Tag Archives: Laxalt

Hanging Hats on Thin Reeds: Trump and his Nevada Allies

I have to wonder: Do Laxalt, Heller, and Duncan really want to hang their hats on the thin reeds comprising the current GOP position in regard to Trump and his appointees?  Really?  Does a candidate for any office, a governorship, a Senate seat, a position as State Attorney General, want to stand side by side with:

A party leader who had no compunction about railing against a Gold Star family? Please, save the dignity and worthiness of your military service and question whether it’s appropriate to fund raise with, or welcome the endorsement of, a person who disparages a Gold Star family.  Save your rhetoric about serving veterans, about supporting our troops, about believing in the strength and character of our military until such time as it’s possible to square the criticism of a Gold Star family with those words and phrases. Actions speak louder than words, but words do matter.  The words from the standard bearer of the GOP have not aligned with true support for the members of the military, their families, and our veterans.

A party leader who disparages women who voice objections to sexual assault as “inebriated” and “all messed up.”  That, sir, is exactly when it is not appropriate for any young man to take advantage.  Real men don’t press themselves upon an unwilling woman when she is vulnerable; a real man takes her home safely.  Infantile, self-centered, and belligerent men take advantage; real men take care and caution.

A party leader who never seems to have a plan in mind.  “We’ll see what happens,” is not a strategy.  For anything.  We’ll see what happens when we slap high tariffs on Chinese goods? Ask the soy bean farmers…the almond growers…the car manufacturers?  Ask the South Koreans who now look to China and Japan for guidance with their relations with North Korea rather than the United States?  We’ll see what happens when we take ourselves out of the Paris Climate Accords, which were drafted with US demands specifically in mind.  We’ll see what happens when we unilaterally try to disengage from diplomacy with Iran.  Enter the Russians, the Germans, the French, the British. When does the American Century end and we become irrelevant? Did it happen during the UN General Assembly speech when attendees laughed at a point in the address not intended to be a punch line?

A party leader who will not divulge his tax returns nor provide specific information about his business dealings.  A party leader whose airline went broke, who managed to bankrupt his casino business? Who has been through multiple bankruptcies, each shaving his creditors to the core?  Who borrowed money from highly questionable sources when legitimate banks and banking institutions wanted to see the back of him? Who is indebted to heaven knows who for heaven only knows what amounts, under heaven only knows what conditions?  Is this the standard bearer for the party of fiscal responsibility?

A party leader whose high level officials are almost routinely under investigation for misappropriating taxpayer funds for office adornments, upscale travel, personal benefit, and family expenses?  The revolving door in this administration is wafting taxpayer funds around like so much litter on a windswept city street.

A party leader whose thoughts on immigrants and immigration are racist.  Who else would even remotely consider separating children from their parents as an act of “deterrence” to prevent others from believing America to be the City on the Hill? Who else would think no one would care if babies and toddlers were kept in cages? Who else would think it was up to the ACLU to find ways to reunite parents and children? Who else would plunder funds from the Coast Guard, from Cancer Research, and from FEMA to build detention camps reminiscent of Manzanar? Who else would say there were some “very fine people on both sides,” when one side was composed of Neo-Nazis?

Who else would fly the banner suggesting that adolescent boys of color should be perceived and treated as it they were adults (and shot accordingly) while white adolescent boys are to be forgiven their trespasses (and sexual assaults) because boys will be boys?  Who else would find it easy to insult and defame African American women who dare criticize him?

Thus, it’s appropriate to ask Senator Heller, Adam Laxalt, and AG hopeful Duncan– WHY are you standing by, standing with, and standing in silence, as your party leader leads you into the morass of short term gains (his own) and long term losses (ours)?  Why?

Are your tax cuts really worth all that much to you?

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And now some after thoughts

There are some Nevada politicians still clutching Trumpian coat-tails, or pants’ legs, or something as of now.  They might want to ask some questions, some fundamental, some quotidian, some tangential about that posture.  We’ve had a day in which President Obama has spoken of a need to preserve and protect our democratic institutions, and in which his successor has spoken of a felt need to use the Department of Justice to pursue his personal political critics.  It’s time to address the questions.

Do Nevada politicians really want to associate themselves with a president who cannot, or perhaps will not, differentiate between his own sense of security and the security of this nation?  There is a difference.  Our national security is not compromised by the publication of non-classified, albeit controversial, information about how the West Wing functions.  It is a stretch to assume that IF a person divulges information from a meeting then it is presumed the individual in questions would necessarily reveal classified information.  I can think of one instance in which #45 shared information with Russian visitors to the White House that compromised sources and methods; no sources and methods were compromised by the NYT op-ed piece.

President Bush took flack from critics of the Iraq War, from those critical of his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and from others who decried his economic policies and his advocacy of de-regulation.  Never once did he call the press an “enemy of the people.”  President Obama received his share of criticism and complaint concerning everything from wearing a tan suit to the validity of his birth certificate. Never once did he call the press an “enemy of the people.”  Both these men understood the difference between the President and the Presidency, and the difference between being the Head of State and the State itself.

Merely because criticism makes #45 feel insecure doesn’t mean the state is insecure.  Bush understood this. Obama understood this.  Nevada politicians would do well to consider whether or not to wholeheartedly support someone who can’t make this distinction.

Do Nevada politicians truly want to run campaigns anchored in a message of fear and division?  What is gained by suggesting that Nevada citizens of Hispanic origin are less “American” than the citizens of Irish, German, Polish, Basque, or Chinese descent who preceded them?  What is gained by inferring that immigrants from the Philippines are less capable of assimilating into the broad fabric of Nevada life than the immigrant workers in the hospitality industry who came from other countries?  What is better for Nevada in the long run, promoting a path to citizenship and entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrants to this country (and this state), or building walls, both metaphorical and literal to keep them at a distance?

It isn’t necessary to run about wearing a white hood to touch the vile pitch of racism.  All that’s required is to advocate in favor of restricting the economic opportunities, circumscribe the education, and diminish the participation in civic life, for various ethnic or minority groups.  We can constrict them, devalue them, and make advocacy difficult for them.  We can take away their voices by capriciously restraining their voting rights.  We can wall ourselves off from them.  However, in doing so we only succeed in encircling and shrinking ourselves.

If there’s one thing Nevada has it’s miles and miles of beautiful miles and miles. We can see further toward the horizons beyond most other topographical regions in this nation.  Why would we choose to close down our social horizons when after a few moments driving time we can open up our physical ones?   Every time we build a wall we restrict our own field of vision.

Fear usually breeds failure.  Do Nevada politicians want to associate with failed policies? Nothing seems like a larger failure than the Zero Tolerance debacle on our southern border.  416 children to date separated from their parents, some of whom were lawfully seeking asylum in this country.  Too many of these youngsters are under the age of 5.  This is an unconscionable failure.  Unless, of course, one adopts the President’s mindset that immigrants from Mexico and Central America “infest” our country; unless, of course, one thinks of people from Sh*thole Countries as undesirable. And now the Administration wants to detain families indefinitely. Indefinitely. [Vox]

There is only one nation on this planet that pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, and as President Obama noted today, it wasn’t Syria…it was the United States of America.  There is only one nation that gave away dominance in regional trading by backing out of the Transpacific Partnership…it was the United States of America.  China and Japan are only too happy to fill the void.  There is only one western democracy causing friction among NATO allies…the United States of America. There is only one nation threatening trade wars with debilitating tariffs … the United States of America.  There is only one nation taking positions which could seriously damage trade relations with two of its most valuable trading partners… the United States of America.  This isn’t success.

We got vague promises of future vague promises from the North Korean regime.  While we made relations with China more difficult, the Chinese now have less incentive to pressure North Korea to do more.  The North Koreans are continuing their military research apace. This isn’t success.

Polarization begets gridlock, and gridlock impedes progress.  Do Nevada politicians want to take this route?  My way or the highway is NOT a bargaining position.   Implacable positions, taken for political expediency, mean a politician can never follow the dictum: Campaign in poetry, Govern in prose.  I can startle a conservative relative by arguing that single payer health care would promote entrepreneurship and support small businesses by leveling the playing field between the big box retailers and the mom and pop stores.  My conservative relative can widen my eyes by arguing that when work requirements are attached to Medicaid benefits we should be mindful of single adults, who while not physically disabled, are intellectually or developmentally challenged, and adjustments should be made for them.   If hard and fast positions don’t advance conversations; then how can they be an impetus toward progress?

We can, and must, do better.  And, we’ll do better when we function from a foundation predicated on our shared values, not one based upon our private fears.

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Please Go Right Ahead Mr. Laxalt, Clutch The Trumpian Phantom Coat-tails?

From the “Please Proceed” Department — Nevada gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt still clings to the Tangerine Tantrum Tosser in the White House. [NVIndy]  Meanwhile, the Tantrum Tosser is now openly calling for the end of the Mueller Investigation.  [WaPo] Now, why might this be?

The walls are closing in?  The first round of indictments hit the periphery of the conspiracy to defraud the US to manipulate the election.  Russians, many Russians, as in 12 members of the Russian intelligence services in the cross hairs of the Mueller probe.  As in the next round may very well include people like Roger Stone, or like people who worked with Roger Stone — say, Donald Trump, Jr.  This would help explain the increasingly shrill tone of unpresidential tweets emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue.  We might be getting up into the top part of the human hearing range, approaching, if not hitting, 28 kHz.   That low rumble, 20 Hz, could be the sound of the Mueller team(s) assembling the paper-work for the next round of indictments?

