Category Archives: elections

Our Weekly Fresh Horrors

Gee, what fresh horror would make for a nice blog post today?

#1. We could start with this analysis of Orange Blossom’s perfectly inane trade policy, as expounded by conservative economist Walter Block in the not-so-failing New York Times:

“The negative consequences of a trade war will soon be felt, if they aren’t already. Even if the United States avoids trade conflict with Europe, tariffs on steel and aluminum from China, Mexico and Canada will raise domestic prices, hurting consumers. And the administration is likely to find itself subsidizing voters who purchase these items or who are hurt when other countries slap tariffs on American goods in retaliation — mainly farmers, manufacturers and builders.”

Perhaps the color coded cue cards were insufficient to explain BASIC economics to our special Orange Blossom during his meetings with EU officials.  Is there an emoji for putting both of one’s hands palm forward into one’s face? I could use one right now.

#2.  Also from the New York Times — the Feds announce they’ve met the deadline for reuniting children with their migrant parents. However, there’s this little Oops paragraph in the article:

“But in a day that saw government officials and community volunteers scrambling to bring families together, multiple reports of failed reunifications raised questions about whether the deadline had in fact been met. Further confusing the issue was a change in the way the government tallied its progress, with the latest report counting children rather than parents, a reversal from prior reports.”

So, if they can’t reunify families, then they simply reclassify the children and/or parents to say they aren’t eligible for reunification!  Whee. How convenient.   Yes Sir, I could say I really stuck to my pledge to make healthier eating choices — IF we don’t count the two chocolate chip cookies, the can of Pepsi, the chips, the cheeseburger, the … you get the idea. There are still some 700 children not reunited with family.  And when the ADL is putting out warnings about what happens to children separated from parents, as in what happened during the Holocaust, maybe we should be paying attention.  I really do need that double face-palm emoji thing.

#3.  The Ruskies are still here. As in still attacking our American electoral system; as in attacking the McCaskill Senate campaign in Missouri.  They also appear to have attacked two other campaigns. This isn’t “history,” this is current events.  There’s more at “The Hacking of America,” on Slate.   The article isn’t exactly pleasant reading, but it’s recommended as a reminder that God helps those who help themselves, and DHS is talking about new initiatives with 90 day timelines.   90 days?  What happened to getting a start on this, say some 1 year, 188 days, and 2 minutes (as of now) ago?

#4.  Special concern for the people in the Redding, California area.  The news on that fire front is horrible. Up here in cheat grass country we lucked out during the Holloway Complex Fire in 2014.  There’s nothing quite so chilling as the sound of a local deputy on a bull horn announcing a preliminary notice of an evacuation order.  I don’t wish it on anyone.  Please, California neighbors, stay safe!

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Filed under Economy, elections, Immigration, Politics

If the Administration Won’t Pay Attention to Russian Interference Then We Must

The good news:  “Nevada is organizing cybersecurity under a new central hub, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, and is among more than 35 states sending officials to a cyber security incident response training at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center in Massachusetts later this month.” [LVSun 3/18]  That’s the good news…it’s more questionable to observe it’s been 530 days since the Department of Homeland Security first issued a warning about Russian interference in our national elections.

“The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, immediately raising the issue of whether President Obama would seek sanctions or other retaliation.

In a statement from the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., and the Department of Homeland Security, the government said the leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” [NYT 2016]

Nevadans have been assured the state was not a direct target of election interference at the systemic level. [LVSun 3/18]  In other good news Nevada did address the cybersecurity matter in AB 471 the title of which was:

“An act relating to cybersecurity; creating the Nevada Office of Cyber Defense Coordination within the Department of Public Safety; providing for the powers and duties of the Office; requiring the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security to consider a certain report of the Office when performing certain duties; providing for the confidentiality of certain information regarding cybersecurity; requiring certain state agencies to comply with the provisions of certain regulations adopted by the Office; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

Translation from the legalese: Nevada took coordinating cybersecurity seriously enough to require state agencies to get on the same page.  This includes the Secretary of State’s office and its related election jurisdiction.

