Category Archives: Politics

Oh Heck, he’s not being very transparent

Heck Trump Hat Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election reveres the secret ballot, and tells constituents it’s nobody’s business who he’ll vote for in the upcoming presidential election. [RGJ]  While this is an honorable position, it doesn’t answer a crucial question. Is Heck supporting Donald J. Trump?

One of the problems for down ballot candidates who are associated with a presidential contender who has insulted 282 people, places, and things during this season, is how to finesse the prospects.  There are several ways and Heck’s about to try them all.

I will vote for the candidate of my party.”  OK, however the fact that you can’t say the name out loud indicates a level of discomfort not usually a function of the  normal campaign process.

I will endorse but I will not support…”  And what on Earth might this mean? Let’s guess it means I begrudgingly offer my official endorsement for my party’s candidate but don’t expect me to defend or explain the candidate’s campaign messages, and for Heaven’s Sake don’t put me on the same stage with him.

“I endorse my party’s candidate fully…” Until he or she does something so egregious I can’t stomach it and the poll numbers are cratering?

“I cannot endorse my party’s candidate…”  Usually announced after the top of the ticket does something egregious and the poll numbers have cratered.

“I won’t tell you who I’m voting for and you can’t find out.”  True. No one will ever know, and you can pray heartily that the candidate never finds out how you voted unless you voted for him, and the candidate’s fervent supporters will never find out you didn’t vote for him, or the candidate’s detractors in your own party never find out either way.  Good luck with that, because when you finally announce how you cast your ballot no one is going to believe you.

And why should they? – you’ve been as ‘transparent’ as Donald Trump’s tax returns.

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Replace the ACA with What??

Take Two Aspirin

It’s pearl clutching time for the opponents of the Affordable Care Act and Patient’s Bill of Rights.  The premiums are going up.  Yes, and what did a rational person think was going to happen in a system based on private health insurance corporations selling policies?  Further, before swallowing all the hyperbole there needs to be a bit fact checking.

First: This is far from a Nationwide Crisis – calm down – as Think Progress advises

“Although some news outlets are characterizing the news about rising premiums as a “November surprise” that could have a big impact on how Americans feel about the upcoming election, the reality is that these price hikes won’t affect the majority of the country. Most Americans get their insurance either through their employer or through a safety net program like Medicaid. A much smaller portion of the population — about 6 percent — buys private insurance plans on Obamacare’s marketplaces.”

Second:  If the premiums go up so do the subsidies. Again, Think Progress explains —

“Critically, Americans won’t need to shoulder Obamacare’s premium increases on their own. Most people who are insured through Obamacare’s state-level marketplaces don’t pay for the full price of their premiums because they get an assist from the government in the form of subsidies. These federal subsidies to help offset the cost of buying insurance are also going to rise. According to the Obama administration, even with the projected increases, more than 70 percent of people buying insurance on the marketplaces will be able to get a plan for less than $75 a month next year — provided they take advantage of the subsidies available to them and select a low-cost plan with more limited benefits than other options.”

If a person is covered under the terms of an employer’s health insurance plan, Medicare, or private insurance purchased on his or her own – this is not an unexpected increase, nor is the increase in premium costs essentially any more than what other policy premiums will see.  There is no need to grab the pearls, hit the fainting couch, or even to have to take two aspirin.

The Replacement is Worse Than The Current System

If one is inclined to take on headaches, none may be more miserable than what the Republicans have in mind for replacing the Affordable Care Act. If clutching pearls and twisting open the adult-proof cap on the painkillers is desired then by all means – support the Health Savings Account idea.

There is nothing new about this idea, and nothing particularly good about it.

‘A creation of the 2003 Medicare act, HSAs do offer employers the hope of curbing their insurance expense. Under the law, the accounts, which enable workers to set aside pre-tax dollars they can later use toward their out-of-pocket medical expenses, must be offered in tandem with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).” [cfo]

As originally envisioned the HSA is combined with a high-deductible policy.  Thus for any employee there’s a double whammy.  More money out of the paycheck for the HSA and more money out of pocket for the health insurance plan.  But, doesn’t this make the consumer more cost conscious? Yes, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“Studies have recently confirmed the worst fears about such plans: They can induce beneficiaries to stint on health care that they truly need. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute study, 35 percent of the people in CDHPs and 31 percent in HDHPs “reported delaying or avoiding care, as opposed to 17 percent of those in comprehensive plans.” [cfo]

Avoiding treatment is NOT a desired outcome of any wellness plan.  If you need more convincing that HSA’s are not the answer, look to Five Reasons Not To Enroll In An HSA —  no drug copays; no immediate financing; high deductibles, 213(d) confusion over what’s covered; and an “education gap” about these products.

