Category Archives: Nevada politics

Focus, Group: Routine Maintenance for Elections

A few thoughts on voting and counting and counting the voting:

(1) Nevada would be better served if we’d take a few moments to consider the age, use, maintenance, and condition of our voting equipment than if we persist in the highly questionable track of “run to ruin” accounting.  “Run to ruin” is altogether too common in the public sphere — it’s a condition, initiated by under-funding or limited revenue in the first place, compounded by public unwillingness to spend “sacred taxpayer dollars,” and finally the proximate cause of expensive projects and replacements in the last instance due to deferred maintenance, or deferred replacement.  Colloquially, it’s the process by which park service managers don’t replace cattle guards until the whole front end of an extended cab pickup falls through; or, a water system has pipe in the ground for 65 years without replacement; or, a county clerk hopes beyond hope he or she can get two more elections out of the voting machines in the courthouse basement.  It’s what Granny called penny wise and pound foolish.

However, on some occasions there’s no way to escape it.  That’s why we have three levels of government.  If the local county resources won’t cover the cost of new or upgraded voting equipment, then the county looks to the state; and, if the state can’t manage the entire tab, then the federal government kicks in.  If all three levels are loathe to spend any money on any government services, again it’s what Granny called penny wise and pound foolish.  The cattle guards will collapse, the pipes will break, and the voting machines will crunch and crumble into their version of electronic/mechanical Valhalla.

We can, and probably should, start asking questions now (as opposed to waiting around for another two years) of our local election officials:  How old are our voting machines? In what kind of shape are they in?  What’s the maintenance schedule for them? Is that schedule continuous or only when the devices are hauled out every two years for use? How secure are our machines?  How likely is it that the computer systems in place for local voter registration can be hacked? Do we have a coordinated plan in place to prevent interference?

Do we have enough voting machines?  Do we have a sufficient number of voting machines to insure that every citizen who wishes to cast a ballot can do so in a reasonable amount of time?  At a reasonable distance from his or her residence?

(2) Do we need to consider other voting formats?  Some localities have mail-in ballots. This saves personnel costs in remote regions; saves time and expense for members of local law enforcement in regard to the transportation, collection, and security of voting devices, and keeps voting personnel expenses to a minimum.  The system doesn’t come without some decisions, a few controversial, about the process.  For example, must ballots be postmarked prior to the deadline or received by the County Clerk’s office before the voting deadline? Should the voter’s signature be clearly visible on the exterior of the envelop or should a privacy flap cover the name? (The flap system is a bit more expensive.)

(3) Are we staffing our elections adequately?  One of the contentious elements in current chatter concerns how local and state election officials are handling the count of absentee, mail-in, and provisional ballots — this really shouldn’t be an issue. Every legal ballot ought to be counted in every jurisdiction in every election.  The question is: Do we have the personnel to do that?  Should there be a higher than expected turnout, then do we allow our local election officials enough resources to properly staff the counting process, and/or do we allow them enough time to accomplish the tasks without having to hire too many (a number that represents a policy decision) additional people for the count or recount?    Are we allocating sufficient resources so that local election officials can plan for the best possible election service instead of the cheapest possible election service.  Granny said, “You get what you pay for.”

Granted we may all have a tendency not to look at the tires until one of them goes flat, and not to take heed of the washing machine until there’s water on the floor, but we’d be better prepared for elections if members of the public were to take an interest in our voting systems, processes, equipment, and staffing, BEFORE election seasons hit us with the full force of the advertising on our TV screens.

And, just to re-emphasize the punctuation in the title:  Have you eaten Granny?

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Make America Good Again: The Day After the Day After

MAGA blue good again

I am having trouble finding the words to express what I’m feeling this morning.  Is it disappointment in the response from the President to the bombs sent to prominent Democrats?  Not really, after his performance in the wake of the Charlottesville violence I can’t say I find his jab at the media this morning disappointing in the sense that I wouldn’t have expected it.

