politics


Ryan C. Jerz

What are we supposed to do?

It really seems hopeless. As Americans, we'll basically have to deal with mass murder (that makes headlines, at least) every week or so and occasionally we'll probably have to deal with a dozen or more kids getting killed at school by some guy with multiple semi-automatic weapons. That's what we have to be prepared to deal with in America.

Our lawmakers are inept, feckless, and cowards. Even when the people democratically decide to put limits on the purchase of guns, elected politicians can choose not to enforce it because their interpretation is that it would be hard to do. The leaders we trust to make decisions that will benefit the overall society are not leading, and they can't be trusted to do the right thing, even when explicitly told what that thing is.

So, what can we do. Well, I have one idea. In the great American tradition of allowing every major impactful public decision to fall on the shoulders of the individual (see: pandemic response, health care), my idea entails individuals refusing to be around, hang out with, even have calm discussions with, people who defend guns. Imagine a scenario where you want to have a get together. Your best couple of friends are coming by. But every time your one friend comes with her spouse, the guy makes sure to make his pro-gun view heard. He explains how the Constitution works, or wears a Sig hat, or just has a fucking Punisher sticker on his car. Whatever. He is clearly an gun asshole. Don't invite them. Don't. What do you lose by that?

Maybe you miss your friend, but that, honestly, will pass. Maybe you tell your friend why they were not invited (I recommend this if you really don't want to deal with it forever). It would probably be months before you even realized you hadn't seen that same friend under any other circumstance. By that time, you likely could see that it doesn't matter. Will you really miss that person and everything they bring with them, or is it satisfying to see that someone with abhorrent views is having a slightly harder time enjoying life because of those views?

I'm not saying this is easy. I am saying that it is actually something you can do. If you live in a world that is essentially hopeless, as ours is right now, the least you can do is make your immediate circle seem better. Will it be better? Not as long as we continue to debate this as if there is a moral argument on the side of guns. There simply isn't one anymore, and anyone who argues there is has no place in my life. Don't engage the people with immoral views -- marginalize them. Help yourself out. Start making life for these people just a bit worse.


November 6, 2018

Well, that certainly didn't suck.

As the run up to the election was really ramping, it began to look like a huge disappointment was brewing for the people who really can't stand the current incarnation of the Republican Party. Polls were tightening, the trust in places like Florida and Ohio and Pennsylvania and just about all of the midwest was lessening. At least it was for me. And the unwillingness of any rural area of Nevada to break with the party that plays cowboy every couple of years to drum up votes in the name of fear of government control of (government) land, the invasion of differently-colored people, and the encroachment of, like, bans on plastic straws or something was especially disheartening.

What actually happened nationwide wasn't super great. It was good, but not great. What happened in Nevada was tremendous. An outright rejection of that crap, fueled entirely by the state's two urban areas, in a pretty convincing fashion.

Adam Laxalt, who goes by Adam Paul Laxalt ever since he moved to Nevada about five years ago to run for office in the state where Paul Laxalt made his name, was beaten soundly. Dean Heller, who is dumb, let Laxalt have the nomination without a fight, and was also handily defeated in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate. These are very good things. Heller was so far out of touch with Nevada that he had no business representing us in Washington. None. And Laxalt wasn't so much out of touch as he was clueless about what Nevada is. How could he possibly have an in depth idea of a state that he only moved to in order to begin running for political office using a highly-regarded name?

Those two races fueled a near sweep of statewide elected offices. Only Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske was able to hold on for the Republicans. She won reelection to that office by a margin of 6,464 votes (0.68%). That's barely a victory, much less a resounding one. Wes Duncan, who was riding Laxalt's coattails to the Attorney General's seat, was beaten. Michael Roberson, who was already embarrassed by a court ruling that invalidated his attempts get three state senators recalled because he didn't like them (they are Democrats), was the most lopsided loser of all the losers running for statewide office. These are all good things for the governance of the state of Nevada. A slate of some bad-faith-acting buddies, who all had power and power alone in their sights, being funded by a casino mogul who keeps trying to buy elections, was soundly thumped by the electorate and told to hit the bricks. On top of that, the democrats maintained control of both the state senate and assembly.

Local races here in Reno featured two Trumpy knuckleheads in Eddie Lorton and Joe Lawrence getting waxed by the incumbent mayor (Hillary Schieve) and city councilwoman (Naomi Duerr), respectively. I am a fan of Schieve, and not a fan of Duerr, but would have cast my vote for her had she been on my ballot, because the alternative was bad. One very reasonable city councilman (Paul McKenzie) was beaten by frequent candidate Bonnie Weber. That's not awesome, but if that was the trade, I'll take it.

