MUTH'S TRUTHS http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths You Can't Handle the Muth!! Thu, 22 Feb 2007 04:01:36 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.5 en Is It Time to Cut Cord At LVCVA? http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/21/is-it-time-to-cut-cord-at-lvcva/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/21/is-it-time-to-cut-cord-at-lvcva/#comments Thu, 22 Feb 2007 03:55:22 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/21/is-it-time-to-cut-cord-at-lvcva/ The following letter was faxed tonight to the two gentlemen charged with running the two main, competing convention facilities in Las Vegas - one funded entirely with private money, the other with $200 million in taxpayer subsidies…

February 20, 2007

Rossi Ralenkotter
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
3150 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Bill Weidner
Sands Convention Center
201 E. Sands Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Gentlemen,

I’ve been reviewing the Governor’s Transition Team report of February 12, 2007, on “Gaming and Tourism” and was particularly struck by the section on the Clark County room tax.

According to the report, over $200 million a year (and growing) is collected and used to subsidize operations of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), despite the presence of substantial “private convention and exhibition space” now in Las Vegas, as well as the huge amount of “private advertising and promotional activities” which market the Las Vegas convention and tourism industries to the nation and the world.

This raises some important public policy questions: “Does LVCVA still need this much of a subsidy from the room tax? How much is enough? And could some or all of the money be better spent on critically needed infrastructure improvements in Clark County, especially road construction along the I-15 corridor connecting Las Vegas to southern California tourists.

On the other hand, I’m sure LVCVA believes its efforts are, in large part, responsible for the continuing financial success and vibrant economy enjoyed by Nevadans, and that its revenue stream from the room tax should continue.

Because this issue is of such importance - not just to the economy of Southern Nevada, but the entire state – and because you two gentlemen are probably the foremost experts and spokespersons on this issue, I am writing to invite you to participate in an open forum to discuss the matter publicly at a mutually convenient date and time in the Las Vegas area.

Please advise as to your willingness to participate in such a forum, which Citizen Outreach would arrange, co-ordinate and host. I am open to suggestions for a mutually-agreeable moderator, as well as recommendations for an appropriate neutral venue.

I hope you’ll agree to contribute to further enlightening the public and the media on this issue. Please let me know if you we can count on your participation. I can be reached in Carson City at (775) 884-9264 or via email at: chuck@citizenoutreach.com

Thank you in advance for your consideration and your willingness to help “shed some light” on this important public policy matter.

Sincerely yours,

Chuck Muth
President

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Clash of the Munchkins http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/21/clash-of-the-munchkins/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/21/clash-of-the-munchkins/#comments Thu, 22 Feb 2007 00:53:10 +0000 Chuck Muth National http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/21/clash-of-the-munchkins/ In case you were washing your socks or doing something equally important this afternoon, you probably missed the first Democrat presidential “forum” today in my new home town of Carson City…which is to say, you didn’t miss anything. But demonstrating once again my willingness to sacrifice on your behalf, I watched it so you wouldn’t have to. A few observations:

First off, this was a public forum of the unions, by the unions and for the unions. Sponsored by AFSCME, today’s medicine show reminded the nation once again that the Democrat Party is nothing by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Labor. Why some Republicans continue trying to appease these people, whose sole interest is in the political destruction of the GOP, is beyond a mystery.

George Stephanopolous got the show off to a rolling start by immediately mispronouncing Nevada’s name, earning him a chorus of boos from the audience. (It’s Nevada, as in “had a” - not Nev-ah-duh.)

First out of the chute was Sen. Chris Dodd whose appearance can be summed up thusly: I made a mistake voting for the war, so now I want to cut & run. Oh, and let’s raise taxes. Onward…

Next was Madame Hillary. Let’s see, she supports taking away workers rights to a secret ballot election in union organizing drives, wants to convert private contractors into government operations, is itching for another shot at imposing HillaryCare on the nation, will make college an “entitlement,” and wants to cut & run in Iraq within 90 days.

And some people still don’t think this woman is a Lefty?

Next? Tom Vilsack, who started off by explaining that no five-year-old should ever be frightened in this country. Hear that, Booger Man?

Vilsack then said Congress should cut off funding for the Iraq operation…the same way Democrats “won” the war in Vietnam three decades ago. Talk about history repeating itself.

He also said he would cut spending on our nation’s defense in order to pay for his own version of HillaryCare. VilsackCare? It just doesn’t have the same ring.

Opie was up next. Er, I mean John Edwards and his “Aw, shucks” act.

Edwards wasted no timing sucking up to the unionistas in the audience, saying that if people can join the Republican Party just by signing a form, they should be able to join a union the same way.

Um, John Boy? When you register with a political party, you’re not required to pay dues. And nobody stands over you with a baseball bat in one hand and a set of brass-knuckles on the other asking you to “voluntarily” join the Republican Party. Just a couple of subtle differences you might want to consider.

And yes, Edwards is another Monday Morning Quarterback who was in favor of the war before he was against it. Now it’s cut-and-run from the 50 yard line.

The Breck Girl then embarked on the most curious political strategy of the day by “pulling a Mondale.” In touting his EdwardsCare plan for universal government health care, the the former senator from North Carolina said taxes would absolutely have to be raised to pay for it. The other candidates won’t tell you that, he said, without quite adding, “I just did.” But he did.