The walls have already begun to slide inward? Speculation appears to center on two points (1) Mueller is much further along than what appears in published accounts; and, (2) the Trump defense team is privy to information concerning that investigation which is also ahead of the publication curve.  If (and this is a major IF) we adopt both of these statements as possibly true, then the unpresidential tweet tantrums may be indicative of a felt need to “get ahead of the story,” i.e. to attempt to shape a public narrative prior to any action on the Special Counsel’s part.  I’ve enjoyed the various iterations of Trumpian apologetics in regard to the subtopic of collusion.  There was NO collusion.  Okay, there might have been some collusion, but it was done by people who barely related to the campaign.  Well, yeah, there were some campaign connected souls who indulged in some collusion, but collusion isn’t a crime.  I am waiting for the “collusion is a crime, but it isn’t a really serious crime” insertion, to be followed by “a crime isn’t a crime if the President does it.” [See Nixon interview May 1977]

There’s another wall coming in on them?  At the risk of redundancy, conspiracy and obstruction of justice aren’t the only two arrows in the Mueller quiver.  The money questions are bubbling to the surface.  There’s $$$ and the Russian + National Rifle Association element.  There’s $$$ and the Russian connections to former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. There’s $$$ and the connections from Oligarchs to the Trumps.  There’s $$$ and Russian connections to Trump business operations.  There’s some $$$ washing around in dubious shell corporations, off shore accounts, and small specialty accounts such as those used to pay off porn stars and Playboy models.  There’s $$$ to be made by Russian aluminum and real estate tycoons, et. alia if sanctions are left unenforced or are rescinded. There’s $$$ to be made if tariffs are applied such that Russian commodities can be traded in international markets in the absence of American and other allied producers.  Follow The Money.

The Numbers aren’t adding up.  At no point thus far in 2018 has GOP identification registered above 28% [Gallup] and as of July 2018 the number stands at 26%, with Democrats at 30% and Independents at 41%.   Republicans give Trump an 87% approval rating; Democrats a dismal 5% rating; and, Independents at 38%.  The only term for this is “under water.”  Just for reference, as of July 26, 2002 George W. Bush had a 69% approval rating; Trump’s July 22, 2018 rating was 41%.   We might stick a pin in Richard M. Nixon’s approval rating as of June 25, 1973 when he was pulling a positive 44%. [Gallup]

Here’s the point at which DB recites the familiar mantra:  When you have an increasing share of a declining market your business plan is in serious trouble.

The troubling prospect is that those “campaign style rallies” will become increasingly strident, increasingly petulant, increasingly vitriolic, and increasingly threatening to members of the press.  While it might be superficially pleasurable to watch the continuing meltdown, the fact that five journalists in Annapolis, MD have already succumbed to the pent up hatred of a delusional gunman should give us all pause.

Unsolicited advice for candidate Laxalt:  Be careful who you wish for (as a pillar of support) because some pillars will turn you into yet another pillar of  NaCl.

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The Ever Entertaining GOP Primary in Nevada

Is it something in the water?  The main GOP candidates for the lieutenant governorship in Nevada are a real bunch.  Exhibit A, the Recall King (Roberson) whose efforts yielded a large Zero [LVRJ] and then there’s Exhibit B, the Scientology promoter. [NVIndy]

The GOP headliner in the governor’s race looks to be Trumpian Adam Laxalt [NVIndy].  Laxalt is the Koch Brothers’ own boy: “Laxalt has far outraised his opponents, cornering donations from the Adelson family that owns the Las Vegas Sands, Station Casinos and their owners, the Fertitta family. He has more of a structural advantage, garnering endorsements from sheriffs across the state, opening campaign offices and mobilizing large teams of volunteers. He also counts on support from outside groups such as Freedom Partners, part of a network run by conservative billionaires the Koch Brothers, which has paid for $1 million in ads to introduce Laxalt to Nevada voters.” [NVIndy] Interesting.  If one’s last name is “Laxalt” and there’s a felt need to use the services of Kansas based fossil fuel behemoths (Kochs} to “introduce” you to Nevadans, something may be amiss?

It seems like a fine year to be a Democrat.

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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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Immigration Myths and Legends and NV gubernatorial candidates

Nevada Republicans apparently have managed to recruit not one but two profoundly flawed candidates for Governor — Dubious Dan Schwartz, author of an alternative budget so far out in right field it found itself in the parking lot, and Adam Laxalt, The Adelson candidate du jour.  AG Laxalt joins the bevy of Republican officials who find no reason to challenge the Trumpian decision on DACA.  Better still, he’s an associate of notorious ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio:

“To date, Laxalt has shown zero interest in protecting Nevada’s DREAMers. In 2015, Laxalt added the State of Nevada to a lawsuit opposing President Obama’s immigration executive action with the goal of deporting DREAMers and tearing immigrant families apart. Laxalt is currently scheduled to appear this month at an event with disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a criminal and notorious bigot who racially profiled Latinos in Arizona.”

