Tag Archives: Cresent Hardy

Amodei Quacks Like A FLAG-waving Duck

Amodei 3

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) doesn’t like being categorized as “anti-public land,” or more precisely lumped in with the Bundy Boys.  However, his sponsorship of legislation and other activities have him on the Anti-Public Land list:

“Amodei landed on the list for sponsoring legislation that would give the state control of 7.2 million of the approximately 58 million acres of federally controlled land in Nevada, opposition to the creation of the Basin and Range National Monument, membership in Federal Lands Action Group and a statement about the Malheur occupation.

The statement, attributed to Amodei and two other members of the action group, said the lawmakers didn’t condone the Oregon action but added, “we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers.” [RGJ]

Duck looks The poor little Republican has been cast amongst the Bundys.  How did he end up bunched up with them?  First, he’s a “FLAG” member.

“Rep. Amodei is a FLAG member and introduced H.R. 1484, the Honor the Nevada Enabling Act of 1864—which would seize Nevada public land for state control. In 2015, Rep. Amodei also introduced H.R. 488, which would cripple the Antiquities Act by blocking the extension or creation of national monuments in Nevada, unless authorized by Congress. Rep. Amodei has also cosponsored four other bills aimed at curtailing the Antiquities Act and seizing public lands. In response to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Rep. Amodei signed on to a joint statement that condemned federal officials for law-breaking, rather than condemning the actions of the armed militants.” [CAP]

So, what is FLAG, and how does it relate to the Anti-Public Lands crowd?  The organization is the brain child of two Utah Representatives, Stewart and Bishop, who announced its creation on April 28, 2015.  And, the purpose?

Today, Representatives Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah) launched the Federal Land Action Group, a congressional team that will develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control. […] This group will explore legal and historical background in order to determine the best congressional action needed to return these lands back to the rightful owners. We have assembled a strong team of lawmakers, and I look forward to formulating a plan that reminds the federal government it should leave the job of land management to those who know best.” [Stewart]

Who were among the first members of the FLAG group? “Other members of the Group include Representatives Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).” [Stewart]

We should assume the group means what it says.  It wants to transfer public land to local ownership and control.   Towards this end the FLAG group held its first “forum” in June 2015, and among the speakers was a representative of the “Independent Institute.”  Board members of this organization include a private equity manager, a person from Deloitte & Touche USA, a member of the Howley Management Group, the Botto Law Group, a managing director of Palliser Bay Investment Management, Reditus Revenue Solutions, Audubon Cellars and Winery, Berkeley Research Group LLC, and the former chair of Garvey International.  [II.org]  This isn’t a list that inspires one to ask if they are primarily interested in public land for the sake of conservation.

Prof. Elwood L. Miller (UNR) was on the initial panel, adding a touch of accounting expertise to the argument that the federal government is too bureaucratic and caught up in procedural questions to be a good steward of public lands.  Attorney Glade Hall added the usual federal control isn’t constitutional argument. “It is a patent absurdity to assert that such full powers of governance cover 87 percent of the land surface of a state of the Union and at the same time assert that such state has been admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the original states in every respect whatever,” Hall said.” [STGU] A sentiment echoed by the head of the Natural Resources Group, whose book on the “theft” of the environmental issue is available from the Heritage Foundation.

In short, there was nothing to remind anyone of a fact-finding operation in this inaugural panel sponsored by FLAG.  It was of, by, and for individuals who want to ultimately privatize federal lands.

It’s also interesting that the panel members offered these opinions based on personal experience, or “talking to people,” but nothing in the presentations was offered to demonstrably prove that the federal government has no authority (beyond the usual crackpot interpretations spouted by the Bundy-ites and allies) or is actually and provably incompetent to manage public lands.  The guiding assumption – however poorly demonstrated – was that the local agencies could do a better job. Period.

If anyone is still unsure of the ideology driving FLAG, please note that the Heritage Foundation and the Mercatus group aren’t the only players supporting the efforts.  There’s also the John Birch Society (They’re still around) touting the confab on Facebook.  Additionally, there’s the ever-present American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) imprimatur on the project.

One segment of ALEC testimony from a February 2016 FLAG meeting can serve as an illustration of their argument:

“Bureaucratic inflexibility and regulatory redundancy make it almost impossible for the federal government to handle the lands in its charge for optimal environmental health. Any change in strategy on how to manage the lands, such as harvesting trees on forest lands to reduce wildfire fuel loads and prevent pest infestation, can take years to adopt and implement. By the time the federal government is able to act, it is often too late.”