It would be nice if the federal government were taking this issue as seriously as the states.   A quick review:  On December 9, 2016 President Obama ordered a review of Russian attempts to “hack” the American elections. The president-elect dismissed the warnings from the intelligence community saying in effect these were the people who said Iraq had WMDs. [USAT]  On December 28, 2016 President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closes Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.  Nothing happens officially to punish Russian agencies and individuals during the early months of the current administration.  On May 17, 2017 the Justice Department appoints Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is tasked with discovering if any US laws were violated on the part of US citizens and others.

As news of Russian interference trickled out in the press more interest in the issue came from congressional quarters, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced S. 341 (Russian Sanctions Review Act) on April 27, 2017.  By July the interest increased to the point that HR 3364 passed the Congress almost unanimously, it was signed into law on August 2, 2017.  No action was taken by the executive branch to implement the requirements of the law immediately.

Indeed, it was March 15, 2018 before the Department of the Treasury issued enhanced sanctions on Russia, releasing the following statement:

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five entities and 19 individuals under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) as well as Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,” as amended, and codified pursuant to CAATSA.

The list of individuals and entities sanctioned was remarkably similar to the Mueller investigation list of those indicted for interference and illegal activities.

The current administration has not convened any cabinet level coordinated meetings to date regarding Russian interference in US elections, a sore point with Senator Benjamin Cardin who issued a minority report from his Senate committee. [pdfOne recommendation was prescient:

“U.S. and European governments should mandate that social media companies make public the sources of funding for political advertisements, along the same lines as TV channels and print media. Social media companies should conduct comprehensive audits on how their platforms may have been used by Kremlin-linked entities to influence elections occurring over the past several years, and should establish civil society advisory councils to provide input and warnings about emerging disinformation trends and government suppression. In addition, they should work with philanthropies, governments, and civil society to promote media literacy and reduce the presence of disinformation on their platforms.”

And, so we continue. The president congratulated Putin on the occasion of his reelection in an election characterized by eliminating competition and blatant voting fraud.  Nevertheless, the drip continues… reports of social media manipulation, stories about the machinations of the super PACs, Cambridge Analytical, Facebook, and so forth. We know that 21 states were “hacked” in 2016, we know that one was penetrated, and we know that Nevada — fortunately — wasn’t one of them. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a stake in this game.

We owe it to ourselves to keep track of state efforts to thwart foreign efforts to attack our voting security systems.  We need to think about the security of our state election rolls and related systems. We need to support efforts to improve the technical acumen of our state and local election officials.  We need periodic updates from our Secretary of State on steps taken by our government to upgrade our voting equipment, and secure our registration.  We also need to pay more attention to how social media is used and abused to cause disruptions to our politics and political discussions. We need to pay attention.

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Filed under elections, Nevada politics, Politics

Now A Warning? Same Old News About Russian Interference Without Any New Response

No, it’s NOT okay.  Merely because it isn’t thought the Russians actually changed any voting results doesn’t mean things are hunky-dory for the 2018 elections.  Today’s ‘news’ is in reality old news.  Consider the following excerpts from times gone by:

September 22, 2016 – “Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Adam Schiff, ranking members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, issue a joint statement declaring that based on information they received during congressional briefings, they believe that Russian intelligence agencies are carrying out a plan to interfere with the election. They call on Putin to order a halt to the activities.” [CNN]

September 29, 2016 –  “There have been hacking attempts on election systems in more than 20 states — far more than had been previously acknowledged — a senior Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News on Thursday.  The “attempted intrusions” targeted online systems like registration databases, and not the actual voting or tabulation machines that will be used on Election Day and are not tied to the Internet.The DHS official described much of the activity as “people poking at the systems to see if they are vulnerable.”  “We are absolutely concerned,” the DHS official said. “The concern is the ability to cause confusion and chaos.” [NBC]

Fast forward to 2017, and the story remains essentially the same, albeit with more details.  In September 2017 the Department of Homeland Security finally got around to officially notifying the states they’d been hacked.

