Tag Archives: Las Vegas

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

The Story Almost Lost in Las Vegas

If you haven’t bookmarked the Nevada Independent, please do so.  There’s a reward for you. Stories that almost get lost in the maelstrom of corporate media find a home therein.  Like this one:

“In a letter dated Sept. 25, attorney Mark Ferrario — representing Nevadans for Background Checks, the group that backed the ballot question — gave Sandoval and state officials a deadline of Oct. 9 to begin implementing the ballot measure before they turn to the court system to settle the matter.”

Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Governor Sandoval haven’t covered themselves in glory on gun issues in the Silver State. Did you catch the date? September 25, 2017. In a matter of days the Issue No One Wants To Talk About Now Except For People Who Are Tired Of Not Talking About It raised up in an horrific way.  Lives lost, lives interrupted and disrupted by injuries, lives transformed by heinous nightmares, lives shattered by loss.

One of the saddest elements of this story is that, no, more thorough background checking may not have prevented this act of evil.  But, the GOP test is irrational.  If any legislation must prevent the last carnage then there’s never a way to make any progress.

What would have prevented the shooter at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando being a disaffected disconnected loser with personal and domestic issues, from packaging his issues into a flurry of violence?  Certainly, some mental health therapy might have been useful, but there is more than one element to a crime.  He acted out his anger and disturbance with an AR-15.

The shooter at Virginia Tech in 2007 was a student with a history of mental health issues. Again, those issues contributed to his act, but the act could not have been accomplished without being able to secure a Walther P22 and a  9-mm Glock semi-automatic pistol.

Another misfit with serious social and emotional problems used a Savage Mark II to murder his mother before taking four other guns to the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  He used a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S semiautomatic rifle to complete his massacre of teachers and little children.

No gun regulation bill is going to solve the psychological, emotional, and social problems of individuals who use guns to act out their various motives and grievances.  However, while the study of motives is informative and interesting it doesn’t address what made the atrocities so deadly.  It doesn’t take rocket science to see that in the three examples given above the acts were increasingly deadly because of the nature of the weaponry involved.

Members of the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC would have benefited had there not been a loophole in the background check laws, exploited by Dylan Roof. [NYT]  More thorough background reviews might have mitigated the shooting at Virginia Tech.  The point is that these examples call for greater care in the process of background checks, and NOT for dismissing the utility of background checks because of some perceived failure to stop a specific atrocity.

Perhaps it’s time for Governor Sandoval and AG Laxalt to move back from their slippery slope arguments against the common sense application of restraints on gun ownership and use, and note that church members, students, theater goers, night club revelers, and concert attendees have the right to be safe from the predations of the devils who invade their public spaces with ever more deadly weapons.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics, Sandoval

Las Vegas in the Mourning

Las Vegas, NV has many nicknames, a few pejorative, most more amusing and fun. It’s an entire city for fun. The local economy is mostly based on games, amusements, gaming (we don’t often call it gambling), and recreation.  Las Vegas will sing, dance, spin, deal, and cater to you.  It will stay open all night for you, then offer you a buffet breakfast in the morning.  It will welcome you.  Last night it showed it will spare no effort to keep you safe.

It’s police officers will direct concert goers to safety during a hail of gun fire. It’s officers will locate, and subdue a shooter, within moments. It’s hospitals will provide medical assistance and services second to none.

And, it will graciously accept your prayers and condolences for the heinous attack by a lone wolf (which usually means white) shooter lodged at the Mandalay Bay attacking concert goers across the street.

I’m simply wondering when, if ever, some of those who are offering those kind phrases will pair them with action, as is advised in James 1:23-25: “For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass…”

Are there really any questions how a person amassed a small arsenal in a state with few regulations on gun ownership?  Are there really any questions about how many rounds he fired off in a state that doesn’t limit the purchase of ammunition, or high capacity magazines?  Are there actually any questions concerning the origins of yet another mass casualty incident in a country wherein the Congress is discussing legislation to allow the general purchase of silencers?  Was the disciple merely babbling when he wrote: “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” [James 2:20]

There was fully automatic fire from an elevated position.”   Yes, condolences are in order. They are appropriate for the family members of those slain in this act of violence. They are appropriate for the Las Vegas law enforcement personnel who lost one of their own, an off duty officer out for an evening concert.  They are appropriate for families dealing with an injured loved one.  However, the prayer half of the equation is, as the disciple said, empty without action.

But, we didn’t act after the tragedy at Virginia Tech, nor after the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, not in the wake of the San Ysidro shooting, not after the tragic loss of life at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. [CNN]  What can we conclude other than we are people who look at ourselves in a polished glass, without seeing our natural face?

When will we pair our prayers with our actions?

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Politics

Early Voting Begins in Nevada, and why it should be expanded

Vote Early And it’s on! Early voting has started in Nevada, and for those not already saturated by campaign information we share the times for voting in at least one of the rural counties (Humboldt):

Monday October 24 through Friday October 28: Early voting can be done at the County Courthouse (Winnemucca) from 8 am to 6:00 pm.  The Clerk’s office will be open from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday October 29, and Early Voting hours are 8 am to 8 pm from Monday October 31 through Friday November 4.

