Kids These Days: Focus on Voting

The Reno Gazette Journal ran a piece this morning on the Student Walk Out in remembrance of the Columbine massacre.

“Students from at least eight Washoe County schools are planning to walk out of their classrooms, march through the streets or call their representatives on Friday to demand action over gun violence in schools.

The walkout is expected to start at 10 a.m., the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, and in conjunction with hundreds of other planned walkouts across the country.” [RGJ]

It seems appropriate to note that while the students are good at keeping their focus on the issues at hand, the media and all too many adults are having some difficulties doing the same.   The Las Vegas Sun ran what read like a canned article, the online edition of the Review Journal didn’t mention the walk out.

What should we, as adults, do to help the kids get their message out — and keep it in the public spotlight?  Get informedThe Trace is a good place to start.  However, I’m probably typing for the choir here.  There are other sites which collect and disseminate statistics such as the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research; Everytown Research; and the Gun Violence Archive.

Get Registered.  Okay, we’re already registered, but what about friends and neighbors?  The Secretary of State’s Office posts basic information.  Not in Las Vegas or Reno/Sparks areas?  County Clerk information is here DMV.org also provides basic information:

  • Be a:
    • Citizen of the United States.
    • Nevada resident for at least 30 days before the date of an election.
    • Resident of your precinct for at least 10 days before the election.
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the date of the election.
  • Not have been declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
  • Not claim any other place as your legal residence.

If you have been convicted of a non-violent felony your voting rights are restored after you are discharged from incarceration and/or parole. If you have been convicted of a violent felony, or a second felony, you will need to apply to have your civil rights restored.

Vote.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Cases, Clues, and the Misinterpretation of Justice: Trumpian Edition

In 1989 five youngsters from Harlem were arrested as suspects in a Central Park rape case.  They were convicted based on coerced confessions.  They were later exonerated after the collection and analysis of DNA evidence, which demonstrated the identity of the actual criminal.  [NYT] There are several reasons to remember the Central Park Five Case, including the interrogation tactics of the time, the proclivity of the public to assign potential guilt based on race and ethnicity.  However,  there’s another reaction we should remember because it keeps inserting itself into conversations about our politics and our judicial system.

The reaction came from one Donald J. Trump, who famously took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the boys’ execution.   Trump defended his ads later during an interview with Larry King:

“I don’t see anything inciteful, I am strongly in favor of the death penalty,” Trump told King. “I am also in favor bringing back police forces that can do something instead of turning their back because every quality lawyer that represents people that are trouble, the first thing they do is start shouting police brutality, etc.” [CNN]

In light of Trump’s continual public comments about locking people up — Sec. Hillary Clinton should be locked up; former FBI Director James Comey should be locked up — as Lawrence O’Donnell’s program reminds us this evening,  perhaps if we reflect on the Central Park Five instance we can discern a pattern that’s been there all along.

Trump’s first line in the King interview is revealing.  He had then, and may not now, have any idea that what he did in placing his advertising in New York City newspapers was a racist reaction to the charging of Black and Hispanic boys in the rape of a white woman.  It’s hard not to miss the lynch mentality in Trump’s call to bring back the death penalty.  He said he saw nothing “inciteful” in his behavior, asserting by implication if he doesn’t see it as “inciteful” then it must not be.  So, not only do we have the lynch mentality at play, it is exacerbated by an incapacity for self reflection and analysis.

Perhaps it’s a crowd pleaser on the hustings to get the “lock her up” chant going, or to point out members of the press for mob vilification; but, since Trump himself doesn’t see it as “inciteful” it can’t be perceived that way by other observers.

He is a ” retributivist,” as defined as: “A retributivist is somebody who believes in retribution. That is, as the principal purpose or justification for punishment. Very simply, [convicted criminals] deserve it. [They are] punished for the sake of justice.” [ARPubMedia] “I am strongly in favor of the death penalty,” he told King.   Trump’s consideration of the Central Park Five Case obviously extends no further than there were some young minority males who allegedly raped a white woman, and thus their crime demands retribution at the most serious level.  By extension, if Trump believes someone has done an injustice (especially to him?) then there must be retribution — lock’em up.