Examples? The argument is made that three factors are responsible for the severity of wildland fires – poor logging practices, overgrazing, and over aggressive fire control. At this juncture, we could well ask how, without regulatory control, can better logging practices be promoted throughout the region? Or, if the Bundy Bunch isn’t convinced by the Federal authorities to pay their grazing fees and not trespass on BLM lands, then how is a state with less in the way of resources supposed to take on the task? 

However, the most intriguing element of the ALEC position is this: Further, they have operated with budget shortfalls for over a decade calling into question whether they even have adequate funds to get the job done.”  At this juncture it’s appropriate to ask – and who is touting cutting the federal and state budgets?  Who, if not ALEC?  Thus, the federal government can’t do a better job because the funding has been cut, and because the funding has been cut it can’t do the job?  Circular Reasoning at its finest, looped in with the obvious cuts and shaving from state budgets.   The ultimate argument would be that neither the federal government nor the state governments can “do the job” and therefore the lands should be transferred to private hands.  Nothing would please the Koch Brothers more?

The second way one gets attached to the Bundy-ites is to get mealy and smushy about their activities.  As in, “we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers.” [RGJ]  It’s past time to get specific.  Exactly what constitutes “heavy handed federal agencies?”  Are they agencies which are tasked to collect grazing fees?  How long is an agency expected to wait for a person to decide to pay those fees? 

Exactly what constitutes a “violation of rights of hardworking people?”  Exactly what rights have been violated?  How is it a violation of my rights to have to pay the same grazing fees, or have to move cattle from overgrazed areas, just like every other rancher in a given area under Federal management?  Freedom, rights, and independence are easy words to toss around, but without actual evidence of real violations of RIGHTS then the argument is hollow.

Bundy rally And, one lands on the anti-public lands roster by sponsoring legislation like Representative Amodei did in April 2015:

“Most recently, Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced a “large-scale” public lands bill, which would allow the state of Nevada to seize and sell off public lands. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, also requested $50 million in the federal budget in order to facilitate immediate transfer of public lands to state control.”  [TP]

Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then there’s no reason to list it as anything other than a duck.

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Filed under agriculture, Amodei, ecology, koch brothers, National Parks, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics, privatization, public lands, Rural Nevada

Rep. Cresent Hardy Keeps Digging

Stop Digging

Nevada’s own Congressional Representative from Bundyland can’t seem to get his mind around why he’s drawing so much fire from Democrats for his insensitive and inane comment about disabled people.

“Hardy, asked about the speech after a House vote Thursday in Washington, said he did not remember making the comment and suggested it was altered or taken out of context.

“I would like to have it analyzed,” he said. “People try to manipulate things. I’ve seen that happen early on.” Hardy was referring to the flap during the 2014 campaign when video surfaced in which he agreed with Mitt Romney’s infamous comment about 47 percent of people living off the government.” [LVRJ]

This is one better than only using the old cliché, “I was taken out of context.”  Without engaging his brain before putting his mouth in gear, Hardy posits not one but three possibilities.  (1) I didn’t say it. (Wrong: It’s been recorded – anyone can record anything these days without a Reel-to-Reel set up.) (2) It was altered. (Nice try but probably not – it was too ‘good’ all by itself.  Or, (3) It’s being “manipulated.”  There’s no need for manipulation, of any kind, Representative Hardy just cranks up his mouth, inanity ensues.   However, as the LVRJ article reports, Hardy isn’t finished:

“My nature is to defend those who can’t take care of themselves, that’s what I believe,” he said. “I’ve always been a strong supporter of people to be able to get help when needed.”

“People get paid to distort the truth and try to manipulate things,” Hardy said. “That kind of conversation never went on. I think the Democrats ought to be embarrassed.”

If anything, he said, people with disability should be angry at being used by Democrats “to sell their game.”

“People get paid to distort things,” he said. “I’m the No. 1 target, folks.” [LVRJ]

Merciful Heavens, Representative Hardy (R-NV4) has donned the cloak of victimhood, swathing himself in self pity, and begs us to ask his forgiveness for being so mean to him as to call out his hypocritical and mean-spirited remark.

Let’s move back to that first comment above (“My nature is to defend…”) and see if his actions and associations match his assertion.   First, Representative Hardy is a Republican, and his Republican majority in the House had the following ideas about how to develop a budget; they would:

“… propose major spending cuts to programs such as Medicare, health care subsidies, food stamps and the Medicaid program for the poor and elderly to produce a budget that’s balanced. Such cuts, if actually implemented later, would likely slash spending by $5 trillion or so over the coming decade from budgets that are presently on track to spend almost $50 trillion over that timeframe.” [CBS]

So, Representative Hardy favors cuts to Medicare, a program for those over 65 years of age, who prior to the program were denied private health care insurance or could only purchase it at exorbitant prices, and therefore “couldn’t take care of themselves.”  Food Stamps?