You know you’re a battleground when POTUS shows up.  The Las Vegas Sun covers his speech on behalf of Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto.  The billionaire’s fishwrapper of record gains the dubious distinction of being the only major paper to endorse Donald Trump.  Let’s Talk Nevada has Pictures, and interesting information, well worth the click over to their site.   There’s always at least one willing to douse the enthusiasm for early voting – and this year he doesn’t disappoint.

“There is no good reason – for almost every voter – not to wait until Election Day, so you have the maximum information, including something that could break in the final fortnight. A scandal. A revelation about someone’s character. More information.”  [RGJ]

Here’s what’s fundamentally wrong with this analysis.  First, it promotes one of the worst features of American campaign politics – the last minute unanswerable attack.  This, for many election cycles, has been a campaign scheduling trick designed to attack an opponent with a charge which due to the timing is predicated on the notion that the victim of the ploy doesn’t have time to answer. Thus, all the dirty tricks are withheld until the last possible effective moment – like 24 hours before election day.   So, if I were to employ this artifice I’d have a lovely Photo-Shopped graphic of my opponent embracing a wild-eyed maniac beheading a baby while slaughtering puppies and kittens, all presented in a shiny colorful mailer.   There’s no time to adequately debunk this bit of bluster.  Early voting allows a campaign to avoid this destructive, and definitely uninformative, tactic.

Secondly, the argument is dismissive of any effort to relieve the burden on voting registrars, election officials, and county clerks.  There was a time in which all voting could be done in 24 hours without long delays and attendant problems – but that day has long gone in the face of population increases.

In 1980 Clark County, Nevada had approximately 463,067 residents, the 2014 estimates place it at 2,069,450.  Washoe County had 193,623 residents at the time of the 1980 elections; the 2014 estimate is 436,797.  Mineral County is the only statistical area in which there has been a population decrease since 1980, and others like Nye County have experienced significant growth from 9,408 to 45,456 or Lyon County growing from 13,594 to 53,334 during the same period. [NV Demo]  [WRDC pdf]

The counter, of course, is that as populations increase so do the number of polling sites.  Not really.  An EAC study reported that the number of polling sites increased with some regularity until 2000 at which time the precincts  actually decreased.

Table 13a. Number of Precincts Nationwide, 1980–2004
Number of
Election Year Precincts
2004 185,994
2002 189,900
2000 184,850
1998 185,444
1996 180,834
1994 181,497
1992 177,691
1990 177,101
1988 178,034
1986 176,326
1980 167,037

While it might be tempting to engage in some conspiracy theories at this point – and some voter suppression schemes do tend to reduce polling places in minority and lower income neighborhoods – there’s also a plausible explanation incorporating the notion that polling has become far more expensive with the electronic voting machines required.

Therefore, given the populations increases, the increased cost of election equipment, and the costs of staffing precinct polling sites, combined with the pressure to reduce local government budgets, one has to either accept that elections are going to be more expensive (and budget accordingly) or hope that early voting periods allow a local government to spread overtime and equipment budgets over a longer period of time so that additional costs aren’t incurred.

Third, the argument while traditionalist is also condescending to those who don’t have the luxury of waiting in line for three hours to vote.  Nevada includes time and distance into the allowance of time off to vote on a work day:

NRS 293.463  Employees may absent themselves from employment to vote: Procedure; penalty.
     1.  Any registered voter may be absent from his or her place of employment at a time to be designated by the employer for a sufficient time to vote, if it is impracticable for the voter to vote before or after his or her hours of employment. A sufficient time to vote shall be determined as follows:
     (a) If the distance between the place of such voter’s employment and the polling place where such person votes is 2 miles or less, 1 hour.
     (b) If the distance is more than 2 miles but not more than 10 miles, 2 hours.
     (c) If the distance is more than 10 miles, 3 hours.
     2.  Such voter may not, because of such absence, be discharged, disciplined or penalized, nor shall any deduction be made from his or her usual salary or wages by reason of such absence.
     3.  Application for leave of absence to vote shall be made to the employer or person authorized to grant such leave prior to the day of the election.
     4.  Any employer or person authorized to grant the leave of absence provided for in subsection 1, who denies any registered voter any right granted under this section, or who otherwise violates the provisions of this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

If the county can’t spread out the time for voting, then it’s entirely possible a person could be 2 miles from the polling site and have to wait in a two hour line.  And, presumably, the employer could dock paychecks within the reading of the law.

Aside from the practical matter of long lines and tenuous guarantees of permission to take time off to vote, there’s the matter of condescension.  To argue that voting is the ultimate act of civic duty which everyone should embrace no matter the personal cost, is perilously close to the contention that voting is a privilege.  No amount of flag waving, banner hoisting, and parading about, will remove the scent of patronization – those who are really truly patriotic will vote even if it costs them dearly – which is very nice for the boss and those who can take the entire day if they wish, and not so convenient for those who can’t.

Finally, in an election season such as this one – interminable, and more annoying than necessary – early voting gives a citizen a way to say: Whatever someone else may want is fine – just let me get this over with!

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Filed under Vote Suppression, Voting