Since Trump’s predilection for word salad encompasses several decades let’s take the next sentence in pieces. “I am also in favor bringing back police forces that can do something…”  This portion of the statement might be interpreted as the complaint of a person trapped in a Film Noir world of rubber hose interrogations and the extra-judicial antics of hero-private eyes.  Phillip Chandler would be proud?  Except in many of the film noir classics the police are stumbling bumbling characters, who are relatively inept in comparison to the private detectives.  There’s another model, which at first glance appears more attuned to the Trumpian world view — the G Men.  Trump seems to like the “tough cop” imagery descending from this era?

This is Your FBI” was a self-congratulatory radio series broadcast from 1945 to 1953.  The G-Men always got their man; the villains were nearly always male. “I Was A Communist for the FBI” ran during 1952 and 1953.   The spirit of McCarthyism got a boost from the stories of Matt Cvetic.  Then, of course, there was Dragnet, and the launch of more police procedurals. These pre-date Trump’s formative years in which he’d have been directly aware of the narratives, but a combination of “pro-police” attitudes and the subsequent challenges to police (read: white, male) domination during the late 1960’s could certainly have formed an authoritarian perspective.  Perhaps Trump absorbed the vestiges of the old narratives and the delusion that “toughness” is a matter of physicality.

Thence we move to: “…instead of turning their back …”  this remark seems to indicate the police weren’t actually policing.  It’s difficult to contend the police were the heroes, always getting their “man,” with the notion that the police could “get their men” if … they weren’t restrained in some artificial manner.

“…because every quality lawyer that represents people that are trouble, the first thing they do is start shouting police brutality, etc.”   Here we have the artificial barrier Trump sees preventing effective policing.

There is no evidence to indicate that initial defense strategies involve challenging the nature of the arrest.  Actually, more common defenses are that (1) the wrong person has been detained; (2) the person acted in self defense; (3) evidence was illegally seized; (4) arrests were made based on unreliable witnesses or informants; and (5) the state cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. [CDcom] However, Trump isn’t exactly known for his reliance on observable evidence. He’s assuming that because he disagrees with the opposition to heavy-handed police tactics this must be a serious problem, and if he believes it then it must be true.  At this point the “etc” may be important.

Since we know that “police brutality” isn’t the first resort of criminal defense attorneys,  the “etc” could be a clue.  “Et cetera” can be very useful for truncating long lists, or it can be extremely sloppy, standing in place of any clarification of a series of contentions.  In this instance we’re probably justified in believing the latter.

Why, then, are we surprised when Trump inveighs against his political opponents in terms which repeat his declarations against the Central Park Five?  No evidence is necessary — membership in a minority group will do; opposition to authority (especially his own?) is automatically suspect; a mythologized version of policing is embraced; and it sounds ‘tough’ to call for someone to be locked up even if there is no legal justification.

And, so we need to be watchful should we become inured to the outrageous nature of calls for extra-judicial punishment for political opponents.  This is serious stuff, on display since at least the Central Park Five advertising, and should be taken seriously.

 

 


 

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Filed under Politics

News From a Fire House Sprinkles on the Republican Finance Committee

April 3, 2017:  Republican Party issues the following announcement

“I am delighted to announce the addition of these longtime friends of the Party and supporters of this administration to our Finance leadership team,” said Chairwoman McDaniel. “Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, and Louis DeJoy will serve as National Deputy Finance Chairmen, and Brian Ballard, Bob Grand, Gordon Sondland, Geoff Verhoff, and Ron Weiser will serve as Regional Vice-Chairmen. Together this team will employ their extraordinary talent and understanding of Americans across the country to maintain and build uponF our unprecedented fundraising success.”

January, 2018:  Former casino owner Steve Wynn, steps down from the RNC finance committee as reports of sexual harassment hit the headlines. [Politico] Wynn has since resigned as casino company CEO (March 22, 2018), has settled a six year legal battle with his ex-wife (WSJ), and has asked to be removed as a “qualifier” from the list of key employees required to undergo background checks by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. [BostonH]  However, Wynn’s donations to a Trump super-PAC aren’t going to be returned:

“Wynn gave $500,000 to America First Action Super PAC on Jan. 23, just days before the first reports of his alleged harassment of women were published, according to first-quarter financial data from the Federal Election Commission. CNBC asked the group whether it has any intention of returning the contribution following the stories of Wynn’s alleged misconduct.

