Friday, September 30, 2011

Landra Reid Has Breast Cancer

The last couple years have been really painful for the Reid family. And now, this...

Landra Reid, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and is being treated in Washington, DC.

Reid’s office confirmed the diagnosis this morning when I called. Landra Reid is receiving treatment, including chemotherapy. Reid’s folks emphasized that he is by her side but that his work as majority leader will not be compromised.

"Senator and Mrs. Reid appreciate the thoughts and concerns expressed during this time.” Reid spokesman Zac Petkanas said in response to my inquiry. “They ask that they be afforded the respect and privacy that any family would want.”

You may recall Landra Reid was in a terrible car accident in March of 2010, but she had fully recovered. The Reids have been married for 52 years.

Our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes go out to them. Hopefully, they can weather this next storm.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Joe Heck Lied About Medicare... AND President Obama!

Joe Heck finally held a town hall meeting in his district. At least we got that... Even though it was at the very edge of civilization, and even though Heck tried his hardest not to directly answer "difficult" questions. Here he is dancing around his own vote to kill Medicare...

And not only couldn't he muster up the "courage" to mention Paul Ryan and his plan to kill Medicare by name, but he even LIED about what President Obama said! Here are Obama's own words on Medicare...

Go back to 1:20 on the first video to catch Heck's whopper on Obama and Medicare. Again, here is President Obama describing his own proposal to make health care more efficient.

This is what the Presdient proposed:

Many of these proposals build on the savings in the Affordable Care Act and most have already been introduced by the administration in the President’s April deficit reduction proposal. He’s offering $248 billion in Medicare savings and $72 billion in savings from Medicaid and other health care programs. Raising the Medicare eligibility age — which the administration had flirted with in the past — is off the table and instead the President is focusing on finding savings on the provider end, while also asking wealthier beneficiaries to pay more for coverage. [...]

Bottom line is — if what’s driving health care costs at the federal level is national health expenditures, modernization that addresses costs and pays for more efficient care is really the only way of producing long-term savings. Proposals like expanding IPAB and changing payment rates to promote greater efficiency and reduce hospital readmissions are initiatives that will begin to move us in that direction.

And this is Paul Ryan's plan that Joe Heck voted for:

Ryan’s “premium support” proposal for Medicare wouldn’t do anything to actually lower the nation’s health care spending. Rather, it reduces government expenditures by asking future enrollees to pay more for their health care coverage. Future seniors would be taken out of the traditional Medicare program and given a “premium support” to purchase more expensive private coverage. As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded in its analysis of the Ryan proposal, “a typical beneficiary would spend more for health care…[because] private plans would cost more than traditional Medicare.” ”This would more than double out-of-pocket health-care spending by a typical senior to $12,500 per year.”

See the difference? Paul Ryan's Kill Medicare Plan forces all future seniors to give up traditional Medicare in favor of vouchers, and it would even increase health care costs for current seniors on Medicare.

“This analysis shows the immediate and long-term impacts of these changes in the 3rd Congressional District in Nevada, which is represented by Rep. Joseph J. Heck.

The Republican proposal would have adverse impacts on seniors and disabled individuals in the district who are currently enrolled in Medicare. It would:

• Increase prescription drug costs for 9,500 Medicare beneficiaries in the district who enter the Part D do-nut hole, forcing them to pay an extra $94 million for drugs over the next decade.

• Eliminate new preventive care benefits for 120,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the district.

The Republican proposal would have even greater impacts on individuals in the district age 54 and younger who are not currently enrolled in Medicare. It would:

• Deny 780,000 individuals age 54 and younger in the district access to Medicare’s guaranteed benefits.

• Increase the out-of-pocket costs of health coverage by over $6,000 per year in 2022 and by almost $12,000 per year in 2032 for the 155,000 individuals in the district who are between the ages of 44 and 54.

• Require the 155,000 individuals in the district between the ages of 44 and 54 to save an additional $36.2 billion for their retirement – an average of $182,000 to $287,000 per individual – to pay for the increased cost of health coverage over their lifetimes. Younger residents of the district will have to save even higher amounts to cover their additional medical costs.

• Raise the Medicare eligibility age by at least one year to age 66 or more for 89,000 individuals in the district who are age 44 to 49 and by two years to age 67 for 624,000 individuals in the district who are age 43 or younger. “

President Obama has stated he supports none of this, and would rather see costs controlled by making wealthier seniors pay what they can afford while cutting provider costs and ending insurance industry giveaways. We've already seen this in the Affordable Care Act, and that's what we will continue to see if this proposal is implemented.

Studies have shown that Medicare is far better at controlling costs than private insurers, yet Ryan and Heck continue to mislead on this.

So now, all of a sudden, they're claiming President Obama agrees with them. The fact of the matter is that he doesn't, and that Democratic proposals to enact savings in Medicare and Medicaid are far different than what the "G-O-TEA" has offered. And if Heck is serious about "ending the scare tactics", he can start himself by declining to repeat the lie that "Medicare is going broke", and the only way to "fix" it is by implementing full privatization.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coming Soon...

I'll have an update on our favorite Congressman. Perhaps we'll have more discussion on the media spin on "class warfare". Oh yes. and I guess we will also have to talk about that election coming soon.

Oh, and let me give you this heads up now. In just over a week, I'll be in Orange County to take care of family matters. So don't be surprised if you don't see as much blogging from me later in October. But don't worry, I will soon be back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What the Media Won't Tell You About "Class Warfare"

While the corporate media keep obsessing over how "wrong" Shelley Berkley was in saving Nevada's only kidney transplant facility, crying for a "moderate third party" that sounds way too eerily like today's Democratic Party, and misinterpreting poll numbers in trying to predict election results that are still over a year away, we still often see them ignore the biggest stories staring them in the face.

Here it is... Staring them in the face. No really, it's right here!

Many on the right were incensed by the exchange. Why? Well, obviously because the guy who asked the question wants higher taxes on the rich and conservatives disagree. But as it turns out, there’s more to it than that — some are arguing that if this individual wants to voluntarily contribute more to the treasury, he should do so, but people like him and Warren Buffett should leave other wealthy people out of it.

It’s worth pausing to appreciate how ridiculous the argument really is. We’re a massive, modern nation with a vast economy. We face real challenges, and they’re not the kind of challenges individuals can hope to resolve on their own — we need cooperative solutions built around shared action.

Making taxes voluntarily — asking for a little more only from those willing to pay a little more — is absurd.

The GOP’s nonsensical talking points notwithstanding, it’s good to see wealthy individuals stepping up and making the case for more tax fairness. I don’t imagine that will persuade congressional Republicans — nothing seems to persuade congressional Republicans — but it’s a sentiment the public benefits from hearing anyway.

But oh noezzz, he was a LIB'RUL!!!! He was from Teh Googlez!!!

No really, that's all the TEA-nuts have in trying to "refudiate" former Google executive Doug Edwards begging President Obama to raise his taxes in order to invest in the infrastructure we need for more and better jobs for America. And in doing so, they're sloppily glossing over the glaring fact that Edwards pays less in taxes than the vast majority of the rest of us because the capital gains (investment) tax rate is much lower than middle and lower income tax rates.

