Tag Archives: Nevada Politics

Heller’s Making Hay, Just Without a Business License

The Reno Gazette Journal informs us today that Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has a hay farm in Smith Valley (180 acres) for which he’d not bothered to get a business license.  The royal irony herein is that Heller is a former Secretary of State, and so a person presumed to have some knowledge of business licenses in this state.  What’s wrong with this picture?

His excuse is that it’s a home based business which doesn’t make a profit.  Okay.  Many family farms and ranches are home based.  Most have business licenses.   The business license costs are minimal, $200.00.   The last time I looked hay was going for about $170 per ton.  [hay price check here]  I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out how a hay operation in Smith Valley is running in the red.  Unless of course that’s a deliberate business plan for tax purposes?  If it is, that’s not a good look for a “fiscally responsible” US Senator.

We can reasonably assume a crop of about 7 tons per acre, and Heller has 180 acres. Perhaps he’s getting about 1,260 tons?  At $170 per ton that’s $214,200 gross.  He’s going to have irrigation, pest management, and fertilization expenses like every other farmer. Additionally there are going to be expenses for labor, equipment, harvesting operations, and vehicles.  It’s a little hard to imagine he’s racked up over $200,000 in expenses?  If he isn’t making a profit — then (a) why’s he in the business? or (b) why is he continuing with a business operations plan which is losing money?  Less gently, he’s either in the business to get some breaks, or he’s one of the state’s worst hay farmers.

Either way, he’s not been one of the state’s best Senators.  His opposition to consumer protections from the financial sector (see his consistent opposition to the Dodd-Frank Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley) and his support for just about any proposal Wall Street has to offer make him more the Bankers Boy than a Nevada small farmer’s friend.

 

 

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It’s Official: No More Phony Memo Here

The cable news obsession with the highly questionable (I’m trying to be polite) memo from Devin Nunes’ staffers is sucking up the oxygen, and nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, and water vapor from the air…or at least from the airwaves. So, how about some news that isn’t Dumb Memo related?

As if one weren’t too many, there’s a fellow being styled as the “next David Duke.”  The Huffington Post has an interesting article about this bit of algae mass in stagnant water.  It seems the “White Ethno-State” is as phony as the leader.   In a related publication the New York Daily News offers a good piece on the NFL and the players’ protests, speaking of the origins of the flag ceremonies:

However, that’s not the case anymore. In 2015, two senators released a report that found that the Department of Defense spent $6.8 million on “paid patriotism” between 2012 and 2015. The money, which was spread out amongst 50 pro teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and others, was for teams to do flag presentations, honor military members and reenlistment ceremonies.

Which begs the question: How can black players who protested the flag be unpatriotic if the faux patriotism that we see before every NFL game had a price tag?

Good question.

Be careful of slipping on ICEPBS reports: “Federal immigration authorities formalized a policy Wednesday to send deportation agents to federal, state and local courthouses to make arrests, dismissing complaints from judges and advocacy groups that it instills fear among crime victims, witnesses and family members.”   The official guidelines are here (pdf).   Gee, what could possibly go wrong?  Oh, how about a person showing up at a traffic court?  The man’s crime, in case anyone’s interested, is that his DACA status expired although he is still eligible for an extension.  He has no other criminal record. Or how about detaining an immigrant (with green card) while he and his wife were in court as part of an interview to establish their official status as a married couple.  Or, the Polish immigrant doctor arrested on January 16, 2018 by ICE for having two misdemeanor offenses on his record as a teen; he was released on bond  yesterday.  Then there are the two detainees in Florida who have died in custody.    At least there’s one federal judge who isn’t amused.

America alone means China First:  at least in terms of amassing trade deals, “From deals with blocs including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to bilaterals with tiny countries like Maldives, China’s FTAs already cover 21 countries. That compares with the 20 countries covered by U.S. agreements. More than a dozen additional pacts are being negotiated or studied, according to the Ministry of Commerce. ” (FTA = Free Trade Agreement)

Renegotiate a better NAFTA?  Maybe not, the administration’s trade rep is clashing with the neighbors.   Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears to be trying to help clean up the mess.