“The Department of Homeland Security said earlier this year that it had evidence of Russian activity in 21 states, but it failed to inform individual states whether they were among those targeted. Instead, DHS authorities say they told those who had “ownership” of the systems — which in some cases were private vendors or local election offices.” [NPR]

Yes, it took ten months for the Department of Homeland Security to officially tell the states what was going on.  And now…. this is “news:”

February 7, 2018:  “The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”  [NBC]

Indeed, this isn’t coming as news to the 18 states that volunteered for the free cyber-hygiene scans offered by the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security in 2016.  However, a person would have to wonder what happened to the two states which refused the free scan offer, and why we keep getting what is at best a repetition of the same warnings issued at least a year ago.

And what has happened since November 2016? It would be far easier to track what has NOT been done.  For example, there has not been a single cabinet level meeting concerning the issue of Russian interference.  There has not been a single report issued by the current administration issued on the subject of Russian interference.  There has been nothing done by the current administration to implement the sanctions overwhelmingly enacted by the 115th Congress against the Russians for their interference — their continuing interference.  And yes, the Russians did in fact hack into some voter rolls. [TheHill] And yes, the Russians are still at it. [NYT]

How do we know this? Because CIA Director Mike Pompeo says he’s reasonably certain the Russians will meddle in the 2018 midterms. [BBC/Politico]  The Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says we’re going to be a target in 2018 (and there’s probably nothing we can do about it.)’ [WashExam]

So once more it’s time to refer to the only comprehensive report on Russian interference issued from Washington so far — the Cardin Report:

“A Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report released Wednesday and commissioned by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Committee’s ranking member, details Russian president Vladimir Putin’s nearly two decades-long assault on democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law across Europe and in his own country. The report comes one year after Senator Cardin introduced the Counteracting Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which served as the basis for the sanctions package signed into law last August, and makes a series of recommendations to adequately bolster U.S. and European defenses and counter the growing Kremlin threat to democratic institutions.”

It is well past time for the administration to take action.  One obvious suggestion would be for the administration to do something more efficacious than publishing a list of Forbes’ Richest Russians and apply additional sanctions as a response to continuing Russian interference in our political systems and institutions.  “Name and Shame” has obviously NOT stopped Russian efforts.  As the Cardin Report points out, the timidity of the US reaction to Russian activities as compared to actions taken by European nations has a source, in the White House:

“Despite the clear assaults on our democracy and our allies in Europe, the U.S. government still does not have a coherent, comprehensive, and coordinated approach to the Kremlin’s malign influence operations, either abroad or at home. Although the U.S. government has for years had a patchwork of offices and programs supporting independent journalism, cyber security, and the countering of disinformation, the lack of presidential leadership in addressing the threat Putin poses has hampered a strong U.S. response.”  [CardinReport pdf]

So, the British have publicly chastised the Russians for their meddling and have taken steps to secure their cyber-systems and election procedures.  The Germans upgraded the cooperation between the government and the campaigns, taken stronger measures against bots and trolls, and issued strong warnings of consequences for any additional Russian games.  The Spanish cracked down on Russian based organized crime groups, especially those seeking to use the country for money laundering.  The French took direct action to address cyber-hacking and smear campaigns.  The Nordic states have adopted a “whole society” approach to address Russian propaganda and cyber efforts. The Baltic states have employed public information campaigns, strengthened cyber-security systems, and reduced their energy dependence on Russian sources. [Cardin] If most of our western allies can take active measures to address Russian interference, the question remains — Why has the US done so little?  The Cardin Report conclusion that the lack of presidential leadership has not been helpful takes on more credibility.

There are some activities good old Average Americans can do to help rectify this situation.  (1) Get informed.  Read the Cardin Report.  (2) Evaluate the suggested steps the US could take to directly confront Russian interference. (3) Contact Senators and Representatives to let our lawmakers know that the public IS interested in Russian operations in the US.  (4) Contact those Representatives to tell them the American public (and their constituents in particular) insist the administration implement and enforce the sanctions enacted by Congress.

