggle with acceptance of the 21st century. After State Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Mark Hutchison (R-Las Vegas) boasted of his cosponsorship of SB 192 and Governor Brian Sandoval's (R) support for his bill, Sandoval himself then rebuked his own favored running mate Senator Hutchison and promised to veto anything resembling SB 1062. And that would have meant a veto for the original version of SB 192 that Hutchison supported.

Once again, we're seeing the result of all that "Republican rebranding". And what's the result? Just take a look at California, Arizona, & Texas. Republican "leaders" are struggling to save face as their own base demands more and more extreme legislation... Along with a divorce from 21st century America. And funny enough, they're the ones claiming to "defend family values & traditional marriage". Yep, those Republicans are enjoying quite the "rebranding" lately...

Standing on Dangerous Ground

Today marks a tragic anniversary. Today marks the second anniversary of the untimely death of Trayvon Martin. Two years ago, George Zimmerman decided to try, convict, and execute Martin for the "crime" of walking outside while black... And Zimmerman then literally got away with murder.

He was able to do so thanks to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" statute. This statute came into being thanks to the aggressive lobbying of the NRA, the (rest of the) gun industry, and their shady "TEA Party, Inc." allies. And they've managed to spread "Stand Your Ground" beyond Florida.

Believe it or not, even Nevada has a somewhat milder version of "Stand Your Ground" on the books thanks to the stranglehold the NRA and its "TEA" powered allies have over Carson City. Just like the "license to discriminate" legislative franchise, "Stand Your Ground" was cooked up in the back rooms of "TEA Party, Inc.", then quickly exported across the nation.

Yet unlike the "license to discriminate" bills sweeping across the nation, the "Stand Your Ground" bills have already been becoming law. And they've already been claiming lives. We're now quite familiar with the horrifying death of Trayvon Martin. More recently, we've witnessed the aftermath of Jordan Davis' untimely passing. And just last month, we learned about the slaying of Chad Oulson... Over texts to his 3 year old daughter's babysitter before a movie. All of these deaths were untimely and unnecessary, yet they all occurred because the respective perpetrators claimed "Stand Your Ground" as a legal defense.

Sadly, this is what happens when we allow a handful of well heeled corporate interests to hijack our legislative system and turn it into their own policy laboratory. We're now uncovering the dangerous consequences of this practice. And as long as the likes of the NRA, ALEC, & other shadowy "TEA" fueled groups continue to call the shots in the halls of power, we will only see more lives lost over this nonsense.

When Florida legislators got the ball rolling on "Stand Your Ground", they thought they were just "helping those who are trying to defend themselves". We're sure Nevada legislators felt the same way when they passed the Nevada version of "Stand Your Ground". What they failed to realize is that they didn't actually do that. Rather, they opened a "Pandora's Box" full of danger. It remains to be seen how many more lives must be lost before we can retreat from this dangerous ground we stand on.

License to Discriminate, Brought to You by Koch

What on earth is going on? The Nevada Legislature is not even in session this year. So why is it grabbing headlines this week?

We can thank SB 192 for this. Even though SB 192 itself died in Carson City last spring, its legacy has quickly been resurrected. And now, it's striking fear in the hearts of civil rights advocates across the nation.

So far this year, various reincarnations of SB 192 are bubbling up through several state legislatures. The most notorious one yet has emerged in Arizona in the form of SB 1062. Meanwhile in Georgia and Missouri, similar "license to discriminate" bills have been introduced.

Clearly, these bills are making waves across the nation... But where did these waves come from? Where did this all begin? The answer may surprise you.

We suspect few people have previously known about the Ethics and Public Policy Center. However, we're sure you've already heard of the Kochs and their burgeoning political empire. And believe it or not, the Kochs' well heeled tentacles reach into the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Oh, and it's also funded by the same "TEA Party, Inc." aligned billionaires' club who are behind such infamous TEA fueled entities as Donors Trust and ALEC.

It turns out that the Ethics and Public Policy Center has an "American Religious Freedom Program". And it turns out that "American Religious Freedom Program" gave birth to the "religious freedom"/"license to discriminate" bills that are now emerging in state legislatures across the nation. So finally, the mystery of the origin of these "license to discriminate" bills has been solved.

And surprise (/snark), these bills come from the same source as the rest of the G-O-TEA legislative agenda. Once again, "TEA Party, Inc." is hiding behind shadowy front groups to push Orwellian legislation to further it's extreme ideology. And this is why we shouldn't be surprised that other G-O-TEA front groups are rushing to back the "license to discriminate" movement.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sharron's Siren Songs

At least he's trying. Even as the rest of the Nevada Republican Party drives quickly into Crazytown, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) continues to steer clear of the Sea of "TEA". And he continues trying to "soften" his party's image, even as other prominent Nevada G-O-TEA politicians continue drinking more hard "TEA" from their 21st Century Know Nothing base.

Today, Governor Sandoval wants to let the world know that he won't make life easy for 2016 Presidential Candidates campaigning in Nevada if they don't pledge to turn the proposed Interstate 11 (I-11) Freeway into a reality. For years, officials in Nevada and Arizona have discussed a potential freeway linking Reno, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. But when The Great Recession first hit, the proposal started collecting dust. But now, Governor Sandoval wants to use what he sees as his bully pulpit to turn I-11 from a few patches of road improvements into a fully developed multi-lane freeway.

