Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Days Are Here Again?

Wall Street is ending the day in euphoria.

The Dow [Jones Industrial Index of 30 top US companies' stocks] closed up 490.05 points, or 4.2%, to 12,045.68. It was the largest point and percentage advance since March 23, 2009, when the index shot up 497 points, or 6.8% -- just as the latest bull market was beginning. [...]

The Dow is back in the black year to date, up 4%. Most U.S. indexes, however, still are down for the year.

"There's just a lot of good news in general," said Don Hays, the founder of Hays Advisory. [...]

Before U.S. markets opened, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and four other central banks unveiled a new program to increase access to dollars for struggling European banks. The move is designed to make it easier for European banks to access funds at a time when fears about the European debt crisis have led to a freeze in liquidity.

In the United States, the payroll company ADP said just before the markets opened that private-sector companies in the U.S. had added 206,000 employees in November. That is almost 100,000 more than they added in October and nearly 100,000 more than analysts had expected. The figures allay fears that the job market has ground to a halt.

Later in the day, data on business activity, pending home sales and general economic growth all came in better than expected.

"There were a range of different indicators on different parts of the U.S. economy, and they all did well," said Paul Ashworth, an economist with Capital Economics.

So what happened? Let's start with the biggest news of the day, which was the announcement that the world's top central banks (including our own Federal Reserve) will be coordinating to rescue the world's economy by making it easy to inject money into Europe's central banks, so they can easily lend money to European banks in dire need. While this may first seem like another "bank bailout" (and it essentially IS), it's also an effort by the big central banks to stop the Euro-zone crisis from plunging the entire globe into a greater recession.

So this big announcement turned out to be a big boost to markets across the globe today. And in addition to that, we also saw some good news here at home. Private sector job creation ticked up to 206,000 new employees this month, and this helped to calm fears of a looming double dip recession here in the US.

So is everything coming up roses again? Not so fast. The Federal Reserve expects slow growth at best in the coming year (2% annual GDP increase is only enough to keep up with population, NOT to recoup 2007-09 decline). And as we discussed earlier today, even that small amount of economic hope is threatened by further "tea party" favored austerity measures slashing federal investment (aka spending) to the point of causing GDP contraction and greater unemployment.

And getting back to today's big Euro-zone news, the whole argument of fairness resurfaces. Why do big European banks get bailed out, but not (formerly) middle class American homeowners, small business owners, or blue collar workers? Why are the top economic powers that be so willing to help the 1%, but not the 99%? I suspect what was announced today is badly needed to help stabilize the global economy, but at the same time far more action is needed... In particular, action that working class families can see and feel directly and immediately.

This is why we still see so much anger in politics today, even anger that seems misplaced and nonsensical at times. It's why this upcoming election may be especially turbulent. And though today's news shows some good signs for the economy, I suspect we'll still face rough waters ahead as long as unemployment remains high... And certain politicians try to keep it that way.

Joe Heck: Destroying America's Trust in Our Economy

Earlier this month, Joe Heck slipped this piece of legislation into THOMAS. It's called the "Restoring America's Faith and Trust Act", and it sounds as "American as apple pie!" I mean, come on, who doesn't like "Restoring America's Faith and Trust"?

Yet beneath that "All American" veneer, we discover something quite frightening. But before we take a closer look at Heck's bill, let's remember something Desert Beacon stated last week. This will really come in handy.

We are currently involved in two military operations, only one of which looks to be winding down in real time. These are expensive now in terms of operational expenses, and will continue to add costs as veterans return and we incur expenses for their medical, educational, and economic needs. Broadcast media reporting generally informs us about the strategy, end-game options, and operations in the field, but rarely explores how much this might be costing us on an annual basis, much less what the total expenses might be in the long run.

We have a tax structure that rewards non-work, i.e. the accumulation of capital gains, taxed at 15% and penalizes real work by taxing it at a higher rate, 35%. The lowest the top bracket has ever been came during the 1988 and 1989 tax years (28%), to be increased to 31% in 1990. It has stood at 35% since 2003. Again, broadcast media lets us know that we are “taxed to death” but rarely provides any historical context or economic analysis. The present system rewards those who play the Wall Street Casino games by taxing their income at 15% while those engaged in what most people would call “work” in the higher paid professions are paying 35%. The broadcast media has also been remiss in not providing the context of tax payments — we are paying the lowest actual taxes since Eisenhower was in the Oval Office.

This is the real heart of the current "debt/deficit 'crisis'". Because the economy is still shaky, the military had been overextended when George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq just a year after starting the Afghanistan war, and Bush actually CUT taxes on the super-rich instead of raising taxes to pay for the wars, we now face this huge budget deficit. Long before teabaggers supposedly started fretting about deficits and debt, their future Republican BFFs in Congress were regularly maxing out the nation's credit card when they refused to raise taxes (or cut spending) to pay for what they wanted.

So is this what Joe Heck's bill addresses? Nope, far from it! Nowhere in Heck's "Restoring America's Faith and Trust Act" does it address the Bush tax rates, war spending, or economic health. Instead, Heck wants to slash federal investment in our people to 2006 levels and fire more public sector workers! Even though we have more miltary veterans in need of VA care, college students in need of Pell Grants, working poor families in need of Medicaid and food stamps, retirees in need of Medicare and Social Security, and unemployed workers in need of unemployment insurance, Heck refuses to acqknowledge this reality and instead has introduced this bill that would plunge our economy into double-dip recession if enacted!

If we were to slash all these programs and more, we would all pay the price of further suffering. Without unemployment insurance, those without work can't survive. Same goes for seniors on Medicare, working poor families on food stamps and Medicaid, students with Pell Grants, and veterans using VA assistance. If they can't even buy food and basic supplies, let alone purchase anything else, our economy would take a massive hit. Oh, and in the longer term the budget deficit would only worsen as tax revenue plunges because of even more people losing their jobs.

Just like Dean Heller's unbalanced BBA nonsense, Joe Heck's try at fiscal kabuki theater would be just as destructive to our economy if implemented. Don't believe me? Look at Europe. Because of the increasingly extreme austerity regimes being imposed from Britain to Spain to Greece and more, economic growth has come to a halt. (And if it weren't for France and Germany and their "big spending ways", the entire Euro-zone would already officially be in recession.)

So why is Joe Heck doing this? Why does he want to risk torpedoing our economy into another (and potentially worse) recession? Well, why not ask him? He has to hear from us that the economy can't handle any more petty political games. The deficit that Americans are worrying about the most is the JOBS deficit, and Heck's "bitter pill" that he wants us to swallow would only hurt us more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Surprise! Our Economy Still Sucks.

Why is anyone surprised? Seriously.

Nevada scored 21.3 out of 100 on the Opportunity Index, putting the state in last place in the ranking by Opportunity Nation, a campaign from Be the Change, and the American Human Development Project, part of the Social Science Research Council.