Perhaps there’s a sufficient number of phone calls, post cards, e-mails, and constituent meetings which will prevent the Russian Meddling from being an annual event in the American press, each time reminding us that nothing has been accomplished thus far to prevent Russian activities to sow discord, dissension, and advance the demolition of American political institutions.  We should not only hope so, but also work to make this happen.

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Filed under elections, Homeland Security, Nevada politics, Politics

Questions Remain About Nevada Crosscheck Program

I must admit I’m not fundamentally opposed to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program – IF it will prevent Allistair Barrenfarm Gotrocks IV from rolling his Bentley to his convenient polling precinct in the Hamptons early on some fine election morning, then hopping into his Bombardier Global 8000 to his equally convenient polling station for his second home in Florida; while his absentee ballot is counted in his resort community of Ketchum, Idaho.  This, I could do without.  However…

As RollingStone magazine pointed out last August, this isn’t the ulterior purpose of the Crosscheck Program.   The process was supposed to have included names (including middle names and initials) birthdays, and Social Security numbers.   If the voting officials in a particular state don’t require the Social Security number, the birthday, and the middle name all that the Crosscheck list presents is a mass of very common names.  And, the bias begins:

“This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”  [RollingStone]

The response from Nevada, which participates in the Crosscheck program,  was a bit confusing.  A Nevada official replied to the Crosscheck question by saying:

“I can’t comment specifically on their study. What I can say is that in Nevada, we follow the federal and state procedures when it comes to removing voters from the rolls. We don’t look at a person’s name. We don’t actually collect demographic data on voters, so we don’t know race, ethnicity on any voters in our list.” [News4]

How can maintenance of up to date voter registration lists be done without looking at names? Either John P. Smith, of Henderson, NV has voted in the last two general elections – or he hasn’t.  He’s either been declared dead by Social Security officials – or he hasn’t.   The official from the Nevada Secretary of State’s office got a bit more specific:

“Wayne Thorley, Nevada’s deputy secretary of state for elections, counters that the program just matches data and doesn’t target anyone.
“Just because someone comes back as a match on the Interstate Crosscheck list, it doesn’t automatically trigger cancellation of their account,” he said. “And then, further investigation is done by the state.”
He said Nevada also uses the Electronic Registration Information Center to match names from the Crosscheck list with DMV records. Voters then get a postcard to verify their address and if they don’t respond and don’t vote in two elections, they’re dropped from the rolls.” [PNS.org]

It seems that names do matter?  However, there are still questions which might be raised about how the Crosscheck list is actually used in Nevada. For example:  What further investigation is done by the State?  Does this mean that the election officials just compare the voter registration with DMV records?   The NAC can provide us with a bit more clarification regarding how the Secretary of State’s office is to handle voter lists:

NAC 293.462  Verification of information by Secretary of State. (NRS 293.124, 293.675)  On each business day, the Secretary of State will check the contents of the statewide voter registration list by:

     1.  Determining whether any person is included as a registered voter in the statewide voter registration list more than once.

     2.  For every registered voter who submitted an application to register to vote on or after January 1, 2006, comparing the driver’s license number, identification card number or last four digits of the social security number of the voter set forth in the statewide voter registration list, if any, with the information in the appropriate database of the Department.

     (Added to NAC by Sec’y of State by R018-07, eff. 9-18-2008)”

At least Nevada officials must incorporate at least part of the Social Security number in the “investigation.”  But when we’re just starting to get comfortable there’s this section which isn’t quite so clear:

“NAC 293.466  Correction of inaccurate or duplicative information; casting of provisional ballot in certain circumstances. (NRS 293.124, 293.675)

     1.  If a county clerk receives notice from the Secretary of State or another county clerk that the statewide voter registration list contains information that is potentially inaccurate, duplicative or otherwise requiring verification, the county clerk shall, not later than 5 calendar days after receiving such notification, take such action as is necessary to correct the information in the statewide voter registration list and in the computerized database established pursuant to NAC 293.454.

