Tag Archives: Ross Miller

Laxalt Endorsed By Famous Person: Word Salad Shooter Version

Laxalt First Republican candidate for Attorney General, Adam Laxalt,  told me he wanted my vote because he’s a native Nevadan, “ready to serve,” making much of his stint in the U.S. Navy – thank you for your service sir.  BUT it escapes me exactly  how prosecution of terrorists in military courts  prepares a person for administering the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Consumer Complaints, Insurance Fraud, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Mortgage Fraud Unit, resolution of questions regarding the application of the Open Meeting Law, Worker’s Compensation Fraud, and Special Prosecutions.  Nor does this explain to me how Mr. Laxalt is ready to participate in the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice, the Attorney General’s Substance Abuse Working Group, the Committee on Domestic Violence, the Nevada Board of Examiners, the Nevada Council on Domestic Violence, the Nevada Information Technology Board, the Nevada Supreme Court Commission on Statewide Juvenile Justice Reform, and the Nevada Open Meeting Law Task Force.

And, then there’s that not so little matter of having some really dismal evaluations from one’s own law firm.  Rather than demonstrate he did not earn the sobriquet “Train Wreck,”  Mr. Laxalt is outraged his opponent could be the source of the leaked evaluations – which Mr. Miller is not.  That would be a denigration of Mr. Jon Ralston’s skills as an investigative journalist – Ralston got them, Ralston shared them. [NVProg]  Even a layman can figure out “promotion to counsel” doesn’t equate to “promotion to partner.”  There’s little left but the whining that Evil Doers have sabotaged his campaign?  Most of the time using the Victimization excuse  merely serves to remind voters that those who are good at making excuses are rarely good at much else.

“Adam is running for Attorney General to protect the safety of Nevada’s families, to preserve the liberty of Nevada’s citizens and businesses and to stand up for Nevadans against federal government overreach.” [Laxalt]

And for this he gets the endorsement of none other than the most infamous Word Salad Shooter the conservatives have to offer – Sarah Palin.

“While most of the focus leading into 2014 elections has been on the country’s life and death fight for our future with a conservative majority serving in the U.S. Senate, there are other offices we need to count on to put a stop to the liberal Obama agenda. In individual states, good Attorney Generals have led the legal fight against Obamacare, to protect religious liberties and states’ right, and to uphold other imperative core Constitutional principles. Here are four conservative Attorney General candidates I’m supporting. They will continue the fight for all of us!”

OK, sometimes I do get into “Comma Queen Mode,” but “death fight for our future with a conservative majority…” says to me the fight is with the conservative majority, which as a progressive is something with which I could agree.   This, in turn, reminds me that Mr. Laxalt told me he wanted to “stop Obamacare.”  Translation: Mr. Laxalt would like to repeal the health care insurance reforms enacted in the Affordable Care Act.

Seriously? He doesn’t want Nevadans to have any recourse if an insurance corporation rescinds a policy because the person made a legitimate mistake in the medical history portion of an application? Forgot you had measles in 1972?  He wants policies for women to automatically be more expensive than those for men?  He wants to kick the kids off family policies before age 25?  He wants to allow insurance companies to sell junk “life time limit” policies?  He wants to tell new entrepreneurs they can’t go to an insurance exchange (market) and pick out a policy from Anthem, Nevada Health Care Co-Op, Health Plan of Nevada, or Saint Mary’s [SSE] that fits his needs and finances?  Perhaps Mr. Laxalt hasn’t yet figured out that Obamacare isn’t a thing.  There’s are no government issued insurance policies.  There are only markets (state and federal) where people who do not have employer sponsored insurance policies can find affordable plans to purchase.   If candidate Laxalt hasn’t figured this out, perhaps there is a reason those evaluations weren’t stellar?

Speaking of families, there’s the gay marriage issue on which Mr. Laxalt has made his opposition clear, in spite of advice from Governor Sandoval and AG Masto.  There is something to be said for following the news:

“Case law over the last year and a half has completely turned our argument upside down,” Masto told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Tuesday. Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican and former federal judge, also said the state’s ban is “no longer defensible” in court and told the Gazette-Journal on Tuesday that he looked at the case “as a judge and a lawyer” and agrees with Masto.” [LVSun]

Indeed, the case law is changing, and in light of the recent refusal of the Supreme Court to take same sex marriage cases Mr. Laxalt continues to say he will “enforce the law” whatever that might be – a far cry from his adamant opposition to LGBT rights in 2010. [RGJ]  We might say, given Mr. Laxalt’s Navy experience, that that ship has sailed.