The ranking is based on criteria in three general categories: Economy, education and community health and civic life.

Nevada scored 4 out of 10 in the economy category, 1 out of 10 in education and 1 out of 10 in community health and civic life. The national averages for all three categories were between 5.4 and 5.6.

Nevada had the lowest scores in the nation of the percentage of high school students who graduate on time and the number of preschool-aged children enrolled in school. Plus, the report said 11.2 percent of Nevada teenagers are not in school or working.

The Silver State also received the lowest score in the nation on access to health care, with 86.7 primary care providers per 100,000 residents.

And the state had the second highest violent crime score in the nation, with 707 crimes per 100,000 people.

WOW! We continue to FAIL our way to the top of every list we shouldn't want to be on!

Look at this map and where you see the deepest, darkest blue (or opportunity). Look at the top states. Guess what? The likes of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Minnesota invest in their people... And sadly, we don't.

Remember this story from June? If even the teachers can't afford to stay in our schools, can we really expect the kids to learn? And if too many of the kids here don't learn, will we ever develop the kind of workforce we need for a healthy, diverse economy?

Maybe the Rebels are doing great on the b-ball court, but we're not succeeding where it really counts. I suspect what I said in June still stands.

There is a reason why education is so valuable. It really can be the key to unlocking a better future. But because Nevada doesn't value public education, we see the most of the best and brightest avoid this state like the plague while our economy remains hopelessly overdependent on casinos and tourism.

There's a reason why people in this state were crying out from January to March all the way to May. And even though Nevada has a budget, it still doesn't really do anything to solve our long-term problems. That's why there's a growing demand to take action next year, regardless of what Sandoval and The Legislature (don't) do in the interim.

Trust me. Daniel Avellino isn't the only teacher Nevada is losing. There are more like him who can no longer survive under the current system. And as long as we keep treating teachers like crap and continue underfunding our schools, public education will continue to circle the drain in the toilet in this state. Something has to be done to fix this. We can't keep waiting while our teachers are being forced to give up their passion and our students are being forced to give up their dreams.

All I want for Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa is a Nevada that realizes we can no longer shortchange ourselves and our future.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Breaking My Silence on NV-01

In case you missed the big news this morning, nationally respected polling firm Anzalone-Liszt released a new NV-01 poll showing Dina Titus with a substantial 75% to 18% lead over Ruben Kihuen in the Democratic primary (that will likely determine the general election winner there). And while the media pundits will want to focus on the horse race aspect of the race, I think there's an even bigger story behind the top lines of this poll.

For one, there's no real "racial gap" among Democratic voters here. Instead, Dina leads with over 60% of the vote and by greater than 2-1 margins across all ethnic groups. Latino voters approve of what Dina did in the previous Congress, and so far they're not falling into the GOP trap of race baiting that Republicans want this primary to be about.

What's also fascinating is the lack of a "geographic gap" in the new NV-01. In both the current areas of the district and the former parts of NV-03 (that Dina Titus represented in 2009 and 2010) being added to the new NV-01, Dina leads with over 70% of the vote. For all the supposed controversy over where Dina lives, Democrats across the district know and love her.

So considering the big news today, perhaps I should break my silence here. Frankly, I'm getting awfully sick and tired of all the ridiculous accusations and over-the-top personal attacks that have defined this race so far. While I don't believe Ruben Kihuen is ignorant, inexperienced, lazy, or unprepared, I also don't believe Dina Titus is racist, "elitist", conservative (HA!), emasculating, or stealing (anything her detractors always falsely accuse her of).

We all know Dina Titus' record. Where is the "racism"? Where is the "elitism"? And where is the conservative?

So why even go there? I know Ruben is smart and determined. And I know Dina cares about all her constituents. And I know both can make an honest case for progressives' votes.

With that being said, I just hope that no one gives Nevada Republicans the holiday gift they want the most, which would be a progressive base destroyed because of ridiculous NV-01 infighting. Please, just let them keep destroying their own (lack of) operation. Please, NV-01 folks, don't toss any "get out of jail free" cards to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Dean Heller, and/or Joe Heck.

So far, it looks like Democratic primary voters aren't falling for the radical right's "divide and conquer" strategy. Let's keep it that way. Whether the NV-01 winner is Titus or Kihuen, we can't allow for the G-O-TEA to take everything else here in Nevada.

OK. I'm glad to get that off my chest. That's all, folks (at least for now).

The Message for 2012 (Who's with the 99%)

Apparently, local media are now noticing what we have been talking about here for some time. For all the talk about President Obama facing "DOOM!!!", he looks to be the only candidate with a real grassroots base and campaign infrastructure here in Nevada.

But today, I don't want to talk about just that. I also want to discuss the message. This morning, we caught a glimpse of this continuing work in progress as top Democrats stressed the need to address job creation and income inequality while certain Republicans again used "TAXES!!!" as a proxy battle for the same old class warfare. For all the rumors about Obama "abandoning the working class", we're not seeing that as his actions speak louder than certain pundits' words.

Nick Kristof reminded us this past weekend of what President Obama has actually done.

The administration helped tug us back from the brink of economic ruin. Obama oversaw an economic stimulus that, while too small, was far larger than the one House Democrats had proposed. He rescued the auto industry and achieved health care reform that presidents have been seeking since the time of Theodore Roosevelt.

Despite virulent opposition that has paralyzed the government, Obama bolstered regulation of the tobacco industry, signed a fair pay act and tightened control of the credit card industry. [...]

In foreign policy, Obama has taken a couple of huge risks. He approved the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and despite much criticism he led the international effort to overthrow Muammar el-Qaddafi. So far, both bets are paying off.

This looks an awful lot like support for the 99% to me.

Yet while Obama hones in on this one message, leading G-O-TEA hopefuls can't seem to pick just one!

Even conservatives know who Mitt Romney works for (hint: think 1%). And seriously, it's not like the other G-O-TEA hopefuls are all that different.

In a sign of the growing impact the 99 Percent Movement is having, New Hampshire Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid explained today on Fox News that his paper endorsed Newt Gingrich rather than Mitt Romney for the GOP Presidential nomination because the latter represents the one percent and is politically damaged because of it. “I think — and this is crazy, but so are we — that Gingrich is going to have a better time in the general election than Mitt Romney,” said McQuaid. “I think it’s going to be Obama’s 99% versus the 1%, and Romney sort of represents the 1%.”

Indeed, Romney’s net worth is estimated to be as high as $250 million — and much of this money was made through the same sort of corporate mergers and layoffs that have continually ripped off the 99 Percent. Ironically, Gingrich is also part of the one percent, “earning $2.5 million in personal income last year,” much of it accrued from using his government connections to assist major corporations.

OK, so even Romney can stick to this message! Without a doubt, a huge contrast is forming. Who's willing to work for the 99%? And who only cares about the 1%?