Jobs Jobs Jobs: Harley Davidson is cutting production (read: layoffs) as a result of declining sales.  Wal-Mart is planning on store closures and other layoffs, “in the thousands.”  Sears is laying off 220 from its corporate offices. Whirlpool confirms it is planning layoffs.  Pandora is laying off 5% of its workforce.  Kimberly Clark is paying for its layoffs with its shiny new tax cuts.

Closer to home: The Nevada Independent reviews some important state races. (Highly recommended reading)  Reno city officials are having a tough time explaining how they handled an ex-employee’s sexual assault complaint.  Rep. Jacky Rosen announces her introduction of a bill to assist homeless veterans.

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Adam Laxalt: The Grandson of Immigrants doesn’t like immigrants?

Adam Paul Laxalt seems to have forgotten that he is a descendant of Dominique and Therese Laxalt.  He also appears to have forgotten that Dominique Laxalt started life in the great American west as a sheepherder.  I supposed he’d prefer Nevadans identify him as the grandson of former Governor Paul Laxalt, popular politician and friend of Ronald Reagan — not especially as the great grandson of a Basque sheepherder.   He must be only tenuously connected to his immigrant roots because that’s the only rational explanation for his joining the “anti-sanctuary city” case brought by 11 AGs:

 “The brief urges the court to reverse a U.S. District Court judge’s order preventing the implementation of the federal government’s executive order pertaining to sanctuary cities. The case is an opportunity to remedy the threat California’s “sanctuary cities” pose to Nevada safety, Laxalt’s office stated.” [Sierra Sun]

First let’s look at the rational as published by the Sierra Sun, and evaluate Laxalt’s position.  Part One:

“Nevada’s law enforcement officials, including all 17 currently elected county sheriffs, have consistently opposed sanctuary-city policies that would prevent compliance with federal law and compromise public safety, the office stated. In the vast majority of cases, an individual must be arrested for committing a crime and booked into a jail or detention facility before Nevada law enforcement agencies check whether the individual is sought by federal immigration authorities and, if so, alert those federal authorities, the office stated. Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”

The part about “compromising public safety” needs a bit more explication.  In standard law enforcement practice, a person does something criminal, that is commits a felony or a misdemeanor, and is detained. After detention law enforcement looks into the person’s background — outstanding warrants? Outstanding court issues? …. Immigration status? The Oval Office Anti-Immigrant policy inserts ICE into the arrest process, and herein lies a problem — If the individual arrested for being publicly intoxicated thereby disturbing the peace  (NRS 203.010) is named Smith, Johnson, or Baker what is the likelihood the sheriff’s office is going to check with ICE for his or her immigration status?  What we have here is an invitation to discrimination, whites detained face misdemeanor penalties and Hispanics face more extensive investigations by ICE for being named Hernandez.

The odds are in Nevada the person with the Hispanic surname is US born.  Hispanics are 28% of the state’s population, and of this number 61% were born in the United States. [Pew]  The most common Hispanic name in Nevada is Garcia.  [Anc.com] If Garcia is the most common surname for a person of Hispanic heritage in Nevada then we can add Jose as the most common name for a boy of Mexican descent.  Now, consider for a moment what happens when a Jose Garcia is picked up in violation of NRS 203.010 and his “name is compared” to an ICE target list.  Think there aren’t ample opportunities for mistakes to be made? Maybe think again.  As for releasing “violent offenders back into communities…” that needs to be discussed as well.

Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”  This is a misvioleading conflation of the first water. The statement works IF and Only IF we assume that the person detained is automatically assumed to be a violent offender or if violent offenders are the most commonly arrested.  It also works IF the audience assumes “those people” are likely to be violent offenders, the release of any one of them puts the population in peril.  To make these assumptions AG Laxalt would have to ignore the 2016 Crime in Nevada report. (long pdf)

A person doesn’t get far into the 2016 Department of Public Safety report before it’s obvious that the most common index crimes in this state are good old fashioned garden variety property crimes: burglary, larceny.   The five year average for property crime (2012-2016) stands at 76,833 far outpacing personal crime averages.  So, even for ‘serious’ crimes, the ones that get reported as indexed, the odds are a person didn’t get picked up for a violent crime against a person.  Therefore the argument that we should turn our local deputies into ICE officers because otherwise we’d have roving rapists and murderers in our midst is more fear mongering than reality.  Not that this prevents AG Laxalt from turning up the burners:

 “Sanctuary cities in California pose a danger to neighboring states like Nevada by making it easier for those not lawfully in this country and with violent criminal histories to evade law enforcement and travel out of state. What’s more, these cities undermine the rule of law and prevent cooperation between federal and local officials.”