This is what scares the radical right. When Americans realize how little the super-rich, especially those super-rich that primarily make a living off the financial markets rather than traditional "jobs", actually pay in taxes, they will most certainly be more than willing to send "the tax man" in their direction. Improving tax equity by making the rich pay their fair share is incredibly popular among Americans.

Pay close attention to this recent rant by Elizabeth Warren.

Republicans have been crowing for decades about "class warfare", but they have refused to utter any truth about it. The fact of the matter is that we have indeed seen class warfare in the last forty years, but only the super-rich and largest corporations have been winning this war. Once Americans realize why the rich keep getting richer while they seem stuck in Po'-Town-USA, they may very well redirect their anger in a way that "Tea Party, Inc." fears the most.

And the media fear this as well. They would prefer that we all believe next year's election will be another "neck-n-neck horse race" so they can yet again rake in the millions in ad revenue. That's why we see politics today portrayed as one of those unreal "reality shows" often seen on Bravo or TLC rather than the frustrating growth of inequality and poverty that America's "class warfare" has truly become. So on that note, I should probably get back to browsing through the headlines to see more obsessing over someone pushing to keep open a kidney transplant center, crying for a mythical "moderate third party", and misinterpreting even more poll numbers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

While Sandoval & G-O-TEA Play Political Games, President Obama Wants Us to "Get Going"

As we've learned more about President Obama's American Jobs Act, we see all sorts of desperately needed aid that can give our economy a badly needed boost. Just read the plan yourself and see what's in there.

But you know who isn't even interested in reading the plan? Do I even have to remind you who calls the shots over there?

President Barack Obama’s recently proposed jobs bill puts Gov. Brian Sandoval in a bit of a pickle.

The $447 billion package, which has been likened to a mini-stimulus, includes significant funding for cash-strapped states; much of it is targeted for Nevada’s economic trouble spots: unemployment benefits, construction jobs and education funding.

But Sandoval, a darling of the national Republicans who is expected to dabble in presidential politics this cycle, has generally supported the GOP line of creating jobs through deregulation, not spending.

Perhaps that’s why Sandoval has taken his typically careful path of declining to voice an opinion on the bill that has yet to make an appearance in Congress.

Of course. Brian Sandoval is being "careful" by "declining to voice an opinion" on a bill that would help Nevada's schools stay open and functioning while improving our aging and insufficient infrastructure and providing real jobs for those who need them. How again is that being "careful"?

According to a fact sheet put out by the White House, Nevada could see:

• $258 million to pay for teachers and emergency responders, jobs that have been put at risk by budget shortfalls at the state and local levels.

• $168 million to refurbish old schools and $251 million in infrastructure funding, which could be a significant boost to Nevada’s decimated construction industry.

• Funding to continue emergency unemployment benefits being collected by 44,000 Nevadans who will lose their unemployment checks if Congress doesn’t extend the program.

I'm still missing it. What's so "careful" about denying Nevada these benefits?

And really, what's so "careful" about staying mum on both the American Jobs Act and the G-O-TEA double standard of piling on more federal debt to rebuild Iraq's schools while demanding that we must force ourselves to kill more jobs and harm our own economy before we can rebuild America's schools?

"It's embarrassing," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said. "The Senate is saying ... in effect why should we rebuild schools in Iraq on the credit card but expect that schools in Joplin, Missouri, at this moment in time have to be paid for in a way that in any of the previous disaster assistance we've put out paid for."

Even Republicans, like Presidential Candidate and Florida P5 Straw Poll winner Herman Cain, are telling their fellow Republicans in Congress to cut the crap and pass a budget with appropriate disaster relief. As usual, House Republicans are holding everything up and threatening government shutdown yet again if they don't get everything they want. I really don't see anything "careful" about this.

This is what irks me. Slick politicians like Brian Sandoval claim to be "careful" by saying nothing about something which could really help our people, but at the same time they're also saying nothing about bad behavior by folks in their own party which may very well harm our people (again). How is this madness reflective of who we are?

“Some of you here may be folks who actually used to be Republicans but are puzzled by what’s happened to that party, are puzzled by what’s happening to that party. I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately? You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change,” [President Obama] said, to applause. “It’s true. You’ve got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don’t have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they’re gay.” “That’s not reflective of who we are,” he added. “This is a choice about the fundamental direction of our country. 2008 was an important direction. 2012 is a more important election.”

I'm glad Obama is now taking a stand on Republicans' dysfunction junction. Now, it's our turn. We need to make sure Congress actually passes a sensible budget this time... And does something to help our economy for a change.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why Is Equality So "Controversial" for Republicans?

Last week, I was here in Las Vegas to celebrate the end of DADT. Once (and hopefully future) Congresswoman Dina Titus discussed what happened in the last session of Congress to make this happen, and representatives from Harry Reid's office and Shelley Berkley's office were also on hand to share their congratulations on this win and continued support for LGBTQ equality.

One would think this would be a nationwide celebration. After all, repealing DADT has broad national support. It was the end of a stupid, discriminatory policy that kept our military from keeping the best and brightest on the job protecting our country. But during the event, I was thinking about who was NOT present as much as I was noticing who was there.

At our event in Las Vegas last week, no one from Dean Heller's office even bothered to show up. Hell, no one from GOProud or Log Cabin Republicans even bothered to show up. Why is that? For a party that seems to love to talk about "personal liberty" and "military strength" so much, why wouldn't we see stronger Republican support for ending a policy that restricted personal liberty while simultaneously endangering our military's strength and our national security?

Well, I guess we all had to learn the hard way later in the week.

Who would have guessed that a decade after 9/11 and less than a decade after the start of the Iraq War, Republicans would be the ones booing an active duty soldier in Iraq? Were their promises to "support the troops" really that hollow? Does "support the troops" mean nothing if those troops happen to be gay?

Believe it or not, Andrew Sullivan really nailed it on the "support the troops... But not really" hypocrisy coming out of today's Republican Party.

But somehow the fact that these indignities were heaped on a man risking his life to serve this country, a man ballsy enough to make that video, a man in the uniform of the United States ... well, it tells me a couple of things. It tells me that these Republicans don't actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops. Their constant posturing military patriotism has its limits.

The shocking silence on the stage - the fact that no one challenged this outrage - also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. When it came to it, even Santorum couldn't sanction firing all those servicemembers who are now proudly out. But that's because he was forced to focus not on his own Thomist abstractions, but on an actual person. Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he's gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.

I've had discussions with LGBTQ equality activists before when they have bemoaned matters of equality morphing into partisan political flash points. And I genuinely understand their disappointment and frustration. But honestly, can any of us ignore Republicans' tolerance of bigotry any longer?

And can we ignore the stark differences between President Obama and the Republicans hoping to unseat him? President Obama fulfilled his promise to repeal DADT, and has not ignored the plight of LGBTQ Americans during his Presidency. The Republican candidates, on the other hand... Well, you get the picture.

I just hope Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) is right that one day, this too shall pass.

And I hope Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) is also proven right.

We’ve got campaigns across the board making the case that every American deserves to have the promise of the Declaration of Independence made real. We’re created equal. We have an equal opportunity — equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Republican party candidates are going to be proven wrong, I think not only in the long run, but also in the short run, because these are backwards policies. These are policies that don’t fit in the 21st Century. It’s disturbing, but again, the voters are going to weigh in and they’re going to weigh in for a progressive 21st Century approach to sexual orientation. [...]