“We’re not returning the donation,” a spokeswoman for America First said.” [CNBC]

Thus, the next time a member of the GOP sputters about Democrats accepting money from a potentially dubious source, the appropriate response is, “Steve Wynn.” Chicago Cubs owner, Todd Ricketts, became the new RNC Finance Chair. [CNBC]

April 13, 2018: Another shoe drops — on Elliott Broidy.

“A major donor with close ties to the White House resigned on Friday as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the revelation that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.” [NYT]

Mr. Broidy comes with a bit of a “past,”

In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to committing a felony by giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund for his then-firm Markstone Capital Partners.

Broidy avoided jail time by blowing the whistle on the same people who accepted his bribes. He admitted to ponying up $75,000 for an all-expanses paid luxury trip to Jerusalem, which included first-class tickets, luxury hotel suites, a helicopter tour, and a personal driver for New York State’s comptroller and his family. [TWrap] [WSJ] {Markstone Capital, NYT}

His appeals worked such that Reuters reported in 2012:

Los Angeles money manager Elliott Broidy was spared jail time and a felony conviction on Monday for his role in a “pay to play” scheme at the New York state pension fund.

Justice Lewis Bart Stone reduced Broidy’s felony to a misdemeanor and sentenced him to a conditional discharge.

Mr. Broidy had a busy social calendar entertaining those who sought access to the White House, including the following:

Mr. Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private Florida resort, for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges, who posted a photograph with the president on Facebook. [NYT]

The “past became prologue” when he used the services of yet another RNC Finance Committee member to clean up — dare we say “fix” — his issues with the Playmate and her pregnancy. Therefore, the correct response to any Republican who wishes to discuss “family values,” is… “Elliott Broidy.”

April 13, 2018:  Who helped arrange the $1.6 million payout to the Broidy’s ex-mistress? Another RNC Finance Committee member Michael Cohen. [CNN]  Mr. Cohen has drawn the attention of the prosecutors in the SDNY, complete with a highly publicized raid.

“The longtime attorney for President Donald Trump’s real-estate empire, Michael Cohen, went to federal court on Monday in a bid to block federal prosecutors from reading documents and other materials that were seized from Cohen’s home in a sweeping raid. The porn star Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen allegedly paid off to protect Trump, was there to watch. And the hearing was presided over by Judge Kimba Wood, who ordered Cohen to reveal the name of a client he’d tried to keep secret: the Fox News host Sean Hannity.” [Atlantic]

The paragraph above sums up the Trumpian swamp which is looking more like a sink-hole with every passing day.  Thus, the appropriate reply to Republican assertions of “transparency and accountability” is “Michael Cohen.”

Meanwhile, will the last member of the Republican National Finance Committee please turn out the lights and lock the door?

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Filed under campaign finance reform, campaign funds, corruption, Nevada politics, Politics, RNC, Steve Wynn

The Ladies of the Senate Scrape Facebook

The Zuckerberg Apology tour (Version 2018) continues today in Washington, DC. Yesterday, Nevada Senators Heller and Cortez-Masto had their opportunity to ask questons. Heller’s questions were well intentioned, but reduced in impact because his premise included the notion Facebook sells user information. It doesn’t. It sells advertising.(1)  [NVIndy] Understanding the questions from Cortez-Masto requires a bit of background.

Senator Cortez-Masto referred to the 2011 Consent Decree between the FTC and Facebook.

“I appreciate you being here, I appreciate the apology, but stop apologizing and make the change,” she said. “The skepticism that I have, and I’m hoping you can help me with this, is over the last seven years…I haven’t seen really much change in ensuring that the privacy is there and that individual users have control over their data.” [NVIndy]

She has reason for her skepticism, here’s what the FTC required as of November 29. 2011:

Specifically, under the proposed settlement, Facebook is:

  • barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;

  • required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;

  • required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;

  • required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and

  • required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.

It doesn’t require too much mental effort to comprehend that Facebook’s response to the provision that it is “required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information;” to see there’s been precious little progress made by Facebook in terms of a comprehensive privacy program. (2) Although Zuckerberg described his company’s response as “robust.” (3)  Robust is not a term I might apply to Facebook’s efforts since November 29, 2011, especially in regard to the implementation of comprehensive privacy policy development and subsequent audits.  Senator Cortez-Masto is correct in assuming we would not be discussing Cambridge Analytica had Facebook complied fully with the 2011 settlement terms.

There are deeper weeds to explore, a trail launched by Senator Maria Cantwell’s inquiry about Palantir. [BI]

“One of the oddest and most uncomfortable moments in the questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by the Senate on Tuesday was when Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) started asking about Palantir.  “Do you think Palantir ever scraped data from Facebook?” She asked. Zuckerberg, looked nonplussed and answered. “Senator, I’m not aware of that.”  She asked, “Do you know who Palantir is?” Zuckerberg admitted that he did. And he should. Palantir is a company that was founded by his early investor and long-time board member Peter Thiel. [BI]

There was nothing “odd” about the moment, if one assumes Senators had done some homework.

A connection between Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Palantir is strongly suggested by this reporting in Business Insider:

“We learned today that an employee, in 2013-2014, engaged in an entirely personal capacity with people associated with Cambridge Analytica,” Palantir told The Times. “We are looking into this and will take the appropriate action.”

The employee was Alfredas Chmieliauskas, according to The Times. His LinkedIn shows that he is a business-development staffer at Palantir in London. He suggested that Cambridge Analytica create a personality-quiz app to harvest data from Facebook users, The Times said. Cambridge Analytica eventually used a similar method to obtain data from about 50 million Facebook users it could then sell.

Sure enough, Cambridge Analytica appropriated the idea, and the collections began.

“Cambridge ultimately took a similar approach. By early summer, the company found a university researcher to harvest data using a personality questionnaire and Facebook app. The researcher scraped private data from over 50 million Facebook users — and Cambridge Analytica went into business selling so-called psychometric profiles of American voters, setting itself on a collision course with regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Britain.”  [NYT]

That 50 million number keeps increasing. Given Facebook wants to sell advertising based on access to people, their friends, the friends of their friends, and the friends of the friends of their friends — it isn’t too difficult to assume the number of those affected will move upward.  It would have been helpful if Facebook user’s were advised before they took the little “quiz app” that the information from their account would be “scraped” for use by psychometric efforts.  Little wonder, then, that Mr. Zuckerberg was nonplussed by Senator Cantwell’s questions.

A couple of efforts seem to be in order.  The first is an investigation into Facebook’s compliance with the terms of the November 2011 settlement with the FTC; the second is a thorough investigation into the links between Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Palantir,  CubeYou, and similar data accumulation and analysis entities. (4)

In short, it’s time to have some follow up questions from the ladies in the Senate.

(1) See Sheryl Sandberg’s explanation and comments in this INC article.  (2) The original FTC complaint [PDF] can be found here. (3) To see the precise terms of the 2011 settlement with the FTC see this PDF document. (4) For additional information on CubeYou, see CNBC.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada politics, Politics, privacy

Laxalt Wading in the Waters

Sometimes it’s  a good idea to read all the way to the end of an article.  A point illustrated in this discussion of Adam Laxalt’s latest:

He participated in a conference call with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt on July 13, as part of a briefing over the Waters of the United States rule. Laxalt in 2015 entered Nevada into a lawsuit with 12 other states challenging the Obama administration’s expansion of the rule, which covers federally protected waters under the Clean Water Act.

Previously (2015)  the states won a TRO against the EPA’s expansion of the waters subject to the Clean Water Act:

“The States here have demonstrated that they will face irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction,” he said. “Once the Rule takes effect, the States will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act.”

“The Rule allows EPA regulation of waters that do not bear any effect on the ‘chemical, physical, and biological integrity’ of any navigable-in-fact water,” Erickson said.

As of 2017, Laxalt joined litigation involving groundwater rights, and the priority of states to exercise control, in one instance at the expense of Native American water rights:

A Native American tribe sued in federal court claiming that, as part of its federal reservation of land, it has a priority right to use groundwater in the valley. Relying on Supreme Court cases involving implied reservations of surface water rights, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a priority right to use groundwater under federal reserved land is included as an implied right with the reservation, and that that right necessarily pre-empts state water law.

[…] The brief, in support of writs filed by two Southern California water agencies, asks the Supreme Court to clarify whether the federal reserved water right doctrine extends to groundwater and, if so, under what circumstances, so as to guide all states on managing groundwater resources.

And, there’s another sticky legal wicket, as illustrated by the case of property owners in Pahrump who feel they will be harmed by a State Engineer’s office decision about drilling on private property:

“It is factually impossible for petitioner to be irreparably harmed if a stay of Order #1293 is not issued as it does not own any land or otherwise have an interest that is affected by the order,” Laxalt’s opposition filing stated. “Petitioner does not have any legal interest in the basin.”

The argument of legal standing revolves around a technicality, with Laxalt noting that as a limited liability company that did not exist until after Order #1293 was issued, Pahrump Fair Water LLC is not affected by the order. The filing read, “…a limited liability company is an entity distinct from its managers and members.”

Laxalt’s opposition contains various other arguments as well, including his belief that a stay of Order #1293 would harm the public. In addition to declarations regarding potential negative impacts to water supply, Laxalt predicted a rash of drilling if a stay were granted.

Laxalt may be on more solid ground in this case, but calling the input from resident members of the plaintiffs “impertinent,’ ‘immaterial’ and ‘irrelevant’ probably isn’t the best way to make friends, influence people, and get individuals to the table to negotiate a settlement.

Granted, water rights may not be a crucial element in the outcome of Nevada’s 2018 elections, but Laxalt’s relationship with the ethically challenged EPA director could raise eyebrows and questions in this political climate.

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Filed under ecology, Native Americans, Nevada politics, Politics

The Great Wall of Distraction or Why The President is a Lousy Dealmaker

From the December 2017 report from the Department of Homeland Security:

Arrests of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico plunged to the lowest level since 1971, as fewer people attempted the trek, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, immigration arrests in the interior of the country increased by 25 percent, the data show. [NPR]

What we know is that (1) the President didn’t get ‘wall money’ in the recent Omnibus Bill; (2) four immigration bills failed as of February 2018 in the US Senate; (3) the Special Counsel has interviewed at least two Russian oligarchs [CNN]; (4) his selection for National Security Adviser is up to his ears in an investigation of Cambridge Analytica [NYT] and (5) the President is a ‘subject’ of the Mueller investigation, although not a target at this time; [WaPo] (6) if the administration isn’t careful there’s a trade war in the offing with China.  It must be time for The Wall.

So, why are broadcasters focusing on the Administration’s version of the Ming Dynasty wall renovation and construction efforts (1368-1644), and why now?

At one level there’s the obvious diversion of the conversation away from the actual news of the day, see list above.  I’ve not seen it done to date, but surely someone out there is measuring the time differential between negative news concerning the president and the launching of a new assault on immigrants.

Another onion layer may well be the utility of the immigration issue with the Trumpian base voter — the issue as currently framed is almost blatantly racist, note there is no “national security” issue with those coming across the northern border, and little attention to immigrants who have overstayed visas from European countries.  For those who believe that make America great again actually means make America white controlled again, the diversion is a nice interlude for self congratulation and confirmation.

The utility of immigration as an attention grabber may also be related to what is becoming evident — the President is a lousy deal maker.

The prime rule in negotiations is Get Organized. Here’s a thought: Have A Plan.  Better still have a detailed plan.  Know what is wanted, what is essential, what can be bargained away, what is the ‘walk off point,’ what are the priorities.  Business and labor negotiators know that preparation is essential, and that it’s necessary to view the bargaining positions from both perspectives, and to prepare accordingly.

Few issues better illustrate the administration’s failure to plan than immigration.  There were four bills in the Senate last February [Vox] and all of them failed because the administration kept moving the goal posts. The president moved from a ‘send me a bipartisan bill,’ to send me a bill with money for a wall, to send me a bill with funding for the wall and an end to family reunification programs and a limit to legal immigration and a system of merit based immigration….  The fact that the presidential position kept changing during the negotiation process with the Senate is a sure sign the White House wasn’t clear what it wanted in the first place and kept trying to insert issues into the package without having an initial position which was clear to others at the bargaining table. If nothing more, the administration should have prepared a listing of priorities, in ranked order.  A similar failure to plan out a cogent and consistent position was also visible in the propositions for gun law reformation.   A failure to get organized in the first place often leads to problems all too common when one side isn’t actually listening to the other.

Rule Two — Know the Opposition.  This requires good old fashioned preparation and equally essential listening.  When Senators were debating the immigration proposals last February both sides understood a solution for DACA recipients was desirable, but that funding for wall building on the southern border was problematic, and limitations on legal immigration complicated an already frustrating situation.  The Collins-Schumer Plan had the best chance of success in the Senate but failed 54-46 when the goal posts moved.   A failure to plan out a detailed proposal combined with a failure to pick up the signals from seasoned Congressional negotiators about what would add votes from ‘the other side of the aisle’ doomed the legislative process.

Rule Three — Hard bargaining looks good but it very rarely works.  There’s a huge difference between extending proposals and posturing.  The White House signaled ‘hard bargaining’ when in the wake of what appeared a promising start on immigration issues rapidly devolved into chaos when the White House later responded with a laundry list of extreme positions which removed the focus from a solvable issue (DACA) to a more intractable one — general immigration policy reform. When the White House moved into another ‘hard bargaining’ stance (Take It Or Leave It)  the  Senate failed to defuse the situation by ignoring the hard line offer, and having a counter-offer at hand to resolve a more mutually desirable resolution to a solvable problem, in this instance DACA.

Rule Four — Never bargain against yourself. Side A makes an offer. Side B responds with a request for a concession from Side A before making a counter offer. Wrong. Again, the administration’s sliding positions on what would be acceptable immigration policy legislation had both the White House and the Senators inviting unreciprocated offers.  At some point the Senators would have been well advised to tell the White House they awaited a definite, written, and specific counter offer to the Collins-Schumer Bill and then sat tight.

Rule Five — Sharing works in bargaining.  While it isn’t necessary to put all one’s cards on the table, especially previously prepared  counter offers, it is helpful for both sides to share information which informs general positions.  It might be financial information, or anecdotal points of reference, or even personal. However, if reciprocity is what is wanted then sharing is just as important at the bargaining table as it was in kindergarten.

Rule Six — Know how to get to Yes. If Side A and Side B are truly bargaining, and not merely posturing, and if they come to the table prepared with ranked priorities and specific proposals and counter offers, then at some point they will get to the YES part.  The Yes Zone is the point at which Side A has conceded all it can without reordering its priorities and Side B has gained all it can without facing a rebellion in the mass meeting or board room. There must be an understanding from the outset that neither side will get everything it wants.  That’s not bargaining or deal making — that’s just bluster and posturing.

Unfortunately, the White House violated all six of these rules of the bargaining road, which leaves a person with the impression that for all the vaunted “Art of the Deal” the president doesn’t move much further than making an offer, badgering someone into submission, and then litigating when the inevitable impasse is reached.  In short, not only doesn’t the Oval Office know how to bargain effectively it doesn’t even give the appearance of knowing what its initial positions should be and how those should be developed, organized, and presented.

Without a basic knowledge of what constitutes effective bargaining (and Lord knows there is a plethora of articles on the subject from all manner of perspectives) the White House will be forced to revert to the posturing which puts a premium on distraction and publicity and discounts constructive solutions.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Yerington HS Illustrates The Problem: Racism in Trumpland

Lyon County, Nevada (county seat Yerington) gave 67.36% of its votes to Donald Trump for the presidency in 2016– a deep red vote in an otherwise urban blue state. [SoSNV] It would be nice to speak of Nevada as a tolerant blue state, but while Nevada is about 94.2% urban [ISU.edu] there are large portions (in terms of landscape) which are deeply rural and deeply bigoted.  Witness the reports of bullying non-white students at Yerington High School, as reported in the Reno Gazette Journal.

A Bit of Background

Lyon County is located east of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area, and the largest population in the northern end of the county is located in and in proximity to Fernley (± 20,000)  There are approximately 54,000 residents in Lyon County. [Census] Yerington is home to about 3,071 of the county’s residents, and approximately 80% are white, 18% are Hispanic, about 6% are Native American, and 8% are “other” which includes African American.  [Substat]  “Others” are among those having a hard time in Yerington.