Of course, there's a problem with Governor Sandoval's plan to add Southwestern infrastructure to the 2016 campaign narrative. That's problem just happens to be Sandoval's own Republican Party. While he's begging G-O-TEA 2016 contenders to talk about infrastructure, a leading G-O-TEA 2016 contender continues to obsess over Former President Bill Clinton's sex life during the 1990s. No, we're not kidding on this.

But wait, there's more! Two other leading G-O-TEA 2016 contenders (and sitting Governors) are bickering over whose scandal looks worse. And they'll all have to keep up with their G-O-TEA base on such important matters as banning abortions because of racial stereotypes, taking seriously a washed up D-List celebrity who keeps his name in the news by making even more outrageous accusations of President Obama, rewriting the history of The Civil War, and espousing long ago discredited theories of "nullifying federal law".

Unfortunately for Brian Sandoval, the above mentioned "SCANDALZZZ!!!!" full of crazy show far greater appeal to the G-O-TEA base than an interstate highway that millions of Americans in this region might actually put into good use. And since his party long ago decided to ditch sound economics for austerity laced voodoo, that just makes Sandoval's case to his own party for more federal investment that much tougher.

While a number of Nevada Republicans throw the "RINO" label around when describing Brian Sandoval, we prefer using this label: LINO, or "leader in name only". Why? Even though certain Republican consultants in DC and media pundits in DC & Las Vegas tout Sandoval as a "rising star & Republican leader", he can't lead his own party out of paper bag. Sure, he'd like to lead them out of a paper bag... But since the G-O-TEA base demands that they stay in the paper bag in order to remain "pure", they stay in the paper bag.

Try as he might, we doubt Governor Sandoval will go far in his effort to make the Nevada Republican Party seem relevant again. As long as they listen to Sharron Angle's siren songs, they'll keep tuning him out. And as long as national G-O-TEA politicians keep listening to her siren songs (which are heavily promoted by the voters they're competing for) as well, they'll also tune him out.

Enough Already... Stop the Insani-TEA

We had it yesterday. We had it with whatever talk (that's not tongue-in-cheek) remains of "Republican rebranding". And we had it with G-O-TEA politicians feigning "moderation" while continuing to promote dangerously extreme legislation.

If Cresent Hardy still needs further examples of actual "segregation laws", he need not look farther than next door. Why? Take a look at Arizona. Arizona's SB 1062, which happens to be identical to the original version of Nevada's SB 192 that Hardy cosponsored last year,
would put into place an exceptionally broad license to discriminate if Governor Jan Brewer (R) signs SB 1062 into law. It would open doors to anti-LGBTQ discrimination, as well as further restrictions on women's health care, "legal" religious intolerance, and perhaps even the reintroduction of "legal" racial segregation... And do so all in the name of "religious freedom".

This is why the pressure is mounting for a veto of SB 1062. Oh, and that pressure isn't just coming from civil rights advocates and progressive activists. Corporate lobbyists, Arizona's 2015 Super Bowl Committee, and even both of Arizona's Republican US Senators are begging Governor Brewer to veto SB 1062.

Yet even as SB 1062 has become such an ugly hot potato in Arizona, another look-alike bill is making its way through the Georgia Legislature. And more specifically anti-LGBTQ legislation is being considered in Tennessee & South Dakota. And to top it all off, some G-O-TEA lobbyist/"media personality" is pushing his allies in Congress to push federal legislation to ban out LGBTQ football players!

OK, it's time for us to say this again. No wait, we'll let our other favorite philosopher say it herself this time.

Seriously, G-O-TEA politicians need to take her advice. What's the point of all these license to discriminate bills? Sure, they're popular with the G-O-TEA base... But everyone else is disgusted by such blatant and brazen bigotry.

Already, "Republican rebranding" has become the go-to political punchline of 2014. How much more do G-O-TEA politicians want to ruin their own party? Perhaps it's finally time for them to stop this insani-TEA once & for all.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Same Ol' Story, Same Ol' FAIL

Don't blame us for being repetitive. Rather, blame various Nevada Republicans trying to climb up the political ladder. Oh, and blame their "TEA" drinking counterparts nearby for their refusal to acknowledge the existence of the 21st century.

Oh, where do we begin? Let's start with Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt (R). He made some noise earlier this month with his vocal opposition to Governor Brian Sandoval's (R) approval of outgoing Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's (D) decision to drop the State of Nevada's legal defense of marriage discrimination in the Sevcik v. Sandoval federal law suit. And so far, he's still going there. Even when a nationally prominent conservative columnist raised her eyebrow over Laxalt's fervent opposition to marriage equality, he responded by claiming he's "compelled to defend our constitution". Apparently, Adam Laxalt still needs those "basic plumbing lessons" on the inner workings of the US Constitution.

Oh, and he needs to step away from Cresent Hardy's "segregation laws" and Barbara Cegavske's delusions of grandeur. They don't seem to have an understanding of the Constitution or common sense. They only seem to understand the deepest dark desires of the G-O-TEA base. But then again, this may be why Adam Laxalt is following their lead.