If Americans of all backgrounds, all regions speak up and draw attention to those discriminatory thoughts and policies, they’re going to fall through their own weight. They’re not going to last. They never do.

Bigotry, discrimination, and hatred should have no place in today's America. And equality should not be a partisan political issue. However, that's not the reality of contemporary American politics. And it will not be reality as long as Republicans continue to allow so much bigotry to flourish in their party.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

UFC in Trouble? And Why?

Over the years, UFC has become the biggest (and more lucrative!) sport in Las Vegas... And the fastest growing sport in the world. More and more fans are tuning into games, attending games, buying merchandise, and even aspiring to become MMA fighters themselves.

However, UFC's rise hasn't been without controversy.

And now, there's a new challenger in the ring ready to take on (the owners of) UFC.

Culinary Union Local 226 set up a website recently at that details the foul-mouthed tirades of Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Here’s quoting White berating some poor schoolyard schlub: “Whoever gave you that quote is a (anatomical expletive) and a (homophobic slur with a modifying expletive).”

Culinary asks, “Can you imagine NBA Commissioner David Stern or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talking like this?”

I like UFC and realize it’s a nice amphetaminic boost for our deathbed economy. But the question put to White is a reasonable one, especially given UFC’s desire for mainstream legitimacy. The Vince McMahon shtick is juvenile.

Another reasonable question, though, from UFC fans: What union? In case you don’t know the history here: It’s no surprise that the big hotel union that represents more than 50,000 workers on the Strip would be sticking the shiv in the side of UFC, which is owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who in turn own a controlling stake in Station Casinos.

Culinary has unsuccessfully been trying to unionize Station’s many valley casinos for years, with the fight intensifying in recent years, to include high-stakes federal litigation.

Especially in the last three years, players, coaches, and team owners in other sports have faced a whole lot of heat for allowing homophobia, misogyny, racism, and other forms of discrimination in their respective sports. Has UFC really faced that kind of scrutiny yet, especially considering what Dana White seems to get away with saying?

Of course, this isn't the real reason why Culinary 226 is now going after UFC. This is.

Culinary has been working on this aggressive campaign to unionize Station Casinos for decades, yet until recently it seemed like it was failing to gain any traction. But when Station went bankrupt, Culinary saw opportunity. And as Station continues to pile up the federal charges of workers' rights violations, Culinary has made some hard kicks. And now that the Fertittas have a new billion dollar empire with UFC, which is part of a sport that's already been swirling around plenty of controversy, Culinary is aiming for the ultimate knockout punch.

Of course, Dana White is now complaining that Culinary is "just trying to make this thing look bad and trying to hurt the Fertittas by lobbying against the UFC and mixed martial arts". Well, duh! Both Culinary and the Fertittas have long used this tactic against each other, and against other adversaries. When Station went bankrupt, the Fertittas pressured creditors into allowing them (and a posse of banks, such as Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase) a leveraged buyout of Station, even though a more credible (pun intended?) suitor had emerged in Boyd Gaming. Station pummeled those creditors that opposed the leveraged buyout and/or supported the Boyd deal and used all the legal tricks in the book to get the Nevada bankruptcy courts to agree to something that probably no other court in America would green light.

And most recently, Station joined forces with the Nevada Resort Association to convince the Clark County Commission that Dotty's somehow became the greatest threat ever seen to Nevada's way of life. Why? Well, Dotty's had grown exponentially all over the valley as locals were coming to enjoy the smoky, intimate, slot experience that seemed to lure customers away from Station Casinos. And of course, it helped that Dotty's had earned very little sympathy by local lawmakers by operating in such a dark gray legal cloud that allowed Dotty's to straddle the fence between "casino" and "bar", and prey after gambling addicts. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the Clark County Commission had to do something about "The Dotty's Loophole", but what ultimately emerged smelled rotten in that it looked less like a fair solution to legal discrepancies over "incidental gaming licenses", and more like yet another political wet kiss to the Nevada Resort Association and Station.

So do Dana White and the Fertittas really want to criticize Culinary for engaging in activities that the Fertittas themselves have mastered to get their way whenever Station is in trouble?

I'll be honest. I like MMA, and UFC really fascinates me. I see the intense skill involved, and I realize there's more to it than the brutality that first meets the eye. However, I also believe it's more than fair for Culinary to hit the Fertittas on UFC's more controversial aspects to shame them into improving Station Casinos' workplace. As we've seen above, the Fertittas have never shied away from hitting below the belt to preserve their precious assets. So what gives them the right to change the rules of the fight when they face a more experienced opponent in Culinary 226?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coming This Weekend...

I'll have more on the end of DADT (and the Republican reactions to it at that shocking Florida GOP debate). I'm sure we'll also have to discuss some very important people coming to town next month, as well as why the media have so much trouble focusing on the stories that really matter (while obsessing about crap that doesn't).

So please stay tuned...

Have They No Shame?

Is this for real? Really?


The audience at tonight’s GOP presidential debate in Orlando, Florida commemorated this week’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell [DADT] by booing Stephen Hill, a gay soldier, as he asked Sen. Rick [Santorum] (R-PA) about open service in the military. Without condemning the audience reaction, Santorum responded to Hill’s question by proclaiming that “any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military” and promising to reinstate the 1993 policy. He also characterized open service as a “special privilege”[.]

Wow. Has the Republican Party really sunk that low? Apparently so. Remember, a bunch of Florida Republicans attending last night's debate in Orlando booed an active duty soldier, and did so simply because he's gay and he wanted to ask the Republican Presidential Candidates about reviving DADT.

And you know what makes this even more disgusting? Only two Republican candidates (neither of them with any real chance of getting the nomination), Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, rose to defend Stephen Hill and the end of DADT. Apparently, the rest of the GOP "clown car candidates" think discrimination is fabulous.

What really makes this appalling is that the Florida Republican audience at that debate last night showed complete and utter disrespect for an active duty soldier. They essentially booed our military and showed contempt for our country. Think about it. For as long as I can remember, the Republican Party has tried to position itself as "the patriotic party", the party that believes in the sanctity of the flag and everything it represents. Yet last night, we didn't see that party. Rather, we saw the continuation of a trend in the unveiling of a "new Republican Party" that's been hijacked by "TEA Party" extremists who care more about radical ideology than even the well being of our military and our very national security.

The "TEA Party" has really led today's Republican Party to turn a corner... But certainly not in a good way. This downright scares me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

GOP & Green: Hypocrisy Inaction Yet Again

As usual, the "TEA Party" rushes to demagoguery when it sees a salacious "SCANDAL!!!" on the horizon. Congressional Republicans then jump to hound on that issue... And then someone in the media does one's job and finds contradictions. We're seeing this at play yet again.

Case in point: Republicans praising the very "green jobs" programs they now claim is "fraud".

The GOP-led House Oversight Committee may be accusing the White House of a "job killing" green energy agenda in a hearing Thursday -- but at least ten Republicans on the panel have signed letters seeking to land green energy jobs in their districts.