The SNAP budget took a 5% whack in 2013, and another round of cuts in the 2014 Farm Bill. The winners in HR 2642 were the farmers, especially corporate farming, and the losers were those who depend on assistance to put food on their tables at meal time. [NYT]  It appears that those cuts were insufficient for Republicans, so they proposed another round of cuts in 2015. [Slate]  Depending upon which GOP proposal is studied, the cuts range from 8% to about 15% in the SNAP program.  If a person is supportive of others being able to get help when needed, then why would that self-same individual advocate for proposals which do precisely the opposite?

Medicaid? CHIP? Nevada, which did expand Medicaid coverage after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, isn’t exactly overly generous with the income eligibility requirements.  A family of four trying to pay for housing, food, clothing, transportation, and utilities out of $2,643 per month is going to be hard pressed, and pressed even more harshly if there are medical bills to pay.  Non-surgical treatment for a broken leg runs about $2,500. [CH]  Thus, Junior’s one accident on the soccer field would almost wipe out the family income for the month.  So, why, if Representative Hardy is so concerned for those who evidently need his defense, does he side with those who would cut funding for programs which assist the defenseless?

Let’s go back to Representative Hardy’s last barrage, the part wherein he’s the “victim of cruel Democrats who are using the disabled as human shields to advance their agenda” —

Jon Stewart discussed this “conservative victimization” phenomena back in July 2011 – in a bit which deserves  a click and watch.  Now that we’ve had our moment of sheer delight…

Note to Representative Hardy:  The liberal agenda is supposed to advance the cause of disabled people – people who, with a little help, can be just as productive as their counterparts in the office.  The liberal agenda is intended to champion assistance for families on the financial brink who need help to meet medical expenses for themselves and their children.  The liberal agenda is to try every way possible to allow a family to feed its children, house its veterans, and care for its elderly.  The liberal agenda supports Public Schools, Public Libraries, Public Parks, Public Health, Public Roads and Bridges, and Public broadband access.    A liberal believes that the rising tide is supposed to do more than just float yachts.

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Filed under conservatism, Federal budget, Health Care, Nevada politics

Cresent Hardy Opens His Mouth, and you know the rest of the story

Hardy Quotations

A few more examples of the propensity of Nevada’s District 4 Congressional Representative to open his mouth and insert his foot, and we’ll have enough to publish at least a Kindle Single?  Yes, Cresent Hardy, newly elected Representative of District 4 has done it again.  (Those who would like a quick review of some of his previous hits should click over to Hardy’s Top Five.  DB had a “Cresent Hardy Retrospective” back in September 2014.)

So here we go, Rep. Cresent Hardy addressing a Libertarian function:

Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-NV) said recently at a Libertarian Party event that he hoped his children would never be a “drain on society” like people who were disabled. In audio published this week by the Nevada State Democratic Party, Hardy can be heard speaking to attendees at the Libertarian Political Expo in Las Vegas.

“I have three children,” Hardy explains. “One of them is summa cum laude and two were magnum cum laude. The other one, he didn’t need an education. He works for Raytheon, smarter than all the rest. He works hard, he builds things that are genius. Some people have that ability.” “But they all work hard. They are raising their own families,” he continued. “They will not be a drain on society, the best they can. Hopefully they will never have some disability that causes them to have to utilize that.” [RawStory] [YouTubeNSDP]

The unspeakable “that” is most likely disability benefits? Unemployment insurance compensation?  Any program through which the American people demonstrate that they do, in fact, care about their neighbors?  And, what do we make of the conflation of “disabled” with “diseased?”  Disabled people are a “drain on society?”

Rep. Hardy evidently missed the 2007 DePaul University study which found

  • Employees with disabilities had nearly identical job performance ratings as employees without disabilities.
  • The amount of supervision required was similar for both groups.
  • Participants from certain sectors stayed on the job longer than their counterparts.
  • Very few special accommodations were provided to employees with disabilities, and the average cost of the accommodations was $313.

Hmm, nearly identical job performance (which could mean in some cases it was higher) the same amount of supervision, longer tenure with the company, and not all that much needed in terms of physical accommodations? Doesn’t sound like much of a drain to me. He must also have missed the information from the NCED that employed persons with a disability in Nevada were more likely to be self-employed.  The same pattern holds nationally, as reported by the Department of Labor for 2013.  10.9% of the disabled were self employed compared to 6.4% of the non-disabled. Those would be the same people we call “entrepreneurs,” maybe even “job creators?”