Good night, John.

Next up was the Democrat candidate who I think clearly won today’s non-debate debate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

I say that because everyone knows Barack (who was MIA) and Hillary, but the rest of the candidates were being seen today for the first time by much of the public. And compared to everyone else, Richardson’s performance probably moved him furthest up the food chain of the 2nd-tier candidates. He exhibited a sense of humor, was casual, comfortable…and long-winded. But at least it sounded like he had something to say even if you had know idea what it was.

Then again, I may have been blinded by his Ronald Reagan imitation, starting off his remarks calling on Democrats to embrace the Gipper’s 11th Commandment by signing a “no negative campaigning” pledge.

If Richardson actually thinks Madame Slash-and-Burn will voluntarily forsake the politics of personal destruction, he must be dipping into the medical peyote again.

Joe Biden bounded onto the stage next, giving every appearance of a stand-up comedian. “Hey, folks, did you hear the one about the Jew, the priest and the imam?” “Take my wife…please.” Ba-da-boom.

Biden’s another Democrat presidential candidate who was for the war before he was against it. “Hey, I made a mistake. So this duck walks into a bar…”

To give credit where credit is due, Biden was the only candidate to work his campaign’s website into his remarks. Not that anyone was rushing out to go visit it. I’m just saying…

Next, send in the clown!

Dennis Kucinich is the Democrat candidate Republicans should be cheering for. The guy is a goof, a nut and a joke. Oh, PLEASE let him be the Democrats’ nominee! Seriously, we should consider sending him a small donation to keep him in the race all the way to the bitter end.

To be fair, as Dennis pointed out, he was for cutting-and-running before cutting-and-running was cool. Unlike all his other opponents, Kucinich reminded the audience, he was smart enough not to be fooled by that fool George Bush. He voted against taking out Saddam Hussein from the get-go and now favors cutting off funding for the war effort immediately so that those greedy bastards over at Haliburton won’t be able to continue rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure!

Dennis the Menace then explained KucinichCare as “Medicare for all.” The central premise of his plan is to abolish private, for-profit insurance companies - music to the ears, I’m sure, for all those retired stockholders with Blue Cross/Blue Shield in their portfolios.

At that point, Kucinich went di-di-di.

In his closing remarks the congressman from Ohio (they should be SO proud) stretched his arms out as though he was pretending to be an airplane - and then proceeded to spin round-and-round while chanting, “A president with no strings. A president with no strings. A president…”

If Congress ever decides to put on its own theatrical production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Kucinich is a shoe-in for the part of the Scarecrow. Di-di-di.

Bringing up the rear of today’s “donkey call” was a guy who apparently was once a United States senator from Alaska - during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, I think - named Mike Gravel.

And to be honest, Gravel was decidedly different from the other candidates. Oh, he’s in favor of cutting-and-running; he just wants to do it constitutionally, which passes for a breath of fresh air in this crowd.

Although he railed against the “military industrial complex,” a phrase not used in a presidential campaign in several decades, he did make a strong case for eliminating the income tax and replacing with a national sales tax, pointing out that such a tax would still be “progressive.” After all, Gravel pointed out, limousine liberal like Stephanopolous would pay for in sales taxes on their $2,000 suits than cheap guys like Gravel would pay for their $250 suits.

The guy’s gotta point.

Gravel also made a pitch for implementing a process for placing national citizen initiatives on the ballot, an interesting idea deserving of discussion and serious debate. Alas, Gravel is not a serious candidate and won’t be making any serious headway on this issue, or his campaign for president. But so what? As Gravel himself said in his closing remarks, “I don’t think it’s important if I get elected or not.”

Now THERE’S a bumper sticker for you!

Lord, is this ever going to be a long campaign…

Perhaps today’s show was best described in a statement released by Rep. Dean Heller, the Republican congressman representing the district in which it was held: “Democrats have more candidates than they do substantive ideas.  Of this large cast of left-wing characters, I saw not one President among them.”

Amen.

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Grover Says “No” to Proposed Nolan Tax http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/66/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/66/#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2007 23:42:27 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/66/ The following letter was sent to Nevada state legislators today from Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, regarding recent calls for the Legislature to put a tax hike for highway construction on the ballot…

Dear Nevada State Legislator,

In light of reports of legislative efforts to put a tax increase on the ballot in order to raise new revenue for highway construction, I write to urge you to oppose any such efforts. Knowing that many of you have made a commitment to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes, the big spenders are now looking for ways to loot taxpayers without having you cast a direct vote for higher taxes, and they think they found the ultimate solution in pushing a vote to put a tax increase on the ballot.

However, the argument that a vote to put a tax increase on the ballot is not a vote for higher taxes, but merely a vote to give constituents the opportunity to decide, is particularly problematic in a state that has the initiative process on the books. Taxpayers don’t need the legislature to put a tax increase on the ballot – if they truly feel higher taxes are needed, they can go out and collect the necessary signatures. However, big spenders may fear – rightfully so – that Nevada taxpayers, who still feel the pinch of the 2003 tax increase, don’t agree with the necessity of a tax increase.

Any tax increase provides a disincentive to enact spending reform. Ultimately, since any tax increase will drain money out of the private economy and productive use, it is a disservice to constituents. As such, a vote to short-circuit the initiative process to put a tax hike on the ballot would amount to an abdication of fiscal leadership.