In dozens of letters obtained by The Huffington Post, the lawmakers, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), argue convincingly about Department of Energy funding going to their favored projects, often touting the job-creating potential of numerous endeavors.

The issue erupted earlier this month when reports broke that the bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra, which got $535 million in loan guarantees from the stimulus bill, was raided by the FBI.

Although the guaranteed loan project began under the Bush administration, many Republicans were quick to hammer the deal as evidence of "cronyism" -- and proof that Obama's key green jobs effort was a huge bust.

As it turns out, many of the committee members set to grill Obama administration officials Thursday were plenty eager to help constituents cash in on the efforts.

And who's been the biggest cheerleader for green energy in his own turf? Why, Republican Darrell Issa, of course!

Issa goes farther than just asking for support for a local company — he also generally endorses the concept of using Federal money to facilitate the shift away from fossil fuels and gas-powered vehicles, towards renewal energy sources. Issa even endorses the idea that this is a good way to create jobs — a position that puts him at odds with many Republicans.

And he has the nerve to hold a hearing on "How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs" today? Oh, yes. It's "killing jobs" so much that Issa keeps asking the feds for more money for it!

Steve Benen really hit the nail on the head this morning.

In their zeal to exploit the Solyndra “controversy,” House Republicans have planned a high-profile hearing today on the Obama administration’s clean-energy agenda. But the lingering hypocrisy issue is a hurdle the GOP doesn’t know how to clear.

In the wake of Solyndra’s bankruptcy, Republicans want to make a larger indictment against clean-energy programs in general. This, however, looks pretty foolish when the same Republicans complaining about the Department of Energy’s loan-guarantees program for clean tech have also fought for funding from the same program for companies in their own states and districts. [...]

A spokesperson for the committee’s Democrats told [Huffington Post reporter Michael] McAuliff, “The Republicans actually don’t seem to understand their hypocrisy. They trash the entire clean energy program after writing glowing letters to commend it. The truth is the program works, which is why they want the money for their districts.”

To me, the problem isn’t just that congressional Republicans kept seeking loans from a DOE program they believe shouldn’t exist. The more glaring issue is that these same GOP policymakers insisted, in writing, that clean-tech loan guarantees would help create jobs. And yet, today, the same Republicans are pointing to the same loan program as being part of a “job-killing” agenda.

Are these Congressional Republicans really that tone-deaf? Are we now supposed to believe them when they say "green jobs is a hoax" after these very members went to the Obama Administration with their hands wide open in asking for green energy funding?

We've talked about this extensively before. We have so much opportunity in renewable energy development right here in Nevada, and really the entire country will benefit from kicking our fossil fuel addiction and investing in the infrastructure of the future. And obviously, even many Republicans quietly recognize this as they keep asking for more money for it!

So why are they now telling the public it's so bad? Simple. They're trying to score cheap political points against President Obama. And they're desperately trying to please their masters in the fossil fuel industry who are desperately clinging to their heavily subsidized dirty energy.

Yet again, we're seeing dirty politics get in the way of good, clean policy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Henderson & Project GREEN Reach Agreement on Pittman Wash

I know it's been a while since we last talked about this, but a big development has finally reached the forefront. A deal has been made on the immediate future of Pittman Wash in Henderson.

The city of Henderson and a group of residents and environmentalists have come to an agreement over how to control erosion caused by storm runoff flowing through the Pittman Wash.

The agreed-upon solution will be more environmentally friendly than the original plan but will add about $800,000 to the initial $4.5 million price tag. [...]

The new plan calls for construction of an arch culvert, which will function similarly as the concrete channel but will be built into the wash’s north bank and covered with dirt, rocks and natural vegetation.

The arch culvert will allow for the wash to be returned closer to its original state, while still reducing erosion, city engineer Scott Fiedler said.

The culvert, however, will cost about $800,000 more and must be engineered and then approved by the Clark County Regional Flood Control District, which would fund the project. That could delay the start of construction by up to nine months.

“We think this option is beneficial to all concerned,” Fiedler said. “(But) this option would be more expensive to construct.”

So this is where we've landed. And while questions remain over how much immediate damage this construction will cause to Pittman Wash, this arch culvert so far looks to be far less damaging over the long term than either Henderson Public Works' original concretization plans or Project GREEN's articulated concrete block (ACB) alternative. And over time, the new plants will mature and the scenery will improve. And even more importantly, one of the last natural springs in the entire valley now has at least a fighting chance of survival.

Even with this compromise, there's no guarantee that a view like this will remain. Again, we'll have to see how extensive the construction is and how much of a footprint this culvert will ultimately have. And remember, Clark County Flood Control still has to give its final approval before the funds are allocated and the city begins construction.

But at least with this solution, the conversation is being moved toward conservation. As much of Pittman Wash has been preserved in its natural state over the years, Henderson residents have come to appreciate the natural beauty of the wash and the rare bit of respite it provides in what's otherwise the great concrete jungle that most of Clark County has become. And as the initial plans for concretizing the wash were slowly becoming public, residents spoke out as they realized what would happen if the wash were to be eaten up by that concrete jungle. Thanks to residents standing up and speaking out, Henderson has drawn a line in the sand on concretizing the wash (no pun intended?) and local environmental activists now have a stronger chance of getting Flood Control to remove any more concretization of Pittman Wash from the countywide master plan (which will soon need to be revised).

This has been a long and tough journey, but this is what progress looks like.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tough Questions Asked as Reno Air Race Tragedy Unfolds

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The death toll is now at 10, and more questions are being asked about the safety of air races like this one.

The very thing that makes the National Championship Air Races so popular — the thrill of vintage airplanes roaring wingtip-to-wingtip at 500 mph within yards of a cheering crowd — is the thing that may doom the 48-year-old event.

Friday’s crash so far has claimed 10 lives, left two people missing and scores of spectators injured, seven critically. Reno’s oval pylon-to-pylon air race, a sport pre-dating World War I, is the last such competition in the nation.

Local and federal officials said the race should be made safer. But an air race historian, who called Friday’s crash the worst accident in the history of American air racing, said that probably isn’t possible.

“You can move the crowd further away, you can move the course to a remote location, but that defeats the purpose of the races,” said Don Berliner, president of the Society of Air Racing Historians and a former Reno Air Races official. “But you can’t have an air race without spectators. Who is going to want to see it from a distance?”

Safety could be the main issue in determining the race’s future. Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority officials said Monday that, as owner of the Stead Airport, they will be examining the federal investigation of Friday’s crash to determine whether further safety requirements can allow the event to continue.

It's something that will have to be considered as the NTSB continues to investigate what happened and why. There are already threats of law suits being made, which is understandable considering the latest update on casualties from Friday's tragic crash.

Honestly, I'm still trying to sort all of this out for myself. This has been a Northern Nevada tradition for half a century. But this time around, that tradition turned fatal. This won't be an easy decision for any of the folks who will have to determine the future of the Reno Air Races. And this certainly won't be easy for the families who loved aviation so much, then lost their loved ones last Friday at this event.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dean Heller Loves Big Oil, But Not Working Class Nevadans

This was the scene outside Dean Heller's Las Vegas office today. While Dean Heller continues to oppose anything he considers "not good enough", meaning not painful enough for working class Nevadans, our country faces deep problems. This isn't the first time Heller has felt the heat from his constituents, and I doubt this will be the last. Even though Nevada will better survive and thrive with a stronger push for clean and green energy, Dean Heller continues to oppose efforts to create more good green jobs. And even though many Nevadans rely on Social Security and Medicare for their very survival, Dean Heller has voted in lockstep with "TEA Party" radicals to kill Medicare and Social Security. And even though Nevadans understand that it helps no one to allow sick kids to die with no care, Heller twice voted against the very SCHIP program that millions of kids rely upon for their health care.