And herein lies the heart of the Republican Party's "rebranding" FAIL and identity crisis. Various Republican "leaders" have attempted to "rebrand the party" into a more "consumer friendly image". But whenever they've tried, the 21st Century Know Nothings have fought back with more demands for ideological "purity". And so far, they've succeeded in forcing the party to double down on their "Culture War".

Case in point: Arizona. The legislature there passed the equivalent to the original SB 192 (there, it's SB 1062). And now, the bill awaits Governor Jan Brewer's (R) decision to sign or veto.

On one hand, US Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) has joined a growing chorus of Republicans and conservative business groups begging Governor Brewer to veto SB 1062 along with all the state’s Democrats and civil rights advocates. But on the other hand, the 21st Century Know Nothings who comprise the G-O-TEA base want SB 1062 to become law, even as the state faces another round of boycotts should the "License to Discriminate Bill" become law. Yet even as the deadline to act on this bill quickly approaches, Arizona's Governor hasn't given any indication of what she will do to it.

So don't blame us for being repetitive. Rather, blame the G-O-TEA politicians who keep peddling their outdated platform that celebrates wrongful discrimination. And blame the "TEA" fueled Culture Warriors who still refuse to admit defeat in their effort to undo the entire 20th century. They keep living the same old story, and the Republican Party keeps failing into the same old FAIL.

We Know How This Story Goes

Over the weekend, both major parties held biennial caucuses. As usual, Nevada Republicans enjoyed plenty of melodramatic moments. And as usual, Nevada Democrats had mostly quiet and well organized affairs.

Of course, we stopped by our local caucus location for Clark County Commission District G Democrats. And we were actually somewhat surprised to see the Painters' Hall fill up like that. The room held hardcore activists, local candidates, and even some high profile candidates.

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State legislators reminded the audience that the balance of power in Carson City is at stake this fall. And of course, Congressional candidates reminded the audience that the balance of power in Washington (DC) is also at stake this fall.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) met with local NV-04 Democrats at his caucus site. NV-03 candidate Erin Bilbray made the rounds at various caucus locations with significant NV-03 territory, including the District G site in Henderson. And even up north, Washoe County Democrats got fired up and ready to go.

Meanwhile at the District G site, a very special (yet familiar) guest dropped by. Rep. Dina Titus spoke with caucus goers and let them knew she'd be working hard alongside them this year.

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Once again, Nevada faces a fun filled and hotly contested even numbered year election cycle. And once again, Nevada Democrats are preparing as they know best. First come the caucuses, then come the voter registration drives, then come the field offices, then...

Well, you know how this story goes.

What We Need Is a Raise

Plenty of tough questions were asked at Green Valley High School last Wednesday. That required Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) to come up with real answers. Constituents had questions on topics ranging from gun safety to marriage equality, but those weren't all. There was one other issue that was raised... And that put Rep. Heck in a very uncomfortable position (for him).

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Nevada's minimum wage now stands (for the most part) at $8.25 per hour, while the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation for some time, and that's meant millions of working families have had to work for poverty level earnings. And this is why most Americans (and even some conservatives) support raising the minimum wage.

Yet last Wednesday, Rep. Heck was pulling out every available "TEA" flavored scare tactic in an attempt to spin his opposition to raising the minimum wage into a more "complimentary light". Unfortunately for him, NV-03 constituents Wendy Starkweather, Esther Sass, & Lisa Muntean weren't letting him.

Rep. Heck cited the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report as evidence that a minimum wage increase would harm the economy, but he failed to mention what was actually in the CBO report. He also failed to mention how it would barely budge prices for consumers. And he failed to mention how it would lift at least 900,000 Americans out of poverty.

When Rep. Heck declared that raising the minimum wage would be "bad for business", he likely wasn't expecting a rebuttal from a local business owner. Unfortunately for him, that's what happened when NV-03 constituent & business owner Cassie Rice had a chance to speak. She explained to him and the audience what motivates her hiring decisions. (Hint: It's not the minimum wage.)

Actually, what affects hiring decisions the most is the simplest of economic rules: supply & demand. Is there demand for a company's products? And is that company demanding more workers? Those influence corporate hiring decisions far greater than the where the minimum wage stands.

Yet in another way, the minimum wage can affect the overall economic climate. Think about this: What determines consumers' purchasing decisions the most? It ultimately comes down to how much money they have to spend. The more they can spend, the more they will buy.

This is what policy makers like Rep. Heck should take into serious consideration. By lifting at least 900,000 American workers out of poverty, that can lead to a real "bubbling up" effect of more consumers buying more products, which would mean more economic growth. And let's face it, what we need right now is more economic growth.

We know Rep. Heck's "TEA" drinking base either dismisses economic inequality as a serious problem or claims it can be solved by "right-wing social engineering". However, we also know neither of those claims is true. Economic inequality does pose a serious challenge, and it can't be solved with "right-wing social engineering".

Last Wednesday, Rep. Joe Heck was confronted by real constituents who had a real case to make for raising the minimum wage. He can deny their stories and their facts all he wants, but he can't change reality. What we seriously need right now is a raise... In the minimum wage.