Proponents of this tax increase argue that higher taxes are needed because of a lack of funding for transportation. However, as we have seen over and over again across the country too often, the real issue is not a lack of funding, but mismanagement in the way transportation dollars are spent. Structural reforms, not quick fixes to paper over the real problems are needed.

Unlike the “band-aid” solutions that siphon off economic growth and rely on taxpayers to bear the burden for more and more government spending, free-market solutions address the root of transportation issues. The keys to start the transportation reform engine are: opening systems to private sector competition, setting spending priorities and congestion pricing.

The enclosed paper provides you with more information on how to address Nevada’s transportation issues without placing an extra burden on your constituents.

I urge you to explore alternative options to tax increases rather than passing the buck and putting a tax increase on the ballot.

Onward,

Grover Norquist

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Nevada State of the Conservative Union Address http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/nevada-state-of-the-conservative-union-address/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/nevada-state-of-the-conservative-union-address/#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2007 21:50:41 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/nevada-state-of-the-conservative-union-address/ State of the Conservative Union Address
Delivered before the Carson City Republican Women
by Chuck Muth

Today is February 20th, not exactly a great historical day for conservatives.

According to InfoPlease.com, on this day in 1792, President George Washington signed the Post Office Act establishing a permanent Post Office Department.

Unfortunately, he MAILED his signed copy of the Act back to Congress…and they’re STILL waiting to receive it.

More ominously, on this day in 1809, the Supreme Court ruled that the power of the federal government is greater than that of any individual state. And it’s been all downhill ever since.

With that in mind, and as the self-proclaimed “conscience” of the Republican Party, I’m here today to report to you that the state of the conservative movement in Nevada today is…depressing.

But first, let’s define the terms of this debate by first defining what “conservative” means. And I can find no better definition of conservatism than the one offered by an old friend of mine who passed away last year, former Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger.

“To me,” Nofziger wrote, “conservative means believing in a minimum amount of government and a maximum amount of freedom - and keeping government out of people’s lives and business - and leaving people alone.”

Eloquently put. But even BETTER, Lyn once described his conservative philosophy in interview by saying: “I don’t like government, it’s just that simple.”

Today, such hostile words about government are greeted by the Left, the mainstream press and, sad to say, all too many of our fellow Republicans with howls of indignation. But the truth is, such words are reminiscent of a bygone era, when political giants founded our nation.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.”

Thomas Paine wrote, “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”

And George Washington himself didn’t exactly have warm-and-fuzzies for government, saying, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master.”

Somewhere, somehow, too many conservatives have lost sight of that view of government.

Indeed, the key question every conservative voter should ask every candidate for office in every election is: “What is the purpose of government?”

If you ask this, you’ll find WAY too many Republicans responding with something along the lines of, “To help people.”

But as Americans from Davy Crockett to Barry Goldwater to Gerald Ford have reminded us over the years, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.”

With that being said, let’s now take a look at the state of the conservative movement in Nevada.

Those who know me or have read my Internet newsletters over the years know I’m no lockstep partisan Republican. I’m a conservative first and a Republican second. And I suspect many of you in this room feel the same way.

It’s not OUR obligation to support Republican elected officials so much as it is Republican elected officials’ obligation to support conservative, limited government. When they don’t, you get election results like the ones we saw last November.

And just in case some of our Republican friends in office aren’t quite sure how they’re SUPPOSED to act in office, here’s a little guidance, compliments of Mr. Conservative himself, Barry Goldwater:

“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution … or have failed their purpose … or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.

“I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty, and in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”

I sometimes think that quote ought to be tattooed on every Republican elected official’s forehead.

OK, here’s a question I get asked quite often: “Why do you criticize Republicans? Why don’t you pick on Democrats?”

Frankly, although I DO pick on Democrats a lot, I EXPECT bad behavior from them. I expect BETTER out of Republicans. Which helps explain my state of perpetual disappointment.

For example, take the issue of taxes.

I expect Democrats to push for tax increases. But last week it was Republican state Sen. Dennis Nolan, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, who proposed a ballot initiative for new taxes to fund highway construction because Gov. Gibbons has promised to veto any tax hike passed directly by the Legislature.

Memo to Senator Nolan: God did NOT put Republicans on this planet to raise taxes.

But it’s not Republicans who simply wander off the conservative reservation from time to time who set my blood to boil. It’s so often the hypocrisy of those Republicans when they do it.

Take Senator Nolan again. He sounded very pious and self-righteous in proposing his ballot initiative last week, saying “the public” should have the right to vote on his tax hike proposal.

But I don’t seem to recall Sen. Nolan leading the charge for “the public” to get to vote for the largest tax hike in Nevada’s history that he and his colleagues saddled us with in 2003. Why is it the public’s right to vote for a tax hike THIS year, but it wasn’t their right to vote for it THAT year?

The conservative position on this issue is clear. If Senator Nolan and others wish to put a tax hike on the ballot next year, they should have to go through the same process that state Sen. Bob Beers went through last year to put his spending limit initiative on the ballot…by collecting tens of thousands of voter signatures on a petition.

It shouldn’t be easier to increase taxes than it is to control spending…period.

And speaking of spending, fiscal conservatives in Nevada can’t help but be depressed over the budget Gov. Jim Gibbons rolled out a few weeks ago. And again, the element of hypocrisy makes a bad situation worse.

First, remember the campaign mantra Gov. Gibbons used against his Democrat opponent, state Sen. Dina Titus, last year: “I will save you money; she will cost you money.”

But when the governor’s budget was finally released, we found out that not only did he spend every last dime of the projected surplus without rebating any of it to the taxpayers, he increased overall spending by a whopping 18 percent.

Now here’s why this is particularly disappointing.

Four years ago, then-Congressman Jim Gibbons opposed then-Gov. Kenny Guinn’s proposed tax hike, saying the projected state deficit was because “we keep government spending at the same level we have been spending.”

Mr. Gibbons added, “You have to justify to me why we haven’t looked at programs that need to be cut.”

I think Jim Gibbons was RIGHT. But if we didn’t need the $833 million tax hike back THEN, isn’t it STILL unnecessary today? And if so, shouldn’t the governor have proposed rolling back ALL of the $833 million dollars worth of taxes raised instead of just $30 million of it?

I also think Jim Gibbons was right back then when he said the government should look at programs that need to be cut.

However, despite having FOUR YEARS to come up with such cuts of his own, he proposed NONE in his $7 BILLION budget this year.

I’m sorry, but in light of the Governor’s unambiguous statements in 2003 about spending cuts, there just isn’t ANY excuse for not coming up with significant cuts in his budget THIS year.

Which brings me to a very conservative and fiscally responsible idea I’ve urged Gov. Gibbons to embrace and implement immediately.

The governor has transition teams and blue ribbon commissions coming out the wazoo. But what we REALLY need is a Nevada version of Ronald Reagan’s “Grace Commission.” A commission charged to take a meat cleaver to the budget and give Nevadans a clear choice between higher taxes and a much cheaper, much leaner government.

And I’ll personally volunteer to chair such a commission.

Things aren’t much better on the education front for conservatives.

As you know, full-day kindergarten is all the rage for liberals this year. It appears the notion of expanding this taxpayer-funded experiment statewide, regardless of its relative merits or cost, is their “hill to die for” this legislative session.

Having half-day access to susceptible 5-year-old minds in the government’s re-education camps isn’t good enough. We’re now told that nothing short of six hours of indoctrination will do, again, no matter how much it costs.

And make no mistake, folks. It won’t end here. Once our kindergartners are held captive for a full day, next will be a push for mandatory pre-school. These people won’t be happy until they’re taking our kids right out of the delivery room!

So what’s the conservative alternative in Nevada to the failure of our government school monopoly?

Well, Gov. Gibbons has introduced a “school choice” reform program he calls “empowerment.”

However, his empowerment proposal, which DOES have some good elements, still only allows parents the choice of sending their kids to one government school or another. There’s no choice option for parents who want to send their kids to a private school, a religious school or even home-school.

This is kinda like Henry Ford telling the public they can have their new car in any color they want…as long as it’s black.

The ONLY way to improve our mediocre government-run schools is to break the education monopoly; by giving parents universal school choice and introducing true competition to the system.

Oh, and castrating the teachers union in the process wouldn’t hurt.

But is there a coordinated conservative school choice alternative on the table for this session of the Legislature? If so, it’s one of the best-kept secrets in Carson City.

Now speaking of unions…

I don’t know if you know this or not, but labor unions are NOT our friends.

And while approximately 40 percent of union members are registered Republicans, well over 90 percent of union money goes to Democrats.

Generally speaking, the only Republicans who get union support are Republicans who run unopposed…or Republicans who are even more liberal than the Democrats.

In the 2006 elections, the unions targeted and helped take out conservative state Sen. Sandra Tiffany and conservative Clark County Commissioner Lynette Boggs-McDonald. And they almost took out conservative state Sen. Maurice Washington.

The Republican response has been along the lines of: “Thank you, sir! May I have another?”

The unions, of course, are pushing full-day kindergarten, because that will mean new dues-paying members.

They were also behind the minimum wage hike last year, because if the minimum wage goes up, that’s all the excuse the unions need to demand that THEIR wages go up, too.

They’re also leading the opposition to any change in future government workers retirement benefits; changes which are absolutely necessary to avoid bankrupting the state in the years to come.

And where are the conservative alternatives to Big Labor’s agenda? I can’t find any, but here are five reforms we SHOULD be pushing:

1.) Before even considering any kind of tax hike to fund highway construction, the use of mandatory union-only Project Labor Agreements, which drive up the cost of construction projects, needs to be ended. This can be done by a gubernatorial executive order.

2.) In addition, the state’s “prevailing wage” laws need to be repealed so as to allow construction firms to pay true MARKET wages, not inflated union wages.

3.) All collective bargaining agreements for government employees should be posted on the Internet for the taxpaying pubic to review and scrutinize.

4.) All future collective bargaining sessions for government employees should be done in public and subjected to the state’s Open Meeting Law. The days of secret negotiations behind closed doors should end, and all such meetings should be broadcast over the Internet.

5.) And finally, once an agreement has been struck by negotiators, all collective bargaining agreements for government employees should be subject to an up-or-down vote of the taxpayers. If the union members themselves get to vote “yes” or “no” on accepting the new contract, the people who will be footing the bill should be given the same opportunity.

Have you heard of any Republicans pressing for such common-sense labor reforms? Me, neither.

And what about conservative alternatives to health care?

Did you know that Nevada Medicaid could save tens of millions of dollars a year just by making sure that private health insurance companies pay the bills THEY’RE responsible for which are currently being paid by Medicaid?

The Government Accounting Office estimates that 13 percent of Medicaid recipients nationwide have private insurance coverage which often is not being billed. All we need is to pass a bill mandating the use of available technology to make sure the proper alternative insurance company is billed instead of the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program.

This could save Nevada taxpayers as much as $140 million a year.

You can build an AWFUL lot of roads with non-union labor for that money. Let’s hope a conservative legislator jumps on this common-sense, no-cost opportunity.

Why do so many elected Republicans seem to avoid conservative, free-market ideas such as these the way vampires avoid sunlight?

Unfortunately, one of the problems is simply a lack of leadership, especially when it comes to the state Assembly and the Nevada Republican Party.

In case you missed it, Nevada Republican Party Chairman Paul Adams resigned about a month ago.

Everybody agrees that former state senator and unapologetic conservative Sue Lowden will be the new chairman. And she will be FANTASTIC for the party.

However, the next meeting of the party’s Central Committee isn’t scheduled until late April.

And instead of figuring out a way to get Sen. Lowden into place IMMEDIATELY, which is doable in so many different ways, the party’s leaders are dragging their feet and allowing the GOP to drift rudderless while Democrats make political road kill out of us.

This kind of political inaction by the party’s leaders is just short of criminal. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And as the late-great Republican political operative Lee Atwater used to say, “When a decision needs to be made, make the damn decision and implement it immediately.”

The decision on Sue Lowden was made weeks ago. There’s just no excuse not to implement that decision until April.

If any of you have ANY influence on the members of the Nevada GOP Central Committee, you should contact them immediately and tell them you want Sue Lowden NOW.

As for the state Assembly, I could go on for days about the leadership vacuum there.

Suffice it to say that Minority Leader Garn Mabey is no Newt Gingrich. He believes Democrat Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley is someone he can “work with.”

The fact is, she’s going to chew him up and spit him out before this session is over.

Perhaps the best example of what’s wrong with the current go-along-to-get-along Assembly leadership is what happened to freshman Republican Assemblyman Ty Cobb on his first-ever vote in the Legislature.

It was a yes-or-no vote on Democrat Barbara Buckley for Speaker. Unlike his 14 Republican colleagues, Republican Ty Cobb voted “no” for the Democrat as Speaker.

Imagine that. A REPUBLICAN voting AGAINST a Democrat. How scandalous!

Now, of course you’d expect the Democrats to have a cow over this. But you wouldn’t think the Republican Minority Leader would publicly call Cobb’s principled vote “disappointing” and take the freshman to the woodshed.

But that’s exactly what Garn Mabey did.

As long as Republicans are in the minority in the Assembly, all Republicans will ever get from Democrats is legislative table scraps.

And as long as Republicans are afraid to vote against the Democrats and their legislation out of fear of being called “partisan,” they will remain in the minority.

I don’t care if Republicans LOSE legislative fights. I care when they REFUSE to fight at all.

That doesn’t mean being nasty or bitter. Republicans can be a respectful, dignified loyal opposition. You see, there’s a difference between being “civil” and being “servile.” You can be one without being the other.

The only way for Republicans to gain the majority in the Assembly is to replace the current wishy-washy leadership that cow-tows to the Democrat majority with strong, principled leadership that knows how to create issue contrasts which Republican candidates can use in their campaigns next year.

And that means in some cases it’s time for conservatives to start thinking more seriously about challenging some of our GOP incumbents in primaries, especially Republicans who represent strong Republican districts.

Our objective can’t be to simply elect MORE Republicans, but as Steve Moore of the Club for Growth used to say, to elect BETTER ones, as well.

And just one final local note on this subject.

This Carson City Assembly seat currently being held by Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell is the ONLY Republican district in the state currently held by a Democrat. As goes Carson City, so goes the Assembly.

If we can’t win this seat, we can’t win squat. Ms. Parnell’s seat has to be the #1 targeted assembly race in 2008. And it is NOT too early to begin recruiting an exceptional candidate and to start raising money for him or her.

OK, enough doom-and-gloom. Let me give you a few bright spots.

Taxes. Gov. Jim Gibbons has promised, in writing, not to raise them. And he’s sticking by his pledge. Not only that, he HAS proposed rolling back SOME of the taxes raised in 2003.

Also, for the first time in history a majority of Republicans in the state Assembly have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising to oppose any and all tax hikes. With the addition of Assemblyman Bob Beers last week, nine of the 15 Republicans have now signed the pledge.

But what about the remaining six Assembly Republicans?

If signing a pledge to voters not to raise taxes is good enough for the Republican president of the United States; if it’s good enough for Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons; if it’s good enough for Republican Sen. John Ensign; if it’s good enough for Republican Congressmen Jon Porter and Congressman Dean Heller; if it’s good enough for Republican state senators Bob Beers, Warren Hardy, Barbara Cegavske and Maurice Washington; then why isn’t it good enough for Assembly Republicans Heidi Gansert, Pete Goicochea, Tom Grady, Joe Hardy, Lynn Stewart and Francis Allen?