There’s one other arrow in Mr. Laxalt’s quiver – Tough On Crime – he wants to keep women and children safe – and who doesn’t?  However, Mr. Laxalt is not running for District Attorney.  Or Sheriff. Or applying to be Chief of Police. Or, even running for a state legislative seat wherein crimes are defined and penalties assigned.  He’s running to be an an administrator, and thus far his agenda is to fight anything Federal, fight anything that impinges on health insurance corporation profits, and fight anything that says members of the LGBT community should have equal rights.   For some this agenda will be adequate, even acceptable.  For others it’s an admission that he’s frozen in the politics of the past.

Indeed, those congealed into the Rovian politics of the Culture Wars will find our National Word Salad Shooter only too pleased to endorse them.  The remainder of the electorate may see only the candidate’s imploring brown eyes, seeking our votes, and looking for all the world like a young beagle trying desperately to comprehend house-breaking instructions.

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Filed under Nevada politics

Bits and Pieces: Monday Musings

Jig Saw PuzzleYes, Nevada is paying attention to election laws; and, the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will hold a hearing on AB 48 this Thursday — Valentine’s Day.   The “title:”

AN ACT relating to elections; providing that a person who is not a qualified elector and who votes or attempts to vote knowing that fact, or a person who votes or attempts to vote using the name of another person, is guilty of a category B felony; revising certain nomination procedures; requiring county clerks to certify certain lists of candidates and nominees to the Secretary of State; extending the period in which a person may register to vote by computer; making various other changes relating to the administration and conduct of an election; expanding the definition of “campaign expenses”; amending reporting requirements relating to special elections; requiring persons and entities which make expenditures against candidates to report contributions and expenditures; requiring nonprofit corporations to report certain contributions and campaign expenditures; eliminating a requirement that the Secretary of State obtain certain advice and consent of the Legislative Commission; making various other changes relating to campaign finance; providing penalties;….

The hearing will begin at 4:00 pm in Carson City, video-conferenced to room 4401 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Bldg. Las Vegas.   Keep up with other Legislative doings compliments of the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus.

Secretary of State Ross Miller will discuss proposals for voter identification at Reno’s Great Basin Brewery, (details here) sponsored by the DWWC.

There’s some informative and insightful reading available in the Silver State blogosphere — there’s Flashpoint, from the Nevada Progressive.   There’s a “Don’t Miss” graph on domestic violence available from The Sin City Siren.   But, wait!  Heritage Action would warn us of the nefarious content of the Violence Against Women Act:

“Under VAWA, men effectively lose their constitutional rights to due process, presumption of innocence, equal treatment under the law, the right to a fair trial and to confront one’s accusers, the right to bear arms, and all custody/visitation rights,” the group wrote. “It is unprecedented, unnecessary and dangerous.” [TPM]

Then there’s  “El Nuevo GOP” from Hugh Jackson in which the pivots, positions, and parsing of one Senator Dean Heller (Nuevo R-NV) are on full display.  What? Senator Heller, run as an arch conservative and then periodically vote as a ‘moderate,’ before reverting to right wing rhetoric — we’re shocked! Shocked I Say.

What’s the first clue?  Here’s advice from the heart (and head) about how to spot a clueless financial reporter –> LINK.  There are many of these unfortunate creatures populating the pages of what’s been passing for economic and business news these days.   Forewarned is forearmed.

Chart for the Day:

Debt stabilizationOff the Charts explains more fully.  There’s an important point buried, and often obfuscated, in the screeching about the horrible terrible no good debt — debt reduction is good, but what we need to do is to stabilize our level of national indebtedness.    How to spot someone who doesn’t understand the characteristics of national indebtedness, or that national indebtedness is NOT analogous to household debt?  Listen for people “explaining” we should “pay off our national debt.”   Nope, at least not unless we want to stiff people and institutions who have invested in our Treasuries as part of their investment portfolios.  Never a really good idea.

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Filed under elections, Heller, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Tales of the Electronic Poll Book: The Story Never Ends?