Friday, February 21, 2014

No "Freedom", Just FAIL

Last year, an unexpected bomb was dropped on Carson City. That bomb nearly blew up the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature and put into question the state’s progress on civil rights. But in the end, it only blew up on State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Spring Valley) when Assembly leaders decided to shelve her bill (after an sharply amended version passed the State Senate).

The short yet lurid life of SB 192 in Carson City managed to shock a number of civil rights advocates and political observers. In recent years, the State of Nevada has made progress in recognizing LGBTQ civil rights. Why would this state suddenly undo all that progress to grant "freedom to discriminate"?

When SB 192 died in Carson City last spring, many assumed that would be the end of this debate. But all of a sudden, it's making news again. Why? Assembly Member, SB 192 cosponsor, and NV-04 candidate Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) evoked his religious beliefs to explain why he can't agree to "segregation laws" like ENDA (that combat wrongful discrimination). And shortly after Hardy dropped his bomb, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) followed suit with his bizarre argument against marriage equality.

And now, the story has become national. How so? The same shadowy religious right/G-O-TEA interest groups that wrote SB 192 for Barbara Cegavske pushed SB 192 here in Nevada are now on the verge of passing a look-alike bill into law in Arizona.

Like SB 192, the Arizona "Freedom to Discriminate" bill seemed to come out of nowhere. But unlike SB 192, the Arizona bill was not watered down, and it ultimately sailed through both houses of that state's legislature. That's why civil rights advocates are now trying whatever they can think of to convince Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) to veto this bill and spare the state a costly legal fight & huge PR embarrassment.

Once again, we're seeing a campaign to legalize anti-LGBTQ discrimination masquerade as "concern for religious liberty". Once again, we're seeing the bulk of G-O-TEA politicians go along to get along with their 21st Century Know Nothing base. And once again, we're reminded of why "Republican rebranding" is already shaping up to be the most EPIC FAIL of 2014.

The Wrong Angle

Last month, she reemerged. And she didn't return empty-handed. No, Sharron Angle introduced a voter ID voter suppression initiative. And she definitely succeeded in stirring up a hornet's nest.

But will Angle's initiative actually succeed? That remains in doubt, especially in the wake of two law suits being filed against it.

Both law suits challenge what plaintiffs consider to be an unconstitutional usurpation of power, since it commands the Legislature to enact something that the Legislature itself is supposed to decide. And both suits declare Angle's initiative to be an unfunded mandate (as it has no funding mechanism for its voter ID program), which would also constitute a constitutional violation. The ACLU of Nevada and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights have filed one suit, while a group of private citizens and activists filed the other suit.

We're left to wonder how much thought "Our Lady of Perpetual Campaigning" put into this initiative. We already knew that it targets a nonexistent problem. We also knew that this would instead create problems for thousands of Nevada voters who are simply trying to exercise their legal right to vote. But now, we're discovering another problem with Sharron Angle's "great idea": It may very well violate the very constitution she claims to hold so near & dear to her.

But then again, we are talking about someone who's still claiming nonsensical conspiracy theories as "evidence" that somehow the 2010 NV-Sen election was "stolen" from her. She still refuses to admit that she list that election all on her own. And now, she's demanding an initiative that's unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional as well.

Funny enough, Angle and her Nevada G-O-TEA disciples have been the ones crying about "integrity". Have they ever examined the integrity of their own voter suppression proposal?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's Already on the Table

Clearly, there was plenty of action and plenty of heated conversation last night at Rep. Joe Heck's Green Valley High School town hall. The constituents who attended had plenty of questions on a number of issues.

And yes, a(nother) familiar issue came to the forefront at Green Valley High School. It's the same one that Rep. Heck said he supported one year ago. And it's the same one he claimed he was working on last August. Yet for all his talk on expanding background checks for gun purchases, he's yet to produce any meaningful action. (Sound familiar yet?)

That's why NV-03 constituent Sheila Shinno put him on the spot last night. She asked Rep. Heck why he doesn't support the bipartisan backed HR 1565 while claiming he wants to expand background checks.

Just as he did at the August town hall in Summerlin, Rep. Heck claimed he has problems with certain provisions of HR 1565. He also claimed he talked with the bill's original sponsors about a specific proposal regarding a "web portal", just as he did in August. But this time, another constituent took issue with Heck's claims.

NV-03 constituent & super activist Teresa Crawford did her homework last August when Rep. Heck talked about his objections to HR 1565. She specifically looked for more information about his "web portal" proposal". And she could find nothing. So she mentioned that last night.

She also came prepared with the facts on gun violence. Indeed, Missouri's repeal of background checks was followed by a rising murder rate in that state. And indeed, Nevada (which has nothing close to universal background checks) is the 9th deadliest state for gun violence. And there's plenty more evidence indicating that background checks work (and conversely, the loophole plagued status quo does not). So what's Rep. Heck waiting for?

Last night, he said he wants a "more holistic approach". And what would that entail? An assault weapons ban? Limits on magazine capacity? Better guidelines for safe gun storage? Better mental health care? If that's the case, then hallelujah! Go ahead and...