Am I frustrated by the Both Siders who persist in remarking how Both Sides Do whatever it is that everyone finds appalling?  Yes.  Let’s be fact-based for the moment.  Indeed, a left leaning whackadoodle shot up a GOP baseball practice severely injuring Congressman Steve Scalise; however, if we’re playing “balancing act” here then the scales are heavily weighted toward right wing terrorists who shot up a Unitarian church in Tennessee, who took a gun into the Holocaust Museum, who shot up a Bible study class in Charleston, SC, who drove into a crowded street in Charlottesville, VA, who terrorized a wildlife refuge in Oregon.   In fact, there’s a study out there showing that of 65 terrorist attacks in the US in one year 2/3rds of them were “tied to racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Semitic, fascist, anti-government or xenophobic motivations.” [SPLC]  So, spare me the Both Sides Do It business.  I’m not in the mood for more obfuscation this morning.

I might also say I’m a little agitated by the calls for “civility.”  This form of advocacy seems perilously close to Both Side-ism, and I’m not really buying into it.  First, someone needs to tell the President that politics is a contact sport — like basketball as it is played in the paint.  If he can’t take the heat, then President Harry Truman had some advice: “Get out of the kitchen.”   If every criticism is taken as a personal insult, if every objection is perceived as an attack, then I suppose the President may feel assailed on all sides. Welcome to the office.  Is he thinking President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama loved all the press they got?  Did either of them continually whine about “fake news?”  Not that I recall.  I remember both arguing for broader perspectives or more focused information and articles, but Lord have mercy I don’t remember all the whingeing and whining that’s coming out of the White House now.

Secondly,  civility shouldn’t be subject to a double standard.  Is it civil to lie about Democratic positions on taxation, health care insurance programs, and veterans’ benefits?  — and then squeal like a stuck pig when this is challenged?  Is it mutually “civil” to lambaste one’s opponent for items real and imagined and then scream bloody murder when the lambasting is returned?  There’s too much loaded language involved in this element.  My side is “challenging” your side is “attacking.”  My side is “passionate,” your side is “unhinged.”  My side is activated, your side is an angry mob.  I’m tried of framing games.

Tone down, or dial down, the rhetoric?  Excuse me? Which side has a crowd chanting “Lock Her Up?”  “CNN sucks?”  Which side has advocated “2nd Amendment Solutions?” Which side has told voters to go to the 2018 polls armed because the Democrats may be an “angry mob?”  Which side equates harassment in a restaurant with driving a car into protesters and bomb threats?

A bit further along this line, don’t try to convince me this morning the President is completely unblemished, untarnished, untouched by the actions of whomever is sending and delivering the bombs.  I’m sure I understand the general notion of proximate causation.  I know full well the President didn’t directly inspire the actions of the whack-job who’s sending the bombs for whatever reason. I get that.  I also get that he’s not helping.

The President doesn’t get to lead chants, grin at the racist/misogynist antics of the crowd, and then wash his hands (or have them washed for him by his apologists) of the whole mess by saying, “I wasn’t directly involved.”

Teachers often refer to “classroom management,”  meaning that the tone in their classroom is set by the teacher who by instruction and example lets it be known that misbehavior is not tolerated — and 90% of the students will behave themselves accordingly.  Business owners often refer to “climate,” and mean that by instruction or example employees will follow standards of ethics and behavior associated with good management and customer/client relations practices.  90% of employees will conform, the other 10% will be looking for other employment.   This White House doesn’t appear to understand that management, climate, or whatever we want to call it, is a function of leadership. Real leadership. Hands on management and the establishment of a positive corporate culture and climate.  Leadership with real accountability.  Or, there’s the old cliché: fish rots from the head.

I want an America that’s good again.  I want an America which is seen worldwide as opposed to the killing of journalists from any newspaper from any country.  I want an America that doesn’t lock children in cages and call it a deterrent for asylum seekers. I want an America where the 99% can expect the same deference to their economic needs as the top 1%.  I want an America where children don’t have live fire drills in elementary and secondary schools. I want an America where parents don’t wait to take a child to a physician because they can’t afford a medical bill that month.  I want an America where everyone is encouraged to vote. I want an America where no one thinks sending bombs to prominent politicians is excusable, and that a President can be excused for his un-empathetic response to the incidents.

I want an America that’s good again.

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Make America Good Again: Trump plays the race deck

MAGA blue good again

I’d rather not hear anyone from the right side of the political aisle make accusatory noises about “playing the race card.”  The Oval Office oaf is playing the whole deck, including during his performance in Las Vegas.  The GOP motto of the moment appears to be “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”   There’s a …. caravan coming.  This isn’t a dog whistle to the white nationalists among us, it’s a bull horn announcement for all to hear.