This is the message going into 2012. And this points us toward the real choice we will be making with our ballots next year.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Debunking Spin on "The Map"

Lately, there's been plenty of talk on how President Obama can win reelection next year. Pundits wonder about how he can escape the same geographic dilemma that did in Al Gore's and John Kerry's respective campaigns. What most don't seem to understand is that the answer is staring them right in the face.

Allow me to explain.

"The Map" has fundamentally changed since 2004. States like Virginia and Colorado, where past Democratic candidates had not seriously competed before, are looking good so far for Obama. And states like Oregon and New Mexico, which caused plenty of heartburn for Gore and Kerry, should not be a problem for Obama in 2012.

And in our own fine state of Nevada, the DC media crowd can't see the real ground game in action. OFA is working around the clock to lock in the base... And then expand it. Yet as I looked at the other side, I could not find one example of any GOP field operation. And I know I'm not the only one here who sees this.

The one factor keeping GOP hopes alive is Mitt Romney, but I suspect even this will prove to be a mirage for them. He still can't catch President Obama nationally, and I wholeheartedly believe he's weaker than most media pundits think. Remember, he SUPPORTS continuing the home foreclosure crisis, he continues to deploy logical pretzel twists to explain his record on health care, he flip-flops regularly on more than just health care (just look at his record on LGBTQ equality), and he simply cares nothing about middle class families.

So what's the result?

This is what I call the "worst case scenario" against Romney.

2012 Presidential Election: Electoral Map: This map displays the projections of the sender and does not reflect the opinions of 270toWin.

This is what I sense is likely against Romney at this point.

2012 Presidential Election: Electoral Map: This map displays the projections of the sender and does not reflect the opinions of 270toWin.

And this is what I see possible against an imploding Romney campaign or any of the other GOP contenders.

2012 Presidential Election: Electoral Map: This map displays the projections of the sender and does not reflect the opinions of 270toWin.

Not only am I increasingly confident that most Americans can see through the G-O-TEA BS, but I also sense that changing demographics is the ticking time bomb that's now causing real trouble for Republicans. Their xenophobia, homophobia, and "working class phobia" are just totally out of touch with an America that's becoming more diverse and less enamored with "class warfare" by the 1% against the 99%. I strongly sense that's Obama's ultimate Ace in the hold against the G-O-TEA in 2012. Considering the growing Latino population here in Nevada, as well as Colorado and Arizona, and considering the extreme G-O-TEA war on workers in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, I don't think any of these states should be considered a "slam dunk" for the Republicans. And considering the Republicans' weaknesses in so many swing states, the President looks anything but "DOOMED!!!"

Perhaps 2012 won't be the easiest election for progressives, but it's also far from a losing proposition.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm spending the holiday weekend in California with family here. But don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you. Enjoy your holiday, and I'll have more exciting and fresh content for you next week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The FAIL We All Saw Coming

Why is anyone surprised? The Supercommittee failed, and it's not all that difficult to figure out the culprit. Look at who was willing to make the painful cuts vs. who wanted to break the bank. It's really not hard to figure out.

Still, it can be perplexing to think about why we even did this in the first place. In today's LA Times, Michael Hiltzik expresses his frustration over Congress missing the point.

There were even more basic problems with the super committee. One was Congress' failure to recognize,
understand or acknowledge that pretty much 100% of the deficit growth going forward stems from rising healthcare costs. Who says so? The Congressional Budget Office, for one, which has projected the federal share of those costs rising to nearly 10% of gross domestic product in 2035 from 5.6% this year.

That points policy one direction: find a way to restrain healthcare costs without imposing undue burdens on the weakest and sickest members of society. A super committee devoted to that goal would have had a crack at creating a lasting economic legacy.

But the central problem was the very notion that deficit reduction is the most pressing fiscal issue facing the country. The super committee — indeed, every sensate being in Washington and across the country — has seen plenty of evidence that the most pressing issue is short-term economic growth.

Pump up growth, and even the long-term deficit begins to take care of itself. In October, the CBO estimated for the House Budget Committee that fully one-third of the deficit projected for 2012 was the result of the economic slump. Put another way, the projected deficit would be $630 billion, not $973 billion, if the economy were operating at full tilt.

Hiltzik then reminded us of what's most effective in reinvigorating the economy. And guess what does it? If you guessed all the programs G-O-TEA Congresscritters hate the most, then you're correct! Extending unemployment benefits, investing in infrastructure, and focusing tax cuts on the working class all help, but Republicans in Congress are blocking it all.

Why? Why do they want to harm the economy and put even more people out of work? Why do they want to risk an even deeper recession?

Well, that's something you have to ask them. And frankly, that's something they should have asked themselves when they set up the framework for this Supercommittee Super-FAIL in the first place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Nevada GOP FAIL: It's Not "First" in Anything

Remember when RNC leaders promised the Nevada GOP that they can keep their "First in the West" status AND rejoin the "Cool Kids Club" of early primary states in 2016 if it just gave up that January caucus? Well, that promise looks set to be broken before the 2012 cycle ends... Or even technically begins!

“Although Colorado doesn’t seem like the West, it is the West,” Nevada Republican National Committeewoman Heidi Smith told the Sun last month at a meeting of the Nevada GOP. “The problem was Colorado too ... they did damage to us.” [...]

The crisis was caused by Florida’s unsanctioned scheduling its primary for Jan. 31. Nevada rescheduled to early January to keep its place in line but encroached on New Hampshire’s date. So after weeks of pressure from everyone from the New Hampshire secretary of state to the Republican presidential candidates, the state GOP voted to retreat to Feb. 4, with assurances that next time the party picks a presidential nominee the state will get special treatment.

Nevada had to choose that date because Colorado was advancing, moving its caucuses from March 6 to Feb. 7.

For Nevada, that’s problematic. Though the dates for the 2012 primaries and caucuses seem to be set, it’s clear that Colorado is eyeing Nevada’s “first in the West” mantle. And there’s no guarantee the Silver State will keep it in future cycles — even for playing nice this time.

“We did not get a specific quid pro quo. What we got was a whole lot of goodwill that is going to go a long way,” Nevada Republican National Committeeman Bob List said of the state’s agreeing to move to a later date. “What we earned was a great deal of respect and admiration for doing the right thing.”

And apparently because the RNC doesn't really believe all the big talk about Nevada turning Red next year, it may strip us of "First in the West" status to instead bestow that crown upon Colorado in a last ditch effort to keep that state competitive in future cycles, since even Colorado looks to be slipping away from them.

So why again did the Nevada GOP cave into New Hampshire's demands, especially when we weren't the ones who caused the problem in the first place? (Remember, it was Florida jumping the calendar... Again.) Now they just look like chumps, and Nevada looks foolish. It looks like the RNC really doesn't care about Nevada's "special status".

So in the end, Ralston was right. The Nevada GOP got screwed, and it's getting nothing in return.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Over (At Least for Now)

At long last, the charade is coming to an end. Why? Do you really need me to tell you?