If you see any of those folks around town, you might want to ask them why they won’t promise not to raise your taxes.

Congressman Dean Heller. I have to tell you, as a conservative I was worried about Dean going to Congress. Over the years, he’s been more of a populist than a conservative, and he and I have locked horns on some issues in the past.

But Dean’s votes in his first month in office have been rock solid. In fact, on a couple of key votes, Dean has voted better than our other Republican congressman, Jon Porter.

Let’s just hope he continues to drink bottled water and avoids that tap water from the Potomac River which apparently turns solid conservatives in Washington into Jello.

State Sen. Bob Beers. In an otherwise conservative-free zone in the Legislature, my friend Bob Beers has been a breath of fresh air, if not a bull in the china shop.

Whatever else you say about Sen. Beers, you cannot say he’s afraid of controversy of the opposition.

Last year, as you’ll recall, he led the effort to pass TASC, the Tax and Spending Control initiative. While he and I disagreed on whether or not his proposed language was appropriate for a constitutional amendment - and I thought the rate of population growth plus inflation for the spending cap was too generous - you cannot deny that this was the ONLY concrete conservative idea on spending control we saw in all of last year’s political campaigns.

Sen. Beers also engineered the ONLY tax cut in the 2005 session, and has come back again this session with a proposal to cut our vehicle registration fees in half.

He’s also drawing up a bill to create a Nevada “Tax Me More Fund” for Democrats and Republicans like Senator Nolan who don’t think they’re paying enough in taxes. Folks who believe they are under-taxed will soon be able to voluntarily pay more.

Any bets on how many put their money where their mouths are?

Sen. Beers has also taken up a bill originally requested by former conservative Assemblywoman Sharron Angle which would make English the state’s official language.

And just in case that’s not controversial enough, Sen. Beers has proposed allowing properly-trained teachers to carry a concealed weapon in schools in order to protect themselves and our kids against a future Columbine, or a massacre like the one last year in that Amish school in Pennsylvania.

Whatever it is that’s running through Sen. Beers’ veins, we ought to bottle it and inject some into his colleagues in the Legislature.

Assemblyman Ty Cobb. Assemblyman Cobb not only has the strength of his convictions, as I noted earlier, but he possesses political skills and knowledge that I’ve been unable to detect in any of his colleagues. And such political skills and instincts will be required for Republicans in the Assembly to do what national Republicans did in Congress in 1994.

It’s a bit early yet to declare Assemblyman Cobb as Nevada’s Newt Gingrich, but don’t be surprised if down the road we see Democrats agonizing over whether or not to vote for him as Speaker of a Republican majority Assembly.

And finally, Eric Odom.

Eric is a young, talented, principled conservative who also is unafraid of a fight with the Left.

More importantly, he knows more about the Internet than Al Gore, the guy who invented it.

Under Eric’s direction, a new statewide conservative blogging network is under development which promises to dramatically change how politics is covered in this state.

With Eric’s bloggers on the job, the cone of silence which in the past covered the legislative building will be lifted. There won’t be any more “what happens in the Legislature, stays in the Legislature.” It’s a long overdue change, and Eric’s a leader in changing it.

So while the overall current state of the conservative movement in Nevada is pretty darned depressing today, hope springs eternal.

We…you and I…need to stand up and fight for what we believe in, EVEN if it means fighting with some in our own party.

We simply cannot afford to give up or give in. As the great conservative actor Clint Eastwood said in the movie The Outlaw Josie Wales:

“Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

Amen. Here’s hoping every conservative in this room catches a little rabies today. Thank you.

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Who Needs This Hassle? http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/who-needs-this-hassle/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/who-needs-this-hassle/#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2007 16:07:36 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/20/who-needs-this-hassle/ The hurry-up-and-wait attitude of Nevada’s GOP leadership when it comes to installing former state Sen. Sue Lowden into the Chairman’s position continues to astound.

Not only is the party silent on issue after issue coming up nationally and before the Nevada Legislature while the party’s Executive Committee sits back and waits for a late-April election to replace outgoing Chairman Paul Adams, but it’s going broke in the process.

Indeed, word on the street is that the party has less than ten grand in the bank and may even have trouble making payroll very soon. And with donors not sure who’s in charge, who’s going to step forward to bail them out?

This is NOT an indictment against Vice Chairman Paul Willis, who is serving as acting Chairman during the vacancy in the top position. Paul’s a longtime friend a good party soldier. But how much can the poor guy do, especially in the fundraising department, when everyone knows he’ll only be in that position for a couple of months at most?

The problem is, this kind of foot-dragging lethargy and inaction is the rule for the Republican Party, not the exception. This is exactly the kind of hurry-up-and-wait mindset that Sen. Lowden will be facing if she ever finally gets the party’s top job.

Which raises the question: Is it worth it? Does the Nevada Republican Party even deserve someone like Sue Lowden?

My advice to the former state senator is to consider a woman’s inalienable right to change her mind and give this endeavor some second…or even third thoughts.

A party organization, especially one that controls the governor’s office, which can’t or won’t find a way to implement a key leadership decision that has all but been officially decided, isn’t a party. It’s a nightmare.

Sen. Lowden would probably be better off just starting her own PAC. Who needs this hassle?