“Undermining the rule of law” is a common refrain among right wing anti-immigration advocates.  We could as easily argue that what undermines the rule of law is to have people arrested and detained because they have the same name as a person on an ICE list, or that if one’s name is Smith or Jones there will be no extra scrutiny but if your last name is Garcia or … Laxalt… then the person can sweat the possibility of mistakes.  The rule of law can also be undermined by immigration agents who dump water bottles in the desert (and brag about it) or threaten a doctor with deportation for juvenile offenses ages ago, and make it all but impossible for immigrant women to press charges for sexual assaults because to do so would invite deportation proceedings.  It also undermines respect for the law if we deliberately ignore the fact that the statistics on crimes don’t support the assertion illegal immigrants commit more crimes:

“The tone and tenor of the president’s executive order blurs the line between who’s a serious criminal and who isn’t,” and between documented and undocumented immigrants, said Randy Capps, the institute’s director of research for United States programs. There is no national accounting of criminality specifically by people who are in the country illegally. But Mr. Nowrasteh said he had analyzed the available figures and concluded that undocumented immigrants had crime rates somewhat higher than those here legally, but much lower than those of citizens.”  [NYT] (emphasis added)

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A Taste: Nevada Gubernatorial Race Money and Laxalt’s Views

The Nevada Independent has published some very useful information about the Nevada gubernatorial race — the money.  Please follow this link to find what they’ve discovered.  From the Department of Absolutely No Surprises we are informed radical right wing GOP candidate Adam Laxalt has received the largess of The Adelsons.  Laxalt’s a fine old Basque name in northern Nevada, and one which attracted votes from many who were inclined to disbelieve the coverage of his radical views during his last race.  The information concerning his family’s lack of support for him was met with the rejoinder that the opposition was “mean.”   A few samples of punch lines from the punditry:

Politico: Sandoval is leaving the Nevada governor’s mansion as one of the most popular governors in the country, and the Republican front-runner to replace him is state Attorney General Adam Laxalt. But Laxalt, a rising star in national Republican circles who has clashed with Sandoval in the past, still faces a tough road ahead in 2018. Nevada has been getting more Democratic, and operatives from both parties say the state Democratic Party is one of the most organized in the country. They are hoping to ride momentum from electing a Democratic senator and carrying the state for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Either Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak or Vice Chair Chris Giunchigliani could prove formidable in the general election after a 2018 primary.

Washington Post (on the marijuana policy): Laxalt, the Nevada attorney general and a Republican candidate for governor, noted that while he opposed the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, “I also pledged to defend the measure were it approved by the voters.” He highlighted his defense of legal pot in two lawsuits. “My office has expeditiously facilitated the implementation of the law in the face of considerable uncertainty about the status of federal enforcement activity,” he said. (emphasis in the original)

Sierra Sun (on Laxalt’s immigration views) : Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt joined an 11-state coalition of attorneys general on Friday in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – a federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over Nevada. The brief urges the court to reverse a U.S. District Court judge’s order preventing the implementation of the federal government’s executive order pertaining to sanctuary cities. The case is an opportunity to remedy the threat California’s “sanctuary cities” pose to Nevada safety, Laxalt’s office stated.

This requires more analysis, in another post.

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Amodei’s Fence Straddling: Science? No Science?

In his own, inimitable, fashion Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV2) has encapsulated the wavering stance of those who don’t want to take any real action on climate change, but who’d like very much not to appear too much like the Inquisitors of Galileo.

“Amodei described himself as new to climate change issues and stopped short of endorsing the scientific consensus that rising global temperatures are driven by humans burning fossil fuels for energy.

But he said he will continue to gather research on the issue and added that facts should drive policy.