Seeking more information about this rather bad idea compliments of the Republican Party and their allies in the corporate insurance and financial markets?  There’s The Truth About HSA’s; Here’s Exactly How Terrible Paul Ryan’s Obamacare Replacement Plan Is; HSAs mostly benefit high income taxpayersGAO study confirms HSAs primarily benefit high income individuals; Making Health Care Worse.

The Health Savings Account is another idea for a nice tax shelter, for young healthy, wealthy people.  It is not an answer for addressing general health care cost containment, especially not if people tend to put off medical treatment until their situation is serious or dire.  In less polite terms, it’s the 0.01% answer to a problem affecting the other 99.99%

Previously in Desert Beacon: All Right Everyone, Gird Your Loins! The GOP’s Coming For Health Insurance Reform Repeal (four years ago)

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Another Timely Reminder: Electioneering at NV Polling Sites

NRS 293.740  Soliciting votes and electioneering inside polling place or within certain distance from polling place prohibited; penalty.
1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, it is unlawful inside a polling place or within 100 feet from the entrance to the building or other structure in which a polling place is located:
(a) For any person to solicit a vote or speak to a voter on the subject of marking the voter’s ballot.
(b) For any person, including an election board officer, to do any electioneering on election day.
Ê The county clerk or registrar of voters shall ensure that, at the outer limits of the area within which electioneering is prohibited, notices are continuously posted on which are printed in large letters “Distance Marker: No electioneering between this point and the entrance to the polling place.”
2.  The provisions of subsection 1 do not apply to the conduct of a person in a private residence or on commercial or residential property that is within 100 feet from the entrance to a building or other structure in which a polling place is located. The provisions of subsection 1 are not intended to prohibit a person from voting solely because he or she is wearing a prohibited political insigne and is reasonably unable to remove the insigne or cover it. In such a case, the election board officer shall take such action as is necessary to allow the voter to vote as expediently as possible and then assist the voter in exiting the polling place as soon as is possible.
3.  Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
4.  As used in this section, “electioneering” means campaigning for or against a candidate, ballot question or political party by:
(a) Posting signs relating to the support of or opposition to a candidate, ballot question or political party;
(b) Distributing literature relating to the support of or opposition to a candidate, ballot question or political party;
(c) Using loudspeakers to broadcast information relating to the support of or opposition to a candidate, ballot question or political party;
(d) Buying, selling, wearing or displaying any badge, button or other insigne which is designed or tends to aid or promote the success or defeat of any political party or a candidate or ballot question to be voted upon at that election; or
(e) Soliciting signatures to any kind of petition.
(Added to NRS by 1963, 1382; A 1967, 863; 1973, 872; 1977, 464; 1987, 1169; 1989, 2171; 1997, 80; 2011, 2101)

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Timely Reminder: NRS statute on voter intimidation

NRS 293.710  Intimidation of voters.
1.  It is unlawful for any person, in connection with any election, petition or registration of voters, whether acting himself or herself or through another person in his or her behalf, to:
(a) Use or threaten to use any force, intimidation, coercion, violence, restraint or undue influence;
(b) Inflict or threaten to inflict any physical or mental injury, damage, harm or loss upon the person or property of another;
(c) Expose or publish or threaten to expose or publish any fact concerning another in order to induce or compel such other to vote or refrain from voting for any candidate or any question;
(d) Impede or prevent, by abduction, duress or fraudulent contrivance, the free exercise of the franchise by any voter, or thereby to compel, induce or prevail upon any elector to give or refrain from giving his or her vote; or
(e) Discharge or change the place of employment of any employee with the intent to impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise by such employee.
2.  A person who violates a provision of this section is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
(Added to NRS by 1960, 268; A 1993, 2669; 2011, 2100)

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Animal Welfare Message

Tiger Grab this

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October 12, 2016 · 9:44 am

Truck Attack on Reno Protesters; Trump Attack on Everyone Else

newspapers 1 ## The lead story on the Reno Gazette Journal website concerns two chubby white guys stalking and then driving a truck through a group of DAPL protesters in downtown Reno.  The two chubbies stopped a short distance away to “give their version of events” to police; fortunately there were no critical injuries sustained by members of the protest group.