     2.  If the county clerk is unable to obtain the correct information relating to the voter that is described in subsection 1 before the day of an election, the voter must show such identification before any ballot may be cast, except that a voter may cast a provisional ballot pursuant to the provisions of NRS 293.3081 to 293.3086, inclusive.

     (Added to NAC by Sec’y of State by R018-07, eff. 9-18-2008)”

What would make a state election official think a registration was ‘potentially inaccurate?’ Duplicative? “Otherwise requiring verification?”  If a Crosscheck list shows a John Paul Smith registered to vote in Richmond, VA and a John P. Smith registered to voter in Henderson, NV, then does this make John P. Smith liable for be investigated as “otherwise requiring verification?”  The Nevada Revised Statutes make this a little more clear:

“NRS 293.675  Establishment and maintenance of list; requirements pertaining to list; duties of county and city clerks; cooperative agreement with Department of Motor Vehicles; verification of information in conjunction with Social Security Administration; agreements with state agencies to obtain information necessary for list; information may be requested from or provided to chief election officers of other states.

      1.  The Secretary of State shall establish and maintain an official statewide voter registration list, which may be maintained on the Internet, in consultation with each county and city clerk.   2.  The statewide voter registration list must:

      (a) Be a uniform, centralized and interactive computerized list;

      (b) Serve as the single method for storing and managing the official list of registered voters in this State;

      (c) Serve as the official list of registered voters for the conduct of all elections in this State;

      (d) Contain the name and registration information of every legally registered voter in this State;

      (e) Include a unique identifier assigned by the Secretary of State to each legally registered voter in this State;

      (f) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 6, be coordinated with the appropriate databases of other agencies in this State;

      (g) Be electronically accessible to each state and local election official in this State at all times;

      (h) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 7, allow for data to be shared with other states under certain circumstances; and

      (i) Be regularly maintained to ensure the integrity of the registration process and the election process.”  (emphasis added)

If (e ) above requiring the unique verifier is applied then the probability that a person can be purged from voter registration lists is diminished, especially if this means both the full name and the Social Security number.  We’re still not quite out of the woods yet.

We’re still going to have to deal with domestic migration, especially in Clark County:

“People moving to Clark County from other places in the United States are at a five-year high, data released by the U.S. Census on Thursday show. The number of people moving into the county from within the U.S. outnumbered residents moving out from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015. The net increase, which has been rising for the past two years, was close to 25,000, with foreign migration accounting for an additional 8,000 new residents.

Clark County has grown incrementally over the last five years, rising from 0.7 percent growth in July 2011 to 2.2 percent growth in July 2015. What has changed is that domestic migration is driving that growth. Births minus deaths, or natural population change, once paralleled domestic migration numbers in the county from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2013. The year before that, Clark County saw negative domestic migration. In the years following, domestic migration comprised most of the growth.”

[… ]  Just who are the new residents? January data of new Nevada driver’s license applicants show that a third, or 20,000, are from California followed by Texas and Florida at 3,000 each.

Perhaps more telling is that roughly half are in the 19-to-39 age range. Sure, some could be college students, but mostly, they are assumed to be part of the growing workforce that accompanies job growth.”  [LVRJ] (emphasis added)

The age range is important – 19-39, as in  eligible to vote.  How many “domestic migrants” to Nevada didn’t bother to tell California county clerks they moved, never intended to vote in a California election again, intended to be permanent residents in Nevada and register there?  The Didn’t Bother Factor drives some of the right wing conspiracy theories about the number of ineligible, i.e. potential duplicate, voters – particularly among the followers of Purger In Chief Kobach of Kansas:

“In January 2013, Kobach addressed a gathering of the National Association of State Election Directors about combating an epidemic of ballot-stuffing across the country. He announced that Crosscheck had already uncovered 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” in 15 states, and that the state of Kansas was prepared to cover the cost of compiling a nationwide list. That was enough to persuade 13 more states to hand over their voter files to Kobach’s office.”  [RS]