The image: Thousands of brown skinned people approaching our southern border; brown people who are likely rapists, drug dealers, gang members, and now “middle eastern” potential terrorists.   “Patriots” grab your Second Amendment Solutions, protect your women and children; face down this onslaught of brown peril!  He who is President hasn’t yet used the term “brown peril,” but it can’t be too long before he does. He has already let us know he’s a “nationalist.”  All he has to do now is add “white” to make the statement completely true.

Demonize these migrants often enough and perhaps people will forget he put children in cages, separated from their parents at the southern border, and some 136 of them have yet to be reunited with parents his administration admits it cannot locate. Demonize them stridently enough and perhaps people will come to the conclusion that whatever might happen to them in detention camps is warranted?  Demonize them vitriolically enough and his “base” will applaud indefinite detention of families and children in an increasingly cruel and uncivilized application of immigration policy?

Demonize them, and by extension demonize those immigrants who came before, and those who have long since become U.S. citizens, and castigate the Democrats as the party of “others.”  “Others” who are not like “real Americans” and therefore must be unintelligent, obsequious, corrupt and capable of being corrupted, illegal and thus easily tempted to do illegal acts (like voting); “Others” who must be eliminated from our body politic before despoiling the white purity of our republic.

This kind of rhetoric from the White House isn’t discriminatory, it’s eliminationist.  Democrats are an “angry mob.”  While the anger of the Proud Boys spills out from the Republican Club in NYC and protesters are beaten; while the anger of the White Nationalists surges in Charlottesville bearing tiki torches and driving a vehicle into a crowd, killing one person and injuring several others; while these incidents are publicized for all to see, Trump and his minions project their own anger, their own frustration, their own bigotry onto the others.  It isn’t too far from the mentality of the mobs which gathered to watch, and to applaud, the lynching of African American men, or who took part in the lynching of  Michael Donald in 1981.

If Trump can’t find any examples of terrorists in the crowd of migrant refugees, he can use two of his favorite tricks.  Trick OneReverse the burden of proof.  When asked about whether there were gang members and middle eastern terrorists in the crowds, Trump replied that the news organizations should be the ones to investigate the matter. He is telling us that he believes this mythology (or finds it useful) and that it is up to everyone else to fact check him. He conveniently places the burden of proof on the media to debunk his lies, while he keeps lying.

Trick Two: Never admit a mistake.  If an independent investigation demonstrates no connection between immigrants and Democrats, then it must be that the news media didn’t look hard enough, didn’t look in the right places, didn’t debunk all the possible permutations of his preferred conspiracy theory of the day.  There’s a variation on this theme:  Move the goal posts.  It’s not enough to release a birth certificate, it has to be the long form.  It’s not enough to release the long form, the long form has to be verified by original sources. And so it goes. If this doesn’t work there’s always the dismissive “it’s not important anymore” comment.  We’ve seen this before.  He simple doesn’t want to talk about those instances when he has been emphatically, demonstrably, totally, dead wrong. So, he doesn’t.  He moves on to his next lie.

Flood the zone:  More lies, more often, and more work for the fact checkers.  This past week has been instructive if we’re looking for big lies, little lies, and a preponderance of lies.  We’re going to have a 10% tax cut for the middle class!  Not while Congress isn’t in session.  Well, maybe when Congress meets after the mid-terms…. maybe never because his first round of tax cuts has blown up the deficit.

He’d rather say anything than admit his Senate Majority Leaders has let the cat out of the burlap bag when McConnell openly stated programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would have to be cut to pay for Trump’s tax bonus to the top 1%.

Mexico is never paying for his wall.  But, we have to have a wall. We have to have a wall. There’s a caravan, so there has to be a wall.  That there is precious little public land in Texas on which to put this wall and buying up private land (and using the dreaded eminent domain) will be prohibitively expensive, doesn’t matter.  It’s the symbolism of the wall, the idea of a physical barrier between the hordes of women and children and the border which is important to the imagery.