“There is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice, where everybody contributes in a very challenging time for our country,” [Senator Patty] Murray [D-WA, Co-chair of Budget Supercommittee] told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.”

“That’s the Bush tax cuts, and making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table and the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over a million dollars every year, have to share, too. And that line in the sand, we haven’t seen any Republicans willing to cross yet,” Murray said.

Surprise, the Supercommittee is now virtually guaranteed to collapse... And do so entirely because Republicans refused to budge on asking the wealthiest of Americans to share in the sacrifice.

However, the super-wealthy will eventually have to share in the sacrifice despite... Or perhaps, BECAUSE of what's about to happen to the Supercommittee. Remember when the G-O-TEA leadership gloated over getting "98%" of what they wanted? Well, that's blowing back at them awfully hard.

But how did the president even get to have this leverage? I hate to sound like a broken record, but he made the Republicans in Congress hand him this leverage on a silver platter while John Boehner was too busy dancing around saying how he got 98% of what he wanted from the debt limit deal (and Markos Moulitsas was lapping John Boehner's words right up). The debt limit deal's automatic cuts in defense and Medicare provider and insurance company payments, while taking off the table Medicare benefits, social security and other programs for the needy, put the Republicans in a rut. And for once, Congressional Democrats seem to be playing their hands right on this one. Pelosi, Reid and other Democrats have signaled that if the Republicans don't cave on taxing the rich, they will block GOP attempts to spare the defense industry from the cuts. [...]

That's leverage. While everyone thought that the president "caved" during the debt deal by not getting any revenue raisers up front, those who actually read and studied the damn thing saw this day coming clear as daylight. And don't think for a second that the White House is not behind this newfound resistance on the Democratic side against the GOP attempts to restore the Defense spending that would be cut if the supercommittee fails.

Why? Because President Obama and Leaders Reid and Pelosi fundamentally understand what the Republicans are actually trying to do here: they know they handed the leverage to the President and Democrats on a silver platter, and this attempt to restore the Defense spending is in reality an attempt to nullify that leverage and instead gain an upper hand as the leverage goes to the domestic spending side (advantage GOP). That's why the Democrats are not about to let it happen.

Now was this a total success for progressives? I wouldn't necessarily go that far. We still must endure even more cuts in public investment that are counter-productive during times of recession and recovery. However, the very worst case scenario (which would have been Medicare & Social Security cuts while allowing the Bush tax rates to stay in place) was avoided. And instead, we'll mostly see cuts that won't be nearly as hurtful (like the military spending cuts that some GOP politicians fear the most).

As I warned back in early August, the G-O-TEA crowd were gearing for full "Californication" of the country by holding the full faith and credit of America hostage. But in their zeal for hostage taking and big talking, they managed to allow President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders to grab a handy Ace in the hole. And while Democrats may not end up with a Royal Flush, our high cards definitely win over their pile of junk.

Why do you think certain Congress critters are now huffing and puffing over the BBA? And why do you think the G-O-TEA Clown Car candidates are doubling down on destroying Medicare and Social Security? They know they are in deep trouble as the Supercommittee is set to implode this week. And once it's over, we'll have a chance next year to have real dialogue on real solutions to the economic problems we face.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reno's Caughlin Fire Now 95% Contained

In case you haven't been paying much attention to the news (especially for those of us not in Northern Nevada- notice today's R-J & Sun headlines), Reno has been enduring the wrath of the devastating Caughlin Wildfire over the course of this weekend. Fortunately, the fire is now almost entirely contained.

Chief Mike Brown, incident commander of the Sierra Front Incident Management Team, reports that the Caughlin Fire is 95 percent contained.

Brown said rehabilitation of dozer and hand line construction will take place today with concentration on bringing landscape back to its natural state and concentration on placing appropriate water bars for erosion control issues that may arise from the ground being unstable. [...]

Today’s main focus is to start the rehabilitation process: cleaning up the hillsides that lost vegetation and starting to stabilize them.

Fire crews are also continuing to extinguish hot spots and areas. One challenge, Regan said, is some of the destroyed homes are so badly damaged that firefighters cannot enter them, so water is being applied from the outside.

Coming from a place that always seemed to be on fire, I can at least somewhat understand the kind of fear that permeates a community upon seeing images of flames encroaching upon houses on the TV news. Hopefully, all of you reading this blog from up north are somewhere safe right now.

Wildfires are part of what we constantly have to deal with. After all, we live in the middle of a parched desert that has been coping with drought for most of the last decade. And unfortunately because of climate change, we can expect even more wildfires in the near future.

Hopefully this week, the Caughlin Fire will be put out and the families who have lost their homes can receive proper restitution. If you'd like to help, News 4 Reno has a list of organizations ready to provide help to those that need it most. And looking forward, Nevada will need to prepare for more wildfires like this.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Occupy?

Yesterday, this happened in Northern California.

At the University of California at Davis this afternoon, police tore down down the tents of students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and arrested those who stood in their way. Others peacefully demanded that police release the arrested.

In the video above, you see [UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike] walk down a line of those young people seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, and spray them all with pepper spray at very close range. He is clearing a path for fellow officers to walk through and arrest more students, but it's as if he's dousing a row of bugs with insecticide.

Wayne Tilcock of the Davis-Enterprise newspaper has a gallery of photographs from the incident[...]. Ten people in this scene were arrested, nine of whom were current UC Davis students. At least one woman is reported to have been taken away in an ambulance with chemical burns.

The Davis Enterprise has even more scenes from yesterday's brutal show of force. So why did this happen?

Look at UC Davis getting shortchanged again. Look at rising tuitions. What used to be "The American Dream" has become a horrid nightmare as college education has become increasingly unaffordable for working class families.

Yet again, the 99% are under attack... And the 1% are striking back.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If you were wondering why protesters have been risking it all, even their very lives (as the occupiers at UC Davis did), here's why. The American Banking Association's lobbyists want them to spend $850,000 on opposition research alone! And then, they want to not only smear Occupy's already controversial public image, but also use Occupy to hurt Democratic candidates across the country.

This is the intersection of crony capitalism and political corruption that has more and more Americans up in arms. When they see that the $222.7 BILLION in taxes that big corporations avoided paying could have created over 100,000 jobs in education, they get angry. And when they see that billionaires continue to abuse the tax code to avoid paying taxes, they get angrier. Is there any wonder why people are hitting the streets? It's just sad to see such brutal force being used on protesters.

As we were talking about yesterday, stuff like this can easily discourage people from taking action. However, we simply can't allow apathy to take hold. What do you think creates this?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Las Vegas, Occupy Congress, Occupy the Vote

We've heard plenty about what may have happened when Occupy Las Vegas moved Downtown yesterday. I wanted to share with you what I thought was the most poignant part, which was the part that did not receive all that much media attention.

Take a look at the video above... And these photos below.

