Tag Archives: Nevada Republican Party

ALEC and Nevada GOP launch vote suppression bills

vote suppression

It isn’t quite true to say that vote suppression bills are “a solution in search of a problem,” because the “problem” as seen by ALEC and associated Republicans is that too many people are voting, thus placing a permanent GOP majority in doubt.  Here’s a portion of AB 266, the perfectly predictable photo ID bill:

“Section 2 sets forth the acceptable forms of proof of identity which are: (1) certain government-issued documents or identity cards that show a recognizable photograph of the person to whom the document or card is issued; (2) a voter identification card; or (3) certain documentation from an administrator of certain health care facilities that are licensed by the State.”

What’s the problem? Just show the election officials your driver’s license? That, according to the Brennan Center isn’t a solution to the real problem – encouraging more people to participate in our electoral politics.

“Approximately ten percent of voting-age Americans today do not have driver’s licenses or state-issued non-driver’s photo ID. Based on Americans’ moving patterns, many more do not have photo ID showing their current address. And getting ID costs substantial time and money. A would-be voter must pay substantial fees both for ID cards and the backup documents needed to get them-up to $100 for a driver’s license, up to $45 for a birth certificate, $97 for a passport, and over $200 for naturalization papers. The voter may also have to take several hours off of work and travel significant distances to visit government offices open only during select daytime hours. Finally, many identifying documents cannot be issued immediately, so potential voters must allow for processing and shipping, which may take from several weeks to an entire year.”

As the Brennan Center relates, there’s nothing “free” about the documentation needed to get voting photo identification cards, even though the card itself is supposed to be issued at no charge.  And, who are those most likely to be suppressed by this legislation?  No surprise here:

“The impact of ID requirements is even greater for the elderly, students, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and people of color. Thirty-six percent of Georgians over 75 do not have a driver’s license. Fewer than 3 percent of Wisconsin students have driver’s licenses listing their current address. The same study found that African Americans have driver’s licenses at half the rate of whites, and the disparity increases among younger voters; only 22% of black men aged 18-24 had a valid driver’s license. Not only are minority voters less likely to possess photo ID, but they are also more likely than white voters to be selectively asked for ID at the polls. For example, in New York City, which has no ID requirement, a study showed that poll workers illegally asked one in six Asian Americans for ID at the polls, while white voters were permitted to vote without showing ID.”

Whose vote is in jeopardy?

Predictably that would be elderly people, students, people with disabilities, low income Americans, and people of color.  We’ve covered this territory before in terms of Nevada voting, especially in rural areas.  The geography of this state, and the fact that most of the population tends to live in just two counties, means that rural voters are also at risk.

It’s also no surprise that some of the same people who walked off the ALEC gang plank into the depths of vote suppression are the same who made the same march previously, see here.  AB 266 also brings back memories of Senator Roberson’s 2011 SB 373.

How does this fly in the face of American judicial principles? 

Here’s a reminder:

“If you signed your registration form in Nevada declaring under penalty of perjury that you are at least 18 years of age, are a citizen of the United States, are not among the classes of persons held ineligible, and are a resident of the state.  The burden of proof that you have committed perjury rests with the state.

The burden of proof always rests with the state — in any prosecution for anything.  If a person is alleged to have voted once in Clark County and again in Nye County that would call for a prosecution of a crime under NRS 293 — but the burden of proof rests with the state.   If a person is alleged to have voted using an assumed identity, then this calls for prosecution, and once again — the burden of proof rests with the state.

Any suggestion that the citizen be required to “show proof of citizenship” at the polls is not only redundant, but shifts the burden of proof from the state to the individual.  That’s not the way the American system of jurisprudence works.  It’s not the way the American judicial system has ever worked.