Perhaps we should listen to the “survivors” of the “Bowling Green Massacre?”  There are “riots in California.”  Interesting.  I haven’t seen any sign of this on my television set, and I live in an area in which California news is quite common.  There are more lies about how many jobs are related to arms deals with Saudi Arabia — and more about the size of the deals themselves. [VanFair]

His White House will not respond to inquiries about those “terrorists” in the caravan of migrants, nor does he answer too many questions about specifics of the Saudi arms deals; he will, however, change his tune concerning the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to fit the Saudi attempt at explication of the moment. [BBC]

There are two weeks until the U.S. mid-term elections.  Two weeks.  This is the checkpoint.  This is the place where the road forks and the lies, the demonization, and the obfuscation continue or it can take the other route and the guard rails gradually move back into place.  No one else can do this for us. We have to do it for ourselves. Vote.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Make America Good Again: Why I’m tired of DC’s Cool Kids

MAGA blue good againPress bashing is altogether too simple, and simplistic, but it is the way we get our information about politics in Nevada and America.  Now that we’re a focal point for national interest in a senatorial race it’s hard to avoid the punditry and their continual blathering.  However, we do need to avoid them.  We do need to ignore the cool kids and their cocktail party conversations in print, at least most of them.

For the next two weeks — shut down the television machine and do something else. Why? Because they really can’t tell us much we don’t already know. Because they want to talk to us about what they want to talk about and not necessarily what we need to know.

The cool kids in front of the cameras and writing as columnists are opinionists. Each day it’s their job to grind out opinion pieces — some better than others, some more informed than others, but always written to be read by other opinion writers and commentators. The other cool kids will comment on what a member of their cohort has written or said, and the cycle continues until the next shiny object floats before their countenances and their off to another topic — because it’s not cool to keep writing about the same topic day after day.

Then the opinionists profess surprise that people, real people, are more interested in health care, than in the latest incident du jour or poll of the moment.  Real people are more interested in policy than process; real people are more interested in issues than in the reflections and refractions from the myriad of shiny objects which distract the opinionists and bedazzle the punditry.  This is likely because real people understand that health insurance policies which don’t cover pre-existing medical conditions, or only provide coverage at exorbitant premium rates, isn’t helpful.  Real people understand, on a daily basis, that if they aren’t seeing their wages keep up with inflation, or they don’t have enough cash in reserve to meet a $500 emergency expense,  the economy isn’t working for them.

Turn off the Sunday squawk shows. Why? Because these are more infotainment than substance; more about process and spin than information and analysis.  Case in point: The cook kid’s obsession with “Democratic responses.”  Let’s face it, we have a misogynistic, sexist, racist, elitist administration in the Oval Office and the Democrats have to come up with ways to respond to it — but with the cool kids there’s no way to win.

Senator Elizabeth Warren responds to at least two years worth of nasty racist taunting with a DNA test and what does she get from the cool kids?  Oh, clutch pearls, she’s descending to “his level,” or she doesn’t meet tribal membership qualification standards (that was never the point in the first place.) Is she really announcing her interest in running for the presidency in 2020?  The cool kids were ever so busy parsing her announcement for “clues,” and ever so dismissive about her “timing,” her “phrasing,” her “intentions.”  Was it just me, or did this smack a bit of the Clinton Treatment?  Secretary Clinton writes a book. It was “too soon.”  It was “too late.”  It was “too personal.” It was not “personal enough.”  She should “go away.” She has a responsibility to stay and lead her party.  She can’t win with the cool kids in DC, she never could, and now it appears Senator Warren has joined her.

How many members of the Cool Kids Club have noticed the propensity of the Republicans to attack a certain group of people — Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters, Fredericka Wilson, Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Stacey Abrams, Nancy Pelosi… seeing a pattern here?  It’s time to tune out of the punditry’s process analysis parsing, and do some phone calling, door knocking, and talking to some of those people who are more concerned about whether they can afford a trip to the ER than with how the Cocktail Party Club will receive their well crafted and grammatically polished opinion pieces.