In the fevered minds of conspiracy theory advocates 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” is the same things as real ballot stuffing felons.  Some of these people are the same ones who believe “3,000,000 illegal votes were cast for Secretary Clinton in the last election.”  First, there was no epidemic of ballot stuffing across the country.  Secondly, this canard was spread by none other than Dick Morris, and promptly debunked. [Polifact]  Third, that didn’t stop the Federalist Society from climbing on board the “potential” fraud bandwagon citing conservative sources and 20 instances of fraudulent voter registration applications in Virginia.  Not actual voter fraud mind you, just fraudulent applications which obviously were caught. One of the more intriguing claims in the Federalist piece is that we can’t know how much voter fraud is going because people don’t report regular criminal behavior. Under reporting is not proof of criminal behavior, and arguments by analogy break down faster than just about any other form.

Since the Crosscheck program has been so problematic that Florida and Oregon have dropped it, and since the implementation of it has been plagued with the issues cited in the RollingStone article, Nevada should seriously consider dropping its participation.  Failing that, Nevada could consider specifying more clearly what the Unique Verifiers are in NRS 293.675 – requiring state election officials to compare middle names or at least initials, and Social Security numbers.   No county clerk’s office should be handed a list without the assurance of state officials that mistakes have not been made concerning ANY potential duplication.  The use of a faulty list to “improve election integrity” is self defeating and frankly makes no sense whatsoever.

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Filed under elections, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Shuffling the Deck and Hiding the Cards: House Guts Buy American rules

Just in case we all missed it, and I suspect we were supposed to, the House of Representatives recently gutted the rules for Buying American products for federal projects.  [DWT] What was all that palaver about ‘saving American jobs,’ and ‘promoting American manufacturing?’  Evidently it’s meaningless to Nevada Representatives Amodei, Hardy (happily on his way out) and Heck (happily on his way out) – all of whom voted in favor of the Water and Energy bill (H.R. 2028) from which the HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP  had stripped the “Buy American” provisions.

It might also be interesting to hear from Senator Dean Heller on the Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election?  Yes, 17 US intelligence agencies – not just the CIA – said Russia was behind the hacking. [USAT]  There’s no “confusion” over this conclusion. There’s no “false flag” operation – that’s the province of fake news and conspiracy theorists.  There’s just no question – and yet Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has yet to join the bipartisan call for Congressional investigation of this important matter?   If a foreign country can hack in and seek to manipulate a U.S. election, what’s to say it can’t gather blackmail-bait on the Republicans as well as Democrats?

And, what’s the Senator’s stance on GOP plans to cut Social Security? Here’s the first draft of that plan.   The basics:

Those measures include gradually raising the retirement age for receiving full benefits from 67 to 69 and adopting a less generous cost of living index than the current one. The proposal would also inaugurate means testing by changing the benefits formula to reduce payments to wealthier retirees. It would also eliminate the annual COLA adjustments for wealthier individuals and their families. [Financial Times]

It would be easier to sit back and pretend this is a normal political season but it isn’t, and when Teen Vogue does a better job of explaining the Gaslighting of America than the D.C. press, then we ought to figure we’re in trouble – from lies about manufacturing jobs to lies about election hacking to lies about Social Security —

“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country. He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites. He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias.”  [Teen Vogue]

And that sums up the beginnings of the Trumpster’s administration.

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Filed under Amodei, Economy, elections, Heck, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

Important Dates: 2016 Election

Nevada Voter Registration 2016

_____ Register to vote

_____ Check your own registration

_____ Help someone else register to vote

_____ Help them check their registration

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Filed under elections, Nevada politics, Politics

Distracted to Distraction?

carnival barker What are there? Some 412 days until the next general election, and the broadcast media is behaving like that is going to happen any moment? Perhaps we might call the campaign thus far, as presented by the beltway media and associated punditry, “The Click Bait Campaign?”  There are as many explanations for why the campaign appearances and speeches by Democratic candidates (Clinton, Sanders, etc.) aren’t getting the press coverage garnered by the Republican Clown Car as there are Punditatti to express them.  But while the press-gangs muse about whether Secretary Clinton is seen as “reliable,” or if Senator Sanders is perceived as “electable,” of if candidate Fiorina is “crisp and effective”… or if candidate Trump is “serious”… we’re missing some issues that deserve far more attention than the National ADHD click bait coverage is giving us.  Here’s what I’m waiting to hear more about.