A person in any court in the United States is never presumed guilty until he or she can demonstrate innocence.  A person need never prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she did not commit a burglary, an arson, a theft, a manslaughter — the burden of proof always rests with the state.  Demanding “proof of citizenship” at the polling stations presumes that unless a person can “prove” otherwise he or she is a fraudulent voter upends the very foundation of our criminal justice precepts.” [DB]

Fancy Focus Group Terms Don’t Hide The Intent

Conservative Republicans are fond of using terms like “election integrity,” as if there was something amiss in our current system.  There isn’t.  The one question these advocates of vote suppression don’t want to answer is:  How many cases of voter impersonation fraud have been identified in this state?  As of August 2014, there were 31 cases of voter impersonation fraud in the entire country, and not one case was associated with a Nevada election. [WaPo]

But, but, but…sputter the advocates, “Photo ID will make people feel better about their elections.”  That’s false, too.  When researchers from Harvard and Columbia put this to a statistical test, the results didn’t support this contention:

“Because actual evidence of voter impersonation fraud is rare and difficult to come by if fraud is successful, reliance on public opinion as to the prevalence of fraud threatens to allow courts to evade the difficult task of balancing the actual constitutional risks involved. In this short Article we employ a unique survey to evaluate the causes and effects of public opinion regarding voter fraud. We find that perceptions of fraud have no relationship to an individual’s likelihood of turning out to vote. We also find that voters who were subject to stricter identification requirements believe fraud is just as widespread as do voters subject to less restrictive identification requirements.” (emphasis added)

Conclusions

Vote suppression bills are precisely that – legislation intended to make it more difficult for groups least likely to need or afford photo identification to vote in state and national elections.  They are promoted by associations like ALEC, which produces the model legislation, in order to secure a permanent GOP majority in elected bodies.  Let’s slip out on the tree limb and conjecture that if the elderly, students, the disabled, and the poor were voting for eliminating the minimum wage, enhancing corporate tax breaks, and terminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … the GOP would be demanding same day registration, and ALEC’s bill mill would be going full bore.

Vote suppression bills are unconstitutional. Discrimination should be the last thing found in polling stations. Further, to place the burden of proof on a “defendant” is counter to the very basic principles of American justice.

Vote suppression bills serve no one except corporate interests, as the Harvard/Columbia research reports – they don’t even make people feel any better.

AB 266, and its companions SB 169, and AB 253 should find their way to the bottom of some committee file cabinet – and not their way to the Governor’s desk.

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Train Wrecks and Exercises in Futility: Laxalt Joins Texas Immigration Suit

Futility 2 It’s nothing unexpected, Nevada Attorney General Adam “Train Wreck” Laxalt has inserted Nevada into the Texas lawsuit (pdf) concerning executive actions on immigration.  This is one Tea Party invitation anyone could have predicted Laxalt would accept.  The lawsuit is also the kind of political theater the Tea Party/GOP enjoys: All Puff, Fluff, Sound, Fury based on the premise that an objection to an executive action on ideological grounds is always “constitutional.” So, what exactly has “Train Wreck” gotten us into?

#1. An argument over immigration policy with only an extremely thin veneer of constitutional controversy.   The second point made in the case is that: “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.”  Yes, and I am a giraffe…because I say I am.  Because the remaining points in the suit are all about Immigration, about the proposed DREAM Act, about DACA, about the Nava-Martinez Case, about the DHS directive.   It’s easy to make a pronouncement disclaiming any anti-immigrant intent; it’s far more difficult to assert this claim when the objections are predicated exclusively on actions involving immigration policy.

It is also all the more difficult to explain away the anti-immigrant content of the litigation when the lead plaintiff (the state of Texas) has said the case is about immigration policy. [Newmax] One of the contentions is that the implementation of the Administration’s immigration policy creates an economic harm for the state.  If it’s not about immigration policy then what happens to the economic harm element?  It’s about immigration.  And, we can figure this out from the next clue – where the case is being filed.