It’s also high time to stop listening to the false equivalency gamesmanship.   I don’t much care how many times the buffoon in the Oval Office calls Democrats a “mob.”  That’s a bull-horn talking point for his base of dead-ender deplorables.  Yes, they are deplorable people.  A person gets to be deplorable in my estimation when it’s acceptable to invite a self-anointed radical right wing racist thug to a Republican venue, and then offer no apology when he and his associates go out on a New York city street and start beating up people.  What on earth could these “Proud Boys” be proud of?  It

It is deplorable, in my estimation, when the Tiki Torch carrying, Nazi slogan chanting boys take to the streets of Charlottesville, VA, and then one of their number decides it’s a fine idea to deliberately drive a car into the crowd of anti-nazi demonstrators — killing one young woman.  It is NOT a fine idea for Florida Republican leadership to invite White Supremacists to threaten House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.  Oh, but but but what about Mitch McConnell and some others being shouted at in restaurants?  Excuse me… but when did driving into crowds, beating up people in the streets, chanting Nazi slogans within hearing distance of a synagogue, and threatening direct physical violence to the House Minority Leader become “equivalent” to getting shouted at in a restaurant?  [I don’t advocate shouting at people in restaurants — I’m rather more the type to tell the management that the mere presence of those people has put me off my feed and I’m leaving — I’ll pay my bill if I’ve already been served (no reason to make the staff pay for my personal quirks) but I’d really rather spot the Deplorables before I order so I can walk out without making any financial contribution to the establishment serving them.]

I, for one, am tired of the false equivalency game, and there’s no reason to listen to it.  I have a handy button on my TV remote control that fixes that.

So, please, for the next few days walk precincts if you can, make phone calls, talk to friends and neighbors, do whatever you can whenever you can to Get People Out To Vote.  Somehow we need to overcome the gerrymandering, egregious vote suppression tactics, and false electoral information strategies to get to the polls, vote in the polling stations, and make a difference in the trajectory of this country.  State by state, county by county, city and town by city and town, ward by ward, precinct by precinct.

There’s enough noise coming from the television sets and radios; but, what we do need to attend to are the needs of our neighbors, the interests of our friends, and the concerns of our cohorts.  Vote like our right to vote depends on it. It does.  Make America Good Again.

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Back Up and Running: Because Things Aren’t Changing

Okay, now the Internet connectivity is back … as in there wasn’t any Internet Connectivity for a few days … it’s time to get back up and running.  And, time to get back to nagging, entreating, nagging, begging, nagging, pleading, nagging…  it’s time to VOTE.

Why?  Because stuff’s not changing.

There are still children who are separated from their families at our borders.  The government has been told to reunite them.  Has been ordered to reunite them.  However, when cruelty is combined with incompetence we have a situation in which deported parents may lose their children to adoption. [NBC]  There was a two year old girl called to an immigration hearing. Two years old. 2. [NYT]  A five year old girl was persuaded to sign away her rights. [NewYorker]  Five years old. 5.

We know what two year old children can do, the average ones are walking and pulling their toys around; they climb on furniture; they can identify objects when the objects are named for them;  begins to know that objects have permanence even if they are covered by three or four layers.  And we put a child such as this in an immigration hearing?  Who on this planet could possibly believe this is right?

Four and five year olds?  We’re usually happy if they put sentences of more than five words together, if they can correctly name at least four colors, if they can draw some basic geometric shapes, if they use future tense, if they can count ten objects, and if they can name basic common household items.  And we want a five year old to understand a Flores bond?  Really.  Who on this planet could possibly believe this is right?

We could have comprehensive immigration policy reform coming from the Legislative branch of our Federal government, but we won’t get it as long as Republicans are content to shove show-pieces through the process which don’t address the essential cruelty and racism of current administration policy.   We won’t get comprehensive immigration policy reform accomplished unless and until Republicans no longer control the Legislative branch. Period. Full. Stop.

There are still children in our elementary schools learning shelter in place procedures for school shootings.   Additionally, it’s been over a year since the massacre at the Las Vegas music concert.  Still there are no bans on bump stocks; we’re told to wait patiently there’s something in the works… how long does it have to be in the works?  It’s been a year for crying out loud, for crying in silence, for crying on each others’ shoulders for young lives lost, church members slain, concert goers murdered, office workers killed, journalists shot and fatally wounded…  However, as long as the National Rifle Association and its myrmidons in the House and Senate refuse to consider common sense gun ownership, storage, and sales laws we’ll still be crying out loud.

We won’t get rational gun safety laws enacted in this country unless and until the Republicans and their NRA (Russian money) allies are no longer able to spread fear, anxiety, and money around the electorate.  Vote them out, and we can start to make sense, and we can stop crying out loud.