@RepJoeHeck constituents wondering when he will listen 2 #Nev... on Twitpic

Scene outside #Vegas fed bldg @MoveOn @SEIU1107 @WorkingAmeri... on Twitpic

This is what #democracy looks like! @WorkingAmerica @SEIU1107... on Twitpic

Good turnout early @MoveOn @SEIU1107 #OccupyLasVegas protest ... on Twitpic

@dinatitus speaks up 4 99% @MoveOn @SEIU1107 #n17 rally #nvp2... on Twitpic

Look at the 99% here. They were carrying signs and shouting out sound bites, yet they were also sending an important message directly to Nevada's Congressional delegation, especially Senator Dean Heller (R-Tea Party) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Tea Party). While the G-O-TEA duo were promoting their "Balanced Budget Amendment" hogwash (since they are not actually interested in balancing any budget, all they want is another excuse to destroy America's social safety net), Nevadans were outside Heller's Las Vegas office and asking him to focus on what Americans really need: JOBS!

And interestingly enough, Heller's former colleague (and Heck's opponent last year) came by to address the crowd. She delivered this same message.

Dina Titus obviously has a different perspective on Congress, since she was briefly a member of Congress (and plans to return there in 14 months). Still, I see more here.

It can be quite easy to become discouraged by the whole process. And it can be quite easy to become distracted by the endless media hype and speculation over meaningless "dog and pony shows". And it be quite easy to become disgusted by all the dirty corporate money thrown around. Sometimes, it's quite difficult to remember what really matters.

However, we just can't forget. We can't forget the importance of getting involved, contacting our members of Congress, building a real movement, and ultimately using our votes to change what we don't like. That's the beauty of our system, and that's something we should never feel compelled to give up.

We can't wait for job creation. And we can't wait for an end to Congress' charade games that keep threatening middle class families. We need real, bold action on job creation. And if the current G-O-TEA House majority prevents Congress from acting, then we need to change Congress by occupying the vote.

Heller's Unbalanced Agenda on Capitol Hill

Right now, people are getting frustrated. Voters are angry. Occupiers are marching all over the country. Americans are looking for real solutions on the issue most on our minds: JOBS (and how to create more of them).

Considering all this, what is our junior Senator doing in Washington? This. And why is he doing it?

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) would very much like to have the so-called Balanced Budget Amendment emerge as a major topic in the 2012 elections. One reason to call reporters and ask, “How does my opponent stand on the Balanced Budget Amendment?” is to enroll the press in the campaign by getting members of the media to ask the question of said opponent, and then get the results into print or on the air. It’s a game everyone plays. Some more subtly than others.

Another reason to launch the topic is that it polls well. Polling nationwide supposedly shows significant support for the idea, although few seem to appreciate the implications of this political gimmick. The air might be taken out of this trial balloon if proponents like Senator Heller were asked, “Do you favor the following cuts to federal programs?”

Yep, just as I was saying yesterday. And just as I was saying yesterday, beneath the surface the BBA is not really all that popular. Greg Sargent pointed this out earlier this week.

* The public opposes the supercommittee “making hundreds of millions of dollars in spending cuts to Medicare and Medicare through increasing beneficiary costs,” 76-19. A majority, 52 percent, strongly opposes these cuts.

* The public supports the supercommittee “increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations,” 66-31. A majority, 52 percent, strongly support these tax increases. [...]

But again, on the hot button issue of entitlements cuts, the public has said No. Indeed, the poll also finds opposition to changing the calculation of Social Security to lower benefits, 56-38.

I’m not sure how else to put this. The super committee is likely to fail. But it won’t be because the American people haven’t made their preferences on how to reduce the deficit very, very clear. They have. If deficit reduction comes down to a choice between who sacrifices — the wealthy and corporations on the one hand, or Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security beneficiaries on the other — Americans think the sacrifice should be made by the former, not the latter.

And there we have it. The Supercommittee that we were all forced into when the G-O-TEA held the nation hostage is set to fall apart because that very G-O-TEA faction can't get its act together on taxes. It's obvious to all the rest of us that tax reform needs to happen in order to fix the budget, but that just isn't acceptable in "Tea Party Fantasyland".

So G-O-TEA leaders in Congress are now trying to save face by bringing back the "Balanced Budget Amendment". Of course, what they don't want us to know is that they have no real interest in doing that. Not even their own Republican budget proposals meet BBA standards! And considering they want no new tax revenue, instead they would have to rely upon Social Security cuts, Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, student aid cuts, and even more devastating slashing and burning of the American social safety net to even get close to BBA standards.

Again, if Dean Heller cared so much about balancing the budget, why won't he tell his fellow Congressional Republicans to let the Bush tax rates expire? And why won't he support closing the many "billionaire bailouts" found in our corporate tax code? Why does he keep wanting to attack seniors, the disabled, and college students in the name of "balancing the budget"?

Oh, and why are we even talking about this crap when people are still out of work? Where are the JOBS? If Heller cared so much about what's really bothering Nevadans, why won't he even allow an up or down vote on President Obama's American Jobs Act?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dean Heller's Unbalanced Nonsense

Apparently, once was not enough. Take a look at Jon Ralston's Twitter page, and one gets the sense that Dean Heller just found the holy grail.

"Balanced Budget Amendment! Eureka! Hallelujah! If Americans like balanced budgets, they'll love this!'

Not so fast, Jon & Dean. There's more to the BBA than "Tea Party, Inc.", want us to know. For one, they want to gloss over the fact that the BBA would cost America 15 million jobs and likely plunge us back into deep recession if enacted. Oh, and say good bye to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and so much more of the American social contract that the middle class has come to expect.

It’s hard to overestimate the negative effects such an amendment would have on the country’s economy. In addition to destroying millions of jobs, it would force such massive spending cuts that House Republicans’ own budget would be unconstitutional. According to a recent study by Macroeconomic Advisers, enacting a BBA now would double the nation’s unemployment rate and cause the economy to shrink by 17 percent —a far cry from the 2 percent projected growth that would occur with no such amendment.

Unfortunately, according to another analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the consequences get worse. The draconian budget cuts caused by a Balanced Budget Amendment would forice lawmakers to gut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), among other programs, the analysis found:

“The constitutional balanced budget amendment that the House is expected to consider this week could force Congress to cut all programs by an average of 17.3 percent by 2018.

“If revenues are not raised (the House-passed budget resolution assumes no increase above current-policy levels) and all programs are cut by the same percentage, Social Security would be cut $184 billion in 2018 alone and almost $1.2 trillion through 2021; Medicare would be cut $117 billion in 2018 and about $750 billion through 2021; and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be cut $80 billion in 2018 and about $500 billion through 2021.”

In order to preserve those programs, Congress would have to cut ridiculously deep into every other program. Yesterday, economists around the country warned Congress that enacting widespread budget cuts and other austerity measures now would have perilous consequences for the American economy, pushing the country to the brink of a second deep recession.