The Nevada State Democratic Party called for Rep. Hardy to apologize to disabled Nevadans, but I’d not want to hang by my hair for as long as that might take.

“If Cresent Hardy wants to talk about ‘drains on society,’ he should point a finger at his buddy, deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy, not disabled children,” said Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Zach Hudson.  “Hardy has compared employment non-discrimination laws to ‘segregation,’ agreed with Mitt Romney that 47% of the American people are ‘freeloaders,’ and now called children with disabilities ‘drains on society.’  Cresent Hardy’s comments are outrageous and he owes an immediate apology to every Nevadan with a disability.”

In the narrow exclusive world of the Hardys and the Bundys, those numbers and statistical studies of the productivity of disabled persons don’t matter.  They don’t matter any more than the fact that as of the last DoL Report the unemployment rate for African Americans was 10.2% – meaning, of course, that 89.8% of African Americans in the civilian population labor force are WORKING.  In Hardy-Bundy Land those “Negroes sit on stoops…” and the disabled spend the day staring out of their institutional windows? This isn’t an informed view, it isn’t even a rational view, but it’s their world.

Their world isn’t a place where the family is pleased with the progress – sometimes even just a little progress – made by their child at the new Miller School in Las Vegas. Instead, this is a world in which those burdened are decried as a “burden on others,” as if spending any money on those whose physical or intellectual limitations is a “waste?”  Tell that to the parent of a child with multiple handicaps? Or, to the spouse of a disabled person?

Ask someone in the land of Hardy and Bundy about individual children, or individual families and generally the response we get is “I wasn’t talking about Them…”  The Hardy-Bundy Land “intended subject” is  nearly always some generalized, fanaticized, imaginary Other who “games the system” (recall Sharron Angle’s challenge to people with autistic children), or who “will never be productive,” (does it matter to the parents of a severely disabled child?) What does it mean for parents of a child with serious brain injury that the little one can recognize their faces and may even smile? When we start applying a Cost-Benefit Analysis on that, we’re cooked.

Yes, Representative Hardy does owe disabled Nevadans, and their families, an apology, or at least an explanation.  However, the best we can expect is the formulaic, “If I offended anyone I am sorry.”   The statement may also be pure Hardy, “I’m just not a good man with words.”  Here’s some unsolicited advice:  “A closed mouth gathers no foot.”

UPDATE: Please read the excellent post linked here concerning Representative Hardy’s hypocrisy on this subject.

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Filed under conservatism, Politics, Republicans

Death and Resurrection: Attacks on Financial Regulation Reform

Avarice Dante

Watch enough television and a person could get the impression that the greatest threats to mankind are bloody minded terrorists and crashing aircraft.  However, the “If It Bleeds, It Leads” brand of modern journalism tends to distract us from some much more realistic threats to our well being.

The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are approximately 1 in 20,000,000.  The odds that our financial and economic well being are in jeopardy are being created right now in a Congress which has thus far in its short existence catered to the Financialists – those “weary souls” who will never have enough gold (wealth) to relax.   Witness the attempt at unraveling the Dodd-Frank Act financial regulation reforms during the first week in the 114th Congress.  [Business Day, NYT]

The bill was called the “Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act.” [H.R. 37]  Nothing could have been much further from the truth of the matter. The opponents of bank regulation are depending on a public which doesn’t know a “counter-party” from a “counter-pane.”  This bill was an attack on the imposition of the Volcker Rule, and would have allowed some private equity funds from having to register with the S.E.C.   There is nothing in the bill about “creating jobs” except the old hoary delusion that making bankers more wealthy will “trickle down” eventually – sometime after the Second Coming?

Nor are any “small businesses” being “burdened,” unless of course we mean wealth management, hedge, and other financial services corporations with a small number of employees and massive amounts of money under management.  We are not, repeat NOT, speaking here of Joe’s Garage, Maria’s Dress Shop, or Anderson’s Bodega and News-stand.  In addition to the two big blasts at the Dodd Frank Act reforms, H.R. 37 contained provisions for lots of other goodies the financialists would like to find in their 4th Circle.