Interestingly enough, the case was handed to Judge Andrew Hanen, a Bush appointee, who is already on record opposing the Obama Administration’s immigration policy. [AmThink] How convenient?  It might have been easier (and more literally convenient) had the case been sent to a court in Dallas? Austin? But, for obviously political reasons the case is sent to Judge Hanen’s realm in beautiful downtown Brownsville.

#2An argument about immigration policy in which the Office of Legal Counsel (Department of Justice) has already established guidelines for executive action.  The language in the lawsuit implies that the President didn’t follow the directions of the Office of Legal Counsel in a “unilateral creation of the DACA program.”  It might have been helpful if someone had perhaps read through the OLC’s directive in full?   There is this segment which we should take into consideration:

“Nonetheless, the nature of the Take Care duty does point to at least four general (and closely related) principles governing the permissible scope of enforcement discretion that we believe are particularly relevant here. First, enforcement decisions should reflect “factors which are peculiarly within [the enforcing agency’s] expertise.” Chaney, 470 U.S. at 831. Those factors may include considerations related to agency resources, such as “whether the agency has enough resources to undertake the action,” or “whether agency resources are best spent on this violation or another.” Id. Other relevant considerations may include “the proper ordering of [the agency’s] priorities,” id. at 832, and the agency’s assessment of “whether the particular enforcement action [at issue] best fits the agency’s overall policies,” id. at 831.”

In short, if the agency’s resources require prioritization of actions then the agency/executive have the authority to create priorities. In this case the priorities are to deport undesirable individuals such as those who have committed crimes, etc., and to place youngsters with no criminal history at the bottom of the ‘to do list.’  And, did the Department of Homeland Security do what is permissible under the law?

“In our view, DHS’s proposed prioritization policy falls within the scope of its lawful discretion to enforce the immigration laws. To begin with, the policy is based on a factor clearly “within [DHS’s] expertise.” Chaney, 470 U.S. at 831. Faced with sharply limited resources, DHS necessarily must make choices about which removals to pursue and which removals to defer. DHS’s organic statute itself recognizes this inevitable fact.”

The argument over authority could now be reversed such that we could ask if the Texans and their Tea Party allies may interfere in the lawful prioritization of executive department implementations of statutes?  In one of the sillier arguments presented the Texans and Tea Partiers offered the following:

“Although OLC had cautioned the President that it was “critical” to DACA’s legality that the Administration evaluate every application on a case-by case basis, the President and DHS ignored that advice. According to the latest figures available, the Administration granted deferred action to 99.5-99.8% of DACA applicants.”

Merely because a policy might apply to 99.5% of the applicants doesn’t mean that all such applications will be automatic.  In fact, the Obama Administration policy doesn’t provide automatic categorization, as we can see from the OLC analysis:

And, significantly, the proposed policy does not identify any category of removable aliens whose removal may not be pursued under any circumstances. Although the proposed policy limits the discretion of immigration officials to expend resources to remove non-priority aliens, it does not eliminate that discretion entirely. It directs immigration officials to use their resources to remove aliens in a manner “commensurate with the level of prioritization identified,” but (as noted above) it does not “prohibit or discourage the apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities.” Johnson Prioritization Memorandum at 5. Instead, it authorizes the removal of even non-priority aliens if, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, “removing such an alien would serve an important federal interest,” a standard the policy leaves open-ended. Id. Accordingly, the policy provides for case-by-case determinations about whether an individual alien’s circumstances warrant the expenditure of removal resources, employing a broad standard that leaves ample room for the exercise of individualized discretion by responsible officials.”  (emphasis added)

We might boil this down to some essentials.  First, the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to prioritize its activities based on the resources at its command. Secondly, the Obama immigration policy does NOT create any categories of ‘removable aliens’ who cannot be removed. And, third, there is, in fact, provision for a case by case determination of an alien’s circumstances and responsible officials may exercise their discretion.

That the Texans and Tea Partier Allies may wish to jump up and down crying “Amnesty!” doesn’t mean that the actual Office of Legal Counsel guidelines, and the actual Obama Administration’s policy directives, and the actual Department of Homeland Security plans are anything close to a rational definition of ‘amnesty.’

#3. A lawsuit including the now-defunct “child crisis at the border.”  The Nava-Martinez section and the ‘defendants cause a humanitarian crisis’ portion are a rehash of the right wing talking points during the reactionary assault on a very well intentioned law enacted in the waning days of the Bush Administration, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. [Vox]

#4. A lawsuit which strings together some quotations from the President about the necessity of enacting comprehensive immigration reform statutes.  Amen to that, but neither the President’s actions in terms of the DACA directives nor the Trafficking Victims Protection Act preclude the enactment, or non-enactment for that matter, of comprehensive immigration acts.  Nor can it be established that since Congress didn’t do anything about immigration policy reform that the President can’t do anything either.

#5. A lawsuit which is blatantly anti-immigrant per seThe DHS directive will increase the number of undocumented persons in plaintiff states.  If we remove the deportation threat the U.S. will seem more attractive to undocumented persons. It will trigger a new wave…” And this is terrible because…?  Any sovereign state should have control of its borders, but that doesn’t mean the Great Wall of China (a ‘wall’ which also served as a channel for international  trade as well as defense).   Additionally, the states will have to spend money on childrens’ health care and indigent health services… and when did we become so callous that taking care of children, even other people’s children, is to be categorized as an unconscionable expense?

#6. A political suit which could easily put the Republican Party in Nevada at peril in the next round of elections.  “Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced today that Nevada will join a multistate coalition suing President Barack Obama’s contentious deportation deferral program, his first major publicized legal action and one he’s carrying out without the backing of Gov. Brian Sandoval.” [LVSun

The suit may very well make it through Judge Hanen’s court, but for the most part this will probably be yet another exercise in futility by the reactionary Right, for the reactionary Right, and from the reactionary Right. This matters little to the ideologues of the Right.  We’re looking at what highlights the differences between Establishment and Reactionary Republicans, and  we may also be looking at what a Train Wreck the Nevada GOP could become?

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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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Nevada: Vote Like Your Right To Vote Depends On It

Ballot BoxThere’s one Nevada political race which hasn’t attracted as much limelight as might be justified.  That would be the race for Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State’s office has authority over elections and voting, and the implementation of Nevada election laws and regulations.  The Nevada Republican Party has already put citizens on notice that it intends to flog the Election Integrity Mule all the way to the polls.

Here’s their 2014 election platform statement:

“We advocate proof of U.S. citizenship and residency at the time of voter registration and requiring government issued photo ID at the time of voting.  We oppose same day voter registration to preserve election integrity.  We strongly support all electronic voting systems having a voter verified paper audit trail, used in the event of a recount.”

Look closely at the first sentence.  Yes, everyone supports the idea that a person is a U.S. citizen, and is a resident for the purposes of voting.  And, yes if a person does the registration paperwork to vote in Nevada a government issued ID or driver’s license is required. [NVSoS] If a person doesn’t have a government issued ID or driver’s license then the individual must register in person at the county election office, clerk or registrar. [NVSoS]

Once the paperwork is filed and the voter is included among those eligible to vote in Nevada, when a person goes to the polls the burden of proof to refuse that individual a ballot is on the government — not the individual.  It is up to the government to demonstrate you are not eligible to vote — it is not up to you to prove that you are.

So, here the second part of that sentence comes into play.  Under the Nevada Republican scheme of things, not only does a person have to prove citizenship and residency during the registration process, BUT the person must also prove he or she is eligible to vote at the polling place.  In other, unminced words, the burden of proof is now shifted from “you are eligible to vote unless the government can prove you aren’t” to “you are not eligible to vote until you prove you are.”