Oh, and did I mention Dean Heller has the dubious distinction of being the only member of Congress to vote TWICE for Paul Ryan's "TEA Party" plan to kill Medicare?

That's why we again saw protests outside Dean Heller's office today.

@DeanHeller's constituents r asking 2 #TaxOilSaveGrandma... on Twitpic

Oh look, @DeanHeller's constituents r asking 4 #JobsNow ... on Twitpic

@ProgressNowNV sends @SenDeanHeller message 2 #TaxOilSaveGran... on Twitpic

Nevada simply can't afford any more taxpayer giveaways to the fossil fuel industry while middle class and working poor families continue to struggle. While Heller demands economy destroying "austerity" for us, he continues to back taxpayer giveaways for his big Wall Street sweethearts. And while Nevadans are demanding more and better jobs, Heller continues to oppose any and all efforts for better jobs for Nevadans.

We have to tell Heller to stop ignoring Nevadans' needs while giving the fossil fuel industry everything it wants.

What I Learned in Tonopah

It wasn't an easy ride to Tonopah on Saturday, especially not since NDOT had construction delays near Goldfield. So many of us from Vegas were already in a crabby mood when the NSDP Central Committee meeting got started. And many of the folks from Reno and the rurals were still in a crabby mood because of the NV-02 aftermath. Early on, I had a feeling that Central Committee meeting wouldn't be an easy ride.

Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who was trying to take last week's special elections into proper perspective. Fortunately, folks were on hand to rehash last year's NV-Sen results to point out that Nevada is still very much a Blue State, and that Nevada will certainly be one of "The Western Firewall" states that will be essential to President Obama's reelection next year.

Don't believe me? Believe Public Policy Polling's (or PPP's) August results here in Nevada and in Colorado, and remember that these polls were done at about Obama's most recent nadir in national approval. Obama was beating all the Republican candidates here and in Colorado, and for the most part by healthy blowout margins, even while his national numbers were slumping. And consider that PPP's latest national poll showed Obama bouncing back to stronger leads against Perry and Romney, and that other recent polls have shown the same trend. With even Jon Ralston throwing cold water on the Nevada GOP's flaming hot and crazy claims of building some sort of "Great Red Tide" next year (like the one from last year that never materialized?), why should we feel obligated to make things easier for them by setting our hair on fire and acting defeatist?

@UNRYoungDems chief Michael Cabrera recognized for Young Dem ... on Twitpic

@nvdems #Caucus2012 organizer Leora Olivas explains next step... on Twitpic

@nvdems Chair Roberta Lange explains what party has been up t... on Twitpic

This is what I was thinking about on Saturday while I was hearing some Central Committee members falling into this very trap of panicking, setting their hair on fire, and acting defeatist. And coming from places like Tonopah, Fallon, and Ely, I can understand why those members feel the way they do. However, they're not getting the whole picture. Rural turnout has strongly benefitted Republicans for the last several cycles, so what happens in Tonopah is far from accurately indicative of what happens statewide.

Does this mean Democrats should just give up on the rurals? Most certainly, not! In fact, NSDP Chair Roberta Lange spoke plenty on Saturday about the party's commitment to organizing statewide. And lead Caucus 2012 organizer Leora Olivas explained what's happening throughout the state to prepare for caucus time. A vote from Fallon counts as much as a vote from North Las Vegas, so it's critical to extract as many votes as possible from both locales. But by the same token, we'd be foolish to mourn the "reddening" of Nevada just because of one low turnout special election dominated by conservative interests and mostly excluding Nevada's Democratic base.

Later in the meeting, Young Democrats of Nevada President Michael Cabrera was honored for YDNV's work in strengthening young progressives' voices throughout the state, from the robust growth of UNR Young Dems to the recent progress made in Clark County. This is what we need to see more of... This, and all the canvassing, voter registration, and other voter outreach efforts OFA is doing, and all the other work that local activists and Dem clubs are doing all over Nevada. If we commit to doing more of this and less of the usual whining, Democrats will win up and down the ballot next year.

Fmr Washoe Chair Chip Evans speaks in favor of regular Tonopa... on Twitpic

As usual, #nvscc now breaking down over regional pie fights. ... on Twitpic

Some of the folks in the room seemed to get this, but then one more food fight emerged over whether or not to regularly do Central Committee in Tonopah. Some liked the idea of "shared sacrifice" for all, but others felt it would unfairly punish the vast majority of Democratic Central Committee members in Clark County. Again, I understand that we shouldn't ignore any part of the state. All of Nevada matters. However, I think there are better ways to reach out to Nevada voters and include folks from across the state than always holding meetings in a sparsely populated corner of the state.

So often, we on the left end of the spectrum get too busy infighting to realize we have much fiercer opponents our little "Lefty World" construct. We can't keep making that same mistake. We have far too much work to do and not enough time to waste on infighting. I just hope I wasn't the only one who got that message before leaving the Tonopah Ramada Inn.

Well, at least I had a lovely scenic drive home to calm me down after that last difficult week.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Family Pride, Family Drama

So today, I see this. I'm beaming with pride. (Pun not intended?) I've been involved with Stonewall for nearly the entire time I've lived here so far, so this is really near and dear to my heart. Congrats to everything Stonewall has accomplished.

However, I have another sort of family issue I'm sorting out right now. I just found out my grandmother may be dying soon. I'm now barreling through my schedule to see how soon I can fly to California to see her before it's too late. I've never really imagined life without her, and I wouldn't really call what I'm experiencing now an existential crisis, but I am definitely taking some time today to think about "that other branch of my family" in California and how this is a turning point for them as well as my relationship with them.

So I have quite a bit on my mind right now, and I think I'll need a little time this weekend to sort things out. I'll provide an update from the road tomorrow, as I'll be in Tonopah for Central Committee, but I'll definitely have more to think about than just bylaws, party leadership, and post-election fallout.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

NV-03: Joe Heck's "Office Hours"

Oh, so now he'll finally meet face to face with his actual constituents?

Congressman Joe Heck is offering the chance for voters to meet face-to-face with him and get their questions answered.

"My job is to represent you in Washington, D.C. and I take that responsibility very seriously," Heck said on his website.

Heck says he's scheduling office hours for more personal and in-depth conversations with constituents.

For a chance to speak with Heck, call 702-387-4941 to set up an appointment.

Not so fast! He's doing it on a Monday morning, right at the time when most Southern Nevadans have to go to work. And already, there are reports of appointments being denied (as staffers claim those being denied will be put on the "waiting list" for whenever this happens again), limitations on "group meetings", and ten minute time slots.

Why am I not surprised? Oh, well. At least Heck is finally willing to meet some of his constituents. I guess that's a start in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

By the Way, Did You Notice Brian Sandoval Jumping the Shark?