“It bugs me just as much when somebody starts out it is all BS as when somebody starts out the world is going to end tomorrow,” Amodei said. “If you are really going to be fact based then you need people who are going to argue both ways. You just don’t want a bunch of ‘yes’ people.” [RGJ]

First, Amodei noted that he didn’t think the request from the Trumpster transition team for a list of those Department of Energy employees who had worked on climate science projects was appropriate.  That’s good, because witch-hunts and purges have been notoriously counter productive.  Then come the excuses… “I’m new to the topic.”

This is analogous to “give me some time and I’ll get back to you.”

And, yes – facts should drive policy.  That would be scientific facts, not political ones.  Further, using the straw man technique doesn’t further even the political argument.  No one is saying “the world is going to end tomorrow.”  What scientists ARE saying is that there is concrete evidence that the increasing climate change is happening because of human activity.  These aren’t “yes men.” 

In fact, “The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.”  [SSci]

What opponents of new energy sources and systems have been touting over the past few years is the MYTH of a lack of consensus:

“That’s why those who oppose taking action to curb climate change have engaged in a misinformation campaign to deny the existence of the expert consensus. They’ve been largely successful, as the public badly underestimate the expert consensus, in what we call the “consensus gap.” Only 16% of Americans realize that the consensus is above 90%.” [SSci]  (emphasis added)

Representative Amodei has firmly inserted himself into that mythological gap.  

On one side of his self constructed fence, he did co-sponsor the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension, a bill which went to the House Ways and Means Committee, and then into oblivion.  On the other side, he co-sponsored the “Stop Green Initiative Abuse Act,” which amended the Energy Conservation and Production Act to repeal provisions of the Department of Energy’s weatherization assistance program for low income persons to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings. [OTI]

A some point it might behoove the Representative to note that not every one else is straddling a semantic fence and continue his education on the issue:

Here’s the Department of Defense on the implications of climate change on national security.

“The report finds that climate change is a security risk, Pentagon officials said, because it degrades living conditions, human security and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that already are fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges, they added.” [DoD]

In addition to national defense, there’s also the not-so-small matter of emergency planning and responses.  Emergency Managers have some thoughts on this:

“Since storms are becoming more severe, disaster response costs have risen. The costs of major hurricanes has increased sharply over the last decade, and the spending totals for cleaning up after major floods across the Midwest and South have spiked. More victims and more damages mean more money. If supplies are not available, they must be flown in. Victims may go without necessities and become ill, which results in increased medical costs or an increased demand for medical supplies. Disaster plans must account for the increasing severity of storms and how they create the need for more response supplies.” [EMD.org]

This scenario isn’t too difficult to follow.  Climate change leads to severe storms, severe storms cause more damage, more damage means more costs, more expenses mean more money.   The bottom line is that any emergency management plan which does NOT incorporate the effects of climate change isn’t really a plan at all – just a prayer and a wish list.

As much as Representative Amodei may want to dawdle, fence straddle, and muse about “collecting more facts,” the facts themselves are clear – climate change is happening – climate change is caused by human activity – and to ignore these facts is to make this country (and many others) more vulnerable.

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It has now been 2059 days since the president-elect promised to release his tax returns (April 27, 2011) In light of the ‘Russian Connection’ to the 2016 campaign it seems essential for the American public to find out what financial ties the prospective president has to the Russian government and economy.

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GOP Air Balls: ACA Repeal would increase Nevada uninsured by 95%

Trump Favorite Picture This ought to be just a little chilling:

If Republicans go through with their plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act using a similar model as their failed 2015 Obamacare repeal, the number of uninsured would double, a new report by the Urban Institute report warns. (pdf)  Taking into account the two or so year delay GOP lawmakers say they will include in the repeal bill, the non-partisan think tank estimates that in 2019 the number of uninsured nonelderly people would rise from about 29 million to nearly 59 million.  [TPM]

And the numbers represent what? Answer:

Eighty-two percent of the people becoming uninsured would be in working families, 38 percent would be ages 18 to 34, and 56 percent would be non-Hispanic whites. Eighty percent of adults becoming uninsured would not have college degrees. [UrbanInst. pdf]

Percentages have a way of sounding bland, so some clicking on the Plastic Brain results in approximately 33,040,000 of those people who would lose their health insurance by 2019  being non-Hispanic white people.  47,200,000 would be those without a college education, and thus presumably not in a position to secure the kind of employment providing the resources to find individual health plans.