There were changes in margin requirements, changes in the accounting treatment of affiliate transactions, the registration of holding companies, a registration threshold for savings and loan holding companies, a ‘brokerage simplification act,’ a registration exemption for merger and acquisition brokers, a repeal of indemnification requirements for SWAP repositories and clearinghouses, changes to benefit “emerging growth companies,” – an EGC is any company with less than $1 Billion in gross revenue in a given year, extended deadlines for dealing with collateralized loan obligations, and various provisions to make fewer required reports from the financial sector EGC’s to the regulators.   In short, nothing in the bill had anything to do with the garage, the dress shop, or the neighborhood bodega.  This was a bill BY the financial services industry, FOR the financial services industry, or as Minority Leader Pelosi called it, “An eleven bill Wall Street Wish List.”

The good news is that this bill was defeated in the House on January 7, 2014 [rc 9] – the bad news is that the defeat came because the Republican leadership went for expedited passage and Democrats who had previously supported some provisions bailed out on them leaving the leadership without the 282 votes necessary for passage.  [Bloomberg] And, there’s more bad news – next time the Republican leadership won’t make the same error, and the bill will come up in another form, this time requiring only a simple majority.

As the bills come back in resurrected form, perhaps a short glossary of Republican rhetoric is desirable:

Small Business – any private equity or wealth management firm with less than a BILLION dollars in annual revenue.

Job Creation – any bill which allows financial sector (Wall Street) banks to make more money; see “Trickle Down Hoax.”

Burdensome Regulation – any requirement that a private equity or other investment entity doesn’t want to follow, even if it means leaving the public (and investors) in the dark about financial transactions.

Simplification Act – provisions in a bill to make it easier for private equity or any investment/wealth management firm to conceal what it is doing from financial regulators – and from anyone else.

Improving Financing – provisions in a bill to let the Wall Street bankers revert to the old Casino format of complicated, convoluted, and “creative,” financing of the variety best known for crashing and burning in 2007 and 2008.

Encouraging Employee Ownership – a provision in a bill to — “to increase from $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 the aggregate sales price or amount of securities sold during any consecutive 12-month period in excess of which the issuer is required under such section to deliver an additional disclosure to investors. The Commission shall index for inflation such aggregate sales price or amount every 5 years to reflect the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rounding to the nearest $1,000,000.”  (This is NOT a joke.)

Since the people who want the enactment of these provisions are not satisfied with “all the gold under the moon, or ever has been,” the specifics of H.R. 37 will be resurrected, re-introduced, and the Republicans will seek passage of every item on the Wall Street Wish List.

Voting in favor of the H.R. 37 Wall Street Wish List were Representatives Heck (R-NV3), Amodei (R-NV2), and Hardy (R-Bundy Ranch). Representative Titus voted against the roll back of the Dodd Frank financial regulations reforms.

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Filed under Amodei, Economy, financial regulation, Heck, Titus

Ira Hansen Becomes a National Embarrassment

Ira Hansen

Oh my, merely a few hours after his selection as the Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly Ira Hansen (R-NVA32) made national headlines – mostly for all those “interesting”  columns he wrote between 1994 and 2010. [Wonkette]  Mr. Hansen has gathered attention to himself from Think Progress, and The Huffington Post, and the Atlantic, and Talking Points Memo, and Media-ite.   Mr. Hansen, who won his Assembly seat with  71.96% of the vote in the 2014 election, [NVSoS] offered a formulaic apology:

“I am deeply sorry that comments I have made in the past have offended many Nevadans. It is unfortunate that these comments, made almost 20 years ago as a newspaper columnist and talk radio host, have been taken out of context and are being portrayed as intentionally hurtful and disrespectful. These comments were meant to be purposely provocative in various political, cultural and religious views. I have the utmost respect for all people without regard to race, gender, religious or political beliefs.” [RGJ]

This statement is almost pure Limbaugh.  “I’m sorry IF you were offended.” Of course people were offended – his comments were intrinsically, blatantly, offensive.

The comments were made long ago,”  And, what have you said or done since, say,  last Wednesday to demonstrate you’ve cleaned up your act since?

And, “they were taken out of context…” In what context would these have been appropriate comments in the 21st century – or the 19th for that matter? Doesn’t that “taken out of context” refrain ever get old and hirsute?

And, “the comments were purposefully provocative,” PLEASE! Of course, and Limbaugh was only kidding?  Just trying to get a rise out of your audience?  Those right wing hate speech, hate radio, pack of bigots, racists, and fringe wingers, who call in to shows that re-enforce their own bigotry, racism, and homophobia?

And, Mr. Hansen, if you’d had any respect for non-white people, members of the LBGT community, members of the Hispanic/Latino community, you’d not have made the comments in the first place.