Hmmm... Our kinda-sorta-still-new Gube hadn't been in the headlines lately. Was this his chance to jump into the national spotlight so he can bask in the Beltway media pundit glow? Perhaps, but Brian Sandoval also has some very important questions to answer.

I know he likes what Rick Perry did to cut down Jim Gibbons early last year. Does he also like Rick Perry's plan to end Medicare and Social Security? For all of Brian Sandoval's efforts to paint himself as "moderate", is he now ready to toss that aside to embrace someone who actually wants to undercut the legacy of "The Holiest of Holy Ones, Saint Ronnie the Gipper"?

This is Rick Perry:

And this is how ridiculous Rick Perry's campaign is:

And this is who Brian Sandoval wants to be our next President? Really? Rick Perry?

Regardless of the internal politics of why Sandoval endorsed Perry, he can no longer deny he wants nothing to do with "the TEA party agenda" when he endorsed the very embodiment of "TEA party" principles... Even when he contradicts himself on his own (GOVERNMENT!!!) role in creating jobs.

And contrast this with this crowd in North Carolina today.

We'll have to see how this will actually benefit Sandoval (if at all).

Can 2011 Special Elections Predict 2012? Not Really.

While the corporate media obsess over a special election in a district that has more in common with Appalachia than "Middle America", and over another special election where no Democrat was running in Republican leaning turf, another story is developing that the media are not paying as much attention to. Here, take a look.

Within the [new CNN and Bloomberg] polls there were bad numbers for the President on the economy more generally, which has been the case for months. Obama's approval on this handling of the economy is 36 percent in the CNN poll and 33 percent in the Bloomberg, which matches Gallup, NBC/WSJ, ABC/WaPo and others in the last week or so.

But CNN also asked about the choice between President Obama and Congressional Republicans, who have sustained a huge hit themselves after the debt ceiling fight. 46 percent still say they prefer the President, to 37 percent who prefer Congressional Republicans. 15 percent say they prefer neither. The Bloomberg poll showed a tighter split, but still chose Obama 43 percent of the time to the GOP's 41.

Within the CNN question there are some interesting results. Those under 50, a group more likely to be unemployed, went for Obama by a 51 - 33 split. Even a quarter of self-described conservatives choose Obama over the Congressional GOPers, along with 50 percent of moderates and 78 percent of liberals.

Economic pessimism continues to infiltrate the thinking of American voters, and you don't have to look hard for an answer as to why. When CNN asked whether respondents feel they are better off today than they were three years ago, 58 percent no. It's not surprising given a previous CNN poll that showed 8 in 10 people think we are still in a recession, which means that many voters think we have been in a downturn since the President was elected. Gallup showed that there's been little help from the actual economic indicators, so there are many legitimate reasons for Americans to remain upset. But has the data shows, the GOP hasn't provided a silver bullet on the economy either, and voters are yet to embrace them as economic stewards. The jobs plan, which is enjoying initial support, is unlikely to change that view.

And if you want to dig deeper to see this story for yourself, look at the CNN internals and the Bloomberg internals. Even in the worst case scenario (Bloomberg's), Republicans can't beat President Obama on the issue the Beltway media pundits have all concluded should be Obama's political anvil sinking him next year. And according to CNN, American voters yet again proclaim that they want more focus on job creation than deficit reduction, and that they much prefer Democratic job creation ideas (such as aid to state and local governments, and infrastructure programs) than the Republicans' pandering to crazed teabaggers (in wanting to slash Social Security and Medicare to death).

Of course, last night's special election results weren't good for Obama or Congressional Democrats, but on the other hand many in DC are forgetting the local dynamics of both races. Here in Nevada, Kate Marshall positioned herself to essentially run against Obama, which demoralized the Democratic base and caused the entire election to be played on the Nevada GOP's turf. And in New York, Orthodox Jews and older white "Reagan Democrats" turned hard Republicans made that election into a referendum on Israel, social issues, and internal Brooklyn & Queens political drama. And while special elections tend to produce dramatic results as of late, they rarely provide a clear forecast of the political climate of the following election cycle.

What will be far more telling in the coming weeks and months, however, is what happens to the economy next, how politicians and political parties react to the state of the economy, and how voters respond to the politicians' reactions. Greg Sargent and Kevin Drum correctly point out that most Americans' view of Obama pretty much hinges on the state of the economy.

People who aren't pure partisans really do vote mostly based on the state of the economy, and they don't seem to care much why the economy is bad. When times are tough, they throw the bums out. It doesn't much matter if the bums have been trying hard.

But is it possible to overcome this dynamic if you barnstorm the country making it clear that your opposition has been working day and night to keep the economy in a ditch? The historical evidence doesn't provide much hope on that score, but then again, I'm not sure an incumbent in recent memory has really tried very hard to make something like this stick. Certainly Obama hasn't given it much of a go yet. But there's still time before next November.

Actually on that last part, Drum misses something... Something that we Nevadans saw for ourselves last year when the same Beltway media pundits were writing Harry Reid's political obituary long before Election Day.

While I agree that the state of the economy very much drives voters' decisions, the ultimate destination doesn't have to be "throw the bums out", especially when the replacement of "the bum" is someone whose agenda goes directly against what the voters want. Again, Reid proved this strategy works when he clearly demonstrated the consequences Nevada would have faced had we replaced him with Sharron Angle. Don't underestimate President Obama's ability to pivot like this and place the blame for economic turmoil exactly where it belongs.

And considering what Republican primary voters seem increasingly likely to do, this is exactly what Obama needs to be doing. How Obama and Republicans address American concerns about the economy will have much more of an effect on next year's election than a couple special election results from last night.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why "The J Word" Matters

Yesterday, US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis came here to Las Vegas to explain how the American Jobs Act will make an impact on Nevada's beleaguered economy once passed.

President Obama’s jobs plan would have a significant positive effect on Southern Nevada’s economy by putting construction laborers back to work, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said today in Las Vegas.

Solis met with the Las Vegas Sun editorial board following an appearance before the Laborers’ International Union of North America at Paris Las Vegas.

Solis said she expects Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan, unveiled to a joint session of Congress on Thursday and detailed in a bill sent to legislators today, to garner bipartisan support because it uses ideas from both sides of the political aisle.

“Economists say anywhere from 1 million to 1.9 million workers in the construction industry (would be put to work),” Solis said. “That would have an immediate impact on places like Nevada, particularly here (in Las Vegas) where the housing boom was the hardest hit.”

Obama’s proposal includes tax breaks for small businesses, economic stimulus programs and a national infrastructure “bank” to fund roads, bridges, airports, seaports, railways, refineries and to upgrade schools. The president has proposed reducing tax deductions, modifying entitlement programs and increasing taxes on the most wealthy to pay for those programs.

It's a broad ranging piece of legislation that tackles job creation from multiple angles...

Yet House Republicans are already set to reject it and start another possible government shutdown melodrama, even as some progressive Democrats in the House are complaining that it isn't enough. However, one prominent voice in DC rose to say something that Congressional Republicans really did not want to hear.