Oh yes, just what Nevada needs... A new Greater Depression! Great idea, Senator Heller!

As the always brilliant Desert Beacon has explained, the BBA would do absolutely nothing to help our economy. Rather, it would rip apart the very fabric of American society by forcing seniors and disabled people into poverty, kicking students out of college, denying soldiers of the veterans' benefits they earned while serving our country, and endangering our country. What's so "smart" about this crap?

Oh no, did I just go into too much deep policy for Heller and the pundits? In case I did, here's something that they can better understand. In Politico's most recent poll, Americans overwhelmingly stood against cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. And no matter how Heller's Beltway buddies try to spin it, the evidence is clear that and indisputable that passing the BBA would force cuts to all those programs and more. When even Paul Ryan's draconian budget wouldn't meet BBA muster, we know this is extreme and unworkable!

So why is Dean Heller even talking about this BBA garbage? Need I answer? OK. Here's the dirty little secret. Because most media pundits prefer talking horse race than going deep into policy, G-O-TEA politicians like Heller think they can enjoy a free ride with this. And because most media outlets have made many cuts of their own to the news division, they're hoping that we won't see what's actually in the BBA.

Well, we're not all that misinformed. And if Dean Heller thinks this is what Nevada wants, then he's in for a rude awakening. If Heller cared so much about balancing the budget, why won't he allow for the Bush tax rates to expire? And if he cared so much about our economy, why does he support such disastrous legislation that would tank the economy?

Fiddling While Rome Burns

Suprisingly enough while Occupy has fallen into turmoil elsewhere, Occupy Las Vegas somehow manages to maintain a good relationship with Metro Police and the County Commission. And up north, Occupy Reno has managed to withstand the cold quite peacefully as they encourage folks to shop locally and get out of the big banks.

For all the insults being thrown at them, it looks like Nevada's Occupy camps have been playing by the rules as they're being maintained by good law-abiding citizens...

So it's too bad we can't say the same thing about our Legislature. What just happened in Brazil?

[Assembly Member Marcus] Conklin [D-Las Vegas] was part of a five-member delegation that just returned from the trip sponsored by CSG, the U.S. State Department and the Brazilian government as an international relationship-building exercise.

Also on the trip, however, was a small cadre of Nevada lobbyists who got to spend eight days touring the Brazilian countryside, dining and socializing with the elected officials they’re paid to influence.

Conklin, the only Nevada elected official on the trip, said he had little interaction with the lobbyists. He said he spent his time learning about the burgeoning tourism opportunities for Nevada in Brazil, how the country conducts elections, its financial markets and how it approaches everything from energy to economic development. [...]

But transparency advocates point out that lobbying isn’t simply about making appointments with lawmakers to discuss policy issues in their office. It’s about building relationships that guarantee access when it is needed.

“When you’re on a trip like this, lobbyists have essentially a captive audience,” said Bill Allison, editorial director for the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C. “They’re on a trip for a long time and get incredibly more access to lawmakers than they would in the capital.

“Beyond that, since it’s not a requirement to disclose that they are lobbying them or have met with these folks, it really doesn’t give the citizens an opportunity to know how their lawmakers are being influenced.”

While Conklin, former Assembly Speaker and current mining industry lobbyist Richard Perkins, and these mining industry lobbyists were partying it up in Brazil, the above mentioned occupiers were losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing it all. Yet while the Vegas and Reno occupiers have strived to maintain peaceful communities, it seems like so many of our legislators don't know the basics on how to govern.

After all, look at Brian Sandoval. It's crystal clear as to who he really works for. (Hint: It isn't the 99%.) Maybe Conklin was just following Governor R&R's example?

Obviously, corruption knows no party line. And sadly here in Nevada, our government has pretty much been designed by corporate lobbyists for corporate lobbyists. How else can one explain why the fully loaded mining industry pays next to nothing in taxes while the poorest working class families are always hit the hardest with sales taxes and social service cuts?

And does anyone really have to ask why protests like Occupy Las Vegas and Occupy Reno rage on (nonviolently, thankfully)? This is why! Yes, we already know about all the problems at the federal level. But to make things worse, we in Nevada have to deal with crap like this all the time. And really, Nevada has set the example for the entire nation when it comes to the lethal mix of extreme "tea party" anti-public sector ideology with complete corporate corruption of government.

I'm sure some pundits will try to make this all about a small handful of politicians. But please, let's not fall into that trap. Rather, let's look at the entire picture. Let's examine the big picture of the gaming-mining-lobbying industrial complex fiddling around while Nevada burns. And let's start working on solutions to bring real justice for the 99% to Nevada.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Look at Who's Getting Awarded Now!

This is an outrage, I tell you! If this hack can get an award, who can't?

We at Clark County Dems have an abundance of dedicated Democratic volunteers and for that we are thankful. In addition to being dedicated, Andrew Davey brings that little something extra to the table. Put simply, Andrew is one of the brightest political minds in Nevada. His grasp of the issues and ability to boil them down and explain how they affect not only individual districts , but, constituency groups as well, has made him invaluable to Clubs such as Stonewall and Henderson Dems.

Unlike paid consultants and staffers, Andrew also has the ability to hear and understand what the grassroots are saying, thus his uncanny ability to predict political outcomes often in exact opposition to the aforementioned. He translates this all in his blogging for the Nevada Progressive which is often picked by such major Progressive blogs such as Daily Kos. Andrew, or “Nerdrock” as his closest friends call him, is truly a great representative for not only the Democrat party in Clark County, he is a leader in Progressive thought and analysis in Nevada. That is why he is our choice for CCDP All-Star of the Week!

I'm telling you, that "Democrat Party" has hit the bottom of the barrel. If low-life scum like Andrew Davey get "awarded", there's really no hope left for our state or our country.

(Obviously, this is snark... Except that I am shocked that some low-life like moi-self can get an award like this! I very much thank the Clark County Democratic Party for this recognition... Even if I typically eschew recognition, and even if I am often "politically incorrect" in aiming to tell it like it is.) ;-)

It's Over. And It's Only Just Begun.

It's over.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, New York City police handed out notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, and the city saying that the park had to be cleared because it had become unsanitary and hazardous. Protesters were told they could return in several hours, but without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.

Hundreds of former Zuccotti Park residents and their supporters were marching along Lower Manhattan before dawn Tuesday and threatened to block Broadway during the morning rush hour.

Others gathered near Foley Square, just blocks from Zuccotti Park, where they can’t get arrested.

Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said the park had been cleared by 4:30 a.m. and that about 70 people who’d been inside it had been arrested, including a group who chained themselves together. One person was taken to a local hospital for evaluation because of breathing problems.

According to NYT, about 150 people have now been arrested... And a NYC council member has been injured, along with a number of journalists and several protesters. It's the brutal end of what's already become an iconic protest.