Oh, wait. He didn't mention any of that last night, other than some passive references to mental health care and gun storage. And even then, he couldn't point to any legislation to increase mental health care funding (he's actually done the opposite by trying to repeal Obamacare) or improve gun storage standards.

And that brings us back to HR 1565 & the issue of background checks. While it's a rather modest effort to reduce gun violence, it's a badly needed first step. And Rep. Heck has repeatedly said he supports expanding background checks. So why not push forward the bill that's already on the table?

HR 1565 is already on the table. The policy it covers enjoys widespread popular support, and it can make a real difference in saving lives. We've already waited far too long for this. Why should we wait even longer for phantom legislation that never seems to materialize in real life. Why not just take what's already on the table and run with it?

No, He Can't Have It Both Ways.

We've heard this before. We've heard this so many times it's become predictable. Yet for some reason, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) keeps trying to have it both ways on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). He says he's for it, yet does nothing to pass it.

We saw this song & dance routine again last night at Rep. Heck's Green Valley High School town hall meeting. When asked by constituents why he hasn't voted for CIR already, he reiterated his "support"... Then proceeded to offer excuses for the House's failure to address CIR.

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Several constituents asked Rep. Heck about the status of CIR in the House. And from there, it quickly went downhill for him.

Apparently, we're not the only ones who remember Rep. Joe Heck's promising words on CIR exactly one year ago. And we're not the only ones who remember Rep. Heck's vote to deport DREAMers last June, as that was also brought up last night. Oh, and quite a few of the town hall attendees also remembered Rep. Joe Heck's renewed call for CIR last August.

Yet later that month at another town hall meeting, Rep. Joe Heck backed away and promoted a "step by step approach". Yet despite his promises that would result in overall CIR, the House has failed to pass any sort of immigration reform (other than the anti-CIR "Deport DREAMers" amendment mentioned above). That's why NV-03 constituent Ron Nelsen asked him to just sign a discharge petition for HR 15 already.

Last night, Rep. Heck dared the audience to name any House Republican who's done more for CIR than he has. Off the top of our heads, we can name three: Jeff Denham (R-California), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), and David Valadao (R-California). Unlike Heck, they already agreed to cosponsor HR 15. And if they, Heck, and 20 more House Republicans sign a discharge petition for HR 15, they can then pass CIR once & for all.

They can't say the votes aren't there. After all, CIR arch nemesis Steve King (R-Iowa) admitted earlier this month that the votes exist to pass CIR.

And in a shocking turn of events, even Senator Dean Heller has broken his silence on the House's failure to pass CIR. The Reno Gazette Journal's Ray Hagar caught Senator Heller speaking with CIR advocates in Reno yesterday. And at that gathering, Senator Heller clearly indicated that the House has the votes to pass CIR.

So what's holding it up? Last night, Heck attempted to deflect blame onto President Obama, CIR advocates, the Senate (Hear that, Senator Dean Heller?), and whoever else he could think of. But ultimately, it's always been House Republicans' choice to kill CIR. Heck, they even decided to kill their own "principles for immigration reform"! So there's no one else Rep. Heck can blame.

Funny enough, Rep. Heck finally declared after a night of frustrating questions, "You can't have it both ways!" He's quite correct on that. And he needs to start taking his own advice. He can't claim he's for CIR, then stand with his "leadership" and make excuses for their decision to kill CIR. If he truly wants reform, then he must make the effort to pass it. He simply can't have it both ways.

Joe Heck's "Rebranding" FAIL

This week hasn't been the easiest one for the Nevada Republican Party. After all the "rebranding" attempts of the state and national party, all Cresent Hardy had to do was open his mouth to remind everyone of the Nevada Republican Party's ongoing hostility toward LGBTQ civil rights. Even as Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and a handful of other Republicans have made peace with the 21st century, the rest of the party continues to fight against equality.

We were again reminded of Nevada Republicans' angst over LGBTQ equality during Rep. Joe Heck's (R-Henderson) town hall meeting at Green Valley High School in Henderson. We had to sit through over a hour's worth of heated discussion on a number of other hot button topics (and we'll dive into those issues later). But at the very end of the town hall, a constituent asked Rep. Heck for his stance on marriage equality.

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She pointed out the legal rights & responsibilities of marriage that Nevada's LGBTQ families currently can't access because domestic partnerships are not actual civil marriages. Yet even as this constituent pointed out the severe difference between domestic partnership and marriage, Rep. Heck said he could not support marriage equality. He then added that he's OK with domestic partnership and he supports giving LGBTQ families "the same rights"... Except he doesn't.

Even as Rep. Heck attempted to portray his opposition to marriage equality in a "softer light", it was nonetheless revealed in its gruesome entirety. While he tried to convey support for "more rights & benefits", he seemed blind to the fact that domestic partnerships can't offer the same rights as marriage because they are not marriage. Only civil marriages can qualify for federal marriage benefits, which include Social Security, veterans' benefits, federal tax status, and more. By withholding this one critical word from thousands of Nevada families, they've been forced into a muddled patchwork of legal uncertainty.