And, he ends his non-apology apology on the common hackneyed note:

“I am committed to showing that actions are much louder than words and my office will always have an open door to all backgrounds and political viewpoints. This will not distract us from finding solutions to building a brighter and more prosperous Nevada.” [RGJ]

Right,  the door’s open.  We’re supposed to believe that the Tea Party Darling who bested a Party Regular (no raving moderate himself, Pat Hickey) for the Speakership doesn’t believe in the privatization of any public activity in which someone can make a buck, and maintains overtly racist, bigoted, beliefs, is going to lead us to the Promised Land of whatever…

However, this isn’t Grandpa’s Republican Party anymore.  This is the Party of Cliven Bundy, [Reuters] of Jim “I’d vote for slavery if my constituents wanted it” Wheeler, [LVSun] of Cresent “The BLM doesn’t have the right to enforce federal laws on federal land” Hardy. [LVRJ]  This is the Republican Party in Nevada which adopted a Tea Party Platform at its 2014 convention. [RenoNewsR

There’s one Nevada Republican who’s embarrassed – our Striving For A Centrist Image Senator Dean Heller:

“Assemblyman Hansen’s past comments and positions on race, religion, and gender that have recently been reported give me great concern. These comments were insensitive, wrong, and extremely offensive and insulting. Statements like these do not have a place in public discourse.” [EDFP]

Yes, Senator Heller is concerned – however, where was Senator Heller’s concern when his state party adopted the Tea Party platform, promoted the election of Wheeler, and the election of Hardy?  The “moderates” were noticeably silent before the 2014 elections, and before the selection of the Assembly Speaker – and now that the cat has slipped the bag they are “concerned,” nay “greatly concerned.”

In the immortal words of Meryl Streep’s character in the 1992 comedy “Death Becomes Her,” “Now a Warning?”

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

The Big Fizzle: How many things can we enjoy watching for the next two years?

Escher 1

There’s one number that says it all about the mid-term elections in this state (Nevada) and I’d guess it would be comparable to other states as well: 45.51% – that’s the turnout percentage. [SoS]   Voter turnout in 2012 was a nice 80.77%. [SoS]  However, it could have been worse – in the 2010 election the statewide turnout was a miserable 30.12% of active voters. [SoS] Perverse as I am when it comes items in the humor category, there are some things I will find amusing in the next two years as a result of the Big Fizzle.  Here they are in no particular order:

Senator Mitch McConnell may very well want to share more Kentucky bourbon with Representative John Boehner.   Merely because some newly elected senator shares the same party label doesn’t necessarily mean he or she loves you.   Now, who might such hide-bound ideologues like Colorado’s Cory Gardner or the Iowa Pig Snipper Joni Ernst love more? McConnell or Cruz?    As Representative Boehner discovered to his periodic humiliation after 2010, one party can have a majority and still not be able to function like a well ordered caucus.   The Republicans may have figured out how to make the Tea Party candidates more presentable, but they’ve yet to calculate how to make them useful.   I could enjoy watching this scene play out.

Age and craft will be hard pressed to dampen youth and enthusiasm.  There are some wonderfully symbolic things the Tea Party GOP members would like to do – like “repeal Obamacare” however doing so would toss millions of Americans out of the health insurance market, and this won’t be very popular even with the insurance corporations which are now making money off the new customers.   Youth and Enthusiasm will at least want to allow employers to refuse to offer contraception coverage in group plans – enacting this legislation will alienate yet more female voters, especially those of child bearing age – and the husbands who agree with their wives about family planning.

Should McConnell and Boehner retain their leadership positions, they’ll have to face members of their own caucuses who want to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, defund or dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, disassemble the Department of Education, allow the government to shut down, and impeach the President – for something, anything.  Since for many Republicans history only begins in November 2008 they’ll not remember what happened in the wake of the impeachment debacle of Bill (now wildly popular) Clinton, and perhaps not even remember how unpopular their own shut down was not too long ago.

Kids say the darndest things.   If the nation learned to love Michelle “Loony Bin” Bachmann from Minnesota, they’re going to be equally enamored of “Granny Get Your Gun” Ernst from Iowa, or Cresent “Bundy Boy” Hardy from Nevada.  Politicians don’t get elected without talking, and the more the likes of these two talk the more 24 Carat Comedy Gold will be mined from the veins of Republican politics.