Yesterday, we were trying to digest what happened in Oakland and across The West as Occupy sites were being forcibly cleared. This may end up being the end of a short-lived era... And hopefully, the start of something greater and longer lasting.

Ezra Klein made an interesting point this morning. Perhaps the NYC Mayor is doing Occupy a favor?

The occupation of Zuccotti Park was always going to have a tough time enduring for much longer. As the initial excitement wore off and the cold crept in, only the diehards -- and those with no place else to go -- were likely to remain. The numbers in Zuccotti Park would thin, and so too would the media coverage. And in the event someone died of hypothermia, or there was some other disaster, that coverage could turn. What once looked like a powerful protest could come to be seen as a dangerous frivolity.

In aggressively clearing them from the park, Bloomberg spared them that fate. Zuccotti Park wasn’t emptied by weather, or the insufficient commitment of protesters. It was cleared by pepper spray and tear gas. It was cleared by police and authority. It was cleared by a billionaire mayor from Wall Street and a request by one of America’s largest commercial real estate developers. It was cleared, in other words, in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next.

As we talked about yesterday, the fights with local authorities over actual occupation space might have been distracting both the occupiers and the viewing public from what's supposed to be the real focus of The 99% Movement. Now, they have a chance to refocus that conversation on inequality and economic justice, as they were so successful in doing earlier this fall.

And perhaps that will be the legacy of Occupy Wall Street. That would certainly be more than most protests achieve. If they are to go further, however, they are going to have to figure out a way to wield power in a more direct and directed form. The movement has always been uncertain on whether it wants to do that, and if it does, how to do it. It requires a willingness to work with the system that is, in certain ways, inimical to the founding of Occupy Wall Street. The good news, if they choose to make that transition, is that they don’t need a park to do it. The bad news is that, in most cases, it requires more hierarchy, clearer leaders, a more obvious agenda.

Back in October, I asked Rich Yeselson, a union researcher and a scholar of social movements, what he thought Occupy Wall Street would need to do to survive and succeed. “Whether they will grow larger and sustain themselves beyond these initial street actions will depend upon four things,” Yeselson said. “The work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters; and the ability of liberalism’s infrastructure of intellectuals, writers, artists and professionals to expend an enormous amount of their cultural capital in support of the movement.”

It seems like the American people have resonated with the central theme of The 99% Movement. All one needs to do is look at the recent polls to see the impact Occupy has already made on the nation. Perhaps Jeffrey Sachs is correct that America is finally ready to end "The Third Gilded Age" that started with "Reaganomics", and replace it with a New Progressive Era and a New Deal for the 21st Century. I just think it will take more than just drum circles and tent pitching to make that happen.

And I think Occupiers need to start making this happen by realizing that the central theme needs to be about economic inequality, not about the actual occupation sites. Perhaps they will succeed in their legal maneuvers to restore the Zucotti Park cam site. But regardless of whether or not they do go back, Occupy Wall Street and the massive nationwide network that formed alongside it ultimately need to think ahead and start building a real, lasting movement.

Coming closer to home, I'm saddened by the recent strife and division at Occupy Las Vegas, but I hope that it can emerge stronger out of these growing pains. Helping small businesses is great. I hope Occupy Las Vegas can keep going in this direction of engaging in the kind of direct action that lifts people up, and I hope it recognizes the value of getting members more involved in our democratic process.

If Occupy can do this, then I see a great future for The 99% Movement, regardless of where the actual occupation camp site is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Live from G-O-TEA, It's "Newtmentum"!

Remember the good old days, when Rick Perry looked to be the next GOP nominee? Well, that's obviously long gone. Oh look, the G-O-TEA has a new... Wait, excuse me, NEWT frontrunner.

Yes. Seriously.

The former House speaker, who has given every indication that he mainly views running for president as an opportunity to goose Newt-branded merchandise sales, is the choice of 28 percent of likely GOP primary voters, according to a PPP survey released today. He’s followed by Herman Cain at 25 percent and Mitt Romney at 18. A second new poll, this one from CNN, shows Gingrich in second place with 22 percent, just 2 points behind Romney.

And why would this be?

Newt may not last long at 28 percent, but Romney — for all his supposed inevitability — still hasn’t been able to climb that high himself. As I wrote this morning, this isn’t necessarily a problem for Romney; his national support will take care of itself if, like John McCain four years ago, he can scratch out victories in most of the key early contests next year. The problem is that, with the exception of New Hampshire, he’s struggling just as badly in the key early states as he is in national polls.

Sure, Gingrich may be a grafter and a grifter... But at least he's not an ideological shape-shifter, and that's all that really matters to today's teabagger crowd.

So can the teabaggers finally settle on their perfect "pure" anti-Romney and bequeath him the nomination? Perhaps not, since he never really seemed serious about running for President (he really just wanted to sell his s--t)... Or perhaps so, since Romney can't break 25% and the TEA-nuts are desperate to unite behind someone to clobber Romney in the primary. It's too early to tell how long this "Newtmentum" lasts, but without a doubt the biggest losers in this fiasco are the GOP establishment figures who couldn't figure out their own base.

And hopefully, whatever becomes of this will help folks better understand the "heart of darkness" at the center of today's G-O-TEA. After all, they don't care about working families. And they continue to prescribe "solutions" that would only worsen our problems. And really, who better to personify the new/old G-O-TEA than the original mastermind of it?

The End of #Occupy? Or a Restart of New Economic Justice Movement?

This morning, the #OccupyOakland encampment is being shut down.

Oakland police have arrested about 25 protesters at the sprawling Occupy Oakland encampment outside City Hall while hundreds of law-enforcement officers square off against demonstrators downtown in the second such raid of the tent city.

Law-enforcement officers from numerous Bay Area agencies began arriving in force at 5 a.m. as a police helicopter flew overhead. Clad in armor and riot helmets, they stood in lines and surrounded the camp near the corner of 14th Street and Broadway adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza, where dozens of demonstrators have been camping to protest economic inequity and corporate greed.

And over the weekend, Occupiers were forcibly removed from encampments in Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, Denver, and elsewhere. There's still a whole lot of drama surrounding #Occupy, but it looks like its moment in the national spotlight is winding down as reports of violence (by anarchists camping there, as well as by police), homicide investigations at Occupy encampments, internal organizational strife, and just plain winter weather are taking their toll on the movement. So is "The 99% Movement" over?

Not quite. Look at what they have accomplished in less than two months. And look at how the national conversation on the economy is changing.

And look at how far the previously unchallenged dogma of inequality and austerity has fallen. Even in Politico's newest poll, there was strong support for progressive tax reform and strong opposition to gutting the social safety net! Obviously, progress is being made.