"If policymakers want to achieve both a short-term economic boost and long-term fiscal sustainability the combination of policies that would be most effective according to our analysis would be changes in taxes and spending that would widen the deficit today, but narrow it in the coming decade," [Congressional Budget Office chief Doug] Elmendorf told the panel's 12 Democrats and Republicans. "The combination of fiscal policies that would be most effective would be policies that cut taxes or increase spending in the near-term, but over the medium and longer-term move in the opposite direction."

This is a generalized version of precisely what President Obama is proposing -- a $447 billion jobs bill that will increase spending on hiring programs, and reduce payroll taxes; accompanied by deficit reduction measures that take effect in 2013, to more than cover the cost of the jobs bill.

As we've talked about before, "austerity" does nothing but harm fragile economies in need of investment to recover and grow again. Yet even as top IMF economists point this out to the world, this is what we hear from the Republicans seeking to defeat President Obama next year.

Cheering on the deaths of the uninsured? Arguing over the value of Social Security? And while the Republicans keep playing in "Tea Party Fantasyland", a record 46.2 million Americans were hit by poverty last year. If there is ever a time to shift into overdrive to focus on job creation and put money in people's pockets again, it's now. But instead of offering any credible ideas on that, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and their enablers on Capitol Hill would rather obsess over "Tea Party" fantasies that would further destroy America's middle class, like ending Social Security and scrapping health care reform. (No wonder why Perry's and Romney's poll numbers are dropping like rocks!)

This is the great disconnect. For far too long, it seemed like far too many policy makers in The Beltway were obsessing over issues that "Middle America" couldn't care less about while they were out of work and asking where the jobs are. But while President Obama is reaching out to "Middle America" to explain what the American Jobs Act will do to help them get the work they need to rejoin the middle class, Republicans yet again seem to care more about pleasing teabaggers than actually doing their job.

Election Results & Analysis... Before Election Is Over

Come on, we already know what the pundits will be saying.

If Bob Turner wins today...

... it means [...]

Russian/former Soviet immigrants with no historic ties to the Democratic Party but who strongly support a conservative Israeli government supported a Republican for Congress in part because they believe, erroneously, that Barack Obama is anti-Israel. (Many of them probably also believe he is a Muslim.) The most conservative non-Staten Island district in New York City supported a rich "outsider" candidate over a sloppy and unexciting Democratic politician. Barack Obama is in trouble among very, very conservative pro-Israel voters, as he already was before. The political makeup of the House of Representatives has barely changed and this district is likely to cease to exist soon. Addressing the myth that he's anti-Israel is probably one of the least important things President Obama needs to do between now and the next election, because he still has the support of most of the American Jewish community. Regardless, media attention paid to this race will give him even more trouble passing his "Jobs Bill."

Oh, and...

If David Weprin wins today...

... it means [...]

A Democrat won a traditionally Democratic district in New York City, despite a surprisingly strong showing from a wealthy challenger. The district will likely cease to exist soon. The press will not announce this victory as a vote of national support for Obama's "mandate" and will in fact soon forget all about this race because "favorite beats underdog" is not a very entertaining story.

Oh, and there's that other special election closer to home.

The winner of the Amodei-Marshall race will serve the remainder of Heller's current House term, which runs through 2012. He or she will have to run for the office again next year to keep the job.

By then, it may well be in a very different district, since the task of drawing new congressional district maps has been placed in the hands of Carson District Judge Todd Russell, who has named a commission to assist with that job.

For today's election, however, the district is the same one Heller ran in a year ago. It includes all of 16 Nevada counties and a small piece of Clark.

Amodei, a former state senator, has said repeatedly he doesn't believe in raising taxes to fix the nation's debt because it would further delay any economic recovery. He has signed a no-tax pledge to emphasize that point, saying the answer is to make government smaller, not raise the debt ceiling.

Marshall, currently in her second term as state treasurer, has said she would keep the Bush tax cuts for most Americans but eliminate those breaks on the rich. She also said she would eliminate tax loopholes for wealthy corporations, granting them breaks only for creating jobs.

Oh yes, that contest between the Republican who refuses to state what he'd actually do in Congress... Versus the Democrat who refuses to campaign as a Democrat. What did Harry Truman say about the choice between the real Republican and the one pretending to be a Republican? What if both candidates dance around the GOP platform?

Of course, the TV pundits won't be addressing any of the real issues that have Americans worried. They'll talk about "the economy" as if it's just another political ping-pong, but it means something totally different for those still suffering under it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In Case Anyone Was Wondering...

Why it's so hard for Congress to agree to do anything to help economic recovery, here's why.

Public policy is not a zero-sum competition between “Republican ideas” and “Democratic ideas,” but electoral competition is a zero-sum battle for office. In a paradigm where the passage of major legislation counts as a “win” for President Obama then anyone who wants to see President Obama go down to defeat, then no major legislation can pass on a bipartisan basis. This is exactly the problem the White House had in trying to overcome GOP filibusters during the 111th Congress and the main problem they face in trying to reach bipartisan accords with the Republican-led House of Representatives in the 112th Congress. This is the fundamental reality of American politics today, but far too few people put it at the center of their accounts of what’s happening.

Today, Obama presented Congress with his jobs legislation. In his remarks, Obama noted, “There are some in Washington who’d rather settle our differences through politics and the elections than try to resolve them now. In fact, Joe [Biden] and I, as we were walking out here, we were looking at one of the Washington newspapers and it was quoting a Republican aide saying, ‘I don’t know why we’d want to cooperate with Obama right now. It’s not good for our politics.’ That was very explicit.”

Congressional Republicans are just too petty to "hand him a win", even if it means helping their unemployed constituents get jobs and survive. GOP leadership want to appear "conciliatory" by just passing pieces they like instead of nuking the entire package, but even that may be too much for teabagger rank-and-file, as they're dead set against anything and everything Obama proposes. And of course, the 2012 "clown car candidates" are likely to go along with whatever the teabaggers wants.

They just can't stand that President Obama sent them a bill that they can't have an easy time saying no to, especially since he's making the case directly to the American people. Good. I hope Obama keeps the heat on them, since I doubt they can actually handle it.

Monday Clips

Here are some stories catching my eye this morning.

- Patrick Coolican asks the question no one else dare utter in public: Should Las Vegas embrace "Jersey Shore"? (Sun)

- Nevada casino winnings jumped 3.7% in July... Oh please, oh please, let the good news keep on rolling... (Sun)

- On a more somber note, Renoites remembered 9/11 yesterday at the Great Balloon Race. (RGJ)

- A remembrance ceremony was also held in Carson City for the soldiers lost in last week's brutal IHOP shooting in South Carson. (NV Appeal)

- And finally, who knew my hometown would become triathlete central? No really, Henderson is quickly becoming The Southwest's triathlon hub. (Sun, and results posted at Ironman site)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later: My Own 9/11

September 11, 2001, is a day I can't forget... Even though it was a day that seemed to start like so many others had. While I was getting ready for school, America's beating economic heart and central political nervous system were under attack. And as I was starting what I just thought would be my second day of high school, my entire outlook on life would forever change.

That morning, I woke up as just another Orange County kid attending just another conservative Christian fundamentalist private school. In the following weeks, I would be relegated as "extreme" as that crazy "anti-American" extremist, Barbara Lee. Why? Well, I agree(d) with her.