Since voting irregularities are illegal, what the Nevada Republican Party is advocating is a system in which you are NOT presumed  innocent until you are proven guilty, you are presumed guilty until you can prove you aren’t.  [Extended discussion here]

The second sentence doesn’t make much sense. If you have proof of citizenship and residency a few days before an election, wouldn’t you have it on election day?  Should there be issues regarding either element there’s always recourse to the provisional ballot.  The only thing that same day registration actually does is make voting easier and more convenient.

And all this in the interest of providing ‘election integrity.’  Nor is this a recent idea.  ALEC and its allies have been shoving the concept of increased corporate influence and decreased citizen participation for some time — and they do have Nevada allies. [DB]

There was an effort during the 2011 legislative season to enact a voter photo ID law. [DB] Legislators Roberson, Hardy, Hansen, Woodbury, Stewart, and Hambrick were the Suppression Six.  Among the bills they sponsored or supported were AB 327, AB 341, AB 425, AB 434, and SB 374.

State Senator Barbara Cegavske added her own bill to the mix, AB 311 jointly sponsored by Hardy, Sherwood, Hansen, Munford, Gustavson, and Halseth.  The bill would have eliminated all early voting in Nevada elections.

Another bit of red, white, and blue fearmongering was addressed in 2011 by SB 178, sponsored by Gustavson, Hardy, McGinness, Roberson, Settelmeyer, Hansen, Ellison, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hambrick, Kirner, and McArthur.  The bill was a rather blatant bit of immigrant bashing, with whispers of “illegals” voting in the toxic mixture.

During the 2013 session of the state legislature there were another spate of bills regarding photo ID statutes and other means of making voting less convenient and more restrictive.  There was SB 63 (photo ID), SB 367 (repetition of immigrant bashing  SB 178/2011) , AB 216 (Photo ID) sponsored by Sen. Gustavson, Hansen, Wheeler, Ellison, Hambrick, Fiore, P. Anderson, Grady, Livermore, and Stewart.  AB 319 (Photo ID) sponsored by Stewart, Hambrick, Hansen, Duncan, Grady, Hardy, Hickey, Kirner, and Livermore.

And what of making voting more convenient?  During the 2013 legislative session, AB 440 was passed which would have extended the period for voter registration. The bill passed the Assembly on a 25-16 vote. [NVLeg] It passed the Nevada Senate on a 11-10 vote.  The Nay votes came from Brower, Cegavske, Pete Goicoechea, Gustavson, Hammond, Hardy, Hutchison, Ben Kieckhefer, Roberson, and Settelmeyer. [NVLeg]  The bill was vetoed by Governor Sandoval.

There appear to be two outcomes the Nevada Republican Party would very much like to see in the upcoming 2014 elections.  The first would be to control the State Senate, and the second might very well be to elect State Senator Barbara Cegavske as the new Secretary of State.

Democrats in Nevada would be well advised to vote in 2014 as if their right to vote depended on it — given the platform, the previous legislative efforts, and the voting records of Nevada Republicans in the Legislature, Senator Barbara Cegavske in particular — it might.

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Roundup

Cattle RoundupRecommended Reading:  The Nevada blogs have some posts well worth the click and read time — See Nevada Progressive’s “Freedom,” on the efforts to get rid of the Nevada gay marriage ban.  Meanwhile in Virginia, a federal judge has overturned their ban saying, “Wright Allen showed no hesi­ta­tion in overturning the state constitutional amendment, saying none of the reasons proponents offer for denying same-sex marriages make legitimate governmental interests.” [WaPo] Just a helpful reminder:  The U.S. Senate confirmed Wright Allen’s nomination to the bench on a 96-0 vote in 2011. [rc 069]

