Category Archives: Nevada politics

The UnMagic Touch: Adelson and his Money are Soon Parted

AdelsonBecause having the imprimatur of Las Vegas gambling titan Sheldon Adelson was so helpful since he started moving major money into politics — $1.3 million from 2007 to 2012, and $93.1 million to Super PACs [CPI] — members of the Grand Old Party are lining up at his door yet again. [LV Sun]

The three Governors, Christie (NJ), Walker (WI), and Kasich (OH Goldman Sachs), led by the former FL Governor Jeb Bush, would like more of Adelson’s largesse directed their way.

Perhaps these three remember that Mr. Adelson dumped some $16.5 million into the campaign (cum Book Tour) of one Newt Gingrich?   If memory serves, Mr. Gingrich put his campaign stops on hold sometime in April 2012.

Then there was another $4 million bestowed upon George “Macaca” Allen in Virginia — “Independence Virginia PAC — and another bust, as Allen lost the election to Tim Kaine. [MJ]

$2 million of Adelson’s bank account went to the ever entertaining Allen West (Freedom PAC) — Mr. West accused his opponent of “cheating to beat him,” but finally gave in when a recount actually showed even more votes for Congressman Patrick Murphy. [TP] Thus wasting more of Adelson’s $1 million contribution to the Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition PAC.

Lest we forget, Adelson also provided another $1 million toward efforts to elect Rabbi Shmuley “Shalom in the Home” Boteach in his 2012 NJ congressional race — Boteach lost to Rep. Bill Pascrell. Adelson was a bit luckier with the portion of the money that went to NJ Rep. Joe Kyrillos.

The Adelsons donated $500,000 to Scott Brown’s campaign.  Anyone heard from Brown in Massachusetts?  Well, no, not that he’s now carpetbagged it into neighboring New Hampshire after taking his licking from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

And who could forget all the PAC donations headed toward the Presidency of Willard Mitt Romney?  What presidency of Willard Mitt Romney?

The electoral count was Obama 332, Romney 206.  Clobbered?

Not that the presidentially inspired members of the GOP are likely to take this advice — but doesn’t it look like taking Mr. Adelson’s money doesn’t exactly equate to election success?

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Filed under Adelson, Nevada politics, Politics

The Republican Unicorn: The Replacement Plan

UnicornOH! the horror… more Nevadans are now getting health care insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

“Nevada Medicaid enrollments under federal health care reform have surpassed initial projections and are on pace to reach 500,000 by summer, a mark initially not expected to be reached until the end of the 2015 fiscal year, a state official said.”

Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act there were approximately 642,000 Nevadans without health insurance.  The expansion of Medicaid allows those who are earning  below 138% of federal policy guidelines to sign up for Medicaid.

For two person family the members of which are U.S. citizens between the ages of 19 and 65, who are not eligible for Medicare, the income line would be $21,404 per year, the income eligibility level for a single individual would be $15,856. [ME2014 pdf] A person working for $7.50/hr for a 50 week year would earn $15,000.

Since this is an election year, the Republicans will no doubt tell us all that they have an alternative, and indeed they did craft one earlier this year.

A side by side comparison of the Affordable Care Act and the Republican alternative:

ACA and GOP health plansIn the Republican “alternative du jour” people who don’t get health care insurance from their employers would end up paying more because in the GOP proposal the tax credit increases only by age and not by need.  This means that lower income individuals would be paying more for health care insurance.  [See example here]

Would those who have endured some of the questionable practices of insurance administration be protected under the Republican alternative?  Not really.  Under the Affordable Care Act an insurance corporation may only charge a 64 year old person 3 times what they would charge a 21 year old. Under the provisions of the Republican alternative they could charge 5 times more.

Then there’s the issue of a “coverage gap.”  If a person were to lose a job the compensation for which included health care insurance, the subsequent “gap” in coverage would allow the corporation to exclude the person from coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition if the individual did not purchase a private plan immediately.

In sum, the Republican alternative isn’t really “patient centered” a better term might be insurance corporation centered:

“There are many other problematic things the Republican plan does, like eliminate the health law’s taxes on health insurance, drug and device companies; allow insurance companies to sell plans that don’t cover maternity, mental health or other types of care; and allow insurance companies to impose annual limits on benefits.” [NYT]

Before we get too excited about the Republicans actually offering up an alternative to the Affordable Care Act and Patients’ Bill of Rights, we should remember that 2014 is an election year.  A person could waste precious moments in this life counting the number of Republican “working groups” which have developed GOP health insurance reform plans.  However, that exercise would expend synaptic effort unnecessarily because the GOP has yet to form any viable legislative strategy for enacting their ‘reforms.’

Harken back to January 30, 2014 — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced to the GOP conclave that “This year, we will rally around an alternative to ObamaCare and pass it on the floor of the House,” Cantor said during a presentation in which he outlined four areas — healthcare, jobs, helping the middle class and creating opportunities — where Republicans would offer “big, bold ideas.” [The Hill]   Now, hold this thought, because something happened to those “big, bold ideas” between January and March.

No sooner did the House Majority Leader pronounce, “This year, we will rally around an alternative to Obamacare and pass it on the floor of the House..” then the silent fog of actual inactivity enveloped the House Republicans.  By February 21, 2014 those big, bold ideas apparently disintegrated into a host of piece-meal bits of proposed legislation: “In a memo to members laying out the House agenda for the remainder of the winter, Cantor noted that the replacement is being finalized, and said that in the meantime, Republicans will work to target parts of the law with which they disagree.” [Roll Call]  Repeal and Replace, appears to be getting fuzzier by the month, a point not lost on columnist Jonathan Chait:

“Carping from the sidelines is a great strategy for Republicans because status quo bias is extremely powerful. It lets them highlight the downside of every trade-off without owning any downside of their own. They can vaguely promise to solve any problem with the status quo ante without exposing themselves to the risk any real reform entails. Republicans can exploit the disruption of the transition to Obamacare unencumbered by the reality that their own plans are even more disruptive.”