Ross MillerOK, so now the buzz word of the day is “electronic poll book.”  Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller’s not-quite-new-idea to create a voter registration book complete with those lovely photographs taken by DMV personnel — It’s bad enough that photo is laminated to survive the travails of life in my wallet, must it be enshrined for all poll workers to inspect? — now comes with hint of Same Day Registration — the Bete Noir of vote suppressing Republicans everywhere.  [LV Sun] We may be arguing moot points.

There are twenty seven states currently employing various forms of electronic poll books, as further explicated by the Brennan Center:

“Jurisdictions in at least twenty-seven states plus the District of Columbia have used some form of electronic poll-book to process voters at the polls.  Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia have recently used electronic poll-books in at least one county within the state.”

The advantages, according to the Brennan Center, are easier, faster, and more accurate sharing of voter data; and, easier polling site administration.   There is nothing intrinsically nefarious about electronic poll books, IF the software and hardware works.

Here are some of the  vendors of electronic poll book services in the United States including: Datacard, Decision Support, Diebold, Election Administrators, Election Systems & Software, Ferey International, Hart InterCivic, Robis Elections, Votec Corporation.  The two highlighted are notorious for voting machine “hackability” and other problems with vote recording.   The problems haven’t disappeared.

Davidson County Tennessee, which contracted with ES&S for its electronic poll book, decided to revert to the paper books after incorrect ballots were sent out during the August 2012 primary in 60 of the 160 precincts.  The problems were identified as the result of a “software glitch,” which the corporation maintained had been rectified before the November election. [Tennessean]

Maryland, one of the first states to use the electronic poll book system, experienced problems with its Diebold system during its 2006 primary election when the associated cards needed to activate the electronic voting machines in Montgomery County failed to arrive.  [Fox21]

Aside from the technical problems above, both associated with corporations with an unsavory reputation in some quarters in regard to their voting systems, there are some other issues raised by the electronic poll book.

(1) The electronic poll book doesn’t solve the identification acquisition issues for voters.   Voters still have to get birth certificates and other documentation in order to register to vote.  For example, Nevada’s Office of Vital Statistics charges $20.00 for an official birth certificate.  Additionally, the office doesn’t handle online requests for birth certificates and directs those making the request to an independent corporation VitalChek to acquire the certificate.  There’s a little problem with this, as illustrated by the VitalChek instructions:

“You may order certified copies of Nevada birth certificates through VitalChek’s fax service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your fax must contain the following information: a valid Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover card number and expiration date; the full name on the birth certificate; the date of birth; the city where the birth occurred; father’s full name; mother’s full maiden name; your relationship to the person named on the certificate; a daytime telephone number; a photo copy of the requestor’s photo ID; whether you desire delivery by regular mail or express carrier; and the street address to which the certificate should be sent.”  (emphasis added)

And, there’s the problem — you must have a photo ID before you can order a birth certificate online from VitalChek toward getting a voter ID.   However, that’s not the least of the problems — you also need a personal photo ID or a driver’s license to apply for a birth certificate by mail from the Office of Vital Statistics.   The instruction is even in Bright Yellow:

NV Birth Cert Application

OK, so how does a person without a driver’s license or other official photo identification get a birth certificate copy in Nevada — either online or by mail — without already having the driver’s license on file?

This leaves us with the problem of the Unmotored Voter.  The person may be disabled and never applied for a driver’s license because of the nature of the disability.  A person may not have a driver’s license because of a learning disability which makes taking the written portion of the exam entirely too difficult?  A person may not have a driver’s license because he or she never drives because they can’t afford a vehicle and use public transportation.  A person in a nursing facility make have let a driver’s license expire without ever requesting a comparable state ID?   Nothing in the electronic poll book system really addresses the issues facing an unmotored voter.

(2) The electronic poll book requires an Internet connection, preferably a nice fast one.   If the advantages of the electronic poll book, such as speed and accuracy are to be garnered, then there must be an Internet connection.  In urban areas this may not be an issue.  In rural areas…it is.  There are broadband and satellite services available; they all expect to be paid.  When analyzing the cost of the electronic poll book system the cost of providing internet connections to rural precincts needs to be considered.

Indeed, the electronic poll book could facilitate same day voter registration, but it doesn’t solve the initial problems associated with getting registered to vote in the first place.   It could ease issues faced by polling site administrators, but if and only if the hardware and software leaves a paper trail AND doesn’t arrive with glitches included in the packaging.

If we would truly like to ease the burden on county clerks and other election officials in Nevada,  then we might want to consider extending early voting days which allows the impact of election day to be spread out over more days to avoid the ‘crush of the big rush’ on election day.  This would be especially helpful in rural counties which have few permanent employees, and find it necessary to hire temporary help during the “election seasons.”