** Don’t miss the Sebelius piece on the Pathology We Just Keep Enabling, or how we must learn to live with our reality challenged neighbors like Sharron Angle.  However bemusing the antics of Mrs. Angle, her message advocating the suppression of voting rights is serious, and other advocates have adopted or are considering the adoption of strategies to suppress the turn out of voters.  Cincinnati, OH has found a way to make voting as inconvenient as possible. [HuffPo] The Tea Party controlled North Carolina legislature has enacted some of the most repressive voting laws in the country, and people are beginning to act. [TruthOut]  Republicans in Florida want to block the use of the UF Student Union as a polling place [BayNews9] and Manatee County, FL eliminated polling stations in minority heavy areas of its jurisdiction. [TP] The commissioner made this alarming statement about voting rights: “I wouldn’t have any problem making it harder. I would want them to vote as badly as I want to vote. I want the people of the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.”  Reminder, we use the voting process to determine the will of the people, not the fortitude of the individuals in the lines.

** When your party has to send out a memo saying your endorsement process doesn’t cancel out your primary, there are some serious organization issues in play.  See Ralston Reports on the latest in the continuing soap opera which is the Nevada Republican Party.

** The Reno Gazette Journal has spoken to its motives in wanting access to Public Employee’s Retirement System data, but the intentions of a certain newspaper in the southland aren’t quite so clear.  Take note of this post from February 2nd on Nevada Public Employee Focus.   There is now, and has been, a coordinated attack on defined benefit retirement systems.  Opponents first publicize the “trouble” the pension systems have, or their alleged lack of solvency.  The second tactic is to issue derogatory statements about the “luxury” of public employee retirement benefits, hoping to split public employees and private sector employees politically.   What we ought to be doing is fighting for defined benefit pension plans in the private sector, not disestablishing them in the public sector.

** I wouldn’t have believed this, but it’s documented: “South Carolina policy requiring a fee and permit to feed homeless begins.” [ATTP]  There’s more information here:

“The most recent report, Out of Sight – Out of Mind?, which surveyed advocates and service providers in 50 of the largest U.S. cities, found that 86 percent of the cities surveyed had laws that prohibited or restricted begging, while 73 percent prohibited or restricted sleeping and/or camping. Over one-third of the cities surveyed have initiated crackdowns on homeless people, according to the survey respondents, and almost half of the cities have engaged in police “sweeps” in the past two years.”

A crack down policy might literally sweep the homeless off the streets, but this is simply mean spirited if not done in conjunction with efforts to find housing or shelter for those who need it.

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Ghost Busters Fighting Phantoms

Ghost  There was a “fight for the soul of the Nevada Republican Party” this week.  We might be tempted to call it fisticuffs between the Realists and the Ghost Busters.  The Ghost Busters won. Or, “There’s (sic) a lot of us in the grassroots who don’t care. We care about the principles of the party.” [LVSun] Are those the “principles” in the 2012 Nevada GOP Platform?

“We strongly support a balanced Federal budget amendment without raising taxes that also reduces and eliminates the national debt. If a balanced budget is not approved by October 1 of any given year, federal legislators, the President, cabinet members, czars or their staff should not be paid until a balanced budget is passed, with no retroactive pay.”

Here’s the problem — Great Ghost Number One is that national debt.   The federal debt level is problematic when bond yields are forced upwards such that this impedes economic growth.  So far that hasn’t happened, it’s a specter.  Somehow, in this fantasy land the debt as it stands can be magically reduced by not raising any more revenue, and “balancing the budget.”  Good luck with that formula.  If we must revert to the horrifically inappropriate Family Budget analogy — when has any family argued it could reduce it’s level of indebtedness if only the breadwinners would agree to bring in lower paychecks?

However, if the Ghost Busters have retained control of the Nevada GOP we can expect more of this unrealistic, and ultimately unhelpful, rhetoric from them.

And, there’s more, Great Ghost Number Two: “We expect our elected representatives and the courts will interpret the Constitution using original intent and context.”  That  Originalism is both unworkable and ultimately unrealistic isn’t a concern for Ghost Busters, nor do the Ghost Busters seem to have any problems with the logical inconsistencies associated with the Originalists thinking.  [More from Commonweal]

Now the Religionists weigh in with Great Ghost Number Three:

“We believe the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was intended to prevent a state sponsored religion rather than a separation of God from government. Religious freedom is the first of our constitutionally protected rights. Attempts to force religious institutions to violate their conscience are contrary to the Constitution.”