What does this mean in Nevada? I can't say for sure. The next few years might be bad because these people who won might all really suck. But I don't think they do. The control of both legislative bodies, and the executive offices means we'll likely see an attempt to broaden the Nevada tax base, which should take us a long way toward beating the boom and bust economy cycle we have here. More stability for Nevadans is a very good thing, even if it has to come at the cost of a lower ceiling. I would take that. The continued smart policy of outgoing Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, won't hurt, either.

While watching some disappointing results roll in from across the country, I was getting pretty nervous. To make matters worse, Nevada has a law that says we have to wait until all votes are cast before releasing results. Well, we had several polling places stay open until 9:30 due to long lines. But once the results started rolling in, and it became obvious that the Democrats would blow the Republicans out here, the night began to get much better. I woke up hopeful that things were not going to take a dark turn in Nevada, and for that, I thank the rest of the state for helping me out.


Ryan Bundy's gubernatorial run is scary

Scofflaw rancher and generally racist dipshit Cliven Bundy's son Ryan is running for governor of Nevada. In normal times, this would be treated like the clown show that it is. After the confounding acquittal of Ryan Bundy, his brother and several other anti-government weirdos, we could have rightly expected these people to just go away. Apparently, they didn't.

While there is no doubt that Ryan Bundy stands zero chance to get elected here, his run should concern people in Nevada because of the ripple it will cause in the race. He'll be running as an independent candidate, which means he won't be dismissed via a primary. His family's popularity among the population of rural Nevada means he'll get votes. Probably a lot of votes. So, what does that mean?

Simply, it means that if he stays in the race, carpetbagging, cynical hack Adam Paul Laxalt, who is the favorite, would probably handily lose in the general election because Bundy would essentially be taking the votes of the people who still (wrongly) think the Sagebrush Rebellion was some kind of heroic stand against the federal government "taking their land." I'm not here to argue that, though. I just understand the mindset, whether or not I have all the details correct.

If Bundy is a serious threat to take votes from a guy who shouldn't get any but will, that's good for the Democrats, right? Not so fast. See, Laxalt, as a pure politician beholden to money and power, knows this better than you or I do. So, he now has to be concerned with doing whatever he can to make Bundy not run. The only way he can do that is to move further to the wacky right. And he will. He already seems a bit cozy with these criminals, but he'll have to be overt in giving them something they want so that he gets what he wants. It'll be bad for Nevada, of course. But that's just Laxalt.

So, yeah, keep an eye on stories of Laxalt moving in the direction of these nuts, and even of them meeting, although that might be a little too transparent. If Bundy decides not to run, it would very likely be because Laxalt has promised him something that would be horrible for the rest of us.


I'm not changing political parties

**Updated below

The Democrats Can't Stop Using the Same Broken Playbook by Drew Magary is worth a read.

"It’s an enraging time to be an American, and one of the most frustrating things about it is that the opposition party—the only one with the money and infrastructure to take on a Republican party that is now a de facto criminal enterprise—still leads and acts as if everything is Fine, and that we are not in a state of absolute crisis."

I was recently asked on Facebook why I am still registered to vote as a Republican. My answer was that I am too lazy to switch. I also don't mind participating in the process from the Republican side, so that factors in.

What I missed in giving that pretty simple answer is what this article addresses. Drew Magary, who somehow seems to speak directly to me in just about every political piece he writes, shows us how the Democrats seem to be content with "compromise" when they have been humiliated over and over by the assholes controlling the Republican Party in doing so. I think he's right, but I don't think he goes far enough.

What I see in this is that the Democrats as a party just aren't far enough removed from the big money that dominates politics. While there are a lot of excellent voices speaking against the racist, classist Republican policies that generally look to remove rights from people and make it more difficult for the working class to ever get ahead because of the religion surrounding the hoarding of money, the leaders in the party are simply another piece of that offensive, amoral puzzle.

Personally, I want Democrats to dominate in November. They are the better option for America, period. I am not someone who cares much for talk of third parties. I don't think they're viable, basically. If one emerged, I might support it, but it's not where I want my energy to go.

As for the Democrats, I don't see myself changing parties because I see myself working to keep them in check once they get the power that they should have earned by default at this point. Ultimately, which party I belong to only makes a difference in primary races. I think having a say on the Republican side of that is more important than the side I'm more likely to vote with.

None of this is novel or original. It's just something I find important to explore and discover for myself.

So, it seems that I will remain a Republican because it's where I started and I can't see myself changing allegiances to a party that I will no doubt be upset with for some of the same reasons I can't see myself voting Republican again. I guess it really is just laziness.