## After the Citizens United debacle of a decision is anyone surprised that outside spending is a major feature of the Nevada senate seat race?  RGJ has more details.

## Perhaps it’s a measure of how “safe” the Nevada Congressional District 2 seat has become for Republicans that Mark Amodei is still backing Donald Trump:

“In the past couple of days every negative adjective in the English language has been used to describe Mr. Trump’s comments toward women,” Amodei said in the letter. “Frankly, the harsh criticism and outrage are, in my view, appropriate and deserved. Americans, in the final analysis, expect perfection, leadership, and someone they can be proud of as the leader of their country on the world political stage. At this point, sadly, neither nominee can lay claim to any of those traits.” [RGJ]

Amodei is now the only major Republican in Nevada supporting the Trump candidacy.  Maybe it’s appropriate to ask at this point – precisely WHAT has Secretary Clinton done that puts her even remotely close to the egregious behavior and insult driven campaign waged by the “deplorable” Mr. Trump?

The Benghazi Flap was a GOP manufactured pseudo-scandal upon which the GOP wasted two years and about $7 million dollars to come up with NOTHING.  The “emails” are another exercise in sound and fury signifying nothing.  If Representative Amodei is constructing his false equivalence predicated on these two bits of bombast, it’s a thin reed to grasp for the long run.

For his part, Mr. Trump announces himself unshackled from the Republican Party of which Rep. Amodei is a proud member, and launched one of his almost-patented Tweet Storms overnight.  Thus Representative Amodei places himself in support of the Donald J. Trump Insult-O-Rama:

Trump ChecklistThis isn’t exactly a list upon which to build a credible candidacy? For anyone. 

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Filed under Amodei, Native Americans, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans, sexism, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

When Did the Hat Come Off? Heck Withdraws Trump Endorsement

Heck Trump Hat Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada senate seat, issued a nice long statement about why he can no longer support the candidacy of Donald Trump. [RGJ]  This is Saturday, October 8, 2016. 

Wasn’t it enough when Trump insulted Mexico, the third largest US trade partner (Census)?  It’s not like we don’t get $280.5 billion in imports from that country, and export $226.2 billion in US goods and services.

“Trump lambasted the southern neighbor. “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” he said on May 30 at his campaign launch. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” The remarks led a number of businesses to cut their ties with him.” [The Hill]

It isn’t like some 28% of Nevada’s population is of Hispanic heritage.  Or, that 43% of Hispanic Nevadans are homeowners, or they represent 41% of all Nevada’s k-12 students.  [Pew]  Nor, could Mr. Trump abide the idea that an Indiana born judge of Mexican heritage could be impartial. [HuffPo] Insulting about 1/3 of Nevada’s population wasn’t enough to make Representative Heck remove the hat – and the endorsement? 

Wasn’t Representative Heck just a little disturbed to discover that the Department of Justice had to sue the Trump Management firm not once, but twice, for housing discrimination in the 1970’s. [HuffPo] Wasn’t it troubling that years later Trump disparaged his black casino workers as “lazy” (1991)?

“And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” O’Donnell recalled Trump saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

“I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to O’Donnell. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” [HuffPo]

That commentary managed to be both anti-black and anti-Semitic at the same time – a two’fer.   It’s not like this is any kind of news – this and other statements have been in the public domain for ages.  Longer than the highly inflammatory statements about the Central Park Five.  No matter the coerced confessions, the lack of physical evidence – no matter that DNA evidence clearly demonstrates the five young men were innocent – no matter that a legitimate confession came forth in 2002 – to Mr. Trump they’re still guilty.  No apologies forthcoming.  Chalk off another 9.3% of the Nevada population – the African American percentage.  And still Representative Heck kept the hat.

And, then there was that entire Birther debacle, with Mr. Trump leading the charge, with Mr. Trump sending “investigators to Hawaii, with Mr. Trump rick rolling the press into covering his hotel opening in DC with a snippet in which he declared that he’d “solved” the President’s problem – the President (who just happens to be African American) didn’t have a birth certificate problem until Mr. Trump decided to make a major issue of it – and NO the stories didn’t emerge from the Clinton Campaign in 2008. [Snopes] African Americans are unlikely to forget Mr. Trump’s attempt to de-legitimize the first African American president of the US.  Nor are they likely to forget that Representative Heck didn’t seem to have doubts at the time about Mr. Trump’s candidacy.  Then, there was that matter of White Supremacists as part of Trump’s base of support:

“His white supremacist fan club includes the Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site; Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which aims to promote the “heritage, identity, and future of European people”; Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine; Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group; and Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace.