There should be no separation of morality and government.  What the Founders (if we are going to be Originalists) were disturbed by was the factionalism created in the English Civil War(s) in the 17th century during which the Royalists, the Reformers, and the Independents tore that nation apart, each fragment demanding the Church of England conform to its version of True Worship.  There was also the not so small matter of how to get Puritan (Reformer) John Adams to agree with High Church delegates from Virginia, Dutch Reformed delegates from Delaware, Catholic representatives from Maryland, Presbyterians and Quakers from Pennsylvania, and the variety of views present in Rhode Island.

However, as the last sentence indicates, this isn’t about religion — it’s about contraception and abortion.   It’s about whether or not, in the state of Nevada, an employer can refuse to offer a health insurance plan that covers contraception prescriptions.   It’s about whether or not a pharmacist can refuse to fill a birth control prescription, duly authorized by a licensed physician, for a customer.  No matter what the medical symptoms are presented which indicate that the prescription might be necessary.

The Ghost Busters have glommed onto the Specter of a God-Less America.  There is no God-Less America, there really can’t be when only 4% of Americans describe themselves as either atheist or agnostic.  78.4% of Americans self identify as Christian, but the problem for the anti-choice Ghost Busters is that this fragments into evangelical, main line, historically Black churches, Catholic (of at least 3 varieties) and others almost immediately.  Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim Americans constitute another 4.7% of the population.

If the “government” institutes anti-contraception or anti-abortion policies, does this not validate only one version of True Worship? Our present system simply sidesteps the issues that bedeviled our ancestors — don’t want to fight about religion? Then just take the topic off the table.

The Ghost Busters are also struggling in combat with the gun grabbers, wherein we find Great Ghost Number Four?

“We strongly affirm the Second Amendment that guarantees the individual’s right to keep and bear arms, without infringement.

We support reciprocity laws with all states to carry concealed weapons across state lines.”

Without any infringement? I, for one, am not enamored of the idea that my neighbor should be acquiring shoulder fired missile launchers.   I don’t see any particular reason, other than bringing down annoying aircraft, why a person would need a .50 sniper rifle.  I do believe that we have an epidemic of gun violence in this country, and I’d prefer not to see the re-enactment of another IHOP tragedy in this state.   However, the Ghost Busters see it differently — they see any common sense regulations, even extending background checks, as inordinate “infringement” on their liberties.   The horror of this Specter is evident in this segment of the GOP platform of 2012:

“We support the understanding that the limits on the authority of the Federal Government are determined by the United States Constitution and not by its own discretion. As such, we support the striking from the Constitution of the State of Nevada Article 1, Section 2, which grants the Federal Government authorities to employ armed force against the people of the State of Nevada in compelling obedience to its sole discretion.”

Are these people really fearful of the Specter of an Invasion? Really?

Now we get into the Ghost of Government Interference With Free Enterprise, or Great Ghost Number Five:

“We support the immediate defunding and repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148). […] We support restoring full funding to Medicare.”

I hope this isn’t the first time the point has been made, but it was the ACA that guaranteed the solvency of the Medicare program until 2029.

The Ghost Busters go further:

“We support eliminating the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Education (ED), Department of the Interior, (DOI), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other bureaucracies that have consistently demonstrated wasteful spending and operational inefficiencies. We believe these functions, where needed, should be relegated to the States as defined by the Tenth Amendment.”

Let’s risk summarizing this bit of Ghost Busting by saying that they are opposed to regulating nuclear energy (the origin of the DoE), opposed to student loan programs, opposed to Housing development financing, and opposed to Clean Air and Water.  Return the regulation of nuclear energy to state and local governments?  Should something go wrong — think Three Mile Island and Fukushima — is the state going to be paying for the clean up?  The Tenth Amendment is a lovely thing, until it comes time to pay for the aftermath of a nuclear power plant leak, rising student loan interest rates that decimate middle class opportunities for college educations, and a toxic spill into the Great Lakes.