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” spoken by Zara in Act III, Scene VIII The Mourning Bride by William Congreve (1697)   Want to get better turnout in the 2016 elections, especially among women voters?  Keep opposing equal pay for equal work, and opposing insurance coverage for contraceptive prescriptions, and opposing abortion services for women with life threatening pregnancies, and opposing affordable student loans for the women’s children, and opposing increases in the national minimum wage …. that should do it.   And, while we’re being poetic —

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”  Robert Browning (Andrea Del Sarto)  The aforementioned activities like government shut-downs and impeachments are difficult to stop once the Beltway Bovines start moving as a herd.  A free, headlong rush of cattle/Congressmen in a mass impulsive action, makes for great television. The networks will be only too delighted to broadcast these events.  But then there was the Gallup polling which reported the following on December 24, 1998:

“Despite the fact that he is only the second President in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, President Bill Clinton received a 73% job approval rating from the American public this past weekend, the highest rating of his administration, and one of the higher job approval ratings given any president since the mid-1960s.”

I’m sure the President would like to see a 73% approval rating.  Then there was that 9%-11% Congressional approval rating after the government shut down of 2013.  That would be a drop from the current 14% rating. How low can they go?

Be careful what you wish for,” or was that the title of a Jeffrey Archer novel?   Okay, the Senate will be controlled by the Republican(t) caucus.  Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell has already offered some timely advice under this heading to the Republicans in Congress:

“I think the Republicans, be careful what you wish for, because if they win the Senate, they better do something, they better send the president some responsible pieces of legislation or they’ll get crushed in 2016,” the former Democratic governor said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

And what might that “responsible” legislation be? If we assume the newly elected Representatives and Senators want to stay in office?  69% of American voters want an increase in the minimum wage. [HuffPoGallup did a bit of polling of working women and found the #1 issue among them was equal pay for equal work, none of the other items in the open ended poll came close to the 42%.  We’ve known since last July that 92% of gun owners support universal background checks. [TheHill]  One could ignore these, or one could “get crushed in 2016?”

Get the popcorn buttered.

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Cresent Hardy Retrospective

Hardy 2 Stumbling candidate for Nevada’s 4th District in Congress, Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) is the subject of a very interesting retrospective compliments of Steve Sebelius.  Mr. Hardy’s adopted as his very own the 47% argument first inartfully set forth by Mitt Romney.  Then things got worse as Hardy attempted to conflate the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and whatever right wing rants to which he’s been listening, when speaking of the Cliven Bundy Ranch standoff between Bundy’s Brigade of radicals and cop killers and Federal officials attempting to get Bundy to pay up like every other rancher.   Undaunted, Hardy tumbled down the rabbit hole of “segregation laws” during an attempt to explain his position on discrimination in hiring.

As if his position weren’t crystal clear he added a reference to a “welfare district” which doesn’t leave much room for re-interpretation.    There’s a lesson in all this somewhere.  That lesson is probably not to plead illiteracy and a paucity of vocabulary: “I’ve never been slick or polished. I grew up on a ranch and learned to stand up for what I believe and to speak my mind respectfully even when others may disagree.”  [Hardy]  

Growing up on a ranch doesn’t explain away being inarticulate, nor does it offer any justification for being a practitioner of slip-shod logic and rhetoric. The reference is simply an appeal to the Common Folk brand of political propaganda.  The Plain Folks technique is as old as propaganda itself, and it demands that the listener ask: What are the speaker’s ideas worth when they are divorced from the personality of the speaker himself?

In Hardy’s case, not much.

The 47% Myth is a pure Republican creation, and about as self serving a concept as can be imagined.  If a person is not paying Federal Income taxes that’s because the person isn’t earning enough to have a tax liability – as contrasted with, say, Mr. Romney who managed to pay about 13.9% in taxes because most of his income is derived from interest and capital gains.  However, that doesn’t mean the individual isn’t paying any taxes.  Of the current 43.3% who are not liable for Federal Income taxes about 28.9% pay Social Security/payroll taxes.  That leaves 14.4% who don’t pay either Federal Income or Payroll taxes.  Who are these people? 

About 9.7% of these people are ELDERLY with incomes less than $20,000 annually.  3.4% of them are people who are not elderly, but whose income is less than $20,000, and there are 1.3% in the “others” category.  [Tax Policy Center] That “others” category often includes the disabled. Surely, Mr. Hardy is NOT trying to bemoan the lack of federal tax liability for the elderly poor? Or, the disabled? Or, both?