However, I am concerned about The 99% Movement going forward. Is apathy laced diaspora the best approach to this next election? An election that can take this country in a radically different direction? An election that will again prominently feature the Supreme Court? An election that may feature this guy or this guy, both of whom holding nothing but contempt for the 99%, as the Republicans' Presidential Nominee? An election that will either get Congress working for the 99%, or result in a Congress that's even more hostile to the 99%? When much is at stake here, I don't see the use in progressives sitting out this election to engage in street theater... While "Tea Party, Inc.", is set to spend however much it takes to take full control of the government.

If one wants to change the system, one can't just sit back as a bystander. One must work to create that change. And while protests are fine and dandy and a great way to express one's right to free speech, protests alone will not solve our problems. We have to remember to vote, too.

I know there's been plenty of disappointment to go around on the left side of the aisle... But come on, we can't ignore the facts. Who delivered for us the first big leap to universal health care, more opportunities for returning military veterans, financial reform, student aid, and more? And who doesn't care about smart foreign policy, ending the foreclosure crisis for good, or doing what's really needed to restore our economy?

Oh yes, and there's more at stake than just The White House. Again, if we want change, we can't keep filling Congress with the same extreme "tea party" ideologues. And we can't keep letting these extremists wreck our state houses. And we can't keep letting these extremists push more initiatives to hurt the working class and roll back our civil rights.

Long story short, we need to occupy the voting booths... And we need to be relentless in urging others to join us! That's the only way this 99% Movement can ultimately succeed. And yes, I want to see it succeed. I just don't see how endless conflicts with local governments over actual space to occupy will help the movement. Registering more voters, on the other hand, most definitely will.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coming This Week...

We should have plenty to talk about:

- Can the Penn State scandal happen here?

- Do we have a new G-O-TEA frontrunner in the making?

- Primary madness may be getting out of control already, so we may need to sit down and chat again.

So get ready for another action packed week here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Does Southern Nevada Give Government a Bad Name?

Coolican is back... But this time, he wrote something that troubles me in a wholly different way.

Quail Hollow Farm in Overton had — or tried to have, anyway — a “farm-to-table” dinner last month. This is when a chef takes vegetables and freshly butchered meats and serves them up right there at the farm to fancy food types — “locavores” — who like their food really fresh. Sounds pretty great, right?

Well, someone at the Southern Nevada Health District saw an ad for the event and decided to get on the case.

The health department called farm owners Laura and Monte Bledsoe and said they’d need a special-use permit because it was a “public” event. They complied, or tried to at least.

The night of the event, the guests arrived at the farm, and so did the food inspector. Here were the issues, according to Laura Bledsoe: Some prepared food packages had no labels; some of the meat was not USDA certified; some food was prepared in advance off-site and not up to proper temperature; vegetables were declared unfit; and there were no receipts for food.

(Um, do you not get the whole farm-to-table thing?)

The Bledsoes asked the inspector if they could make the meal a private event, thereby eliminating the health department’s jurisdiction. A church, for instance, can have a pancake breakfast for its congregants, without health department oversight. And for locavores, this meal was to be something like a religious experience.


In the end, the health inspector demanded that bleach be poured on the food, including vegetables, to ensure it was not consumed. Bleach really ruins a meal, I gotta tell you.

Pouring bleach on fresh food? Seriously? Bleach on food that literally came right from that very farm?

Why? Why would they do that? Why ruin good food like that?

Apparently for the Southern Nevada Health District, that food wasn't really "good". Really? So fresh produce from the farm isn't "good", but horrid gas station junk "food" that some in our inner cities have to call their "groceries" is?

What's wrong with this picture?

Honestly, I'm still scratching my head. And I honestly have to ask (again) why Southern Nevada is out to give government a bad name. This is something that's definitely been brewing since G-Sting. And between Pat Mulroy's desired SNWA water grab, District Attorney David Roger's "retirement" from there to the Las Vegas Metro Police Union, the continuing controversy over "privileged gaming" and Dotty's, and so much more that isn't at the top of my head, the public sector here in Southern Nevada has been getting a whole lot of black eyes lately.

There is most definitely a role for the public sector here. That should NOT be up for debate. However I fear that because of all the years of corruption followed by all the strange instances of incompetence, our uneven system of local regulations is clouding Southern Nevadans' view of government. And unfortunately, it makes the "tea party" message of "NO BIG GUV'MINT!!!" sound that much more appealing (when it would devastate our society if implemented). Why is it so hard to ask Metro not to beat up and gun down law abiding citizens? But why is it so easy for Southern Nevada Health District to conduct an amazing(ly stupid and ridiculous!) sting operation on a local farm? Our government should be providing essential services, like public safety, park recreation, and sound municipal planning. It shouldn't be pouring bleach on family farms' food and shooting innocent citizens while offering sweetheart deals to casinos and developers that fill campaign coffers the most.

We in Southern Nevada have to ask ourselves what went wrong, and what we can do to fix it. And then, we have to hold our local governments accountable for what's wrong until they make it right. It should really be as simple as that. But without a doubt, the public sector here in Southern Nevada needs to be rethought, reformed, and restored after a decade of decay.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NV-04: Delusions of Grandeur

Republicans apparently "see opportunity" in the new 4th Congressional District, and the Republican who sees the most opportunity is none other than Barbara Cegavske. And believe it or not, Nevada Republicans are now touting her newborn campaign as their magic elixir to turn NV-04 Red.

Really? Really?

Let's start with what Cegavske is offering:

“I am running for Congress because I believe we can fix the serious problems facing Nevada and our country,” Cegavske said. “Our state leads the nation in unemployment and foreclosures and for far too long Washington politicians have been out of touch. Nevada voters have my word that I will work every day to get government out of the business of punishing our job creators and in the business of protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.”

Really? Is she serious? What has Barbara Cegavske ever done in Carson City to help solve Nevada's problems? Has she done anything other than vote "NO" on any and every policy legislation offered by a Democrat? Hell, she even voted against REPUBLICAN Governor Kenny Guinn's budget!

And what on earth is she talking about when she says she wants to "protect and preserve Social Security and Medicare"? Why won't she tell her fellow Republicans to do that? So does Barbara Cegavske agree with President Obama?

And not Sharron Angle?

Or Joe Heck?

Now this is news! Barbara Cegavske is now trying moderation for a change?

Not so fast. Look at her legislative record. Does she really think she can pull a fast one on us? Does she really think NV-04 constituents will quickly forget her record? I know most of her old Senate district is not in the new Congressional District (for the record, she doesn't even live there herself), but it's not as if voters in NV-04 don't know about this thing called "Teh Googlez".

Apparently, Republicans are deluding themselves into thinking their amazing "caucus organization" will work to their advantage. I'm not really seeing it. Just look at the NV-04 numbers. And look at where the energy is.

I honestly believe this is why Cegavske is already attempting an "extreme makeover" of her own public image by firing the opening shot of her campaign in such a "moderate" fashion. Deep down, even she knows the G-O-TEA brand has next to no street cred here. That's why it will be fun to watch Cegavske maneuver like a contortionist to make any sort of headway in NV-04.

Let the games begin.