Assuming here that those who drafted and approved the 2012 platform for the Nevada Republicans will retain control of the party hereafter, then we’re looking at yet another collection of Ghost Busters charging into the fray seeing the Great Ghosts of the 21st Century — cooperation, toleration, and assimilation — before them. Little wonder the Establishment Types aren’t enamored of their utility.

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Filed under Economy, Nevada politics, Politics

Coffee and the Papers: Nevada Edition

## The Nevada Republican Party remains in an intriguing state of disarray between and among the Real Republicans and the Shadow Republicans and … whatever.  All summarized and explained by the Nevada Progressive.

## The Sin City Siren observes that this will be the first Olympic games in which every country has at least one female competitor.  2012 is also the 40th anniversary of Title IX!  “Back in 1972, when only 15 percent of all Olympians were women, the country passed Title IX, the landmark legislation that ensured equal treatment for females in educational programs supported by federal dollars.” [Buffalo News]

## Speaking of dollars, Senator By Appointment Only™   Dean Heller (R-NV) voted to extend the Bush Tax Cuts to the top 2% of income earners, and then voted against S. 3412 which would retain tax breaks for 98% of Americans while slightly raising taxes on earnings above $250,000.  More from PLAN.

## NRDC breaks down the truth about the federal deficit in one chart.

## Our Senator By Appointment Only™  Heller  jumped the gun while slamming the Administration for supporting Amonix.  This from the ever vigilant Steve Sibelius: “Amonix never used the nearly $6 million in tax credits available under the administration of President Barack Obama. Taxpayer losses were apparently confined to a 2007 grant of $15.6 million, issued under former President George W. Bush‘s administration. So if Heller (or, more particularly, Heller’s campaign) has a problem, it’s with the former president’s Energy Department policies, not with President Obama’s.

## The owner of the “Senator By Appointment Only” trademark does his best to be charitable to the “Senator By Appointment Only.”   This is difficult when the Senator denies his own campaign ads, supports grandstanding stunt bills, and votes to gut Medicare while feigning ignorance of what was in the underlying bill.

## The Examiner reports Vice President Joe Biden will be in Las Vegas for the DAV convention, during the week of August 4-7, 2012.

## ALEC, the corporate supported right wing group in which Nevada legislators Rhoads, Brower, Kieckhefer, and Cegavske proudly hold membership, has lost more corporate sponsors.  One of their remaining corporate sponsors is GlaxoSmithKline the British pharmaceutical giant which, “agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for promoting its best-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a top diabetes drug, federal prosecutors announced Monday.” [NYT]

## If you aren’t familiar with the Dillon Rule and its implications for state and local government relationships — start here — with J. Patrick Coolican’s description and commentary.

## The Reno Gazette Journal opens former NV Governor Jim Gibbons’ inbox and the e-mails come tumbling out.  Including:

“Sheldon Adelson wants to know what the law requires regarding foreign investors and gaming licenses, i.e., do they have to go through the same review as investors that reside in the UsA – also how are education contributions disclosed? Are they the same for public education and private or do they have to report at all,” Cornwall asked Dayton.”

## Check out these liberal voices in the Nevada blogosphere:  Vegas Jessie, and the periodic musings of Buzzlzarownd.

## Meanwhile, the town fathers of Pahrump move to lay off firefighters in a cost cutting move.  [PVT]

## From the Economy Corner — Interesting: “12  CEOs who embarrassed themselves right off of Wall Street,” [Business Insider]  “Goldman’s Rich Clients Must Feel Screwed Right Now,” [Business Insider]

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Filed under Adelson, Economy, energy policy, financial regulation, Gibbons, Heller, Nevada politics, Title IX, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights