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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mark Halperin's obsession with genitals -- our political discourse

In 2008 Mark Halperin had to apologize for claiming disgraced politician John Edwards called Barack Obama a “pussy” (he didn’t, it was Mark’s own character association) and today he’s apologizing for calling the President a “dick” live on MSNBC’s three hour brain drain, Morning Joe.

Halperin, political analyst for Time and Drudge-worshiping Morning Joe troglodyte, apologized on air only after Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski giggles died down and they all realized the hyperbolic comment would not be edited out.

Halperin also apologized on Twitter and MSNBC later suspended him indefinitely:

Why did Halperin call the President a dick? Because the President used his bully pulpit to call out Congressional republicans for their debt ceiling demagoguing.

Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent missies the point of the suspension. Halperin wasn’t suspended for calling the president a dick, he was suspended for saying dick on live TV which may very well result in an FCC fine. But Sargent does make some good points on our political discourse, what’s acceptable and who makes these unwritten rules:

I care less about Halperin’s use of the word “dick” than I do about the argument he and Joe Scarborough were making — that Obama somehow stepped over some kind of line in aggressively calling out the GOP for refusing to allow any revenues in a debt ceiling deal. This notion that Obama’s tone was somehow over the top — when politics is supposed to be a rough clash of visions — is rooted in a deeply ingrained set of unwritten rules about what does and doesn’t constitute acceptable political discourse that really deserve more scrutiny.

This set of rules has it that it should be treated as a matter of polite, legitimate disagreement when Michele Bachmann says deeply insane things about us not needing to raise the debt limit, but it should be seen as an enormously newsworthy gaffe when she commits a relatively minor error about regional trivia. This set of rules has it that it should be treated as a matter of polite, legitimate disagreement when Republicans continually claim that Dems cut $500 billion in Medicare in a way that will directly impact seniors, even though fact checkers have pronounced it misleading, but it should be seen as “demagoguery” when Dems argue that the Paul Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it.

Halperin has certainly done his part to encourage these unwritten rules, and so maybe there’s a certain poetic justice in the fact that he’s now been suspended indefinitely for violating them, but still, this is over the top. I care that Halperin uncritically claims that Drudge rules the media world, and acts accordingly. I care that Halperin published a book that accused public officials of using explosive, racially charged quotes that were paraphrased, without guaranteeing their accuracy, in order to gin up media controvery. I care that Halperin does dumb things like parroting GOP predictions of a big victory when all available evidence is pointing the other way, as he famously did in the runup to the 2006 elections. I don’t care as much that he used the word “dick.” Suspending Halperin indefinitely for this only reinforces the bogus idea that a crass and dumb slip into foul language is worse than all this other stuff we see on a regular basis.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Has the pundit class fallen asleep?

I was going to post something about the photograph the Las Vegas Sun chose to accompany the article about former Assemblyman Morse Arberry's misuse of campaign contributions, but I was distracted by this in the comments section:

Have our journalists lost their way? Is a tip from a lobbyist more valuable than a gut feeling?

The June 24th Nevada Week In Review roundtable agreed that Morse Arberry's campaign finance reports (and paperwork in general) have always been fishy. Las Vegas Review Journal columnist Jane Ann Morrison even said:
"When I started looking in the late 80s at his campaign finance reports they were always just hand-scrawled, you could hardly read them. But there was something-you know, when you go through as many as we do, some jump out at you as...suspicious and his always jumped out at me as suspicious."

Always suspicious? Did she ever report her suspicions in the past 20+ years, or ask Arberry about them? Is it her role as a journalist to do so?

What is certain, thanks to Secretary of State Ross Miller, it will be a lot easier for all of us to look through these reports and speak up when something looks fishy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Something shady is brewing in North Las Vegas

When North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck's dentist, Wade Wagner, won the Ward 4 City Council race by one vote over the Democrat incumbent, Richard Cherchio, North Las Vegas prepared itself for a recount.

During the Clark County election department's audit, it was discovered that someone voted in the wrong ward. The election might be invalid. Shit got real.

A city council meeting was called. The decision was made by the council to re-do the election in the precinct where the "mis-vote" was cast. Mayor Buck abstained from voting because not only is Wagner her dentist, her husband worked for his campaign. Cherchio also abstained from voting.