**Update:

I changed parties. It was just too much to deal with anymore and I missed a couple of key opportunities to vote for and help elect good people who I think should have won their primaries here in Nevada. But damn if the democrats are still doing dumb shit and being terrible at handling the Trump situation.


Nevadans deserve better than Dean Heller

I want to share a brief story in light of the school shooting that happened today in Florida. This is from several years ago. Long enough, in fact, and in a horrible enough situation that I can't honestly remember which school shooting it was directly after.

In my mind, it was after Sandy Hook. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Enough of these fucking things have happened that it doesn't matter much, outside of timeline. I was on one of those calls Dean Heller does with constituents. As a registered Republican, I tend to get those calls from my dimwitted senator on occasion. After Sandy Hook, when we all thought that there was no way we could continue as a nation without implementing some sort of reasonable laws that might reduce the number of guns that are accessible to, say, everyone (meaning those who definitely shouldn't have them at least have fewer of them), I was on one of those calls.

I always loved those calls. I put the phone on speaker and made dinner, generally. I never had occasion to ask questions. It was mostly entertaining to listen to the cranks who wanted Senator Heller to help them get the city to remove broken down cars from their neighbors' yards, etc. But on this call I was pissed. I knew that there wasn't much I'd hear from Heller about any sort of gun control at all. If I asked, he'd deflect and play to the deranged base. But I pushed the button to ask anyway. Maybe I'd at least have confirmation that he had no plans to act upon behalf of Nevadans and the American people to stem this public health crisis. That would satisfy me, because I'd know that I had cast the last vote I ever would for him.

I waited. I listened to some caller perform what I had learned over the years to be a great propaganda trick on these sham calls. He mentioned how the Mexican army was coming into America for some reason (I think drug cartels), went on for about a minute about how Obama didn't care about protecting the United States because he allowed this and didn't invade, then asked what Heller planned to do about Obamacare. Heller, of course happy to allow the absolute bullshit this man had read on some fucking nonsense news site to go unchecked, answered only that he planned to fight his ass off to repeal Obamacare (another position that makes him a disaster masquerading as someone with a brain). The Mexican army thing was just left out there unchallenged by someone who knew that it was absolutely nonsense. It was a disgrace.

Anyway, I waited anxiously to get my very first shot at asking a question. Over an hour passed, and the call ended. I didn't get to ask anything, but I was sent to a voicemail inbox. I was told I could press 1 or something to ask a question. If I did, I would get a response from Senator Heller (please, the whole point of the calls is to avoid facing the public) or his staff. I pressed 1.

I asked Heller what it would take to get him to support any legislation at all that might do something--anything--to prevent the type of shooting that had happened (again, I'm pretty sure, but does it really matter?) at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I mentioned that there had been too many before the Sandy Hook one, and that he already should have taken action, but that surely this one would be the catalyst that got him moving. He couldn't possibly ignore it. Heck, maybe he could even introduce legislation that showed he cared even a little bit about this issue. I was angry, a bit upset that I hadn't gotten to ask the question live, and frustrated by the asinine questions he was asked during the call.

I mostly forgot about the call in the days, weeks, and months that followed. But after about a year or so, I realized that I hadn't gotten any of those calls in a while. They normally happened every few months. But it had been way longer than that. I laughed to myself that I probably had been blacklisted.

Then it was two years.

Then it was five years.

Then it was 2017, and I finally got one again. And that call was a doozy. Heller was dragged from every direction. Sure, about every other question was from an Ethel from northwest Reno or Herman from Sparks wondering how we can get punk kids from skateboarding in the parks. But the rest of those questions came from people who were pissed. They were pissed that Dean Heller supported racist policies, still insisted that Obamacare be repealed (clearly his signature issue, because he's dumb), and was basically willing to rubber stamp anything that Donald Trump, the losingest winner of the presidency ever, wanted to get done.

The whole call was cathartic. It was great to see Heller get called out by what I can only assume was a shitload of Republican constituents (I assume this because only I get the calls, not Christy, who is a registered Democrat). But he didn't ever answer a question about actually pursuing reasonable, responsible gun control. Nope. It wasn't directly in the news at the time, so he could deflect and get back to talking points about Obamacare and tax cuts without having to hear the cacophony of boos that would have pelted him during an in-person town hall instead of this phone bullshit that he controlled.

The man is a coward.

So, consider the shooting today. Dean Heller, who takes money from the fucking gun lobby (and holy cow, read this, "the details of the bill"), after skirting real questions from real constituents about how he might be able to do something to stem the flow of guns onto the street, tweets this horeshit:

Dean Heller, being fill of shit.## Heading ##

Fuck off, Senator Heller. You've had your chance to make something right about this. You could have supported small efforts to curb the amount of violence that can happen with a gun in someone's hand, but you have actively chosen to neglect that duty. Instead, you let Dennis from Spanish Springs go on about the Mexican army operating freely in Texas and said nothing.

