The dogs of war in the sands of Iraq and Nevada

Expanded from the 2-16-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune

Beware falling into the usual emotional rhetorical traps which propagandists set for those they want to lure into supporting the war machine of the moment.

I remain sickened by the either/or proposition perpetrated by the mass media during the buildup to Gulf War I. The Reno Gazette-Journal actually printed a front page spread which divided the public into two camps, "anti-war" and "support the troops." Propaganda perfection. Even today, no citizen is labeled "pro-war."

As bloody combat looms closer, I've seen the usual comments that war protestors should be arrested for treason. Worse, last week no less than NBC "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert fell into the wordgame trap. Talking with Jay Leno on the "Tonight Show," Russert said that once the decision to go to war is made, all Americans should back the president.


Those same words have been used many, many times by that Nobel Peace Prize-winning war criminal Henry Kissinger. Team players fall in line behind the boss "once the decision is made," Kissinger has often said. These guys always use passive verbs. The decision gets made. Mistakes were made. People were killed. Never "I decided" or "I ordered people killed."

It's easier to remain undertakerly detached. Professional killers would understand.

Allegations of treason abound. Witness warmongering talk show host Humpty Dumphries of KKKOH. On Nov. 24, he and a fellow warmonger named Aaron Gallegos were quoted in the Reno paper.

Gallegos said "'I think there is support for the military but you have a small group of people who don't work, take advantage of freedom and couldn't care less.'

"Gallegos' comments mirrored those said moments earlier by (Rusty) Humphries, who also used the opportunity to cut up liberals and peace activists," the RGJ reported. "Humphries said that many anti-war demonstrators are anti-American and that some people have time to march '20 miles a day' because they are unemployed."

Now, with the nation squarely on the course of recession caused by war spending, Dubya and his Oil Assassins can look to the likes of these two buffoons to dehumanize two million unemployed Americans as treasonous war protestors.

Humphries made his remarks at a rally he promoted. He told the Reno paper "this rally is not pro-war. It's pro-American, pro-military and in support of the men and women who may do battle. Nobody wants war, but it may come to that," he said.

At least his comments may prove useful to English teachers to illustrate what constitutes a distinction without a difference.

SPEAKING OF OIL. For many years, I have decried the major oil companies' marketing tactics of manipulating retail prices at every opportunity in the news. Iraq, Venezuela, refinery fires, MTBE leaks, death rays from Mars, whatever. Re-educate yourself about the current round of pumpside rape and pillage at the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive, linked to the web edition of this column.

SPEAKING OF RAPE AND PILLAGE. Dr. Rudy Manthei and Bi-Rite Markets owner Ron Mestre provided the lowlight and highlight, respectively, of last week's Nevada Newsmakers shows on KRNV TV-4, whereat I occasionally hold forth. (Go to for the coming week's lineup.)

Andrea Engleman used an example from Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in asking Dr. Manthei if a $250,000 cap on punitive damages would be enough to compensate a woman who'd had both breasts amputated by mistake. His response: "No amount of money could compensate for such for such a loss." And apparently, no amount of money is exactly what he feels she should get.

He noted that the medical lobby's current malpractice tort reform proposal would allow for economic (loss of work) and actual (medical expense) damages, but cap punitive damages. Apparently, a woman working as a topless dancer, Hooters waitress or prostitute could claim economic damages, but a poor housewife with no half-life for her shelf life doesn't deserve anything for breast butchery. Research Exclusive
State of Nevada study blames chronic fiscal problems on wholesale creation of low-wage casino jobs.

More corporate welfare horror stories: White Paper on Nevada's unfair and regressive tax structure. 1-20-2003 Web Extra

The Silence of the Sacred Cows
Sparks Tribune 1-19-2003

Gambling industry offers only token taxes and cosmetic participation
1-20-2003 Web Extra

State of the State: Next to Nothing
Las Vegas CityLife 1-30-2003

Humongous property tax hike glossed over by Gov. Dudley Do-Right
Sparks Tribune 1-26-2003

The need for zero-based taxing
Sparks Tribune 12-13-98

Logrolling, air raids and dirty deeds done dirt cheap
Sparks Tribune 2-2-2003

Gov. Dudley Do-Right asked for it
Internet Extra 2-3-2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal 2-7-2003

Mr. Mestre, on the other hand, quite capably demonstrated the unfairness of Gov. Dudley's Do-Right's tax plan which was formed to make sure the gambling industry pays next to nothing in new taxation.

The keystone of Dudley's tax shuck is the Regressive Universal Sales Tax (RUST). Unlike casinos, which are taxed on their win, not total money wagered, other businesses won't be so gingerly treated by RUST.

Mestre showed Sam Shad and Engleman numbers from three hypothetical businesses. A jeweler who makes a $6,000 profit on a bauble which cost him $4,000 would pay the state $25 under the new tax scheme. A grocer must sell $30,000 to make $6,000, but his tax would be $75. And a guy running a gas station must sell $122,449.25 to make the same six grand, but he would pay $306 for his high volume, low profit business.

It gets worse. A few months back, CPA David Turner told the sad tale of a rancher client of his who had to sell just about everything he owned to keep from having his property foreclosed. He generated $350,000 with zero profit, but would owe Gov. Guinn a rusty "gross proceeds tax" of $875.

Worse, Gov. Guinn's plan would reimpose Nevada's hated sales tax on groceries and add a new tax on all health care.

FIGHT BACK. This Thursday, Feb. 20, at 2:00 p.m. down at the ledge, the State Senate Taxation Committee will hear Senate Bill 21, Sen. Joe Neal's, D-North Las Vegas, bill to increase Nevada's gross gaming tax (the lowest in the world) by four percentage points on the state's largest, most profitable casinos. Three of the seven committee members are from these parts: Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno; Dean Rhoads, R-rural northern Nevada; and Mike McGinness, R-Fallon/central Nevada. Call and ask them to make casinos pay a fair share.

Gomorrah South members of the taxation committee are Ann O'Connell, R-Las Vegas, Sandra Tiffany, R-Henderson, Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, and Neal.

Legislative hotlines are 684-6800 from Reno-Sparks-Carson City, 486-2626 from Las Vegas and 1-800-995-9080 statewide.You may fax the senators at (775) 684-6522. Invest the time. It's your money. If you have the courage to list your name as a supporter, call or e-mail me. Visit the Silver State Casinos Out of Politics (COP) website to volunteer. [[EDITOR'S NOTE — On Feb. 18, the hearing was postponed. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 2:00 p.m. PST in legislative hearing room 2135. Watch the Neal or COP websites for updates.]]

If you want to read about the true cost of the casino industry, check out the UNLV study which made Sen. Neal look like a psychic. Half a decade ago, Neal said the cost of Nevada problem gambling and addiction could be a billion dollars a year or more. The UNLV study proved him more than correct.

AIR WAR. Guest lineups, broadcast and re-run times of this week's Nevada Newsmakers will be posted with the web version of this column.

THE MAHATMA SPEAKS. Fresh from his Oscar nomination for "Bowling for Columbine," don't miss Michael Moore on "60 Minutes" tonight at 7:00 p.m. on KTVN TV-2.

See you at the ledge Thursday.

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


Copyright © 2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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