As expected, the Wagner campaign is suing over the decision. And for some reason, former North Las Vegas mayor (and failed gubernatorial candidate) Mike Montandan filed a restraining order. But to be quite honest, as a resident of unincorporated Clark County, I didn't care. I don't live in North Las Vegas and I never plan to.

I have nothing against Wagner because I have no idea who he is except that he's a republican. I had no opinion of Cherchio except he had a strike against him for hiring Bradley Mayer, a campaign manager to conservative candidates, including Carolyn Goodman. Mayer was running Carolyn's campaign for mayor of Las Vegas, and I knew not much attention would be given to Cherchio. Cherchio knew from the beginning his reelection was not going to be easy. He was going against the current mayor's personal friend and Cherchio needed a campaign manager who woke up in the morning and went to bed at night thinking about him.

After a conversation with a friend in North Las Vegas who is emotionally invested in this election and is "in the know" when it comes to North Las Vegas politics (disclaimer: said friend works for neither campaign or any political campaign or consulting firm), I suddenly became very interested.

You think the city of Las Vegas has problems? Let me tell you about what's going on in North Las Vegas:

Wade Wagner is Shari Buck's Dentist, and hand-picked candidate for her former City Council seat

The two PACs that sent direct mail pieces attacking Cherchio have never filed Campaign and Expense reports. They have been fined by the Secretary of State and the matter has now been referred to the Attorney General's office. [Delen Goldberg of the Las Vegas Sun with details LINK]

The Precinct with the illegal ballot happens to be that of both Mayor Buck's parents and former NLV Mayor Mike Montandon

An ethics complaint was filed against Cherchio in December by a Jay L. King. King lives on the same street as Mayor Buck, and shortly thereafter was appointed to two City Advisory Boards – the Citizens Advisory Board and the Utility Advisory Board.

On June 15th, when the City Council was slated to canvass the vote, the Mayor chose to abstain from the vote because she donated to the Wagner campaign and her husband worked on the campaign "and was paid". On both of Wagner's C&E reports, Keith Buck, the Mayor's husband, is not listed as a Campaign Expense.

On June 23rd, former Mayor Montandon and Jay King waited until after the filing deadline for Temporary Restraining Orders. As mentioned, Montandon lives in the contested precinct. Initially, Montandon was claiming that he would have been "disenfranchised" by the new election but in fact, he would be super-enfranchised.

Wade Wagner has 9 registered voters in his residence. Six are clearly family, but three have different last names. Does the El Dorado HOA allow that? Might be a zoning violation.

It should be no surprise to anyone that there is now talks of recalling Mayor Buck. How realistic are those threats? We'll see.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

As #NVleg draws to a close, we finally have a budget

Governor Brian Sandoval, surrounded by beaming legislators, announced that a balanced budget exists, the session would end on time. Legislators congratulated each other for being able to work together for a common sense budget, despite not even a week ago it seemed bitter partisan divides would keep this day from happening, and Governor Sandoval threatened to shut the state government down rather than call a special session.

The #Mar21 and #Sandoville activists asked for it: a balanced approached to our state's budget and compromises on taxes and much needed reforms. Thanks to the Nevada Supreme Court, we got it. Legislators did their jobs, worked together and compromised. And I'm sure, everyone will do their best to take credit in some way.

Our friends on the right will try their best to explain that by Governor Sandoval (R-Jones Vargas) raising taxes he is in no way breaking his pledge not to raise taxes.

President Barack Obama takes a sip from a glass of cool, refreshing conservative tears.

"Non-partisan" Nevada Propaganda Rhetoric Institute will fudge numbers and whine about Florida.

Conservative purity police will have their say.

And some lefties will still be upset with some of the cuts and the damage done to unions.

But like the song says, you can't always get what you want.

In the end, it's Nevada who comes out the winner. Our budget is balanced, some of the cruelest reforms softened, much needed education reforms are agreed on and the sunset taxes passed in 2009, that Nevada's fragile economy has recovered under, have been extended to 2013.

Here's the numbers via the Las Vegas Sun (pdf)

I'll update this entry as more news about the budget comes out.



The Grind