You deserve zero votes when November rolls around. Zero. But, sadly, you wear a bolo tie and jeans, so it'll be a real race in this state.

In the meantime, my wife and both kids have signed up to volunteer for Jacky Rosen. I'm not far behind.


Craft breweries getting jammed by distributors

Let's talk about beer for a bit. I like it and drink it regularly. I particularly like beer that comes from small breweries. If the breweries are not small, that's only because they have very recently built their business from pretty close to nothing by making good, quality beers that fit with what people are now calling "craft beers."

Nevada has several very good craft breweries. I imagine a few of them are in Las Vegas, but I know about the Reno ones, and I have to say that the ones I'm pretty familiar with are great. Most of them are pretty small, but a couple have really built themselves into formidable players in the local market. So much so, for instance, that it's rare to see a shelf in a grocery or convenience store that doesn't carry their stuff.

Well, the craft breweries that have those large operations would like to get a little larger. See, it seems that they're currently limited in how much they can produce and sell on their own premises. Craft breweries in Nevada are allowed to annually produce 15,000 barrels currently. I didn't know what that really meant until I did some math. A barrel is 31 gallons, so [(31 x 15,000)/16]/365=79.62. That's 79.62 pints of beer per day per micro brewery that can be produced. Let's round that number up to 80. A micro brewery in Nevada can currently produce 80 pints per day on average over the course of a year to sell.

That's not very much. If they sell those pints on their own premises at an average of $5/pint and effectively sell out by the end of the year, they'll have made $400 per day before accounting for the cost of the grain, hops, yeast, water, rent, and person pouring your beer.

A law was recently introduced in the Nevada Legislature by Senator James Settlemeyer, a Republican from Minden, to increase the allowed amount of production to 45,000 barrels per year. That seems reasonable! Let's remember that these places are home grown businesses that started from nothing and have built themselves to their current levels by being good at what they do. They should be rewarded with the ability to continue to grow and be cool places for Nevadans and visiting connoisseurs to hang out.

I may have forgotten to tell you that with that increase in production, there would be a cap put on how much of that beer could be sold in an on-site retail situation--meaning a certain amount would have to be made available to the distributors of Nevada and run through the state's three-tier system. I have issues with a three-tier system in the digital age, but that's a problem for another day.

The problem for today is that it just so happens that the distributors are a really powerful lobby in Nevada. It couldn't be made more obvious than by reading this passage from an article discussing the new law:

But Settelmeyer’s proposal was opposed by large liquor wholesalers primarily concerned by the increase in capacity for retail purposes.

The amended version of the bill will allow Nevada microbreweries to produce 30,000 barrels a year, with no more than 10,000 barrels of that total for retail sale on site at a brewery or brew pub.

Settelmeyer said the amendment was a compromise to move the bill forward.

It's as blatant an example as I've seen laid out in such a simple way as to explain how the distributors control the fate of a growing and thriving business. And there is no legitimate benefit to the citizens of Nevada that I can see. Instead of more beer available at the brewery itself (where it's sold at the lowest cost to consumers), we get more control by a middle man who adds nothing to my ability to get the beer that I am choosing to get, but does get to increase the cost and take that money off the top.

Keeping with my math above, it would be possible for a brewery who charges $5/pint of beer to produce at most $800 worth of sellable beer per day before accounting for their production costs, and before we account for the price increase that comes with the additional overhead of distribution. That's probably about the same amount of money the lobbyists who the distributors employed to force this limitation are making in a day.

While it should be noted that this would be a doubling of the state's current limit on production, it should also be noted that it would only amount to half--HALF--of the amount breweries in Utah are allowed to produce. Utah.

In the future, I'll surely get into the three-tier system and why it sucks. But for today, let's just reflect on how breweries who started from scratch and make quality products that we clearly want to have more of in our hands, are being limited to half of what is allowed in one of the most prudish states in America.


"Chief gaming regulator secretly recorded conversation with attorney general, turned tape over to FBI"

I'm no fan of Adam Laxalt. I think he's a cynical and harmful participant in Nevada's government. So, with that in mind, you should understand that my initial thoughts about this article are such:

  • What kind of person are you that when you call someone to have a conversation, that person thinks it might be a good idea to record that conversation?
  • What kind of person are you that you would go out of your way to make this kind of request?
  • What kind of person are you that when someone's suspicions are raised to the point that they figured recording a conversation with you, and they were totally right?

I hope this sinks Laxalt because I cringe at the thought that this guy could be our next governor.