Meanwhile, more people are finding affordable private health care plans on the state and national insurance exchanges and more lower income citizens are signing up for the expanded Medicaid program.  And, the calendar marches on:
House Calendar 2014

And so, what has the House been working on?  On January 9 and 10, 2014 the GOP toyed with some headline generating legislation (H.R. 2279) delaying the implementation of the ACA and calling for ‘transparency.’   On January 23rd they launched on the ‘security’ of the health care exchange. (H.R. 3362).  Then they were back to the Ban The Abortion theme in the consideration of H.R. 7 on January 28, 2014, as if the Hyde Amendment has somehow been misplaced.

Do we see all that legislation to Repeal and Replace so avidly promised in January and then all but forgotten by March?  The Health and Technology Committee didn’t even meet during the month. [docs.house]

The lovely thing about a Unicorn is that it can be any color which delights a person’s imagination.  The same can be said of the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act — it can contain just about anything the audience wants to hear, because “facts are still being gathered,” or “provisions are still being drafted,” or “committees are still giving it consideration,” or “the dog ate my homework.”

Until the Republicans unveil their comprehensive alternative to the Affordable Care Act the Repeal and Replace slogan is just that — sloganeering.  And until the Republicans can demonstrate their capacity to LEGISLATE (read govern) there is no reason to take their propositions seriously.  While we wait for the Republicans to chase their Unicorn, we can applaud the fact that more of our fellow citizens have health insurance coverage, and wonder what the Republican Party will be able to do for the next five years.

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Filed under Economy, Health Care, health insurance, Medicaid, Nevada politics, Politics

This Could Get Interesting? Nevada District 2 Primary

Donkey RunningThe candidates have filed, and we’re off to the Nevada Races.  At the top of the ticket we have our Congressional candidacies, complete with the ever-present visage of Janine Hansen (IAP) of the Hansen Family Party running in the 2nd Congressional District race. Her last foray into the fray was a 2012 race against incumbent Republican state senator Pete Goicoechea for his District 19 seat; she got 19.5% of the vote in the general election.  Hansen espouses an anti-tax, anti-immigrant, and for that matter, anti-government philosophy.

Incumbent Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is running unopposed in the GOP Primary (June 10), which should come as no surprise to anyone. That the former president of the Nevada Mining Association (2007-2008) and career politician would be the ‘man in waiting’ for future elections isn’t surprising either.

There will be a hotter primary for the Democratic candidates.   Dr. Vance Alm, MD (Reno) filed on March 5th saying on his web site: “I can no longer sit by and watch America falter and fall from its position as World Leader. I want my children and grandchildren to have opportunities similar to those I enjoyed. Complacency, apathy and cynicism; saying things such as, “It’s not that bad”, “I don’t care” and “It just doesn’t matter” need to be replaced with a desire and goal to once again make America the indisputable greatest nation on earth.”

Brian Dempsey (Gardnerville) offers more specificity in his issues section of his campaign site.  His position on economic development is generalized, but does emphasize small business: “Nevadans have been facing high unemployment rates for too long.  We need to find solutions to bring companies to our communities that will create jobs.  Our country was founded with an entrepreneurial spirit.  We need to focus on helping start-ups and small businesses grow.  With their growth, Nevada can recover economically and begin to grow again.”

Ed Lee (Reno) has also filed but his web site is apparently a work in progress.  “Watch this space.”

Kristen Spees (Incline Village), an estate planning attorney,  filed for the primary, her message in part: “My platform is based on government transparency and simplified politics.  I want residents to be informed about what is going on in the government and I want everyone to be able to make well-founded decisions when voting.  Transparency provides information for citizens about what the government is doing and it promotes accountability.   I want to simplify politics by teaching and informing residents about the pros and cons of important issues…

Superficial Analysis

Representative Amodei’s problem is not “how to get elected,” he’s been able to do that successfully since his race against Ernie Adler, his issue may be how to keep from getting sucked into the far right whirlpool of LoonyBin-ness Tea Party, Gold Standard, Anti-Government rhetoric with which the 2nd District is awash.  His problems will obviously surface in the general election IF his ultimate opponent (and not the IAP) manages to identify him with far right stances on the Affordable Care Act, and banking deregulation.

The Democratic Party candidate’s problem will be equally obvious.  There aren’t that many Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District.  There are 110,795 ‘active’ Democratic registered voters in the district, 17,202 IAP voters, 2,933 Libertarians, and 2,840 categorized as “other.” There are 144,255 registered ‘active’ Republicans.  56,714 are registered as ‘non-partisan.’ [NVsos pdf] Expecting all those independent voters to vote on the Democratic side is utterly unreasonable.

Department of Unsolicited Advice

Representative Amodei’s been successful so far at being all things to all people, his messages are highly generalized and verge on consisting entirely of talking points without drilling down beyond the surface ideological level.

The Democratic candidate who emerges from the primary with one hopes a bit more name recognition than the current “Who?” level, might do well to:

(1) Run on, rather than away from, “Obamacare.” Thus far Representative Amodei has been a good little GOP soldier, voting for every House Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. [BallotP]   Amodei can continue to run as a ‘repealer’ IF no one calls him on the specifics.  For example: Does he really want to allow insurance corporations to be able to raise premiums more than 10% without scrutiny?  Does he really want insurance corporations to be able to deny health insurance based on pre-existing conditions (like being a woman)?  Does he really want to tell parents that their 21 year old son or daughter can no longer remain on the family policy?  Does he really want to make their grandparents pay out of pocket for preventative screenings?  Does he really want to allow insurance corporations to refuse to cover immunizations for children? Does he really want to allow insurance corporations to able to rescind policies when a person become ill or has an injury?

IF Amodei’s answers are ‘yes’ to these specifics then he’s on the defensive.  If his response is “we, the GOP, have another plan.” Then he can be reminded, none too gently, that the repeal and replace slogan has already been used — and suspiciously enough the ‘replace’ part only shows up during election seasons, thence to fade and die in the actual legislative part of the process. If he does try to sell the “GOP Plan” he can be reminded early and often that the GOP plan is more expensive, and covers fewer American families than the current system.

(2) Run on a platform of economic development for the 21st century not the 19th. Amodei’s on record saying: “I pledge to advocate for changes in federal tax and spending policies that will reduce the burden on struggling American Families and the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”  This core statement is relatively little more than the old “Tax and Spend Democrat” refrain.

If Nevada families are struggling — and they are — then is that tax burden all that much of  a burden to the average Nevadan earning about $50,000 per year?  The chink in the Amodei/GOP armor is that the tax burden of late has been shifted toward the middle class, those self-same small business owners and their employees, he purports to defend.   Republicans in general, and Amodei specifically, need to answer why they support subsidies for millionaires and billionaires and multi-national corporations when the burden has been shifting to the middle class.

It would be refreshing to hear a Democratic candidate for Congress dump the Austerity/Trickle Down Economics Hoax, and start talking about creating demand for American products and services.  Here’s where the advocacy of increasing the minimum wage comes into play.  If we increase the minimum wage closer to a living wage this (a) helps American families and (b) creates demand for local businesses who offer goods and services in the state.

(3) Run toward reasonable gun safety regulation, and respond to the NRA attacks with calm arguments — no one, except people who were never going to vote for you anyway — believes that felons, fugitives, juveniles, and the severely mentally ill should have easy access to firearms, and these categories of individuals are prevented from gun ownership under current Nevada statutes.  Advocate background checks to insure that these individuals aren’t obtaining guns, and thereby improve the enforcement of what is already in the statute books.

(4) Refute the Welfare Queen Mythology.  There are some quick references which will inform all but the most obtuse that if we are really looking for “waste, fraud, and abuse” in federal spending — it isn’t to be found in the Food Stamp (SNAP) or ‘welfare’ programs.  Speak to revising federal procurement policies which could minimize those single source no bid contracts.  Does, for example, Representative Amodei support the latest incarnation of the  “Ryan budget?”  If ‘yes,’ then does that mean he has espoused the philosophy behind that presentation — before Rep. Ryan started back-pedaling for all he was worth? [TP]  Interesting, isn’t it, how when a Republican is caught out being a boor, he or she responds, “I was inarticulate….?”

(5) Get real about the national debt.  The trend is actually declining. Yes, the number looks astronomical, however — if I am $8,000,000 in debt that’s a big deal, but if one of the Koch Brothers were $8,000,000 in debt that’s pocket change.  The National Debt is hauled out during campaigns as a banner to wave before people to whom candidates feel no necessity to  explain that (a) we owe most of the debt to ourselves, (b) we are still considered the safest place to invest on the planet and people want to invest in our Treasury bills and notes, and (c) we have the largest economy on Planet Earth and we can handle a great deal more debt than Greece, Portugal or any other location the doom and gloom contingent can hold up as an exemplar.

And, remember, even a charismatic, sharp, and well organized Democratic candidate will be running an uphill battle in the 2nd Congressional District.  Go ahead, ‘run as a Democrat,’ at worst it might secure some votes otherwise lost in the shuffle, and at best it will force the Amodei campaign to offer more than sloganeering to the constituents.

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Filed under Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

Kochtopus Alive in the Silver State

Heck KochtopusYes, the Kochtopus is alive and spewing ink (or pixels) in Nevada. Americans for Prosperity has a Nevada chapter and would love for us to know that Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is getting lots of outside help.  [links to LVRJ]  The ad Heck’s supporters ran against the Affordable Care Act and Patients’ Bill of Rights is estimated to have cost $200,000.  And, who are these people who are so eager to assist the campaign efforts of Representative Heck?

The AFP was formed in 2003 as the successor to the former “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” and was affiliated with the not-so “Independent Women’s Forum.”  Now, who was selected to lead the new AFP? “The October 2003 Washington Times report on the formation of AFP stated, “Nancy Pfotenhauer, an executive of Citizens for a Sound Economy [CSE] in the 1990s who helped defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care reform proposal, has been tapped to head a new national advocacy organization to protect ‘every American’s fundamental right to pursue prosperity.” [SourceWatch]  We’re familiar with Ms. Pfotenhauer, who has been a frequent guest on various and sundry talk shows, espousing a combination of anti-health care insurance reform, anti-union, and anti-pretty much everything having to do with working people.

Oh, but there’s more: “Pfotenhauer worked with Koch in the mid-’90s, when she was executive vice president of both CSE and the CSE Foundation. But she has an even longer history with AFP board member Walter Williams, for whom she was a graduate research assistant at George Mason University 20 years ago.” [SourceWatch]  Now, isn’t that cozy?

Nor were many people surprised to find out that the Koch Brothers and AFP were involved in the formation of the Tea Party.

“In an April 9, 2009 article on ThinkProgress.org, Lee Fang reports that the principal organizers of Tea Party events are Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, which it described as two “lobbyist-run think tanks” that are “well funded” and that provide the logistics and organizing for the Tea Party movement from coast to coast. Media Matters reported that David Koch of Koch Industries was a co-founder of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). David Koch was chairman of the board of directors of CSE.  CSE received substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, which is the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations, which make substantial annual donations to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, etc. Media Matters reported that the Koch family has given more than $12 million to CSE (predecessor of FreedomWorks) between 1985 and 2002.” [SourceWatch]

Connections from Koch to CSE, Koch to AFP, Koch to the Tea Party…and so it goes.  Indeed, the tenacles of the Koch Brothers and their massively deep pockets are sufficiently extensive to wiggle right into Nevada politics.

The Koch Brothers are fond of pitching their ultra-right wing message, however: “David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.” [New Yorker]

And indeed the system established by the Kochtopus is legally impressive:

A review of 2012 tax returns filed by Koch network groups shows that most have been set up as nonprofit trusts rather than not-for-profit corporations, an unusual step that reduces their public reporting requirements. It sounds complicated and arcane because it is. Some of the nation’s top nonprofit experts said they could only speculate on the reasons for the network’s increasingly elaborate setup. “My guess is that we’re looking at various forms of disguise — to disguise control, to disguise the flow of funds from one entity to another,” said Gregory Colvin, a tax lawyer and campaign-finance specialist in San Francisco who reviewed all the documents for ProPublica. [Philly.com] (emphasis added)

And that would be “it,” the entire operation is a matter of disguise. Disguised intentions, supported by disguised funding sources, and pumped into national and state campaigns by those non-profit trusts which don’t have to disclose who is behind the curtain.

We know who’s in front of the curtain, dancing on his puppet strings… Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3).

References and Information: Jane Mayer, “Covert Operations,” New Yorker, August 30, 2010. Lee Fang, “Koch Operative Steered $55 Million To Front Groups Airing Ads Against Democrats; Ads Assailed Candidates Over Abortion, 9/11, Medicare,” Republic Report.  Barker & Mayer, “How the Koch Brothers Hide Their Big Money Donations, Philly.Com, March 17, 2014.  Julian Brooks, The Koch Brothers Exposed, Rolling Stone, April 20, 2012. Frank Rich, “The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party,” New York Times, August 28, 2010.  Louder & Evans, “Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales, Bloomberg News, October 3, 2011.  Dave Gilson, “How Much Have The Koch Brothers Spent on the 2012 Election?” Mother Jones, November 5, 2012.  Jane Mayer, “A Word From Our Sponsor,” New Yorker, May 27, 2013.  Glenn Greenwald, “Billionaire Self Pity and the Koch Brothers,” Salon, March 27, 2011.  Sy Mukherjee, “Outside Political Groups Are Spending Record Amounts of Money to Deny Poor People Health Care, Think Progress, March 14, 2014.

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Filed under koch brothers, Nevada politics, Politics

Turning Out, Tuning In, and other Voting Matters

Voter TurnoutNot to be missed: This editorial offering from Cory Farley in the Reno Gazette Journal.   Yes, voters have been operating on auto-pilot.  And there’s that common refrain — elected officials are venal, banal, untrustworthy, ineffective, and analogous with hundreds of varieties of planktonic and filamentous pond algae, BUT I’m going to vote for my version anyway.

The range of voter turnout is interesting — we’ve never dropped below 31% nor have we gotten much higher than 65%. [Nevada 2012 turnout here (pdf)]  So, we can guess that no matter how crucial the election there will be 35% of those eligible to vote who will stay home.  A few will be ill, or otherwise unable to exercise their  rights, more are probably in the realm of extremely low information voters who don’t tend to participate.

There’s a bit of a message for Washoe County Democrats in the Secretary of State’s voting statistics, given that ‘inactive voters’ are among the count in this state.   As of February 2014 there were 95,217 registered Democrats in Washoe County, and 95,819 registered Republicans.  [NVsos pdf]  However, dipping into the Active Voters information we find 79,689 active voter Democrats in Washoe County and 83,766 active voter Republicans. [NVsos pdf] The most common form of “lost (inactive) voter” is the person who has changed residency.  Younger people, and some categories of working people (seasonal employment, lower income, etc.) are more likely to move than those settled in waiting for retirement.

So, what factors affect voter turnout?

(1) Electoral competitiveness:  The hotter the race (especially at the top of the ticket) the more likely there will be a higher turnout.

(2) The type of election:  Off year elections (mid terms) aren’t as favorable for turnout as Presidential year elections.  We knew this already.  However, one rather startling statistic to come from a study of of 340 mayoral elections in 144 U.S. cities from 1996-2012 is that the average turnout was a meager 25.8% — one election (1999) in Dallas, TX drew a not-so-whopping 5%.  [FVOrg]

(3) Voting requirements:  More people tend to vote if registration is convenient and accessible, and more tend to vote if the voting time is extended.  Further, early voting tends to add to the numbers of people who vote, as does the implementation of policies which call for an adequate number of conveniently located polling stations for all precincts.  Factors which reduce turnout are: Voter ID laws and other restrictions, lack of voting equipment, lack of voting sites, and other suppression tactics.

(4) Age and Income:  In the 2008 national election only 41% of those earning less than $15,000 per year voted, while 78% of those earning over $150,000 cast ballots.  Those 30 years of age and older are 15-20 points more likely to vote than their cohorts who are between the ages of 18 and 29. [FVorg]

(5) Location: Rural voters tend to have higher turnout rates than urban areas.  [DY]

The Turn Out Problems

There’s a tendency among punditry to comment only upon national elections, that’s really picking the low hanging fruit.  It’s always easier to pontificate in generalities and national elections are chock-a-block full of them.  However, most governmental decisions which have a direct impact on our ordinary lives are made by state legislatures, city councils, county commissions, and locally elected officials.

Our state legislatures will determine the tax structure of our communities.  There’s no standard national property tax, and whatever we do for our local schools will have precious little to do with the Department of Education — it’ll be based on the decisions of our state legislature and the local school boards.

Our law enforcement policies will be determined by local officials.  The Department of Justice rarely looks into local affairs, and then only if a constitutional question arises or there is an overlap in jurisdictions.  What is and is not declared criminal behavior is determined at the state level.  What will and will not be funded is determined at the state and local levels.

Zoning restrictions, public health codes, fire codes, and economic development projects are a function of state and local government.  While there may be federal minimum requirements underpinning some of these elements, the enforcement and implementation is accomplished at the local level.

In short, voting matters more in state and local elections.  We may, indeed, have the wrong end of the dog.*  The ‘big’ informational campaigns are nationally funded and highly generalized, while it’s the local election which will have the greatest impact on specific  decisions about zoning, law enforcement, and school district policies.  The national elections seem to suck the money, and the air, out of local elections, which are more significantly related to our everyday activities.

Likewise, local and often state party leadership tends to focus on the Big Ones — as well they should, however the level of effort should be improved in terms of local and state elections.  Not only are local and state officials the ‘farm team’ for national offices, but they are the races with the most immediate effect on most people’s lives. So, when did we last hear of a really big “get out the vote” effort in a mayoral race?  A race for a county commission?…

*For more information on the drop off rate, see EAC Chapter 7 (pdf)

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Filed under Economy, Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

A Cephalopod Mollusc That Can Swim In The Desert: Kochtopus

KochtopusThe Koch Brothers (Charles and David) are among America’s 0.0001%.  In fact, what they earn in One Second could feed a homeless person for an entire year. [Salon] They are not subscribers to Andrew Carnegie’s maxim, “He who dies rich, dies disgraced.”  [PBS] And they are in Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) sights.

“But what is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest one percent. I believe in an America where economic opportunity is open to all. But based on their actions and the policies they promote, the Koch brothers seem to believe in an America where the system is rigged to benefit the very wealthy. Based on Senate Republicans’ ardent defense of the Koch brothers, and the fact that they advocate for many of the same policies the Koch brothers do, it seems my Republican colleagues also believe in a system that benefits billionaires at the expense of the middle class. The Koch brothers are willing to invest billions to buy that America.”

And they are. In 2012 the Koch Brothers political network, designed with the anonymity of donors in mind, raked in approximately $400 million — more than all other conservative organizations, and more than all other traditional supporting organizations associated with Democrats. [WaPo]

If you’d like a graphic rendition of the Koch Brothers’ political connections click here to see the circles of influence developed from the TC4Trust, the Freedom Partners, and the Center for Patients Rights.  These are connected to The American Energy Alliance, Concerned Women for America, American Commitment, American Future Fund, 60+ Association, the EvangChr4Trust, Center for Shared Services, Themis Trust, Public Engagement Group Trust, Public Notice, Libre Initiative Trust, Generation Opportunity, Americans for Prosperity, and the Concerned Veterans for America.

The incestuous financial relationship between the TC4Trust and organizations like Concerned Women for America, the Center to Protect Patient’s Rights, and the Themis group are visible here.  Unlike the 501 c (4) group, TC4Trust, Freedom Partners is classified as a 501 c (6), a trade association.

“Despite its tax status, though, in many ways it’s more like the other grant-making dark money groups — the 501(c)(4)s — on steroids. Formed in late 2011, it gave out grants totaling nearly $236 million in 2012, far more than the others giving to politically active tax-exempt groups. Much of that money went to limited liability corporations that are wholly owned by better-known nonprofits — what the IRS refers to as “disregarded entities.”  [Open Secrets]

The Themis Trust appears to exist so that we all certain of receiving the Koch Brothers’ messages.

“Called Themis, the independent group is the most ambitious of the many conservative political technology projects now in development. People with direct knowledge of the group as well as political technology industry veterans say it is backed by the Koch brothers, although their names do not appear on an annual regulatory filing and Koch Industries spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.” [Reuters May 17, 2012]

And, what do we get here in Nevada from the Americans for Prosperity?  An advertisement supporting Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) in the upcoming off-year elections.  The substance of the commercial, if we can use the term ‘substance’ loosely, is that Heck has consistently fought the Evil Demon — Obamacare.   Perhaps the generalized form of “Obamacare” still isn’t popular with the general public, but what the ad tells us is that Heck has been fighting against:

(1) Insurance policies which exclude children with pre-existing medical conditions, including birth defects.  Insurance company practices of rescinding policies because the policy holder made an honest mistake on an application form, and your right to appeal a refusal from your insurance company to pay for medical care.

(2) Insurance company junk policies which have lifetime limits.  Requiring insurance corporations to justify their rate increases, and requires that the insurance corporations spend at least most of the money they collect in premiums from policy holders on … medical care.

(3) Removing the barrier to medical services in the ER, and covering preventative medical treatment.

Americans For Prosperity would like very much to support Representative Heck as a “fighter” against “socialized medicine,” without actually saying what it is that Representative Heck is fighting against.

As the Nevada Republican Party continues to lurch rightward into LooneyLand the Koch Brothers, and their extensive network of funding operations, will be only too happy to assist in the 2014 election cycle.  They’ve already started.

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Filed under Heck, Nevada politics, Politics

Freedom

No, “it’s” not about religious freedom.  Religious freedom means there will no  established national religion in the United States of America, or in Nevada, or in wherever USA.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” [Amendment I]  There will be no national church, nor shall anyone be prohibited from his or her own free exercise of his or her religion.  That doesn’t mean that he or she may impose his or her religion upon others in the public sphere.   Some people appear to be operating on the delusion that their private sanctuary extends to the horizons.

If a person’s religion requires keeping one’s head covered before God but mine doesn’t, then who am I to require that they remove the yarmulke in my place of business? Asking a man to remove his keffiyeh or tagiyah makes no more sense.  That these gentlemen are wearing a yarmulke, a keffiyeh, or a tagiyah, or a turban,  in no way impinges on my belief that the head covering is unnecessary.

I should no more require a woman to remove her hijab…her sheila…or her doa guan before being served than I should tell a nun to remove her habit.   If seeing a person in a yarmulke or a hijab makes me uncomfortable, makes me feel like “others” are invading my personal “religious” space, then I should reflect very carefully on where their space ends and mine begins.

What I am not free to do in my place of business in the public sphere is to hang up a sign reading “Keffiyeh, yarmulke, turban, hijab, mitpachat (aka tichels), doa guan? No Service.”   I am free to exercise my religious beliefs — by not wearing a head cover; however, I am not free to require others remove theirs in my presence.   Nor can I “exercise” my religion in the public sphere by discriminating against others of different faiths.

If I were to believe that life begins at conception then I would not approve of an abortion for myself or the members of my family over which I have direct control. However, if my neighbor believes that life doesn’t begin until the infant takes its first independent breath, I have no right to impose my religious tenets upon my neighbor.  That family is just as free to function in terms of its own religious freedom of conscience as I am to function within the framework of mine.

One of the more interesting features of the contemporary “religious freedom” argument is how members of the predominant faith in this nation have somehow come to believe that they are a set-upon minority battling the forces of secularism and plurality.  They are beset by attacks — on Christmas? on Life? on Easter?  At least if they watch enough cable television from a certain unmentionable network clamoring for ratings they might appear to be.  In the pride they take in being the Cincinnatus At The Gates of Modern Morality, they seem to have forgotten (1) they aren’t really under attack, and (2) that the state, the public domain, is not constituted for their comfort. For more thoughts on this subject see the post here.

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SB 192 Nevada Dodged A Bullet

Rainbow Flag 2In the last session of the Assembled Wisdom several members of the Nevada Republican Party introduced SB 192 which “Enacts the Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act to prohibit governmental entities from substantially burdening the exercise of religion. (BDR 3-477).”   Those twho originally sponsored this bill included: Cegavske, Hutchison, Hammond, Hardy, Denis, Ford, Goicoechea, Gustavson, Jones, Kieckhefer, Kihuen, Parks, Roberson, Segerblom, Settelmeyer, Smith, Woodhouse, Fiore, Duncan, Hardy, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirkpatrick, Kirner, Oscarson, Stewart, and Woodbury.

The bill got a vote in the State Senate and passed 14-7 with Atkinson, Ford, Manendo, Parks, Smith, Woodhouse, and Spearman voting in opposition.  The testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 13, 2013 was instructive — especially so in view of the comments made by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as she vetoed the Arizona version.

Members of the committee asked those testifying in favor of the bill to provide an example of a person in the state of Nevada who had had their religious liberties violated by the current framework of non-discrimination statutes.  As close as the members got to an answer came from a representative from the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

“You have asked about specific incidents in Nevada to which this bill is a response. I am not aware of any violations of the kind detailed in Exhibit E that have occurred in Nevada. We may not know when rights violations like this occur because those who consult attorneys might be told they have no legal recourse. ”  [Schultz pdf]

In short, NO. There hadn’t been any actual problems, but ‘gee whiz maybe there might be someone out there who got told by a lawyer that discriminating against people probably wouldn’t fly‘ or sometime in the future somewhere on the horizon, or something….  Not to put too fine a point to it but the EPPC was one of the initial think tanks established for the Culture Warriors, and one especially associated with highlighting what its sponsors saw as a plague of secular humanism (whatever that might be).  They are pleased to continue following this path.

Not surprisingly, between the mid 1980s and 2001 the group was funded by all the usual suspects — the Castle Rock Foundation, the Scaifes, the Koch Brothers, the Olin Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation.  [SW]  [NVProg] The anti-gay refrain commonly associated with conservative think tanks of the sort supported by the bed rock foundations emerged during the hearing when, unable to provide any concrete examples of anti-religious discrimination in the state a spokesperson for the Church State Council described the proposed legislation as “pro-active” — to prevent alleged instances of religious ‘discrimination’ prior to their occurrence.  [Reinach, pdf]

One organization could provide examples of how the proposed statute could be a problem for Nevadans, it just wasn’t on the proponent’s side of the argument.   Elisa Cafferata, speaking on behalf of the Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, observed:

“I am not an attorney, and I have learned not to argue about what the law means, especially with a Committee made almost entirely of attorneys. I would just point out that the proponents of this bill could not point out any specific examples of violations in Nevada law that this bill would correct. Unfortunately, I read every day of situations in which people assert their religious rights to deny women access to health care. There are dozens of cases around the Country. We know of cases in Nevada where pharmacists have refused to provide women with birth control. We can give you hundreds of examples.”

Jane Heenan, of Gender Justice Nevada, was even more specific:

“There was an incident at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in 2010 in which a transgender person went to change the driver’s license gender marker. The person brought a letter from a doctor, which was a requirement at that time. The DMV staff member decided it was not appropriate for the person to change the gender marker and asked questions such as, “What does God think about your behavior?” and ultimately refused to perform the service. That is one example of many I could provide.”  [Heenan pdf]

Any questions?  Those holding anti-contraception and anti-gay beliefs would find some solace under the provisions of SB 192 if they foisted those tenets of faith on others.   A compromise amendment [R pdf] to SB 192 came before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 12, 2013, and assured that “non-discrimination” wouldn’t become “discrimination” the committee added its “do pass” recommendation. [NVLeg pdf]

State Senators Cegavske and Hutchinson testified (pdf) in the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s May 17th (2013) hearing on SB 192, noting: “The key provision of S.B. 192 (R1) is found in section 8 of the bill. Specifically, section 8 prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless the governmental entity demonstrates that burden furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that governmental interest.”

Interesting.  Note that there would have been two tests here. First, the government can’t “substantially burden” a person from (not filling a contraceptive prescription or not letting a person change the gender marker on a driver’s license) and further the burden must be commensurate with a “compelling” governmental interest — whatever that might be — and further the “burden” must be the “least restrictive means.”

No one contended at any point that religious freedom wasn’t a wonderful thing, however the implications, and actual target of the legislation was summarized quickly by the representative for the Nevada ACLU (pdf): “We are talking about language that says a religious motivation gets the greatest deference that the courts and the government could give, even though it may affect someone else whose rights do not get that same kind of deference.”

The bill went no further.  Nevada avoided the sort of publicity recently accorded the Arizona legislature over S1062.   However, before we sit back and relax enjoying the pleasant delusion that the Culture Warriors have been shamed into silence — this legislation will not be the end of the matter.

Women’s Health

There are those who devoutly hold that women are vessels, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7″ — A bit of proof-texting is all that is necessary to bundle up a bit of Scripture to prove a woman’s subjugation to male authority, none of which goes very far towards explaining Paul’s admonition in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Texts notwithstanding, the underlying attitudes towards women’s health and the use of prescription contraceptives, aren’t so much scriptural as cultural.  As long as masculinity as defined in some unfortunate quarters by fertility women are at risk of being forced to carry to term pregnancies which can be both physically and emotionally damaging.

Gender Discrimination

I am truly sorry for those whose personal bubble is a protective device shielding them from that which they find uncomfortable in others.   Only about 3.8% of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. [Abt]  If two men holding hands in the park make a person “uncomfortable,” the real problem is in the eyes of the beholder, not the two fellows having a nice afternoon with a picnic lunch.    If a person is confusing a wedding ceremony with a marriage contract, that’s a matter of personal conflict; one that should not be transformed into the denial of inheritance,  access to social services, or any other legally available rights awarded to married couples.

What the law cannot protect us from is seeing what we don’t want to acknowledge.   The law can no more prevent us from seeing the men at the picnic table any more than it can prevent us from witnessing children being handed school lunches only to have the meal tossed away for non-payment.  The law can’t prevent us from seeing the deterioration of school playground equipment, nor can it prevent us from observing a transgender person in a shopping mall.   Our level of comfort is subject to our own very individual tastes and concerns.   And, our level of comfort is in no small measure a function of the level of our fears.