Voting by mail also serves to ease the burden, especially in rural precincts.  The voting is more convenient for voters, and by extending the mail in days to conform with extended voting periods alleviates some of the burden on rural county voting officials.

What we don’t need, and shouldn’t support, are efforts to disenfranchise Nevada voters with unnecessarily burdensome identification procedures and requirements which serve only to limit the electorate to the affluent.  What we should support are efforts to make voting easier, more inclusive, and less of a biennial insanity season for hard working people at the court house or voting registrar’s office.

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Filed under Vote Suppression, Voting

A Perception of Suppression: Voter ID Laws and Nevada Elections

The Nevada Secretary of State, Democrat Ross Miller has a solution in search of a problem? He is concerned about the “perception” of fraudulent activity in future Nevada elections:

“Miller’s proposal, which he will introduce during the next legislative session, includes linking Nevada’s voter lists with photos from the Department of Motor Vehicles so the voter’s picture would be displayed for poll workers before a ballot is cast. Voters who don’t have a driver’s license would have their picture taken and entered into the system the first time they vote in person.” [LVSun]

We should quickly note that the problem Miller seeks to prevent isn’t in person voter fraud — it’s the perception that some person could engage in voter impersonation fraud.   Those are two very different issues.

Nevada has had ZERO prosecutable cases of actual voter impersonation fraud in recent elections.  Therefore, the Secretary of State’s proposal is unnecessary as a solution to a real problem.

The proposal may be a well intentioned attempt to address the continual clamor of right wing ideologues who perceive all ethnic minority voters ( or Democrats) as potential frauds.  That may be an insoluble problem.

The intractability isn’t a result of actual, documented, prosecutable, voting fraud, but may well be a function of right wing delusions about the outcome of elections.  That is, so firm are they in the righteousness of their cause, the radical right cannot conceive of any outcome other than the one they desire.  Should their world view and attendant policies be rejected at the polls, they find comfort in the notion that the result must be the product of (1) voters misinformed by the “lame stream media,” (2) voters who have nefarious, possibly un-American views, and (3) election irregularities.

The delusions are enhanced by the right wing echo chamber media with well known, often documented, alleged cases of anecdotal reports of election irregularities reported as news; to be followed quickly by right wing legislators and officials citing those news accounts as “proof” election fraud exists.   No amount of electoral vigilance will suffice to comfort those who cannot accept election outcomes that don’t reinforce their righteous cause.  In short, some people will never be satisfied, by anything.

The second problem with Miller’s proposal is that given the non-existence of actual cases of voter impersonation, there’s something troubling about his admission that he doesn’t know what a voting identification system merging the voter rolls with DMV data will cost.   Radical right wing Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) who ordinarily opposes any expenditure of funds from the state coffers which serve real Nevadans in need, finds it laudable to spend funds for which no real-world problem exists.

As reported previously,* the third problem rests with the capacity of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to act as the agency of resort for photo identification.

“Department of Motor Vehicles: Full service offices are located in Carson City, Elko, Ely, Fallon, Hawthorne, Henderson, (2) Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Laughlin, Mesquite, Pahrump, Reno, Tonopah, Winnemucca, and Yerington.  That’s 16 full service offices to serve a state of 109,806 square miles.”

Aside from the obvious problems for low income urban area residents to get to DMV offices, there’s the specter of the impact this proposal could have on elderly or low income voters in the rural counties for whom simply getting to a DMV office during regular hours could be problematic.

The official estimate of Nevada’s population is 2,723,322. [Census]  Of these, approximately 75% are over 18 years of age.  If 24.4% are under 18 years of age, that leaves 75.6% of the population as potential voters, and if we arbitrarily assume that all 19.3% of Nevada residents are not citizens (and are over the age of 18), we still have at least 56.3% (1,532,301) individuals who might need voter identification cards of some sort.   One compilation source estimates that Nevada has issued 1,487,899 driving licenses. [SM]  Thus the DMV might be called upon to issue at least some 45,331 forms of identification for voting purposes.

The third problem with the proposal concerns the level of connectivity between voting registrars and DMV facilities.  Nevada residents may register to vote if they have been residents of the state for 30 days.  For voters in the 2012 election the registration deadline was October 16, and the election was conducted on November 6, 2012.   It’s appropriate to ask: Can the DMV and the various county election agencies coordinate their rosters and rolls in the time between the registration deadline and the election day?  Can they do this without incurring additional expenses for personnel? Or, without paying significant overtime to current staff?