Rep. Joe Heck couldn't explain and/or excuse away his opposition to marriage equality. He hemmed and hawed, but ultimately he couldn't make sense of his own stance on this critical issue for LGBTQ Nevadans. And in (not) doing so, he reminded us of why his party continues to struggle in its "rebranding" campaign. How can one truly "rebrand" something that hasn't actually changed?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another Day, Another "Rebranding" FAIL

What else can we say? We told you so. And we definitely saw this coming. After all, G-O-TEA politicians are good at following their true leader. And today, Cresent Hardy proved our point... And then some.

So what exactly did the current Nevada Assembly Member and NV-04 Congressional Candidate do? Let's start with his interview with the Las Vegas Sun this week. When asked about his views on LGBTQ civil rights, Hardy dropped these bombs.

“I will always vote against same sex marriage because of my religious beliefs, the way I was raised,” said Hardy, who is Mormon. “For me to vote for it would be to deny the same God that I believe in.”

Hardy also would oppose the Employment Nondiscrimination Act [ENDA], a federal measure that would make it a crime for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity, adding that language to a list of federally protected classes. In 2011, Hardy voted against a similar law in Nevada; Horsford supported it.

“When we create classes, we create that same separation that we’re trying to unfold somehow,” he said. “By continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws.”

Let's start breaking this sh*t down. So Cresent Hardy believes he'd have to deny the god he believes in order to grant LGBTQ families the same freedom (and responsibilities) that other families enjoy. What kind of god does he believe in? News flash: Cresent Hardy doesn't have to deny his faith to ensure legal equality.

And that leads us to the other bomb he dropped on The Sun this week, which also happens to be the bomb that the national media are now noticing. How on earth is ENDA a "segregation law" that "creates separation"?

Actually, ENDA would do the opposite. In 34 states, LGBTQ workers are forced to work in fear (or lose their jobs) because some companies engage in unjust discrimination. ENDA would actually remedy this and prevent segregation by ensuring equal opportunity for all workers.

This is why Governor Brian Sandoval (R) signed into law a state level ENDA in 2011 (that Cresent Hardy voted against). And this is why US Senator Dean Heller (R) voted for the federal ENDA last November. Both are fellow Republicans, and Heller is a fellow Mormon, so what's Cresent Hardy's problem? Why doesn't he get what they get?

But wait, there's more! At the Hispanics in Politics brunch this morning, Cresent Hardy doubled down on his anti-equality platform with another declaration of his opposition to marriage equality. And in case that wasn't enough H8 for the audience, his G-O-TEA primary opponent, Niger Innis, also declared his opposition to marriage equality. And funny enough, Niger Innis considers himself to be a "civil rights leader". Oops.

So how's that "Republican rebranding" coming along? Did no one else get Governor Brian Sandoval's memo? Or are they just ignoring it? If the NV-04 G-O-TEA primary is showing us anything, it's that the newly "rebranded" Nevada Republican Party looks exactly the same as the old one.

Oh, and they've yet to learn this very important lesson. If they want to wow us, they better not remove that wig... Unless there's another wig under that wig.

Agenda of Nothing

Who could possibly be proud of nothing? Who would boast of no accomplishments whatsoever? Who would dare to run a campaign based on nothing?

Apparently, Congressional Republican "leaders" would. No really, their agenda for the rest of the year is nothing. But then again, we've known this for some time.

Now, G-O-TEA "leaders" are admitting to the worst kept secret on Capitol Hill... And trying to turn it to their advantage. They're still trying to blame all their woes on President Obama, and they're still hoping they can demagogue health care all the way to victory this fall.

Why are they doing this? Why are Republican "leaders" vowing to do nothing for the rest of the year? And why do they think this "do-nothing guarantee" will be seen favorably by voters? Apparently, they think this will finally build "party unity".

So now, the truth comes out. The G-O-TEA obstruction agenda was never really about anything President Obama did, and it was never really about clearing space for other pieces of important legislation. It was all about trying to save face. And now, G-O-TEA "leaders" are trying to spin it into some "noble display of solidarity".

Give us a break. With so much still unsettled on unemployment insurance, job creation, immigration reform, civil rights, climate change, and more, Americans are not looking for a pretty face to be painted onto an agenda of nothing. They want action. And yes, some will even crash country club luncheons to make their disapproval of this agenda of nothing known.

So is it really a smart idea for Republicans to bet everything on an agenda of nothing?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Denial & Distractions

Last month, we witnessed a rather gruesome death. It was the death of the sterling reputation of "60 Minutes", CBS News' flagship Sunday "news" program. When it aired a segment on "The Cleantech Crash", actual renewable energy experts were left wondering how such a (once) lauded institution of journalism could get the story so damned wrong.

Perhaps we now have the answer. Was "60 Minutes" just trying to compete for the "Fox News" audience? Last weekend, we saw Fox's trademark idiocy "journalism" on display when it brought up climate change.

Oh, yes. That's right. "Fox News" went there... Yet again.

And that's not all. While "Fox News Sunday" was trying to spin away climate change, NBC News' "Meet the Press" hosted a debate between "Science Guy" Bill Nye and (anti-science) Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). And when host David Gregory pressed Blackburn on climate policy, she unleashed this "pearl of wisdom".

"David, one of the things we have to remember is cost/benefit analysis has to take place. … And it is unfortunate that some of the federal agencies are not conducting that cost/benefit analysis. They’re focused on the outcome. … Now, you know, when you look at the social cost of carbon, and there is a lot of ambiguity around that, what you also need to be doing is looking at the benefits of carbon and what that has on increased agricultural production."

Really, Rep. Blackburn? Clearly, she doesn't know how it's affected agriculture here in Nevada. Hint: It hasn't helped. And now that the Southern Nevada Water Authority is doubling down on its quest for the Snake Valley Pipeline to quench Southern Nevada's thirst, Rural Nevada's farmers & ranchers have even more to worry about as water supplies dwindle throughout the state.

And then, there's the ever worsening California Drought. There's perhaps no more frightening sign of what unchecked climate change will unleash on us than the ongoing drought that risks turning "The Golden State" into "The Barren State". And Marsha Blackburn wants us to believe there are "benefits of carbon" pollution?

The "Dust-Bowlification" we're witnessing throughout The West is very real... And very dangerous. And it serves as another reminder of the severe consequences we face if we don't properly address the real challenge of climate change.

This is the time for solutions. This is not the time for distractions. And we're long past the time of denial. It's just horrifying to see how so many media pundits and "TEA" flavored politicians continue feeding their delusions with more denial & distractions.

Start Fixing the Problem

This week, Metro Police feels it has something to boast about. And what might that be? In the past two years, 47% of immigrants detained by Metro had criminal records. That number was 36% from 2008-2011.

Metro spokespeople spun this as evidence of a stronger focus on detaining criminals instead of intimidating immigrant communities. And to be fair, this is an improvement. However, this still means that 53% of immigrants detained by Metro had no prior criminal record. And this still means Clark County Detention Center and Henderson Detention Center are housing a number of people who simply "committed the crime" of coming to America in search of a better life.

Much attention has been focused on Metro's policing of immigrant communities and enforcement of federal immigration law. But today, let's focus on why this is happening. Here's a hint: It has to do with federal immigration law.

Last year, the US Senate passed S 744 in a bipartisan effort to reform immigration law and fix what hasn't been working. If enacted, it would relieve state and local governments of the need to step up and provide some sort(s) of policy band-aids. And that's because it would address the source of the problem that the State of Nevada and Clark County (and other state & local governments elsewhere) have been trying to alleviate with various policy band-aids.

Yet ever since S 744 passed the upper house of Congress, the G-O-TEA "leaders" of the lower house of Congress has signaled "no intention" of passing any sort of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Instead, they've tried various excuses for their inaction. They've even attempted to pass the buck onto the President Obama.

But ultimately, it's House Republicans' decision to drop CIR. House Republican "leaders" have let their G-O-TEA Culture Warriors lead them into killing any efforts to pass CIR in their chamber. And the G-O-TEA Culture Warriors have even succeeded in scaring supposedly pro-CIR House Republicans (cough- Joe Heck- cough) away from HR 15, the one hope left for CIR this year.

We're seeing daily the real life consequences of Congress' failure to pass CIR. Sometimes when municipal governments try to fill the void and deal with the consequences, matters become even more complicated. Just keep in mind that it doesn't have to be this way. All that's needed to start fixing this problem is a simple floor vote.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Still Far from Over

They won. The state won. The case was dismissed. So why doesn't it feel like it's over?

Last week, a federal district judge dismissed the law suit against the State of Nevada filed by James Flavy Coy Brown. Governor Brian Sandoval's (R-Denial) media spinners spokespeople quickly declared "victory" and resumed sweeping this inconvenient scandal under the rug. And ACLU Nevada (who sued alongside Brown) has yet to decide where to take this case next.

So why doesn't it seem like this case is over? Perhaps that's because it's not. Even if this specific law suit doesn't proceed further, the State of Nevada nonetheless faces more consequences for its mental health patient dumping.

But how so? San Francisco's separate federal suit against Nevada is still pending. Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital has already lost federal accreditation and is now at risk of losing federal funding. And the scandal has spread beyond Rawson-Neal & Southern Nevada as increased scrutiny of Nevada's failing mental health care system exposed overcrowding woes at Lake's Crossing Psychiatric Hospital in Sparks.

That's why it came as no surprise that the US Civil Rights Commission held a hearing on Nevada patient dumping last week. That's also why it came as no surprise that we're still seeing growing demands in California and here in Nevada (and perhaps in other states where Rawson-Neal dumped patients) to mend Nevada's tattered social safety net. This case is still far from over.

And it will remain so as long as the political powers that be in Carson City continue their attempts to sweep matters like this under the rug and the corporate powers that be in Las Vegas continue erecting straw men meant to distract us from the real problems that plague our state. Oh, and let's not forget that Las Vegas federal district judges don't have that great of a record when it comes to their rulings surviving appeal. So yes, this case is still far from over.

Friday, February 14, 2014


This week has turned out to be quite the watershed moment for Nevada. After years of seeing the state government fight equality, its leaders are starting to signal that the fight is finally starting to come to an end. When Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) announced their decision to drop their legal defense of marriage discrimination in the Sevcik v. Sandoval suit, we couldn't help but see it as a critical turning point in this story.

Yet even with that occurring, the fight is not quite over just yet. We were also reminded of that this week when a host of G-O-TEA politicians decided to follow Richard Ziser's lead (instead of Governor Sandoval's) and continue fighting against equality.

With all of this taken into consideration, there isn't a better time than now for Freedom Nevada to launch. While the Sevcik suit is working its way up the federal judiciary chain, there's still the matter of SJR 13. Even though it passed the Legislature last year, it must pass there again next year before it can reach voters in 2016.

This is why now is the perfect time for Freedom Nevada and other marriage equality advocates to spring into action this year. In order for SJR 13 to pass the Legislature next year, voters must elect a pro-equality majority to send to Carson City this year. And even should the Sevcik plaintiffs prevail in court in the mean time, it always helps to build a pro-equality majority to cement in place those legal victories.

We're closer now than ever before to securing the freedom to marry in Nevada. But even now, a final push is needed to make it happen. The past decade plus of fights haven't been easy and occasionally offered painful setbacks, but now is the time to finish the job. Freedom is almost here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wig Under That Wig

Pay attention, hunties. There's a reason why our favorite philosopher has said, "Do not remove your wig... Unless there is another wig underneath your wig!"

Now watch... And learn.

Since we all know reading is fundamental, we must ask this question: When did the "Disney Nickelodeon Meltdown Club" suddenly morph into the Nevada Republican Party? We can't help but wonder. And come on, there's no way we could have missed the hot mess on Twitter that managed to ensnare Ray Hagar and Jon Ralston!

So what happened? Once again, Chuck Muth is f**king it up. Apparently when he's not slandering people he doesn't even know, race baiting to new extremes, or simply lying through his teeth about The Education Initiative, he's "The Campaign Doctor".

And this week, "The Campaign Doctor" has been busy promoting his candidates on various shady corners of the internet. But when he started throwing shade in all the wrong directions, he turned out to be the one left in the dark. (Yet even in the dark, we could still see that bad paint job on that mug.)

And once again, we're left to wonder why the Nevada Republican Party allowed Chuck Muth & his cohorts to conquer the party and remake it in their own image in the first place. Once upon a time, it was the party of Kenny Guinn, Bill Raggio, and Sue Wagner. It was the party of #winning. And even though it was a conservative party, it was also a party that stood for some sort of sound governance.

But now, the Nevada Republican Party has devolved into nothing more than a crazy clown car circus. And gawddammit, grrrl, they can't even lip sync for their lives!

We saw again this week who their true leader is, so we're not surprised that there's still no @NVGOP rebuke of the sh*tshow Chuck Muth starred in online. If anything, they're reveling in it. But in putting on such a show, they forgot a critical rule of engagement: If one truly wants to impress the judges, one best not remove the wig... Unless there's another wig under that wig.

What Stood in the Way

Here they go again. Once more, "Republican rebranding" is the term of the day. Why? They just can't stop reminding us of why they tried "rebranding" in the first place.

Case in point: Colorado State Senator Bernie Herpin (R-Colorado Springs). While the Colorado Legislature was debating a bill he proposed to overturn the state’s new ban on high capacity magazines, he let these "words of wisdom" slip from his tongue.

“My understanding is that James Holmes bought his 100-round capacity magazine legally,” state Sen. Irene Aguilar (D) said to Herpin during the hearing. “So in fact, this law would have stopped James Holmes from purchasing a 100-round magazine. ... I just wondered if you agree with me.”

“Perhaps, James Holmes would not have been able to purchase a 100-round magazine,” Herpin said in response. “As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing that he had a 100-round magazine, because it jammed. If he had instead had four, five, six 15-round magazines, no telling how much damage he could have done until a good guy with a gun showed up.”

For the record, James Holmes was able to shoot 45 rounds in that Aurora movie theater in July 2012. He killed 12 people and wounded 58 others. And NRA All Star Bernie Herpin thinks it's "maybe a good thing" that James Holmes was able to legally obtain a 100-round magazine to use to kill 12 people & injure 58 other people in that Aurora movie theater?

Meanwhile in Florida, the NRA & its G-O-TEA allies are pushing to expand Florida's now infamous "Stand Your Ground" statute. Michael Dunn is on trial for the murder of Jordan Davis. And even though Dunn is using "Stand Your Ground" as his defense, his supporters are worried that his story of "defending himself against a car blasting loud music" may simply be too absurd for a jury to use to acquit him of all criminal charges. So now, the NRA is "jumping to the rescue" to save white & well armed wannabe militia-men from the "clear & present danger" of unarmed African-American youth like Jordan Davis & Trayvon Martin.

Meanwhile here in Nevada, some local Republicans want everyone to know that Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NRA) is "what stood in the way" between us and better gun safety laws. It probably won't be long until we hear about how US Senator Dean Heller (R-NRA) & Rep. Joe Heck (R-NRA) are "what stood in the way" between us and federal level progress on gun violence prevention. After all, why shouldn't they all be proud of standing in the way of efforts to prevent the meaningless loss of life of those who simply "committed the crime" of going to the movies, listening to music in the car, going to school, and/or walking home while black?

Yep, so many G-O-TEA politicians continue to boast about how they're "what stood in the way" of any & all gun safety legislation. And they continue deluding themselves into thinking this is some kind of "virtue".