It was my first experience of expressing dissent, and of paying the price for holding an unpopular point of view. In the immediate days following 9/11, there was a sense of national unity. And while it was helpful in many ways, on the other hand it allowed for the Bush Administration to embark on policy prescriptions that we would later learn to be quite harmful to our country. It was easy to go with the masses and cheer on "retaliation" against the "evildoers". It most definitely wasn't easy to point out what would happen once Congress gave George Bush a blank check to engage in endless war.

I was just trying to make sense of everything that was happening all around me... And it just wasn't making sense. Even as everyone else around me kept beating the drums for war more loudly, I kept wondering why we were doing this. My teachers and my own mother were asking why I sympathized with "terrorists". Other students just saw me as "the liberal weirdo". Nothing seemed to make sense then...

But it all comes together now.

Fast forward ten years, and now Rep. Barbara Lee's words ring more prescient and true than ever before. We're mired in multiple wars abroad, yet we supposedly can't afford to create jobs for the unemployed here at home. Nearly ten years after the USA (Un)PATRIOT(ic) Act passed, Americans are now asking where their freedom went. And now that memories of a nation so proudly patriotic seem so distant, Congress has reached a new low in unpopularity as seemingly anything and everything is being questioned.

In many ways, it feels like the tables have turned. Back then, I felt so alone in opposing what seemed so American as apple pie. But now, I'm trying to explain how things work to the very same people who are now losing faith in the entire American experiment. It can be sad to watch, but I can't lose hope that our people will recognize what needs to be done to restore our democracy.

10 Years Later: Have We Already Forgotten?

Remember that feeling of national unity, and of global unity, immediately after 9/11? What happened?

Once again, Obama has declared Sept. 11 to be a national day of service and remembrance, as he and the nation honor the dead, those who responded 10 years ago, those who have fought terrorism and those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"A decade after 9/11, it’s clear for all the world to see—the terrorists who attacked us that September morning are no match for the character of our people, the resilience of our nation, or the endurance of our values," Obama said in his weekly address Saturday.

But the president also urged the country to look ahead, calling for a return to the kind of unity that marked those dark days a decade ago. The nation focused on the tragedy and put politics aside, a sharp difference from recent days during which sharp turmoil and party bickering have become the hallmarks of Washington politics.

“On a day when others tried to divide us, we can regain the sense of common purpose that stirred in our hearts 10 years ago,” Obama wrote in an op-ed published last week in USA Today. “As a nation, we face difficult challenges, and as citizens in a democratic society we engage in vigorous debates about the future. But as we do, let's never forget the lesson we learned anew 10 years ago — that our differences pale beside what unites us and that when we choose to move forward together, as one American family, the United States doesn't just endure, we can emerge from our tests and trials stronger than before.”

Have we emerged stronger? And have we moved forward? Has the ten year long "Global War on Terror" really been what we needed?

Today is September 11th, the tenth anniversary of the horrific and inhumane Al Qaeda-led terrorist attacks that killed approximately 3,000 innocents. As Americans pause and reflect on how these attacks changed our country and the world, we should reflect upon one of deceased terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden’s primary goals: bankrupting America. In an audio tape from 2004, Bin Laden explained that Al Qaeda had adopted a “policy” of “bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy” through provoking it into engaging in perpetual warfare in the Middle East and South Asia.

Nearly ten years after the United States sent our military forces into Afghanistan, our country has spent $1.2 trillion engaging in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the National Priorities Project (NPP). The wars are expected to cost much more than that by their conclusion, with some estimates ranging up to $3 trillion for the Iraq war alone.

By spending this much money on wars that ended up being America’s longest in history, the United States in some ways fell into Bin Laden’s trap. This money could’ve been used in ways that would’ve invested in America — securing access to health care, a decent education, and infrastructure for alternative energy.

And what about those some claim to be our "enemies"? What is the real threat here?

Is our real "enemy" someone, or something, different? Have we become our own worst enemy?

Today, following all the Bush-era tax cuts, the US is a deeply divided country in social terms. The gap between rich and poor is almost as great as it was in the days of oil barons and steel magnates in the last century. Five percent of Americans buy almost 40 percent of all consumer goods sold in the country.

The country is at war with itself. It has a Congress where there is perpetual conflict between the right and the left -- and where they don't even want to talk to each other when the threat of a national bankruptcy looms.

Like no other country, the US became great because of its openness. Now, it has become distrustful, fearful and defensive -- against Muslims, against foreigners, against anyone who is different. Citizen militias hunt down illegal immigrants, and many people can still not accept having a black president in the White House.

Who would have thought ten years ago that in the following decade America's greatest threat would arrive not in the form of another airplane crashing into The Pentagon, but rather in the form of toxic "mortgage backed securities" and similar "funny money" financial schemes crashing our economy and leading to the worst unemployment crisis this nation has seen in over seventy years? We may be safer from foreign and domestic terrorists than we were ten years, but America doesn't feel safer because of fear of expanding unemployment lines.

Of course, this doesn't mean 9/11 no longer matters. It still does. It can't be erased from our memory, even though it may help to remember the truth of what this has all really been about.

We should continue to remember what happen, but we can't keep drumming it up, using it as an excuse for exercising bad judgment, and refusing to acknowledge the need to close this chapter of our history as we learn from our past mistakes.

In those dazed days after the attacks, a new foreign policy doctrine was hastily assembled. It said that the world faced a single, overarching and paramount threat in the form of violent jihadism. Every other battle had to be subordinated to, or subsumed into, that one. And the call went beyond foreign policy. Culture, too, was to be enlisted in a clash of civilisations between Islamism and the west that would rank alongside the great 20th century struggles against communism and fascism. Christopher Hitchens confessed he felt "exhilaration" as he saw the towers fall. At last there would be war against "dull and vicious theocratic fascism. I am prepared for this war to go on for a very long time. I will never become tired of waging it, because it is a fight over essentials. And because it is so interesting."

Such talk has been a constant of the 9/11 decade but its time has passed. For one thing, it's predicated on a mistake. The right way to regard the 2001 attacks was as a heinous and wicked crime – not a declaration of war. As Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, argued in her first Reith lecture calling it a war "legitimises the terrorists as warriors". It's exactly what al-Qaida wanted – feeding their fantasies of grandeur – and we gave it to them. [...]

Again, this is not to say the dangers have receded. Would-be terrorists have seen the earth-shaking impact a spectacular attack can have – especially if it prompts a massive reaction that fuels the terrorists' cause, as the Iraq invasion did for al-Qaida. If one of the Arab revolutions fails, an al-Qaida offshoot could find purchase in that country. But vigilance is not the same as a careless, undiscriminating monomania.

Even those who were not there say the memory is so vivid, it feels like yesterday. But it was not yesterday. It was 10 years ago. We should mark the 9/11 anniversary with respect and care for those who died. But then we ought to close this sorry and bloody chapter – and bury the mentality it created.

Perhaps Jonathan Freedland is correct. And perhaps the rest of the world has lessons to teach us.

This is most definitely a poignant day for our nation, and it is important to remember... But we can't afford to dwell in the past. We have plenty of problems to solve today, and we'll eventually need to get back to work in doing that.