If the 2015 bill is used as the framework or model, then the Urban Institute projects that there will be 762,000 uninsured individuals in Nevada only 18% of whom would be eligible for assistance; causing a 95% increase in the number of uninsured in Nevada.   Those Nevada politicians who have been denouncing the Affordable Care Act (read Rep. Mark Amodei R-NV2) may want to pause before “taking credit” for creating a 95% increase in the number of Nevadans without health insurance.

It’s important to recall that the Big Lie about the Affordable Care Act is that it is “socialized medicine.”  In reality it’s an Insurance Law. It doesn’t create a nationalized health care system – it merely increases the number of people who have “access” to health care by providing more people with the capability of purchasing health insurance policies.

Senate Democrats have already signaled that should the “Straight Out Of The Gate Repeal and Replace” come from the majority Republicans the GOP can expect no assistance from the Democratic side of the chamber. [TPM]

And, then there’s the politics of the repeal.  If the GOP decides to use the Reconciliation Process (needing only 51 votes for repeal) then Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) raises a question:  “What we are trying to figure out is what the restrictions on reconciliation,” Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) told TPM. “Does reconciliation allow for a replacement? And it may or may not.” [TPM]

If the process doesn’t allow for “replacement” then the Republicans have chucked the insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, insurance coverage for mental health, insurance coverage maternity care, protections from junk insurance policies with maximum limits, and other popular features of the ACA.  They may also be chucking hospitals under the bus.

One private equity spokesperson noted last November, “… hospitals, especially those in rural areas, could be tremendously hard hit if the replacement rolls back the progress made under the ACA to insure patients and incentivize them to get care before their illnesses require emergency room visits or hospitalization.”

Thus, with the lack of any specificity from Republicans about the nature of the “replacement” we could posit some serious problems for the members of the Nevada Rural Hospital Partners – in Winnemucca, Fallon, Battle Mountain, Boulder City, Carson Valley, Ely, Winnemucca, Incline Village, Hawthorne, etc.   A 2016 report for the American Hospital Association provides some general conclusions from which we can contemplate the effect on Nevada’s rural health providers:

”The loss of coverage would have a net impact on hospitals of $165.8 billion  with the restoration of Medicaid DSH reductions; The ACA Medicare reductions are maintained and hospitals will suffer additional losses of $289.5 billion from reductions in their inflation updates; Full restoration of Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital  (DSH) payment reductions embedded in ACA would amount to $102.9 billion.”  [AHA pdf] 

The technical term for these losses might be “ouch?”   There is a point at which rhetoric meets the road.  It’s all well and good to bellow “Repeal and Replace?” Or, “Get Rid of Socialized Medicine.”  It’s another thing entirely to puzzle out the impact of repeal on all the stakeholders in this issue – the customers and patients, the health care providers, the hospitals and clinics, the insurance companies, and the investors who have an increasing stake in privatized health care in this country.

There are some elements of the Affordable Care Act which could be improved.  However, the Burn the Barn Down political pandering on full display among Republicans isn’t leading to any current and serious discussions of how to make these improvements viable.  And, this is chilling for policy holders, insurance companies, health care providers, hospitals and clinics, and the investors therein.

Perhaps the Pottery Barn rule applies to Republicans: If you break it you own it.

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Filed under Amodei, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics, public health, Republicans, Rural Nevada

UNR won’t play Trump’s Game

Trump Favorite Picture The Orange Foolious campaigned on a well constructed platform of xenophobia, hate-mongering, and anti-immigration rhetoric – including attacking DACA.  UNR’s president is having none of it:

“University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson said he is supporting students who illegally immigrated to the United States as children and are now enrolled in college.

He is one of more than 500 college and university presidents that as of Tuesday had signed a statement calling for continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, a 2012 Obama administration policy has allowed undocumented students to temporarily stay in school without the fear of deportation.”  [Full article: Reno Gazette Journal]

This will probably not play well with the White Supremacy Crowd.  oh well

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Filed under Immigration, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans