Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dispatches From Nevada

Note from Karen:

Reader E. O'Meara of Northern California has been emailing me about her adventures the past several days, canvassing for Bernie Sanders in Reno and training as a leader for this weekend's caucuses. With her permission, I am sharing her journey with Sardonicky readers. Some names, including that of the author, have been changed in order to protect their privacy. The emails have been very lightly edited.

February 14:

I am working as a nurse practitioner in my local county jail, which has half its 400 population comprised of immigration detainees. 

My girlfriend/fiancee lives in Reno. There was outreach to Northern California peeps (I live 126 miles from her house) to help with canvassing this weekend, and I volunteered. Two days before coming out we found out Bernie was actually going to be there for a rally prior to the canvassing. There were only a few hundred people who came to the Reno rally (it's good to see that Las Vegas rally was better attended), but the energy was so good it was almost overwhelming to me at times. We saw Bernie and his wife a few minutes after the (four I think) Secret Service men arrived. Bernie was pretty punctual. He spoke for about 12 minutes, didn't say anything new, but he did speak to the Nevada issue of the solar business being busted by the PUC (Public Utility Commission).

The volunteers did a good job of getting everyone who came to canvass into groups. My girlfriend, Karli and I were joined by a very cool retired Indian man (his bumper sticker said "Medicare for None" with the Romney/Ryan name and logo beneath it). We were sent to a very wealthy, very Republican area with lots of space between lots. We were unable to finish all the houses on our lists (I hit about 30 houses) before calling it a day. It was a pretty discouraging experience, canvassing that area.

Three interactions stand out.

The first one was a 74 year old woman who had been identified as a "lean Bernie" Democrat. I asked if she would be going to caucus, and she didn't hesitate to say "No. Bernie's too old".

The second one was at a house where a female voter had been identified as Independent, I think (for sure not Republican!). A ruddy-faced, mustached white male in his late 50's or older answered the door and wouldn't let me speak with the person in question. "I'm not voting for him because he's a socialist!" Okay, but may I speak to so-and-so? "We're not voting for him because he's a socialist!"

At a third house, I asked the man answering the door if he was going to the caucus. "No," he replied. "I'm going skiing."

Since tomorrow is a holiday (and I have it off because I belong to a union!), I am going to a caucus training at the Washoe County Democratic HQ. I will volunteer to work at the caucus next Saturday. I was told they have 600 precincts to oversee, and they won't have too many volunteers. Besides the usual stuff, they also need people to be on the lookout for illegal antics from the other side; they want people to record suspect behavior.

Karli and I went to see the Michael Moore movie ("Where To Invade Next") today. It's not showing in my town theater (such a redneck place it is), but I am taking my kids to see it an hour away this coming Wednesday evening because it is such an important movie. 

(Ed. note: So much for claims from Clintonites that Bernie is a one-note campaigner: The New York Times covered his Reno visit here. A more extensive account of the rally from the Reno Gazette Journal is here. )

Feb. 16:

I went to a caucus training on Monday at the Washoe County Democratic HQ.  I knew nothing about caucuses until this election. My girlfriend didn't even know Nevada had a caucus until this year.

Nevada switched from the primary to the caucus in 2008 with the help of Democrat Harry Reid, since an early Western state was wanted and the demographics in New Hampshire and Iowa weren't representing the party well anymore. The Republicans and Democrats are caucusing on different  dates, the former's being three days after the South Carolina primary. Independents can't participate in the caucus.

People must be in attendance at a caucus to let their will be known. The window for being allowed to get into the caucus is very small: 11 am to 12 pm for Democrats on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Republican caucus is on Tuesday Feb. 23 in the evening (they have to bring photo ID, but the Dems don't). For the Dems, one must be inside or in line by 12 pm. Anyone arriving after that time doesn't get to participate.

After formalities, people get into groups depending on their chosen candidate. Some people may be undecided, and they get their own group. Using a mathematical formula based on allotted delegates for that precinct, the number of voters present, and the number in the individual groups, "viability" is determined. If a group is not viable, its members may decide to switch to a different group or not be part of one, after members of the other groups have a chance to convince them to go to their side. Once the viable groups have been set, the number of delegates they have won are determined based on a mathematical formula, then chosen from the group to go on to the county convention. (Interestingly, an undecided group can potentially be viable.  It behooves each group to select their allotted number of delegates, because if they don't, the delegates that are then chosen by the Party don't get to go beyond the state convention. (It's county, state, then national)

Why a caucus over a primary? There is no way everyone who wants to participate can. Although a Saturday is preferable to a weekday, people must work. A one-hour window is seriously inferior to the 12-hr window when voting in person, or the days-long window for mail-in ballots. And what about voters who are home-bound? Agoraphobic? Not willing to sacrifice their weekend?