Laxalt and Schwartz do illustrate the topics Republicans want to talk about — immigrants, tax cuts, and the wedgies (guns and gays.)   Let’s focus on immigration for the moment.  Nevadans have been treated to a surfeit of salacious “alternative facts” on DACA, and some of the myths appear to have taken hold.  DACA encouraged child migration! — No, it didn’t.  DACA beneficiaries have taken jobs away from Americans — only if one buys into the Lump of Labor Fallacy.  Nor do DACA beneficiaries cost the American taxpayers much of anything — they aren’t eligible for federal means tested welfare, Medicaid, health care tax credits, or anything else.   Republicans sputter that ending DACA will keep us safer — however DACA requires a background check, no felonies, no serious misdemeanors, and only 2,139 of the 800,000 beneficiaries have lost permits because of criminal activity. The handy plastic brains show this amounts to 0.267%. [WaPo]

Looming on the dark horizon of GOP visions is the ever present phantasmagorical presence of More Immigrants.  Interesting isn’t it, that the danger always comes from (1) Mexico or Central America, or (2) Muslims.  However, as of 2015 about 15% of green card recipients were from Mexico, 7% came from China, 6.1% from India, 5.4% from the Philippines, and 5.2% from Cuba. [CNN] [see also DHS]  Little notice is given to the 4,765,000 immigrants of European origin. [MPO]

Enter the other conversation Republicans don’t want to have — racism in all its systemic, institutional, and individual forms.  The ultimate exercise in otiosity is to attempt to get a Republican candidate to admit that beneath their rhetoric about immigration is a deep layer of good old fashioned prejudice and racism.  European immigrants are ‘productive,’ Central American immigrants are ‘gang members.’  European immigrants ‘take opportunities,’ while Central American immigrants ‘take jobs.’  European and Asian immigrants are hard working, but Central American ones are potential criminals — as if Russian and Chinese organized crime operations are minimized by excluding discussion of their activities.

Who were the gangsters associated with the following?

“The suspects (+30) also face charges of extortion, gambling, narcotics trafficking, wire fraud, credit card fraud, and identity theft, according to law enforcement sources. Some of the charges carry a maximum penalty of decades in prison.”

No, not from Mexico, Central America, not MS 13 — they’re members of Russian organized crime in NYC.   There was some mention about the Chinese immigrants attempting to enter the US without documentation last August 27th. [ChicagoABC] Not much, nor is much said about Chinese organized crime moving into south eastern Asia.  For coverage of Australian-Chinese cooperation interdicting drug trafficking in the area one has to head to Australian or Chinese news sources.  Lets guess that the latest 13 tons of drugs captured weren’t all destined for Sydney and Melbourne?

However, broadening the focus on criminal activity to include a more global perspective doesn’t serve the purposes of the anti-immigration far right in the US, which voraciously consumes any and all news of Mexican and Central American criminal activity while minimizing the capacity of Asian and Russian gangs and cartels to wreak havoc.

Thus far candidate Schwartz has demonstrated his capacity to parrot talking points from the Trickle Down Hoax book of imaginary economics, while Laxalt has aligned himself with the Arpaio clan (a word carefully chosen) of racists and bigots.  Both are flawed, and both leave room for a centrist Democrat to make an effective run for Governor.

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Halloween Shocker

Laxalt Or, perhaps not.  The Laxalt Family pulls the plug on support for Adam Laxalt’s candidacy for Attorney General.  [Las Vegas Sun]

It has to hurt when it comes from the family?

“It is our belief that Ross Miller’s documented history of pulling himself up by his own bootstraps and establishing a well-respected career in law and public service while still maintaining a strong sense of family and community constitute the critical characteristics needed for Nevada’s highest legal office.”

Once again we’re treated to the spectacle of the Nevada Republican Party unable to keep the members of the Old Guard aligned with the Tea Party influx of fringe characters from the radical right.   There are Nevada Republicans who aren’t pleased with the antics of the Bundy Family, and who aren’t in ideological lock step with the pseudo-libertarian radicals.  There are Nevada Republicans for whom vote suppression is not a recipe for winning hearts, minds, and votes.  However, it will be a struggle for them to take their party back from the reactionaries and radicals who have provided candidates in some of the last elections.  They are afraid of some of their own, meaning independents and Democrats should be equally alarmed.

Happy Halloween?

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