History Lesson – the Federalist Papers were written as newspaper opinion pieces on behalf of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  They are NOT part of it, any more so than the anti-Federalist papers written by “Brutus” between October 1787 and April 1788 in New York. [mmisi pdf]  The Federalist Papers have become a cause for the conservatives, some of whom read them (or don’t) as a guideline for original intent; and, as with any documents the interpretation of them is often found in the eye of the beholder.  However, the ideological underpinnings for modern conservative thought are quite often more in line with the arguments offered by “Brutus” in the Anti-Federalist collection than in the contentions and ideas set forth by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay.   Consider this example from “Brutus” (Robert Yates)

“This government is to possess absolute and uncontroulable power, legislative, executive and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends, for by the last clause of section 8th, article 1st, it is declared “that the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution, in the government of the United States; or in any department or office thereof.” And by the 6th article, it is declared “that this constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and the treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution, or law of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” It appears from these articles that there is no need of any intervention of the state governments, between the Congress and the people, to execute any one power vested in the general government, and that the constitution and laws of every state are nullified and declared void, so far as they are or shall be inconsistent with this constitution, or the laws made in pursuance of it, or with treaties made under the authority of the United States.” [Const.org]

And, after this and several more paragraphs, Yates declares his opposition to the adoption of the new Constitution.  This excerpt from Yate’s publication is far closer to the modern States’ Rights/Limited Government than anything one might find in the Federalist Papers.   It must be very trying to purport to be a Constitutionalist while sounding ever so much like the Anti-Federalists who argued against the original ratification.

About those “segregation laws?”  No, it’s not inarticulacy which ties a politician up in knots when trying to explain that opposition to employment discrimination is tantamount to creating “segregation.”  It’s the sheer unalloyed nonsensical illogical construct itself.  What Hardy, and altogether too many others, are trying to say is that they opposed adding members of the LBGT community to those having standing to file a lawsuit for employment discrimination as a protected class. To “segregate” these individuals would be to continue along the current course – to separate them from those who have the opportunity to resort to litigation in the face of employment discrimination.   The essence of Hardy’s argument, such as it is, is that employers should have the right to separate themselves from those people they don’t wish to hire predicated on gender discrimination.  It’s discrimination which begets segregation, not the other way around, and that explains Hardy’s inability to express an acceptable position – not his “ranch bred inarticulateness.”  [See also NVProg]

About that “Welfare District?”  This isn’t so much a dog whistle as a fog horn.   He might as well have quoted one of the more infamous residents of southern Nevada:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” [Cliven Bundy, WaPo]

Would the North Las Vegas public housing project be that “Welfare District?”  Mr. Bundy and Mr. Hardy apparently have bought into the Welfare Queen Myth lock, stock, barrel, and ramrod.   There is probably no convincing them that the 2011 consumer expenditure survey (BLS) thoroughly debunks the myth.   Equally unproductive would be any attempt to convince them that only about 20% of welfare recipients are categorized as “long term,” some 80% get out of the system and stay out for at least five years.   No, for Mr. Bundy and Mr. Hardy, the face of welfare is Black, the cars are always Cadillacs, and they’d not listen even if CNBC told them the whole system has changed.

No, they’ve clutched the Heritage Foundation’s deeply flawed analysis which says that if you have a air-conditioner in your apartment you aren’t really poor.  Let’s think about this for a minute. 9.1% of Americans over the age of 65 are classified as living in poverty. [Pew]  Further, let’s exclude the fact that many apartments in hot climates come with air-conditioning included in the rental agreement.  Let’s simply focus on those 9.1% of Americans over 65 whose incomes are below the poverty line – do we want them living without air conditioning in hot locations?  Here’s a cautionary tale from the CDC:

“During June 30–July 13, 2012, a total of 32 deaths (0.11 deaths per 100,000 population) from excessive heat exposure were reported, including 12 in Maryland, 12 in Virginia, seven in Ohio, and one in West Virginia. In comparison, a median of four and average of eight (range: 1–29) heat-related deaths occurred in the four states during the same 2-week summer period each year of 1999–2009. The median age of the 32 decedents was 65 years (range: 28–89 years); 72% were male. Most decedents (75%) were unmarried or living alone.”  (emphasis added)

Is the death of a person from “excessive heat exposure” acceptable?  These people weren’t driving an Escalade, most were men living alone, without adequate ventilation or cooling in their quarters, and with a median age of 65.  Are those the Undeserving Poor who are “Takers” and thus are the  disposable parts of our social contract?   Mr. Hardy might want to hone his arguments against government assistance in light of these considerations?

It might be that for most people the tragic death of one elderly man in an un-air-conditioned apartment is one too many—but for Mr. Hardy is it better that the man succumbed to excessive heat exposure than for a single other person to game the system?

What we can gather from Mr. Hardy’s comments is a picture of a man, who isn’t really inarticulate, but whose arguments are so far from the reality of our social and political lives that they can’t be expressed without resorting to an unacceptable glossary of ideological and racial/ethnic ideas.  This has nothing to do with being “slick and polished.”  It has more to do with being humane and realistic.

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