There are still children and families at risk of financial and physical peril for a lack of secure health care insurance coverage.   And the Republicans’ answer? Let people buy junk insurance that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, doesn’t meet the standards of coverage for the ACA, and doesn’t protect families from medical bill bankruptcies.  This isn’t the solution — this is a return to the situation that created problems for families in the first place.

There are students who are graduating from colleges and universities with crushing levels of student debt.   The New York Federal Reserve has been trying to tell us for years now that student debt levels have a tangible impact on our economy.   We yawn over the statistics, shiver when the statistics include someone or some family we know, and worry when the children are our own.  Will they be able to make a down payment on a house by age 30?  Some 60% of them may not be.  Will they be able to make long term purchases for automobiles and appliances?  At what borrowing rates?  Are we investing in the one commodity that can truly guarantee the success of this nation in the future — our children?  Right now… not so much.

We could do this, but we’ll have to stop buying in to the Republican line that children, especially other people’s children, are merely expenses, and not investments.  GOP politicians would have us believe we can’t afford to educate our children — Think of the Taxes! — the reality is we can’t afford not to.  We need those schools (and colleges) to educate them, those libraries to encourage them, those park and recreational facilities to help keep them healthy so we end up with a generation of educated, healthy, and productive members of the next work force.  Without that, as the saying goes, “we got nothing going for us.”

So we should vote our hopes not our fears.  Vote our hope for immigrant children and babies (and their families,) hope for the safety and well being of our children, hope for next generation’s productivity and wealth creation. The optimist may say he believes the elections will turn out “right.”  The hopeful person understands that while “things may turn out right in the end,”  the end is better achieved when hope is supported by action.  Act. Vote. Change. It can start happening in 2018.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Guinn, Gun Issues, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Immigration, Nevada politics, Politics

And Now Back To Our Regular Program: Post Kavanaugh Infrastructure Week

Senatorial candidate/incumbent Dean Heller (R-NV) was pleased to tweet Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed.  Not that the confirmation was a major surprise.  The Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans didn’t want to investigate his background, the White House didn’t want to investigate his background, the Chief Justice sat on complaints arising from his background [WaPo] and the pundit class was ever so pleased to have a “dramatic” confirmation to cover.  There were other elements which should have come as no surprise either.

The newspapers and broadcast media played along with the “controversy.”  Was it “he said, she said?”  What were women thinking? What were Trump-Women thinking?  Was he going to be the swing vote on challenges to Roe v. Wade?  Not too much ink and precious few pixels were expended describing his position on workers’ rights, on environmental regulations, on human rights, on much of anything other than the abortion issue.  Yawn.  Those more complex issues require deeper reporting and far more depth in explication and they don’t sell advertising.   Once more we’re reminded that the general public is not the first audience for television and print media business operations — it’s the advertisers.

Therefore, why would anyone be surprised the media aired and printed GOP bombast about “paid protesters,” and “mobs” of angry people?  There has always been a double standard at work in this realm.  The Status Quo is male, business ownership oriented, quaffs its scotch and water or sipping whiskey beside polished bars and inside elegant doors, and buys advertising — or knows someone who does.  The cameras will follow the freest spirit clad in the most outrageous costuming for a protest occasion, while those dressed more conservatively aren’t often in the frame because they don’t “tell the story.”  Or, at least not the story the advertisers want to tell.

Women have known since the era of the suffragettes that men are “passionate,” while women are “hysterical and emotional.”  If a person isn’t sure about this take another look at Serena Williams’ protest of an official’s call which may very well have cost her a championship match.  Women have known all along theirs is not the story the Status Quo wants in the headlines above the fold, or leading the broadcast.  The numbers of women who remember a time when all the ‘shelter’ magazines advised them to give up their jobs so returning soldiers could be assured of employment and a comfortable ‘nest’ at home are dwindling, but the memory is still within a life span.

