Tag Archives: Wes Duncan

A Question For Wes Duncan, Candidate for NV Attorney General

And a question for GOP candidates for the same office in other states… Do you agree with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in regard to his amicus brief in Gamble v. US?

“The Utah lawmaker Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a 44-page amicus brief earlier this month in Gamble v. United States, a case that will consider whether the dual-sovereignty doctrine should be put to rest. The 150-year-old exception to the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy clause allows state and federal courts to prosecute the same person for the same criminal offense. According to the brief he filed on September 11, Hatch believes the doctrine should be overturned. “The extensive federalization of criminal law has rendered ineffective the federalist underpinnings of the dual sovereignty doctrine,” his brief reads. “And its persistence impairs full realization of the Double Jeopardy Clause’s liberty protections.” [Atlantic]

So what on earth does an Alabama robbery conviction have to do with Trump, and the Mueller investigation?  Consider for just a moment the implications of overturning the dual sovereignty doctrine — essential to our federal system.

To adopt Hatch’s perspective is to (1) Allow the reach of Trump’s pardons to extend to the state level.  Are you listening New York prosecutors?  Are you listening any other state prosecutors who find evidence of conspiracy to defraud the voters in your state by foreign adversaries with the assistance of US citizens?  (2) Close the “escape hatch” by which if Trump were to disrupt, dismantle, or otherwise interrupt the Mueller investigation and prosecutions those could be handed off to state courts.

Thus, and here’s a hypothetical which isn’t too far out of line, what if it comes to pass that the state of Nevada determines our voter registration database has been breached and tampered with?  What if this breach may be rationally argued to have distorted the result of an election for a federal office?  What if the aforementioned breach and subsequent distortion can be reasonably argued to have been the result of a conspiracy between foreign actors and US citizens?   Then could (under the terms of Hatch’s argument) the Attorney General of the State (of Nevada) be precluded from prosecuting the case? (Should a person already have received a presidential pardon.)  Could the President issue a pardon extending to anyone convicted in a Nevada court for this criminal conspiracy?

First, read the amicus brief filed by Senator Hatch. (Word file) Secondly, read the full article in the Atlantic magazine.  Third, get ready to ask candidates Ford and Duncan how they see this matter. 

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And now some after thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post Hansen Kerfuffle in Nevada Legislature

Hansen Sometimes it’s your friends.  In the case of Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-NV32) it’s friends and some relatives. 

“John Wagner, the chairman of Nevada Independent American Party, which was founded by Ira Hansen’s father, Daniel Hansen, defended Ira Hansen Sunday and said he should not resign the speakership.  Wagner defended Hansen for a column the assemblyman wrote about civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“King’s private life was trashy at best,” Hansen wrote in a column for the Tribune. “King Jr. is as low as it gets, a hypocrite, a liar, a phony, and a fraud.” That does not make Hansen a racist, Wagner said.  “And I suppose if you criticize Jessie Jackson or if you criticize Al Sharpton, does that make you a racist today?” Wagner said.”  [RGJ]

Since when?  Let’s not conflate racism with ideological differences. Racism has a clear definition: “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”    It’s entirely possible to criticize Reverend Jackson, or Reverend Sharpton without reference to their “innate inferiority,”  However, it’s impossible to dodge the racism inherent in the acceptance of the smear campaign to discredit Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and to discredit the modern civil rights movement as an attack on white supremacy.

“The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.” [Slate]

The expression of this concept is illustrated by Assemblyman Hansen in one of his columns:

“He wrote that African-Americans are insufficiently grateful for being given their freedom: “The lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.” [NNR]

Lack of gratitude?  Deliberate ignoring?  How might that “gratitude” be expressed in a manner which would please Mr. Hansen?  Should it be that African Americans would “know their place” and remain ‘gratefully’ in it all the while thanking the White Masters for the ‘privilege’ of being human? Racism doesn’t get more blatant than in Mr. Hansen’s expression.  Assemblyman Hansen seems not to have traveled too far from his roots, from the Nevada Independent American Party, founded by his father, and recently adopted by none other than outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy. [Fox]

If the Nevada Republican Party leadership is uncomfortable with having a blatant racist in the Assembly speaker’s chair – who might be available?

Names such as Michele “Pistol Packing Mama” Fiore, of the Bundy Ranch Epic have emerged, along with those of Paul Anderson,  John Hambrick, and  Wes Duncan. [RGJ]

Fiore may be just a little too close to the Bundy Ranch business, which leads to thoughts of Cliven Bundy explaining why African Americans were better off as slaves, which leads the Nevada GOP right back to where it started with Assemblyman Hansen’s “ungrateful” scoundrels who won’t apologize for the modern civil rights movement.

Hambrick is a lesser known member of the Assembly representing District 2 (Summerlin) in Carson City.  His major contributors are the gaming industry, including the Sands, real estate interests and general contractors. [InfExp]  During the 2013 legislative session he was one of the co-sponsors of SB 520, section 14 of which provided criminal and civil immunity for a person who does not request a background check for a firearm sale – for “any act or omission that was taken in good faith and without malicious intent.”  AB 373, also sponsored by Hambrick, established a tax credit for donations to a school tuition organization (BDR 34-716).  In short, Hambrick has been a loyal, gun supporting, contractor supporting, private school supporting, and vote suppression supporting Republican regular.

Wesley Duncan, has proposed amending the state constitution to allow voucher schools, enacting the “Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” and enacting SB 378 from the last session, the Nevada Liberty Preservation Act.  This last item comes from the Right Wing Fever Swamp which at one point was Outraged! about two sections of the National Defense Authorization Act which allowed for the capture and detention of terrorists. The radical right was convinced the Obama Administration was about to round up the citizenry and open the detention camps. 

Assemblyman Paul Anderson has wanted the speakership before, and still wants it now.   He, too packs his NRA credentials on his sleeve, signing on to the Assembly support for SB 223AN ACT relating to concealed firearms; authorizing employees of the Nevada System of Higher Education or a private or public school who hold permits to carry concealed firearms to carry concealed firearms on school property under certain circumstances; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”  As if what we need are more guns on more school campuses.  He, too, is a school privatization advocate.

The trick for the Assembly Republicans will be to find a speaker who doesn’t have a history of Fever Swamp Activity, who will be amenable to the ALEC program of corporate support, and who can convince the leadership that he or she won’t prove to be too big an embarrassment?

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, racism