A leader of the Virginia KKK who is backing Trump told a local TV reporter earlier this month, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.” [HuffPo]

Surely, when this pile began to grow it was time to head for the exits?  Heck kept wearing the hat.

But wait, there’s more – Native Americans:

In 1993, when Trump wanted to open a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that would compete with one owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Nation, a local Native American tribe, he told the House subcommittee on Native American Affairs that “they don’t look like Indians to me… They don’t look like Indians to Indians.”

Trump then elaborated on those remarks, which were unearthed last year in the Hartford Courant, by saying the mafia had infiltrated Indian casinos. [HuffPo]

There goes another 1.6% of the Nevada population.  Still Heck kept the hat.

Was Representative Heck getting edgy when the story of how Trump insulted (nay, humiliated) Alicia Machado? Speaking of cruel and unusual punishment… “Miss Piggy?” Miss Housekeeping?” Still Heck kept the hat on his head.  Some publications were keeping track of Trump’s insults to women, Cosmopolitan counted 23 major incidentsHuffington Post accumulated 18 in that category. Fortune magazine published a ‘history’ of Trump’s comments about women in August 2015.   It’s not that the information and the incidents weren’t in the public realm; it’s not that no one knew about Trump’s attitude towards women were – surely Representative Heck wasn’t surprised by the Access tapes?  Heck is on the horns of a dilemma herein: If he knew Trump’s history with women and still endorsed him he falls neatly into Secretary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” as a willful misogynist; If he didn’t know of Trump’s history of uncomplimentary and downright nasty statements about women he has to be the least well informed candidate since … Aleppo? Name a major world leader?  That’s not likely to make women, who constitute 49.8% of Nevada’s population very happy either.

So NOW Representative Heck says:

“I’ve spent much of my life serving in the military where I stood beside some of the bravest men and women this country has to offer — willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the freedoms upon which this country was founded. They live by a code of honor, of decency and of respect.

“As a husband and a father, I strive to bring that same code of honor into my personal life.

“I believe any candidate for President of the United States should campaign with common ethical and moral values and decency. I accept that none of us are perfect. However, I can no longer look past this pattern of behavior and inappropriate comments from Donald Trump. Therefore, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support him nor can I vote for Hillary Clinton.” [RGJ]

Well, there was the  little flap with the son – that code of honor seemed to slip a bit in the Heck household.  What was “common ethical and moral values and decency” in a man who was twice sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination?  Where was the decency when Trump launched into snide and disparaging comments about breast feeding? Diaper changing? Women in the workplace? Women’s physical attributes?   How many incidents have to stack up before Representative Heck is willing to call out a “pattern of behavior and inappropriate comments?”

Heck goes on:

“My hope is that this will not divide us and that we can unite behind Republican principles. We deserve a candidate who can ask him or herself at the end of the day, ‘Did I live my life with honor and do I deserve to be elected president of the United States.’ [RGJ]

Mr. Trump announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, or 480 days ago. For the meticulous that’s one year, three months, and twenty-two days since the announcement.   Are we to believe that it took Representative Heck 479 days to figure out that Mr. Trump didn’t meet the standards of “common ethical and moral values and decency?”

We might look to another source of wisdom about consorting with those who lack ethical and moral values.

He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith; and he that hath fellowship with a proud man shall be like unto him. 2 Burden not thyself above thy power while thou livest; and have no fellowship with one that is mightier and richer than thyself: for how agree the kettle and the earthen pot together? for if the one be smitten against the other, it shall be broken. 3 The rich man hath done wrong, and yet he threateneth withal: the poor is wronged, and he must intreat also. 4 If thou be for his profit, he will use thee: but if thou have nothing, he will forsake thee.  Ecclesiasticus 13:1

In endorsing the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, Representative Heck surely stuck his hand in the pitch pot.  Meanwhile, as of September 21 Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) was Trump’s man on the ground in Nevada; it remains to be heard if he’s removed the hat and gotten his hands out of the pitch pot.

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