Again, it seems necessary to ask if all this expense, and all the attendant staffing questions, are required in order to address the concerns of intractable ideologues, and to provide a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist?

*Previous posts about vote suppression and ID laws here, and May 27, 2007, and September 20, 2006, and August 1, 2011, and August 18, 2012,  and May 14, 2007, and February 18, 2011.


Filed under Nevada politics

Coffee and the Papers

** There are some interesting political predictions for various and sundry Nevada 2012 races in the Las Vegas Sun.  Question: Will Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) be able to pin the Wall Street Warrior label on anointed Senator Dean Heller?  Heller will continue to tout his vote against the TARP program as “evidence” of his “populism,” but the rest of his voting record is pure Wall Street.

** Willard Mitt Romney ekes out a slender win in the Iowa GOP caucus [WaPo] and the Nevada Progressive observes the Republican house divided against itself.  The Nixonian formula (Southern + evangelical + corporate money = victory) works best when the Southern + evangelical wing isn’t fighting with the corporate money wing.  Someone remind me why the Iowa GOP caucuses are worth so much air time?  Because Mike Huckabee won there in 2008?

** How can WMR hope to be a “man of the people?” By not disclosing his income? [Perrspectives] How can Rick Santorum out run his top ten outrageous campaign statements?  [Think Progress] My favorite is still, “Contraception is a license to do things.”

** No surprise, the incandescent light has gone out of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential run.  [TPM] Then we have Rick Perry choking up in praise of Rick Perry [C&L] complete with video.

** Nevada now has online filing for financial disclosure forms.  [NNB] And, no, the process doesn’t require training in computer science or a degree in electrical engineering.  Following the prompts on the screen does nicely.  Score a win for Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller on this one.

** Understatement of the Week: “There is a lot of frustration out there and more than a little hostility toward our industry.”  Jamie Dimon, CEO JPMorganChase. [Bloomberg] Yah think?  The “Jamie Deal,” or how to get Bear Stearns for $10/share [NYMag]  is still within living memory.  So are the machinations of AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, et. al.  And then there’s the branch of BoA which wouldn’t allow a bride to deposit a check. [BusInsider]

** President Obama announced his intention to use a recess appointment to fill the directorship of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [Reuters] a nomination Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) refused to support.  [roll call 223]

“…Republicans won’t allow that because they disapprove of the existence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency is already part of federal law, but GOP senators have said they will refuse to allow the agency to function or do any work unless Democrats agree to weaken the CFPB’s powers and lessen consumer protections.”  [WashingtonMonthly]

** Recommended reading:  An interview with the last survivor of the Rosewood (FL) massacre of 1923.   [The Grio]

“A lot of people had to get out of Rosewood that night. Mortin and her aunt Polly, Sam Carter’s mother, were fortunate. They made it to the train depot from which they escaped to Chiefland about twenty miles away. Many others spent several freezing nights hiding in the dank woods trying to avoid the mobs.”

** In case you missed it: “Weakening government oversight results in workers being hurt, not hired.”  [PLAN] The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms: Only 0.3% of layoffs in 2010 were the result of government regulations [BLS pdf] The rest were seasonal, production specific, related to financial issues, organizational changes, or The Big One — Demand.

** Nifty Graphic — too large to insert here — on the GOP candidates’ tax proposals.   No surprise, 6 out of 7 call for repealing the estate tax, or the Paris Hilton Legacy Protection Act.  Romney would lower corporate taxes by 25%.  5 out of 7 would cut capital gains taxes.  7 out of 7 are members of the 1%.  [via Angry Bear]

** Fact Checking: No, Representative McKeon (R-CA), scheduled budget cuts do not impinge on defense spending more than non-defense spending. [Off the Charts]

** It takes several clicks to get to this report from Pew Trusts (pdf) “Downward Mobility From the Middle Class: Waking Up From the American Dream,” so here’s the quick link.   Recommended reading for 2012.  The report is part of the Economic Mobility Project.

** It also takes two clicks to get to the Treasury Department’s initiative on housing finance reform.  However, the search is worth the information in the report (pdf).

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Filed under banking, Berkley, Economy, employment, financial regulation, Heller, Romney