“Photos of a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy’s son holding a gun and wearing a belt with knives were posted on social media. Superimposed over the photos were the words “The red neck god of all gods … we bout to go (racial slur) huntin,” and “Watch out (racial slur).”

It is unclear whether the deputy’s son or friends wrote the comments, but it was enough to scare Taylissa and Jayla as dozens of classmates began forwarding the girls the posts.

Taylissa and Jayla stayed home from school the next day.  They filled out police reports. They worried when they went outside.” [RGJ]

  And then — nothing happened.

The mayor dismissed the social media posts as examples of teenage immaturity.  The chief of police said they were examples of Free Speech.  The principal of the high school says the school needs to have a “unity day.” The county superintendent of schools said school authorities were having a hard time controlling the situation.  Some residents said things were cooling off until “reporters started asking questions and stirring things up.”  If you’re thinking these perspectives could just as easily be associated with the heart of Jim Crow Dixieland, you’d be right.

In beautiful downtown Yerington there seems to be a safe zone for bullies, in spite of state legislation specifically prohibiting such conduct:

     “NRS 388.135Bullying and cyber-bullying prohibited.  A member of the board of trustees of a school district, any employee of the board of trustees, including, without limitation, an administrator, principal, teacher or other staff member, a member of a club or organization which uses the facilities of any public school, regardless of whether the club or organization has any connection to the school, or any pupil shall not engage in bullying or cyber-bullying on the premises of any public school, at an activity sponsored by a public school or on any school bus.”

So, NO the incident wasn’t a matter of “free speech,” the offensive postings were a direct violation of NRS 388.135.   Nor is there much evidence in the reporting that the local police and school district authorities paid much attention to the provisions of NRS 388.1351 in which specific directives are set forth for dealing with bullying and cyber-bulling.

And when a parent did try to meet with school officials, the following is hardly exemplary of compliance with Nevada statutes:

“On one of the occasions Charles Tolliver went to the school to try to meet with administrators, a student standing with a group of girls said to him, “You don’t even know the definition of (racial slur).”

“If you ever call my daughters (racial slurs) …”  he said before stopping himself.

After repeated requests for help had been ignored, Tolliver said, he called the principal a bigot.

School officials have accused Tolliver of being hostile and aggressive. He was given a trespass warning and is only allowed on school grounds with prior permission.

“… you interacted with me as well as Yerington High School students in a hostile, aggressive and threatening manner, resulting in the contacting of law enforcement,” the trespass notice from Principal Mattice said.” [RGJ]

Thus, the step-parent who sought to meet with a principal over repeated instances of bullying is met with surly students, an unhelpful principal, and then becomes the designated villain of the story according to Lyon County school officials.  Quite evidently, Lyon County has done what it must according to State law, it has all the right words on paper (pdf) — it just chooses not to enforce its own policies.  One might want to ask if the principal “investigated” incidents of blocked doorways, jammed doors, hate speech, and racial epithets within one day of a report, as required by school district policy?

There’s no need to be tactful about this situation.  First, the youngsters spouting hateful epithets and blocking doorways didn’t come into this world as little bigots.  They learned it somewhere and that somewhere is nearly always at home.  Secondly, their peers are obviously supportive. Few adolescents will do much which doesn’t comport with peer pressure.  Schools are supposed to have a socializing effect, i.e. negative attitudes and prejudices which come from home and are supported by some peers are to be addressed and rectified if at all possible.  It is not the responsibility of a school to make bigots feel comfortable.  However, this is made more difficult when…

(i) We have a president who says there were very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville, VA when one side was composed of white nationalist supremacist bigots and thugs.

(ii) We have a situation in which the Attorney General of the US who has decimated the capacity of that agency to supervise state and local official interactions with members of minority communities — “it’s a local problem.”

(iii) We have an environment in which local officials are allowed to ignore, dismiss, or diminish incidents of racial bigotry and prejudice without serious consequences.

(iv) We have social norms and values being curtly disdained as “political correctness,” with a slurring of the “s” sound at the end.

In short what we have at Yerington High School is a classic example of what happens when an atmosphere of racial division, with whites on the top of the divide, meets two girls whose parents don’t appreciate having their daughters referred to by the N-word. However, what might we expect in Yerington, in the heart of Nevada’s Trumpland?

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