The national economy.  The candidate who can convince me that he or she understands the shape of the American economy is probably the one who will get my vote.  Surely someone can clarify and amplify the changes in the U.S. economy in the past forty years:

“Previously, income grew more or less in step with household wealth. From 1962 to 1966, a period of low inflation and robust economic growth, real private sector wages rose 27.5 percent while real net worth increased 23.6 percent, according to Bloomberg News calculations based on government data. In the five-year period ending in 1996, real net worth gained 15.6 percent while private wages grew 11.3 percent. More recently, the gap between household net worth and wage growth has widened. From 2001 to 2005, the value of household assets minus liabilities rose 16.6 percent after inflation. Private sector wages rose just 2.7 percent.” [Bloomberg 2006]

Thus we  have an hour-glass economy, [Salmon, Reuters] one in which the wealth is concentrated at the upper end of the scale, and more occupations continue fall into the low-income levels. [Salon]  Senator Sanders has made continuous reference to the Income Inequality Gap, [Sanders] and Secretary Clinton has made this topic part of her repertoire on the campaign trail. [WSJ]

By February 2015 someone on the Republican side of the aisle noticed the Income Inequality gap (hour glass economy) [NYT] and Senator Marco Rubio attempted to slot into the issue by suggesting expanding the Child Tax Credit and cutting the tax brackets from seven to two (15% and 35%) unfortunately there’s no suggestion as to how to pay for this. Nor does he specify how to pay for expanding tax credits to childless adults; put simply, his arithmetic doesn’t work.  [NYT]  And, then there’s the rather tired Republican “promise” to create “flex funds” – another way of expressing the block grant anti-poverty programs proposal which lends itself nicely to eventual (and predictable) cuts to the grants by Congress.  In short, there’s nothing much new here: Credit Card Conservatism, and cuts to anti-poverty programs.  Meanwhile, we have the Limping Middle Class.

Perhaps we need a What To Watch For List?

  • Which candidates are speaking of a taxation system which rewards work and not just wealth?
  • Which candidates are addressing the decline in middle class income jobs in this country?
  • Which candidates are advocating equal pay for equal work? And/or an increase in funding for child care?
  • Which candidates are proposing an increase in the federal minimum wage?
  • Which candidates are suggesting we need to address the restoration of the manufacturing sector in this country?
  • Which candidates are supportive of workers’ rights to organize and form unions to bring more balance with multi-national corporations?
  • Which candidates are advocating funding for the improvement and maintenance of our national infrastructure?

It may be difficult to listen for these points since the media seems intent on speculating about the “electoral” effect of what candidates are proposing instead of explaining or clarifying the implications of their policy positions.  Meanwhile the media focuses on “Abortion!” or the “Planned Parenthood” hoax videos – the “Email,” the “Islamists!” the Whatever Will Get The Clicks of the Day.  A little over 412 days from now Americans will vote, and we’ll probably cast ballots based on the issue that is and remains the top American concern: It’s the Economy Stupid. Or, It’s the Stupid Economy.

Recommended: Robert Reich, “The Limping Middle Class,” New York Times, 9/03/11.  Danny Vinik, “Marco Rubio…”, New Republic, 1/14/15. Brendan Nyham, “Why Republicans are suddenly talking about economic inequality,” New York Times, 2/13/15.  Andrew Leonard, “The Hour Glass Economy,” Salon, 9/13/15.  Future of Jobs, “In an Hourglass Economy,” transcript, Marketplace.org, 8/2011. Bernard Starr, “Corporations Plan for a Post Middle Class America,” Business, Huffington Post, 4/6/12.  Mollie Reilly, “Thomas Piketty calls out Republican hypocrisy on income inequality,” Huffington Post, 3/11/15.

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