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GOP Fiddles While Nevada Burns http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/19/gop-fiddles-while-nevada-burns/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/19/gop-fiddles-while-nevada-burns/#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2007 17:44:09 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/19/gop-fiddles-while-nevada-burns/ Democrat Rep. Shelly Berkley cast a vote undermining the troops in Iraq, as well as the mission overall, last Friday. The GOP response? Silence.

Leading Democrats held a campout on the Capitol grounds last night to promote their call for $20 million in new funding for the homeless. The GOP response? None.

The Democrats in the Legislature held a press conference last week to promote their education agenda. The GOP response? Doodley-squat.

Those same Democrats will hold another press conference today to talk about their ethics reform agenda. The GOP response? Probably nothing…again.

And then there’s the Jim & Dawn Gibbons/Warren Trepp “scandal.”

The salient point in this mess seems to be the timing of contributions given to the Gibbons’ campaigns by Mr. Trepp. As Jon Ralston pointed out in his column yesterday, questions have been raised about incendiary emails from a Trepp executive and Mr. Trepp’s wife which appear to have corresponded within days of various campaign contributions.

Fine. Legitimate questions. But where was the Republican Party as this was all breaking loose? Why wasn’t the party rightly pointing out Nevada Democrat Sen. Harry Reid’s similar problems in this regard?

As you’ll recall, though not from a Nevada GOP statement or press release over the last couple of days, Reid “intervened on government matters at least five times in ways helpful to (disgraced lobbyist Jack) Abramoff’s tribal clients, once opposing legislation on the Senate floor and four times sending letters pressing the Bush administration on tribal issues. Reid collected donations around the time of each action.”

Do you think this might be something the Nevada GOP should have gotten out into the Trepp stories over the past several days? Sheesh.

And yet some party leaders still don’t think there needs to be any hurry in getting former state Sen. Sue Lowden into the chairman’s position of the Nevada Republican Party immediately. It can wait until April, can’t it?

In one word: No!

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Tobacco Regulation Smoke-Screen http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/tobacco-regulation-smoke-screen/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/tobacco-regulation-smoke-screen/#comments Sun, 18 Feb 2007 16:33:59 +0000 Chuck Muth National http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/tobacco-regulation-smoke-screen/ Have you ever seen anyone sit down at the breakfast table and pour themselves a big ol’ bowl of cigarettes? Of course not. Why not? Because cigarettes aren’t food, that’s why.

Have you ever seen someone at the drug store waiting for their prescription of Marlboros? Of course not. Why not? Because cigarettes aren’t drugs.

So why, then, do Democrats (and some misguided Republicans) want to place tobacco under the regulatory control of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)? Well, that’s kinda like asking why lions chase wildebeests. It’s just what they do; expand government.

The latest effort to “regulate” tobacco comes, not surprisingly, from the King of Northeastern Liberals, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). But as Bill Lauderback of the American Conservative Union (ACU) points out, the tobacco industry is already regulated - by the Federal Trade Commission and the Agriculture Department, not to mention by the various states and local governments.

“The FDA, on the other hand, is an overburdened, hidebound, bureaucracy that already is overwhelmed by its mandate to protect the nation’s food supply and assure the timely introduction of safe and effective drugs,” Lauderback wrote. “New drugs take far too long to clear the agency’s approval process, and the nation is facing round after round of food-borne disease epidemics such as the recent problem with spinach.”

Yes, between killer spinach, bird flu, mad cow and salmonella-laced peanut butter, one would think the FDA has a full plate already.

Nevertheless, Kennedy, along with his trusty anti-tobacco sidekick from the House, Rep. Henry Waxman, is pushing to place both cigarettes and chewing tobacco under the control of the FDA - including $300 million’s worth (to start) of annual “user fees” to be levied on tobacco companies, which will inevitably be passed on to consumers. So yes, this would be a tax hike in addition to the creation of yet another big government regulatory nightmare.

Allied in the move to put Big Tobacco under the Big Thumb of Big Government is the biggest of Big Tobacco’s tobacco companies, Altria (like “Prince,” the cigarette company formerly known as Phillip Morris). Why? Because proposed advertising restrictions in the Kennedy-Waxman bill would solidify Altria’s leading market share against its competitors. Go figure.

I guess I can understand why PhilMo would support federally imposed advertising restrictions on its competitors, but it’s hard to understand how a congressman who swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, which includes the First Amendment, could support them. Thank goodness they only took their oaths on a Bible and not the Koran, right? But I digress.

New FDA regulation of tobacco would mean a ban on cigarette machines, no more flavored cigarettes, additional disclosures of the contents of their products (no MSG!), bigger and more graphic health warnings on the label, and a prohibition on the use of the words “light,” “ultralight,” and “low-tar.”

The FDA would also have the power to require tobacco companies to remove what it deems “harmful” ingredients and reduce nicotine. In addition, the FDA would be able to prohibit smokeless (chewing) tobacco companies from advertising that their products are a safer – not safe, safer - alternative to smoking, no matter how true that claim is or how many smokers’ lives might be saved by switching to non-combustible tobacco.

About the only power the FDA wouldn’t have over tobacco under Kennedy-Waxman is the power to ban it altogether. But there’s always tomorrow.

This new power-grab by the purveyors of hyper-active Big Government should chill limited-government and constitutional conservatives to the bone. The last thing we need is an already muscular federal bureaucracy like the FDA being put on steroids, regulated or not.