Viewers watch marching neo-nazis with tiki torches, chanting “Blood and Soil,” while sporting their tidy white polo shirts and khaki trousers.  Gee, they don’t give the general impression of an “angry mob.”  It’s only when the cameras move closer to the faces that the hate is visible.  Compare the visual to the preferred camera target in a contemporary protest.  Once the march leaders are shown the cameras seek out the most eye-catching characters.  They usually don’t have that white-washed polo shirt look.  They are often students who don’t own more than one suit, if that, and certainly don’t want to risk getting really good clothing messed up during the inevitable police action which could ensue.  So, it’s jeans and T-shirts/jackets compared on screen to polo shirts and khakis.  No matter the jeans and T’s are defending 1st Amendment rights by exercising them, as the khaki klan seeks to impose white supremacy on a diverse country.  But, what about “the men?”

Once more the media allows the big players to frame the game.  If the #MeToo movement has gathered support and seems to be adding adherents and allies, then what might the Status Quo do to counter?  This week was a classic.  Elite, rich, elderly white males stood before us crying (and whining) about men being the victims of modernity.  However, this whine has been boiling for a long time.  Consider the continuous complaints of the Rush Limbaugh’s of the airwaves with their moaning about ‘feminazis” and how a real American guy can’t swat Mary Jane’s fanny when she steps into the garage — how a real man can’t wolf whistle at all the Mary Jane’s who have to walk past a construction site — how real men can’t catch a break because of all the women in the workplace who stifle the man’s competitive spirit.  Of course, real men don’t feel the need to swat Mary Jane’s fanny in the garage; they don’t need to wolf whistle; and they control most of the management positions in corporate America.  This isn’t news.

When all else fails the right can be assured the old anti-Semitic ploys will work.  If all the canned ham look-a-likes (Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, etc)  don’t manage to put a major dent in the image of protesters who don’t care for sexism and misogyny, there’s always the “paid protester” line… in this case George Soros who makes a convenient stand-in for the old anti-Rothchild propaganda of an earlier era.  The old double standard works here as well.  The Tea Partiers were “Real America.”  The Occupy Wall Street protesters must have been paid.  The contemporary protesters, mostly women last week, must surely have been paid — according to the elite, rich, white, males who celebrated ignoring them.

Will this, the press asked, cause a closer horse race in the mid-terms?  There is absolutely nothing the press seems to like more than a horse race, a sporting event, anything which will allow the punditry to pontificate on sports cliches like “momentum.”  Spare me. All the press has to work with are general, national or statewide, polling.  It does not have access to internal, private, number crunching performed on behalf of the campaigns themselves.  Most individuals who have been “in politics” for more than a school committee race know the truth of the O’Neill Maxim: All politics is local. 

Besides the “big” stuff the cable channels like to cover, there are better questions which they can’t answer because they just flat out don’t have the resources to do so. For example, they don’t have much of a handle on “candidate fit,” or how the specific candidate fits the local electorate.  They don’t have access to local politically active organizations which do phone banks, walks, and other services for campaigns. Nor do they have a way to gauge the effectiveness of local politically related leadership in social and other organizations.  The “media” may have a 35K view of a national issue, but there’s plenty of cloud cover before it sees what is going on in Ward 4 of Congressional District 3’s race. Not that we should ignore the media reportage, but we do need to be cognizant of how limited it is.

There’s the post hoc ergo procter hoc problem.  Even after an election the media may proclaim that some national issue had “an effect,” while underneath that “effect” may very well be the fact that Candidate X launched a full throat-ed ad buy, along with a deluge of phone bankers, combined with a legion of precinct walkers in the last week.

Thus,  for those who have survived another Infrastructure Week of the divisive, deflective, dumpster disaster which is the Trump Era,  there are mid-term elections which will be determined by who votes for whom.

Who has the best get out the vote plan? Who executes that plan best?

Who has the better candidate who best fits the district or state? Who executes the campaign best?

Who just flat out works harder to get in office or stay that way?  Who didn’t let the Outrage du Jour distract them from campaigning on issues near and dear to their constituents hearts — regardless of the media tendencies, press proclivities, and advertisers demands.  Who kept their eyes on the prize when others were distracted by double standards and double vision?

When we vote we win. That’s all there is to it.

 

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Sheer Incompetence Plus Venality: Trump’s Landscape

Somewhere in the midst of my barely controlled anger over the treatment of Dr. Ford by the current administration and my propensity not to let go of a bone previously gnawed, I’m reaching the conclusion that the Oval Office is a dismal domain of sheer incompetence combined with utter venality, mixed with a pattern of responses to critical news.

A brief review — Dr. Ford offered credible testimony indicating Judge Kavanaugh engaged in reprehensible acts as a young man.  There is corroborating testimony, not necessarily to the actual event in question in all its detail, but to the character of the man, and to the likelihood that her allegations are possibly true, and importantly that Judge Kavanaugh has certainly been less than forthcoming about various aspects of his character.

Another brief review — Christopher Steele, British author and former MI6 agent, was so concerned about activities involving the Trump campaign and the Russians that he compiled his information into memos and relayed the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July and October of 2016.  His opposition research was originally contracted by a conservative organization in 2015, and later picked up by DNC/Clinton Campaign in the Spring of 2016.

Yet another brief review — The New York Times runs a compendious article about the Trump fortune which should demolish any mythology surrounding the 45th president concerning the origin of his putative fortune.  No, he didn’t get a small loan from his father; he got several large loans from his father many of which were forgiven.  No, he is not a successful tycoon, his father had to bail him out of not one but several financial disasters.

What do these have in common? First, they are both uncomfortable topics for the current administration. Secondly, there’s a pattern in the administration’s responses.  No sooner does the information begin to emerge than the response is to discredit the source.  Dr. Ford can’t remember all the details of her traumatic evening, therefore the description must not be completely reliable. If it is not totally reliable then the Judge must be innocent before proven guilty, as if a job interview for a judgeship is a matter for criminal prosecution.  Christopher Steel’s memos cannot all the verified, therefore all of his assertions and descriptions in his reporting must be suspect; none can be accepted until all can be demonstratively proven.  The information in the NY Times article is “old news, and a hit piece,”  except that there is ‘news’ in the account.

Once the seed is planted discrediting the source it’s time to play the verbiage game.  It’s time to spin the narrative wheel and see where the needle lands?   The administration is fond of prefacing any commentary related to the Steele memos as “debunked.”  They’ve hardly been debunked, in fact most of the allegations contained in the memos have been verified.  Only the Pee Tape mythology remains illusive.  However, here we see the pattern again — if something cannot be 100% nailed down and documented the entirety of the assertions and allegations must be dismissed out of hand.

The administration would tell us that Dr. Ford’s description of Judge Kavanaugh’s behavior cannot be verified, but its own haste to conduct a “supplemental” background check left out so many avenues of possible verification the “check” part of the sentence remains vague to the point of vacuity.

The Oval Office would have us believe the NY Times financial article, so lengthy it required more paper for the print edition, was a rehash of old accusations.  In actuality it’s a careful, meticulous rendition of the tax scams, shady dealing, and intra-familial self dealing which enabled the current resident of 1600 PA Avenue to claim — without a bit of substantiation — he is a self made billionaire.  Far from being the brilliant businessman, Trump is more likely the stumbling fool who paid too much for the New Jersey Generals, and managed to bankrupt a casino business.

Here’s what I believe we can reasonably expect:

(1) The pattern will continue, if only because the Administration is so spectacularly inept.  Little wonder things like the Kavanaugh nomination, the first Muslim Ban, the Immigration Zero Tolerance plan, and other action blow up in their faces.  The actions are ill considered, incompletely thought out, and incompetently implemented.  This is a recipe for a debacle in any forum.

(2) The pattern will continue as long as reporting plays along with the talking points game.  Adding “debunked” to the Steele memos doesn’t mean that most of them weren’t straight on point.  Adding “unsubstantiated” to Dr. Ford’s testimony doesn’t mean her story is any less generally credible.  Adding “old news hit piece” to the New York Times reporting doesn’t mean it doesn’t shed considerable light on the financial machinations of the Trump family, and Donald J Trump in particular.

Thus when we begin with sheer incompetence, ineptly implementing fundamentally flawed policy from the most venal perspective possible, it’s no accident we are in for a bombardment of reactions tailored to discredit the sources, over-generalize the message, and under-evaluate any underlying veracity.   Given the nature of sheer incompetence this is about all we can come to expect.

What is interesting is to watch politicians like Adam Laxalt and Dean Heller try to anchor their campaigns on the shifting shingle beaches of the Trump landscape littered with venality, incompetence, and bombast.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada politics, Politics