If a person is made more uncomfortable by the sight of a gay or lesbian couple than by the sight of humiliated children, deteriorating playgrounds, struggling retailers, an alcoholic left ignored and untreated in a doorway, or children left to play indoors on a sunny day because there is the prospect of gun fire in the neighborhood — then perhaps there is room for the reconsideration of our priorities? Not to mention the kind of life our faith is supposed to nurture.

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Roundup

Cattle RoundupRecommended Reading:  The Nevada blogs have some posts well worth the click and read time — See Nevada Progressive’s “Freedom,” on the efforts to get rid of the Nevada gay marriage ban.  Meanwhile in Virginia, a federal judge has overturned their ban saying, “Wright Allen showed no hesi­ta­tion in overturning the state constitutional amendment, saying none of the reasons proponents offer for denying same-sex marriages make legitimate governmental interests.” [WaPo] Just a helpful reminder:  The U.S. Senate confirmed Wright Allen’s nomination to the bench on a 96-0 vote in 2011. [rc 069]

** Don’t miss the Sebelius piece on the Pathology We Just Keep Enabling, or how we must learn to live with our reality challenged neighbors like Sharron Angle.  However bemusing the antics of Mrs. Angle, her message advocating the suppression of voting rights is serious, and other advocates have adopted or are considering the adoption of strategies to suppress the turn out of voters.  Cincinnati, OH has found a way to make voting as inconvenient as possible. [HuffPo] The Tea Party controlled North Carolina legislature has enacted some of the most repressive voting laws in the country, and people are beginning to act. [TruthOut]  Republicans in Florida want to block the use of the UF Student Union as a polling place [BayNews9] and Manatee County, FL eliminated polling stations in minority heavy areas of its jurisdiction. [TP] The commissioner made this alarming statement about voting rights: “I wouldn’t have any problem making it harder. I would want them to vote as badly as I want to vote. I want the people of the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.”  Reminder, we use the voting process to determine the will of the people, not the fortitude of the individuals in the lines.

** When your party has to send out a memo saying your endorsement process doesn’t cancel out your primary, there are some serious organization issues in play.  See Ralston Reports on the latest in the continuing soap opera which is the Nevada Republican Party.

** The Reno Gazette Journal has spoken to its motives in wanting access to Public Employee’s Retirement System data, but the intentions of a certain newspaper in the southland aren’t quite so clear.  Take note of this post from February 2nd on Nevada Public Employee Focus.   There is now, and has been, a coordinated attack on defined benefit retirement systems.  Opponents first publicize the “trouble” the pension systems have, or their alleged lack of solvency.  The second tactic is to issue derogatory statements about the “luxury” of public employee retirement benefits, hoping to split public employees and private sector employees politically.   What we ought to be doing is fighting for defined benefit pension plans in the private sector, not disestablishing them in the public sector.

** I wouldn’t have believed this, but it’s documented: “South Carolina policy requiring a fee and permit to feed homeless begins.” [ATTP]  There’s more information here:

“The most recent report, Out of Sight – Out of Mind?, which surveyed advocates and service providers in 50 of the largest U.S. cities, found that 86 percent of the cities surveyed had laws that prohibited or restricted begging, while 73 percent prohibited or restricted sleeping and/or camping. Over one-third of the cities surveyed have initiated crackdowns on homeless people, according to the survey respondents, and almost half of the cities have engaged in police “sweeps” in the past two years.”

A crack down policy might literally sweep the homeless off the streets, but this is simply mean spirited if not done in conjunction with efforts to find housing or shelter for those who need it.

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Ziser Rides Again – The Sole Support for Nevada’s Gay Marriage Ban?

As the controversy continues in some quarters over the decision by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to haul down the now tattered “No Same Sex Marriage” banner, and let the Sevcik v. Sandoval case drop quietly, most of the arguments that can be made in favor of a ban on same sex marriages seem to have been made.

The legal issues revolve around whether or not a court has the jurisdiction to render a decision concerning laws related to marriage.   The answer so far is Yes.  The Supreme Court dipped into this territory in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case in which Virginia’s ban on inter-racial marriage was struck down as unconstitutional.  Justice Warren was quick to point out that the ban was contrary to the equal protection of the laws according to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   The inclusion of racial classifications in marriage statutes was declared unconstitutional.

More recently, opponents of same sex marriage have made the claim that homosexuals do not fall into the forbidden “racial classification,” and therefore don’t have recourse under the Loving Standard.  This reasoning requires the assumption that if discrimination isn’t racial then it isn’t discrimination, however it’s already settled that other accepted ‘classifications’ (women) may suffer from discriminatory treatment.

Opponents have also argued that while an act may, in fact, discriminate against homosexual individuals, if the intent wasn’t discriminatory then the outcomes cannot be declared unconstitutional.  If this standard were to be applied then we have all manner of problems in the form of Gee Whiz Defenses.

“Gee Whiz, your honor, we didn’t mean to discriminate when we enacted a statute which said: ‘No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.’” [DOMA]  “We just meant to ‘defend marriage.’”

However, when we start talking about the effect of “any public act, record or judicial proceeding” the implications are obvious, and obviously discriminatory.

Thus the specter of yet more cases challenging the same sex marriage ban across the country, in Texas [CBS], in Kentucky [ABC], and in Utah and Oklahoma. [NewYorker] The Nevada case remains with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and without much enthusiasm from Nevada officials or candidates for office. [LVRJ]

Who’s Left On The Field?

So, who’s left fighting on behalf of the same sex marriage ban in Nevada? In terms of the Sevcik v. Sandoval case the lone litigant supporting the ban is the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage.

Do we remember Richard Ziser, now the Director of Nevada Concerned Citizens and current member of the Board of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage? [AlOE, pdf]  This would be the self same Richard Ziser who in 2004 demonstrated to the Nevada Republican Party just how badly a person could lose to incumbent Senator Harry Reid; Ziser managed 35.12%, Reid scored a hefty 61.05%. [NVsos]  Even the much mocked campaign of Nevada GOP candidate Sharron Angle garnered 44.55% of the vote in the 2010 elections. [NVsos]

On May 8, 2013 Mr. Ziser’s organization filed testimony (pdf)with the Nevada Legislature’s Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections concerning SJR 13, which would have removed the ban on gay marriages in the state.  His statements don’t sound all that far removed from the pronouncements he made 13 years ago.  Gay marriage will cause the Earth to stop spinning?