The Winston Salem-Journal recently summed this all up nicely in an editorial:

“Regulating cigarette sales to adults has no place in a free society. Nobody’s denying the health hazards of tobacco. Most of the smokers who can’t quit sure don’t deny the danger. But if the industry is to eventually become extinct, the forces influencing that ought to involve the simple law of supply and demand. Prohibition proved that limiting supply doesn’t work. . . . Public restrictions on smoking are already limiting demand. But government intervention through FDA regulation would destroy the principle that people are responsible for the consequences of their actions in a world that is far from risk free.”

Ain’t it the truth? What we really need is regulation of people going into a voting booth and electing government-growing lefties such as Ted Kennedy and Henry Waxman. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

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Diversity Schmersity http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/diversity-schmersity/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/diversity-schmersity/#comments Sun, 18 Feb 2007 16:26:01 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/diversity-schmersity/ The Reno Gazette-Journal features a front-page story today highlighting an education issue of monumental consequence, perhaps even the colossal education issue of our time: Diversity.

Back in 2005, a group of doo-doo-gooders got together and urged the Washoe County school district to do more about addressing diversity. School funding and educational performance? Fuggetaboutit. Small potatoes compared to the critical issue of diversity on campus. And school superintendent Paul Dugan agreed. “I’m not going to let this die,” he declared back then. “We are going to move, and it will be a top priority as long as I am superintendent.”

Among Dugan’s top priorities, as recommended by the group, are “cultural competence training for all district employees, renaming school police as school resource officers…and developing a district-wide evaluation process of diversity initiatives for district employees.”

Glad to see our school chief has his priorities straight.

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Just Say “No” to the Nolan Tax http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/just-say-no-to-the-nolan-tax/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/just-say-no-to-the-nolan-tax/#comments Sun, 18 Feb 2007 16:24:43 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/just-say-no-to-the-nolan-tax/ Back in 2003, the Nevada Legislature passed the largest tax increase in the state’s history - $833 million worth. They did so without bothering to allow the people an opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” on whether they wanted their taxes raised. Said the Imperial Legislature: “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

Two years later, state Sen. Bob Beers introduced a bill that would have limited government spending increases in Nevada to no more than the combined total of inflation plus population growth. The Imperial Senate, in its infinite wisdom, didn’t even allow a floor vote on the bill.

So Sen. Beers had to go out and collect 80,000-plus citizen signatures on a petition in order to put his Tax and Spending Control (TASC) initiative on the ballot. It was a long, difficult, expensive operation. But in the end, the idea was so popular that over 150,000 Nevada citizens signed up.

Alas, the Imperial Nevada Supreme Court looked the citizenry in the eye and declared, “Let them eat cake!” The initiative was stricken from the ballot over a minor technicality.

But that’s not the point. The point is that some legislators, led by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Dennis Nolan (R-Las Vegas), are frustrated like nobody’s business that Gov. Jim Gibbons not only pledged to veto any tax hikes, but has had the gall to stick to his word (gasp!). And since the governor won’t let the Legislature raise taxes without vetoing them, these legislators proposed this week to go around the governor and take their case directly to the people by putting a tax hike to fund highway construction on the ballot.

Which is fine, if they have to go through the same process to raise our taxes that Sen. Beers had to go through to try to restrain government spending. If some legislators want to put a tax hike on the ballot, they should go out and get tens of thousands of citizen signatures on a petition to do so. They should not put it on the ballot themselves.

Unless they give voters a true choice on the ballot initiative. For example, the choice shouldn’t be, “Do you want to raise the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon, yes or no?” It should be, “Do you want to raise the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon or lower the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon?” I’d be more than happy to have the Legislature put such a choice on the ballot.

But something tells me legislators who claim to be raising taxes on the people, from the people and for the people don’t really want to let “those people” have an opportunity to CUT their taxes. I think they rightly assume the people would take the tax cut any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

Raising taxes shouldn’t be easier than limiting spending. If legislators want to put a tax hike on the ballot, they should do so the old-fashioned way. They should earn it. Just like Sen. Beers did.

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Foot-Draggin’ GOP Party Soldiers http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/foot-draggin-gop-party-soldiers/ http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/foot-draggin-gop-party-soldiers/#comments Sun, 18 Feb 2007 16:21:16 +0000 Chuck Muth Nevada http://conservablogs.com/muthstruths/2007/02/18/foot-draggin-gop-party-soldiers/ The late, great GOP strategist and political mechanic Lee Atwater lived by the old saying, “When a decision has to be made, make the damned decision and implement it immediately.” Where is Lee Atwater when Nevada Republicans need him most?

Over three weeks ago, Nevada GOP party chief Paul Adams resigned. Obviously, a decision on his replacement had to be made. And it was. Everyone and their uncle now knows that former state Sen. Sue Lowden has been tapped to replace Adams. But rather than implement the decision immediately, the party elders are dragging their feet and waiting until next April to put Lowden in charge.

There are at least a half dozen ways to bring Mrs. Lowden on board IMMEDIATELY and allow her to get started before the 2007 session of the Nevada Legislature is over. But no one seems to be in any hurry to get the job done. The former state senator is languishing in party limbo, unable to move forward.

And some people wonder how we lost 4 out of 6 constitutional races last year, while holding only 15 out of 42 seats in the state Assembly?

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