But I think I found out why: parties pay for the caucuses; taxpayers pay for the primaries. Nevada had a $500,000 bill one primary with a low turnout. Also, for whatever reason, the parties had wanted two early primaries and two early caucuses. Both of the primary slots and one caucus slot were already taken.
They need lots of volunteers to help with the 600 precincts in Nevada. We out-of-staters have been asked to show up at HQ at 9 am on caucus day and await instructions on where to go based on needs as they arise.

I'll write again after the Saturday caucus.


Pearl said...

Why Justice Scalia was staying for free at a Texas resort

Karen Garcia said...

Because the thought of Bernie Sanders having a rally in his first choice of Reno, Nevada filled him with such fear and loathing?

Seriously, though, Scalia was a corrupt politician with a Juris Doctor degree who got his dirty tricks tutorial in the Nixon White House. At least we can be grateful that his funeral will last for only one day. As far as I know. I hear tell that he'll be lying in state with a pillow over his face.

Who cares about one dead Scali-wag when there are so many more live ones to worry about?

Pearl said...

Is it legal to allow chief justices to make speeches to organizations that reimburse them (handsomely I am sure) as well as entertain them at a fancy resort whose owner is a billionaire for free with no questions asked?

I don't think this passes the smell test especially when the Supreme Court has such influence in the nation's choices as in the Bush presidency. Corruption can be involved and with important cases coming forward for the Court one cannot feel fair decisions will be made.

I don't understand Ginsberg's adoration of this man.

Pearl said...

Lobbyist superdelegates tip nomination towards Hillary Clinton by @lhfang

Its all set up for Hillary. Read the comments. Bernie you have a rough road ahead along with so many citizens.

Pearl said...

I do not understand in the above article in comments, about lobbyists choosing the super delegates and who chooses the lobbyists. In other words is it the official
Democratic party making those choices and favoring Hillary and how can this be changed? If not, Hillary is a shoe in no matter what and I am surprised that Bernie's website has not discussed this dire situation. I have an uneasy feeling in my stomach about this and following the winning or losing of states will be a secondary matter as a result.
What are lobbyists doing in the democratic party and who chooses them? Please help enlighten this very worried progressive, Karen and gang.

Pearl said...

I just reread the comments to Fang's article I sent in and I am not the only progressive deeply worried. They want the public to find out who these lobbyists/superdelegates were involved with and how chosen. Hopefully that would turn off voters for Hillary if disclosed?

Jay–Ottawa said...

The folks at that Texas skeet ranch are now saying they saw a black-toga'd Scalia ascending into heaven on a massive cloud formed by thirty years of his written decisions. Who cares? One way or another, we're rid of him. Bury the ascension story with its untouched photos on page 32 of the Sunday supplement. Let the dead bury the dead.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Caucuses and superdelegates––these eccentricities are no accident. In the rule books for years. Please, no complaints now that the evergreen nomination game leafs out anew. Follow the script and read your lines, which means you can now scream 'Yeah, Bernie' or 'Yeah. Hillary,' for whatever difference that's going to make, provided you line up on voting day in Nevada between 11 AM and noon. Cynical? Moi?

Democracy cannot prosper in chaos. Events are much more orderly when you first decide in a back room, or preferably over breakfast at the Four Seasons, who will win the nomination, after which those of lower rank in the parties may calendar debates and rent halls around the country to whip up the fuss, feathers and excitement of voters who will guided in how to back up the done deal. It's great theater, so suspenseful. Hey, Trump may pull this thing off! Look, Bernie's gonna do this! At all levels it makes work and redistributes the elite's loose money. If in the end voters don't do what the staged shows and journalists groom them to do, the unplanned can always be brought into line at the last minute through the Year 2000 Solution.

Does it look like Bernie is giving Wasserman fits? That's only a little overacting to keep you glued to your favorite blog or channel. Instead of the streets. Put the pitchfork down and get out the vote.

I hope the dispatches continue from Nevada. Such lessons in American democracy are priceless. You can't find this stuff in the NYT. It doesn't appear the reports will change my dark view about elections, but I am fascinated by the detail and color provided by E. O'Meara. To understand something in gray generalities is one thing; to know in depth and detail is quite another. How does that saying go: 'God is in the details' or is it 'The devil is in the details'?

Pearl said...

Meredith: While scrolling down Blow's The fire hits the wall trying to find if they bothered to print my contribution (never found it) I came across your comment to Socrates about his column. It certainly deserved a higher number of readers but I am grateful if they ever print anything I say which leads me to think that only the earliest ones get printed or they stop printing the ones that are negative after awhile. But everything one writes should get a chance to be heard.

At least we are in good company in the criticisms to Blow and feel sorry for all the great people who write from their hearts wondering if anything will ever change for them.

I feel more and more as articles such I have posted above come out, that they may keep Bernie's ideas from ever coming to fruition but the truth will never be silenced.
The deep deep corruption of the American way of life has reached immense heights and has a life of its own sowing destruction everywhere it goes. One can only hope that what he represents will one day be accepted but none of us will ever know in our own lifetimes. At least we should feel proud that we are doing what we can to expose the kind of country America has become and that the citizens may one day have the opportunity to change course.
Glad to find your comment to Blow, Meredith.

Meredith NYC said...

I just found article cited below, after searching for Gerald Friedman's positive view of economic growth/jobs/income if Sanders were elected.

Did you see this? Any comment? I haven't seen anyone comment on this.

My post to Krug blog.

See Daily Kos, Jan 15, 2016.

“170 Top Economists Endorse Bernie Sanders’ Wall Street Reform Plan”. Article singles out Robert Reich, Dean Baker, James Galbraith, Brad Miller, William K. Black, etc

Any response Professor Krugman, or did I miss it?
Where was it on the cable news, or on NYT op ed page?
The article has link to full text and all signers of a letter publicly endorsing Sanders plan for Wall Street reform.

Letter says, “For free markets to work, there must be enough players to drive true competition.
For free markets to fail, there just needs to be too few players, with far too much power.”

“ ...the biggest banks must be broken up...a new Glass-Steagall Act...must be enacted.
.... Wall Street’s largest banks are now far bigger ...have every incentive to take excessive one’s been indicted for the fraudulent behavior that led to the 2008 crash..fines imposed were only a fraction of the banks’ potential gains.

Their lobbyists have succeeded in watering down Dodd-Frank reform.

Hillary Clinton’s more modest proposals do not go far enough. They call for a bit more oversight and a few new charges on shadow banking activity, but they leave intact the titanic financial conglomerates that practice most shadow banking....her plan does not adequately reduce the serious risks our financial system poses to the economy....

Given the size and political power of Wall Street, her proposals would only invite more dilution and finagle.”

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl, thanks. Most of my comments get in, as long as it's still open for posting. But sometimes i don't get email notification. So I check my nyt account to see if i'm still 'subscribed' to notification. Sometimes it's gone off by itself and i re check the box.
Or make sure the email isn't going into the trash file.
Maybe your comment got in , but it's hard to find out of several hundred. Plenty of critical comments get in.

annenigma said...

Ok, speaking of Nevada, superdelegates, and comments that aren't printed or read, here's mine to Blow and to another relevant article on the front page. Neither were accepted despite being submitted early. I submitted it here in the comments a week ago to Kitchen Sink #1 (2/11), but I'd like someone to tell me why NYT is avoiding this superdelegate racket (in addition to TPP and Bernie).

Apparently, too much truth is a dangerous thing for NYT and their financial supporters.

"'What difference, at this point, does it make!!!!'

Despite tying in the Iowa caucuses and being crushed in NH, Hillary is way ahead in delegates thanks to her locking up super delegates far in advance, leading Bernie 394 to 42. It's the supers who will determine who the primary nominee is, not us.

They're the Democratic Party Establishment - the bigwigs, insiders, and power players. It's not fair nor democratic to give such inordinate power to a SELECT few people, but the system was designed to preserve and protect power, not to preserve and protect democracy.

It's far easier to lock in the votes of just a few hundred supers than millions of ordinary voters. The best part is that no one knows what's been promised, paid, exchanged, or threatened - other than being rendered to a "special place in Hell" if you're a woman.

Our voting power was stolen long ago, not just by Big Money, but by those addicted to power. That's another reason we need a deep cleansing Political Revolution to restore the soul of Democracy, and the outcome of this election might just prove that point. The whole system is rigged and the corruption is propped up by the older established power players who will not willingly loosen their grip on it.

Some people cling to guns and religion, some cling to money and power, and some of us just value freedom, democracy, and FAIRNESS - real American values. Maybe we need an American Party.

Bernie or Bust!"

annenigma said...

Here's the latest Quinnipiac general election poll results out this morning for Sanders. Hillary barely squeaks by Trump (spread is 1), but she loses to all the rest, even last place Jeb! Hillary is toast against almost anyone.

General Election: Trump vs. Sanders Quinnipiac Sanders 48, Trump 42 Sanders +6
General Election: Cruz vs. Sanders Quinnipiac Sanders 49, Cruz 39 Sanders +10
General Election: Rubio vs. Sanders Quinnipiac Sanders 47, Rubio 41 Sanders +6
General Election: Kasich vs. Sanders Quinnipiac Sanders 45, Kasich 41 Sanders +4
General Election: Bush vs. Sanders Quinnipiac Sanders 49, Bush 39
Sanders +10

annenigma said...

Title of Wall Street Journal article today (behind paywall):

'How Sanders, Trump Threaten Market Confidence' - Populist political outsiders bring radical policy proposals and little allegiance to economic orthodoxy

Hillary sold them a lot of confidence, aka 'allegiance to economic orthodoxy', for those pricey speeches.

Pearl said...

annenigma: unfortunately the item from the Wall street journal could not be accessed either from the Journal or from your comment as you have to be on their subscription list.