Well, perhaps not all that but at least we are to be reassured by Mr. Ziser that if the ban on gay marriage is removed in Nevada terrible things will occur because marriage is to bring men and women together for the purpose of the procreation of our species.   If we follow this logic we can extrapolate easily to the obvious. If the public purpose of marriage is procreation then why not, as many have scoffed, ban marriages between persons who are not of child bearing age? Between men and women who are unable to procreate?  But, there’s more.  Mr. Ziser believes he has an answer for that one:

“To exclude specific heterosexual couples from marriage based on their intentions or infertility would require intrusive inquiries and the drawing of arbitrary and imprecise lines. While not all heterosexual couples do reproduce, it is indisputable that only heterosexual couples can do so by natural means. No homosexual couples can do so. That fact provides a clear bright line for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

Evidently, Mr. Ziser believes that documenting fertility is an invasion of personal privacy.  We might wonder about his stance on transvaginal ultrasound examinations in cases of an abortion?  Would that be an “intrusive inquiry?”  Would the conclusions be prone to drawing “arbitrary and imprecise lines?”  However, more to the point, isn’t it just as readily apparent  that a couple of octogenarians aren’t having intimate relations for the purpose of procreation?

For Mr. Ziser the limits on marriage are definitional — marriage isn’t between immediate family members, or polyandrous, or polygamous, or pedophilic. This argument doesn’t respond to the essential question, it merely dances around it saying that the state can define marriage and the current definition satisfies him.

But for Mr. Ziser, and his ilk, the problems are associated with the fact that some companies might have to offer same sex couples benefits available to heterosexual couples — and “they” have higher health care costs.  Unfortunately for Mr. Ziser, the numbers don’t support this rather bigoted conclusion.  A University of Massachusetts study looked at the health care situation for members of the LGBT community and found “Policies that confer protections to same-sex couples may be effective in reducing health care use and costs among sexual minority men.”  And,

“Additionally, previous research has found substantial economic benefits of same-sex marriage policies that are accrued to businesses (e.g., increased revenues).46 We extend these findings by documenting additional economic benefits of pro-gay marriage laws to sexual minority men through the reduction of their health care expenditures.” [AJPH]

When his attempt to convince us that business will be burdened, and LBGT individuals have higher health costs doesn’t wash, Ziser has the old School Argument.  “Homosexual relationships will be identical to heterosexual ones.”  No, what’s taught in sexual education classes will be determined by the school district’s policy on sexual education.  We can only hope that a district will be responsible enough to teach kids truly safer sexual practices, and won’t spend a semester reciting the mantra “just say no.”

Perhaps Mr. Ziser sees the expansion of rights to others as an attack on his individual beliefs?  This interpretation  may come closer to his concerns.  Freedom of conscience, he says, would be in “constant tension” with gay rights.  Yes, and when has this not been the case?  If one’s “conscience” forbid interracial marriage, then was there tension?  If one’s “conscience” forbid medical treatment for a baby with pneumonia, then was there tension?  If one’s “conscience” espoused polygamy, then was there tension?  There will always be tension between those whose interpretation of revealed truth is at odds with the multiplicity of beliefs and “consciences” in any community.  The larger the community, the greater the capacity for “tension.”

Other Ziser admonitions have a vaguely hysterical ring to them. “Fewer children will be raised by an mother and father?”  “Legalization of homosexual “marriage” would mean that, for the first time in history, society would be placing its highest stamp of official government approval on the deliberate creation of permanently motherless or fatherless households for children.” Take a deep breath and look at the demographic statistics.  “More Children Will Grow Up Fatherless.”   What we do know is that kids in a stable home environment grow up with fewer problems than those who don’t.  The format is less important than the stability.

Ziser is convinced that birth rates will fall, and then he indulges in a bit of gay-bashing — “they less likely to have committed relationships” — less likely than whom?  “They” are “less likely to monogamous and sexually exclusive relationships.”  Again, compared to whom?  You get the drift.  And, the drift becomes rather more intense.

By Ziser’s lights “demands for polygamy will grow.” Thankfully, Mr. Ziser’s commentary stopped at that point.   We can only hope that he stops before the current litigation becomes ever more expensive, time consuming, and ultimately futile.

References and Recommended Reading:

Legal Cases: Sevcik v. Sandoval, 911 F. Supp. 2d 996 – Dist. Court, D. Nevada 2012  [Scholar] Sevcik v. Sandoval, Appellants Brief (pdf); Appellee Sandoval’s Answering Brief (pdf); U.S. v. Windsor Decision (Scribd); Amicus Brief U.S. v. Windsor; Windsor Plaintiffs Brief, SCOTUS (Scribd) jurisdiction;  Merits Brief, Amicus filing Family Research Council, U.S. v. Windsor (Scribd);  Sevcik v. Sandoval, motion for leave to withdraw brief, Nevada [Scribd] Sevcik v. Sandoval, district court [Scribd]

Commentary: Nevada gay marriage decisions creates uncertainty, SF Chronicle, Feb 11, 2014.  Nevada ends fight to ban gay marriage, Reuters, Feb 10, 2014. Same Sex Marriage Roundup, Los Angeles Times, Feb 10, 2014.  The Widening  Impact of the Gay Marriage Decision, New Yorker, Jan 27, 2014.  Gay Marriage Ban Supports Slips in Nevada, New York Times, Feb 10, 2014.   Lambda Legal Nevada Marriage Case Granted Expedited Hearing, Lambda Legal Blog, February 12, 2014.  Sevcik v. Sandoval and Jackson v. Abercrombie, APA, Amicus Brief.  Follow the Leader, Nevada Progressive, Feb 12, 2014.  No Leg Left to Stand On, Nevada Progressive, Feb 11, 2014.

Legalising gay marriage may improve health and reduce healthcare costs, Guardian, Feb 7, 2013.  Refuting Anti Gay Rights Arguments, ProgCyn, Josh Sager.

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